Zenith, the pinnacle of the concerts most Victorians will experience in their 2 years stay in VJC. I’m sure many of us are still buzzing and trying to get down from the high of that spectacular night, where the audience were treated to a wide display of talent and even a few surprise performances! Sadly of course, the audience only comprised of selected individuals lucky enough to have successfully balloted for the tickets, and the remaining not so fortunate students were left at home, wondering about the events of that night. To those that missed the concert or those who want to jog their memory, fear not, for this article aims to run you through the night’s events.
The crowd started pouring in nearly two hours before the event, with many students dressed to the nines and clutching flowers for their performing friends. By 6:30pm, the people who strolled into the school were greeted by four long queues that stretched all the way to the field. Many seized this opportunity to take photos, and to wish the performers the best of luck for their performance later. Having three classmates performing that night, Ng Jia Le and Daryl Yee of 16S31 commented that they felt extremely eager to watch their friends go on stage, but they were also curious as to what the other performers had in store for them. Daryl in particular was interested in the freestyle segment, as he considered it unique, and we do not find many students branching into such areas of talent.
Upon entering the performance theatre, a whole set of mash-up music greeted my ears. I assumed it was played off an iPod — until I turned to the stage to see our very first freestyle performer, Yi Chun, busily working a DJ table that appeared to have over a hundred buttons! Nodding his head and swaying his body, it was obvious he was immersed in the music, but he was not the only one. The audience, besides hooting and calling his name, were basking in the lively ambience and singing along to the music. By the time he wrapped up his performance, they were all comfortably seated and in awe…
Over the course of the night, the various performances had us on a roller coaster of emotions. The dance groups gave the audience a powerful zap of energy as they got the all of us at the edge of or seats with their professional and slick dance moves, accompanied by the latest chart topping music. Seven Wonders, for example oozed sexiness, confidence and style as they strut around on stage and delivered numerous tedious dance moves such as an impressive split in the air. It was actually hard to not associate their performance with the queen bee herself, Beyoncé!
Okra, on the other hand, blew the audience away with many adrenaline pumping stunts and break dancing in their choreography, one of which called for one of the members to dive forward to the crowd as if the hardwood floor was a diving pool! Every time they pulled off a stunt like that, the crowd would gasp in fear then cheer even louder than before, spurring them on. They actually had me worried about their safety for a moment, but the fact that they pulled the stunts off smoothly without a hitch only proves their impressive capabilities.
The Gypsy Geeks’ performance was nothing short of amazing as well, since they danced in sync to every beat of the heart pumping music. They moved with the flow and emotion of the music but overall it was a fast paced dance with the dancers being extremely light on their feet. Sure enough, they too, earned many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ throughout the performances and they undoubtedly left the audience wanting more.
We never truly know how talented ordinary Victorians are until we watched the bands perform. Every band has at least a guitar player, a drummer, in some cases a pianist – and of course singers. We had the chance to see four bands perform that night, and it was amazing.
The first band performance to treat the audience was Offbeat (stylised as ØFFBEAT). To say that they were off beat would be quite an oxymoron, because this five membered band was actually quite splendid! The lead singer boasts quite a wide vocal range and the rest of the members had similarly showed off their capability and familiarity with their respective instruments. The performance was especially engaging with the members performing enthusiastically and it was evident that they were enjoying themselves as much as us. Nearing the end of the performance, there was even a portion where the guitarist, Daniel Ong, performed a spectacular solo, flaunting his skills. I particularly remembered myself uncontrollably swaying my body to the upbeat nature of their performance.
Next was M.I.A, comprising five members. They sang two songs that night and their set made me feel like I was really in a concert. Besides the obvious capabilities displayed by the members, M.I.A even engaged the audience by encouraging us to sing along, and it was truly a beautiful sight to see Victorians so jubilant and united.
Cassava was also a band that displayed a wide range of talent. For example, one of the members playing the guitar could actually sing as well! Not just that, but Cassava was the biggest band, with 3 guitarists, a pianist, and even a drummer to boot on the instrumental front. Choosing to tackle one of the most popular and tedious songs by international popstar Adele, the band performed ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ almost effortlessly. In fact, they appeared rather laid back, clearly having a good time on stage.
The final band we got to see perform was The Bandanas. This band had not two but three talented guitarists! The singers sang as one, and their harmonizing was definitely on point, leaving many audience members filled with admiration. Just imagine how superb they sounded when the whole band came together as one. What an incredible mix of talents!
The vocal soloist were, in my opinion, the bravest, daring to take and command in front of the whole crowd — alone. No doubt, when hundreds of pairs of eyes were fixed on them, they had felt the immense pressure bearing down on them. Despite this, according to a member of the PA crew, they were able to perform better than they did during rehearsals! Athishta, Manasa and Clara looked crazy small on stage, yet their voices could not have been more powerful and commanding. They truly sung their hearts out and reached out to the audience with their extraordinary vocal skills. I am sure many of us look up to them for having guts to sing to hundreds of people. As for Alyssia and Nicole, it might have been easier on the both of them since they had each other, but they had another concern to handle. Coordination and focus were more crucial for them, in the sense that every note played by the pianist has to be on time with each word sang by the singer. A hiccup could cost them first place, hence the pressure could never have been higher.
It was a close fight between both vocal groups, Deux and Chrysonence, as both groups had their fair share of strengths. Deux appealed largely to the audience by incorporating an adorable, romantic skit into their performance, as well as choosing to sing a highly popular Korean track that had the girls in the audience squealing away — and whipped the guys into a frenzy when Xiao Zhi started rapping in Korean.
On the other hand, Chrysonence comprised of six talented members, who each boasts different vocal ranges and abilities. Nicknamed the ‘VJC Pentatonix’, they were an acapella group performing with absolutely no instruments or background music. Incredibly, with only the use of humming, beatboxing and tapping, they had created a whole set of ‘instruments’’ for the song, to accompany the singing — which made it sound amazingly similar to the recorded version.
There were 3 submissions in the music video category, one by class 15S52, another by StudioV, and the last by individual Jared Goh. Class 15S52 had created a music video based on ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’ by Mike Posner. Being educational but utterly hilarious at the same time, the audience were basically laughing away the entire time. The video, which discourages the use of drugs, was about how a VJC student took drugs to escape reality and ended up feeling the consequence of his actions. The video was filmed in VJC, with the class even inviting a teacher, Mr Jayesh, to be part of the video.
StudioV’s music video was based on the song ‘Sugar’ by Maroon 5. In the video, they aimed to spread happiness and sweetness to the public. They had made their way down East Coast Park and approached strangers with a huge basket of sweets, encourages them to take some for themselves — and they appeared to have succeeded, for the strangers were left grinning ear to ear from this pleasant surprise. You can watch the video here.
The final music video, and probably the one with most effort put into it, was done by Jared Goh individually and it was called ‘A Fake, Fake Psychotropic’. The video was not live action, nor did it involve actors, or in this case, human actors. The entire music video was drawn from scratch by Jared himself, and for the video to last over three minutes, he put in a whopping 30-plus hours of time to draw 200+ sketches. Throw in the effort needed to edit the music video after he was done drawing, and it appears impossible. But Jared pulled it off, proving his dedication and determination. Check it out here!
Zenith 2016 concluded with the very last freestyle performance of the night — HD Quality. The two simply dressed J1s went up on stage with just 2 guitars and started off pretty shakily, playing a song that is no doubt familiar to all — Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. The audience had started to murmur and talk among themselves, probably questioning how they got through to the finals in the first place. That was until, out of nowhere they took the audience by storm. The duo propped up their guitars and started really performing their exciting version of the nursery rhyme. They were obviously far from untalented, as their hands strummed furiously on the strings and glided with supersonic speed and precision across the chords. The audience held their breath, as if preparing for them to screw up at any moment, but they kept up the rigour and accuracy throughout the entire act, even when of them dropped his guitar pick on the floor. By the time they delivered their last powerful strum, the audience had their mouth ajar, and their eyes wide open. They had literally left us stunned.
Of course, by the time prize presentation came, we were all bouncing with anticipation. No doubt the performers backstage were even more nervous than we were. The results were as follows:
Vocal Solo Winner: Alyssia and Nicole
Vocal Group Winner: Deux
Band Winner: Cassava
Freestyle Winner: HD Quality and Yi Chun (Yes, they’re both winners)
Dance Winner: Seven Wonders
Music Video Winner: I Took A Pill In Ibiza
‘Winner’ is nothing but a title. As the saying goes, “Winning isn’t everything, but the effort to win is.” And I am sure the effort this group of people have put in is not lacking in any way.
As part of a ‘closing ceremony’ of sorts, we had a guest performance by last year’s MusicFest winner, the Lost Keys who performed ‘Fall For You’, as well as the teacher’s band, who performed ‘Pompeii’ and ‘Geronimo’.
To end off Zenith 2016, a group of students rushed to the stage once the last item was concluded. Rallying the other students, they started singing the Victorian anthem. Everyone linked arms and swayed to and fro, basking in the atmosphere as the school came together to celebrate the end of a much anticipated night.
As usual, we owe the success of Zenith 2016 to not only the performers and ad hoc, but also to those working tirelessly behind the scenes – the backstage and PA crew, who we don’t often get a chance to thank. Without them, we would not have been able to reach the ‘Zenith’, and the smoothness of the event would not have been possible. I had the chance to talk to Tan Yeo Shi Lee, one of the backstage crew members, on his overall Zenith experience as someone working behind the curtains. He commented that “ being part of the backstage crew, it was a tiring yet fulfilling experience. We had to move in the instruments quickly to ensure the concert goes on smoothly.” When I asked if he felt his work goes unnoticed by people, he replied “ I think our work doesn’t go unnoticed, since our job was to help the concert flow smoothly, and the performers in any way, [like] if there are any problems faced with the instruments — and in doing that it felt fulfilling. Seeing how everyone enjoyed the concert, including the musicians, makes us feel happy that we did our job well.” Furthermore, being a backstage crew member, he has “never seen this side of a concert before so he is grateful for such an opportunity.”
Safe to say, Zenith 2016 was a whirlwind success. The performers did their best, the crowd was thoroughly entertained, and the flow of the programme was smooth without a hitch. Many expressed their satisfaction post-concert, quoting Jason Chen of 15S43, “Zenith ROCKS”. We would like to acknowledge the hard work of the ad hoc, teachers performers, backstage crew as well as the well mannered audience who helped make Zenith 2016 the success that it is.
MusicFest 2017, you have a large shoe to fill… I won’t be shocked to know that some students are already looking forward to next year’s MusicFest, while others, who regret not trying out for Zenith 2016, are already going through song choices and forming bands. Good luck with that, and we hope to be equally wowed by you next year!
Megan Chor, 16S31
Mark Cheng, 15S48