Monday 8 July 2019

Cryptopsy in Singapore: I wore a Hello Kitty shirt to a death metal concert and didn’t die

On March 7, the Singapore concert by Swedish black metal band Watain was cancelled by the authorities at the last minute.

I and presumably most of Singapore had never heard of Watain before. Only 150 were expected at the concert.

The cancellation was largely attributed to a petition by a Rachel Chan to “ban satanic music groups Watain and Soilwork from performing in Singapore”.

Soilwork’s concert is in October. I and presumably most of Singapore had never heard of Soilwork too.

But Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said: “The petition per se did not influence the decision.”

Even so, two months later, the petition was updated to include on the ban list the death metal bands Pestilence and Cryptopsy plus an event called Metal United World Wide.

I had never heard of Pestilence or Metal United World Wide. The shows were last month.

But I have actually heard of Cryptopsy. I own one of their albums, The Best Of Us Bleed.

You know how we all go through a phase where we seek out music that would annoy our parents? I went through that last year. I was 51.

I wouldn’t say I “stan” Cryptopsy, but I enjoyed the album.

After news spread that Cryptopsy was added to the Rachel Chan petition, the Canadian band responded on their Facebook page to the “potential banning” in Singapore:
“We as a band have no say or opinions when it comes to any sort of religion. We believe that everyone should choose their own paths in life.

“The lyrical & visual content in our music is a parody of the extremity of our music. It is a theatrical representation of the brutality and has been created to shock and awe as much as the drumming, guitar & bass riffs.

“We are in no way encouraging our fans to act out any of the content our art depicts.

“For us, our music and visual imagery is in no way worse than most of the Hollywood movies that are available today.”

Way to throw Hollywood under the bus, guys. Could a petition to ban horror movies about killer dolls be next?

Annabelle and Chucky in the same week? Come on, Hollywood, space them out!

To show my support for Cryptopsy, I bought two tickets to their concert at The Substation last Friday night. I paid $75 each, which is still much less than a U2 ticket or so I keep telling myself.

I forced my 19-year-old daughter to go with me. She prefers Bastille and K-pop.

She sported a black Snoopy T-shirt from Uniqlo while I rocked a white Hello Kitty Run T-shirt because wearing black to a metal concert is so basic – even though neither of us had been to one before.

There were more than 100 paying audience members in the small Substation theatre, mostly men in black T-shirts and only a few women. No seats. We all stood.

As expected, the music was very loud and the singing consisted mainly of growls without any discernible words. I couldn’t tell the songs apart. The repetitiveness made my daughter sleepy even though she used ear plugs.

But I enjoyed myself, watching the fans stage dive, crowdsurf and wince in pain when they crash to the floor. I just had to be careful not to let any metalhead land on me.

My daughter and I got violently jostled a few times by slam dancers as we were standing too close to the mosh pit, but we’re okay.

In between doing the windmill with his buttock-length hair, Cryptopsy frontman Matt McGachy alluded to the petition when he urged Singapore not to let anyone tell us what we can and cannot listen to. I’m giving you the censored version of what he said.

After the hour-long performance, I queued up for the meet-and-greet with the band to get a picture with them.

No one commented on my Hello Kitty T-shirt.

I asked if they were told not to play any songs like Watain were. Cryptopsy drummer Flo Mounier shook his head and joked that nobody can understand what they are singing anyway. So at least they have some self-awareness.

Asked whether they were worried that the concert could have been cancelled like Watain’s, Mounier said that Watain and Cryptopsy are very different bands.

He’s right. Watain is a black metal band while Cryptopsy is a death metal band.

You may ask, aren’t black metal and death metal the same thing?

That’s like asking if Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are the same person. In case you don’t know, they’re not.

Well, at least the concert wasn't cancelled.

The Rachel Chan petition has since been deleted. Could it be because of a petition asking Mr Shanmugam to “get Rachel Chan deported from Singapore”? Who knows?

I wonder whether I should go to the concert by Swedish death metal band Soilwork if it does not get banned.

My daughter says she never wants go to another metal concert. I’ll have to ask someone else. My mother may be free.

- Published in The New Paper, 8 July 2019

UPDATE: Soilwork concert in Singapore was cancelled