The spirit of rock and roll was alive and kicking last weekend in Discovery Bay, which hosted its annual beach bash, The Big Picnic. Hundreds of musicians and dancers performed over four stages during 12 hours of entertainment, but the most eagerly anticipated event was the YRock POP finals, the crowning moment after weeks of tense heats.
Seven young acts fought for three awards: Performance, Originality and Personality, plus vouchers to spend in Tom Lee Music and the chance to perform at Clockenflap festival next weekend. Sitting on the judging panel was YRock founder and CEO Belinda Howard, Clockenflap organiser Justin Sweeting, SCMP culture (and former YP) reporter Lauren James, and John Lee, former president of Tom Lee and audio industry CEO.
Electro-jazz duo Lushroom, aka Andre Leung and Dominik Vagner kicked off proceedings, melding soft pianos, chillwave rhythms and smooth saxophone solos into an, ahem, lush mix. The duo took a risk by performing a song Andre had written on the ferry earlier in the day, but pulled it off, before ending their set with a sombre cover of Kodaline’s All I Want.
Pop rockers Identity brought smooth harmonies, soulful vocalists, and clever piano and guitar interplay to their two songs, while the duo Case Sensitive wowed the crowd with their skill and swagger on the acoustic guitar through covers of Nirvana and The Beatles. The definition of cool, surely.
Singer-songwriter Dixie Lynne lent an air of chill to the competition with her emotive voice and simple set-up. The seasoned performer played Save My Love For You and Better Things, a pair of new songs inspired by Lorde’s latest album.
The peace was shattered by four-piece The Ravens, who really put the rock in YRock with three punchy, guitar-led covers, starting with Foo Fighters’ raucous The Pretender.
Asyndeton then raised the bar in class and professionalism with three originals from their debut EP, shifting from electro pop, to funky guitar and slap bass, and finally a chugging rock track, with Benjamin Man’s vocals all the while soaring over the music.
Nobody could follow The Pansies’ theatrics, which is probably why they were last on the bill. Their opening song Villain Of The Year injected some mod swagger to their wild songs, before Psycho channelled a dancey disco-meets-punk vibe.
As the sun set, all acts gathered onstage to await results. The award for Originality was presented to Dixie Lynne, while Asyndeton were singled out for Best Performance, and The Pansies were the proud winners of the Personality prize. Then, judge Sweeting had a special announcement: both Asyndeton and Dixie had also earned themselves a slot at Clockenflap festival.
“I’m so excited!” exclaimed Dixie as the news sunk in. “Ever since I moved to Hong Kong I’ve attended Clockenflap, and it’s incredible that I’m going to actually perform there now!”
The Pansies’ Gabriel was very grateful to the YRock team, saying, “It’s really important for the music scene because without YRock there would be no scene for up-and-coming talent.” His bandmate Koutaro Ueda, added, “The YRock team contributes so much to the community, and you can see how much Belinda wants everyone to succeed.”