Baybeats comes back strong in 2023 with a stellar roster and passionate community – festival report

Baybeats comes back strong in 2023 with a stellar roster and passionate community  – festival report

Baybeats 2023 kicked off at an all-time high on Singapore waters like never before last weekend. Aside from the usual sight of joggers and tourists roaming around the central district area on a Friday evening, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay echoed with flashing lights, roaring cheers, electrifying soundscapes, and immaculate vibes which officially marked the arrival of the annual festival.

Held from 6 to 8 October, the festival housed friends, families, and fans of different ages from all over in one place, to bask in the energising ambience of indie rock and alternative music as the sun sets. 

Dubbed as Singapore's largest alternative music festival, this year’s edition of Baybeats featured an impressive line-up of 39 homegrown and international artists from Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and more.

Just like the previous editions of the three-day festival, the best part is the free admission for all to enjoy across different stages – Arena (DBS Outdoor Theatre at Esplanade), Chillout Stage (Esplanade Concourse), Powerhouse² (Singtel Waterfront Theatre at Esplanade), and Annexe (Esplanade Annexe Studio)


However, what made this year’s festival outstanding was its new tie-ups with regional organisations, and the return of esteemed bands from here and beyond. Baybeats partnered with Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards and Festival (GMA), and Ear Up Festival from Hong Kong, and opened its doors to local talents overseas including Club Fiasco, I Mean Us, WHIZZ, hirsk, and Lester Lam

If you missed out on the happenings and are experiencing FOMO, don’t fret. Here are the highlights of Baybeats 2023.



Credit: Danial Halim, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

If your music taste bounces from one end of the spectrum to another, you would know that Baybeats 2023 is the place to be to discover a slew of music genres – from the pure noise of metal core, to the hushed serenade of acoustic and R&B.

One of the more populated stages was the Arena, where visitors and passer-bys had ample space to listen to the addicting rhythm of funk and surf rock by Cesspit, Capt’n Trips and The Kid, The Panturas, Orange Ocean, and more. The venue also saw the five Baybeats Budding Bands, Count Vernon, M.Y.T.H, The Workshop, Taledrops, and Thy Howler. Although new to the Baybeats stage, there’s no doubt that the five acts have made a notable impression on the audience. 

This year’s display of showmanship was nothing short of spectacular. As the crowd awaited for the next act to turn up at the Arena on the second day, lead vocalist San from The Workshop, certainly knew how to rile up the crowd during their groovy soundcheck, and matching overalls. Once the crowd filled up the empty seats at the venue, the five-piece opened their performance with poise: “Y’all better buckle up because The Workshop is opening up shop”.

Credit: Alvin Ho, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

For those who wanted a breather from the dizzying stir of heavy guitar riffs and heart-thumping drumlines (and also the sweltering heat), they took a short walk to the Chillout Stage. Together with the cool air-conditioning and lulled instrumentals of acoustic guitars and a grand piano, families and couples were swooned by the likes of Club Fiasco and Lester Lam from Hong Kong. During the latter’s performance on his 2022 single ‘Sailing Boat’ and called for the audience to: “Feel free to close your eyes and imagine you’re floating on the sea”. 

The Chillout Stage also saw stripped-down sets by Kuala Lumpur’s psychedelic alt-rock band Capt’n Trips and The Kid, post-hardcore band Tres Empre, and local four-piece outfit Krunkle, which was an astonishing change of pace from their signature rock sonority.

The Annexe was where visitors could also bask in the comfort of dream pop, hip-hop, and a hint of jazz. The first day saw the ethereal magnetism of Taiwanese trio JADE EYES, Singaporean instrumental rock band Sphaeras, Japanese post-hardcore act MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS.

Credit: Chrome Photography, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

One sought-after act was the alternative R&B duo, nkei, which called upon a full house on the second day. Decked on the ground and upper floors, the romantic lyricism, serene vocals, and jazzy instrumentals echoed within the venue, which saw fans swaying throughout the set. The pair were also greeted by a sea of flashlights when they played their 2021 single, ‘You’. Along with some occasional expressions of love for the duo by festival-goers, a fellow fan dedicated a loaf of bread to vocalist Raizel Gonzales, as they teased the crowd with an upcoming single ‘Bread’ to be released in two months.

Credit: Faris, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Songs of intimacy and heartbreak aside, there’s nothing like the sweet sound of the rowdy clash of electric guitars, insane drumlines, and piercing vocals. The Powerhouse² was home to an array of acclaimed acts like the hell-raisers Doldrey, Thailand’s Bomb at Track, Holy Serpent, post-punk outfit FAZI, math-rock trio Forests, pop-princess Shye, Delta Sleep, and more. As the name suggests, metalheads were reunited for a weekend of moshing, crowd-surfing, and a whole lot of head-banging.



Credit: Jing En, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait”. This year’s festival marked the year of the comeback of bands that woke up from a prolonged hiatus. Fans who have waited for the return of the legendary bands were hit with a whiff of nostalgia, as they finally heard classic favorites live in Singapore.

The Powerhouse² stage was graced by Kuala Lumpur’s post-hardcore band Tres Empre, homegrown indie veterans The Great Spy Experiment, math rock outfit Sphaeras, and deathcore veterans No Rest for the Weary

Returning to the scene after eight years, The Great Spy Experiment filled the Powerhouse² with familiar classics like ‘Class ‘A’ Love Affair 2007’ from their album Flower Show Riots that left the crowd berserk. The five-piece also boasted their latest two-track single, ‘Sanctuary / Secrets’, before wrapping up their set with ‘Siti in the City’.

Credit: Frame35, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Tres Empre may have returned from a five-year hiatus in 2022, but it certainly didn’t feel like they were gone. The dynamic post-hardcore band made a heartwarming impression as they resurrected the annual event with a stripped-back set at the Chillout Stage on the first day. Festival-goers who missed out on the first day were able to catch the experimental outfit at the Powerhouse² to get a glimpse of their signature sound.

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Math rock quartet Sphaeras were psyched to come face to face with fans after their hiatus since their last performance at ÆTHER Sessions in 2019. The act has been known for their ever-changing time signatures, in which they intended for festival goers to guess the time signature for a song during their performance. 

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“It’s been a minute Baybeats. Let’s make Deathcore great again,” said local five piece deathcore act, No Rest For The Weary, as they announced their arrival back to the Baybeats stage on Instagram. With the massive moshpit sprawled at the center of the Powerhouse² grounds, the deathcore scene in Singapore unequivocally hit home run during their set. 

Hailing from the Philippines, SOS also made a remarkable return to the Baybeats stage, their first stint in the city since Rocking the Region in 2015. Both local fans and the Filipino community packed the first few rows in the Annexe to get a closer glimpse of the five-piece act, as they played old favourites and newer tracks. In between their set, the band took the time to toss their merchandise to a few lucky fans, before they wrapped up with ‘Favoritism’ which hyped up the crowd.



Credit: Wen Xin, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

Music lovers will know that Baybeats is the place to be for artists to gain musical exposure. But this year saw collaborations between local and international acts. 

Down at Annexe, Mary Sue and the Clementi Sound Appreciation Club filled the air with a serene blend of jazz and hip-hop. Throughout the set, the local rapper opened the stage to guest stars BGourd, Zakir and Zephyr from 730BESIDE, ABANG SAPAU, and Opus Renegade. Throughout the set, festival-goers were bopping to the rhythm and interacted with Mary Sue and the band.

Credit: Alvin Ho, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

On 6 September, local grindcore outfit Wormrot took to Instagram to announce their show in Baybeats 2023: “LAST SHOW IN SINGAPORE FOR A LONG WHILE. DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS.” Following sold-out reservations and a snaking queue to the show, fans certainly did not disappoint. Wormrot was easily one of the local acts that were in high demand during the festival. Together with Implore’s frontman Gabriel Dubko on vocals, and multidisciplinary artist weish, Wormrot blended their signature heavy metal with an ethereal charm.



Credit: Alvin Ho, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay


It’s no surprise that the festival is inclined to crowd-surfing, moshing, and dancing during performances. Especially at the Arena, crowds were seen gathering at the front pit to hype up the acts. During the set by Indonesia’s surf rock band The Panturas, Filipino fans waved their national flag in the pit, which marked the gathering of fans from all over – one of the notable highlights of Baybeats 2023.

As a way to impart a supportive culture to the young ones, a small circle pit was formed outside the Arena during Cesspit’s upbeat performance. Children and adults alike vibed along to the local ska band’s infectious tunes, as they ran around in a circle together. 



Credit: Wen Xin, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

The Festival Village was where visitors could tune down the adrenaline rush and rest in between shows. Nestled at the Esplanade Lawn, visitors rested with their friends on comfortable seats while soaking in the vibes that radiated from the Arena. The village consisted of a slew of stations such as the Merchandise Booth, Esplanade&Me booth, booth by Principal Sponsor KEEN, and the Silkscreen Station by KONSTRUKT LABORATORIES

The catch of this year’s festival was the free silk screening of personal or the official Baybeats 2023 t-shirt, and the Cornhole game by KEEN, where festival goers queued in anticipation for their turn.

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With that, no matter whether the festival was visited by avid concertgoers, families, or even passing tourists, Baybeats 2023 relived the alternative rock and indie music scene with a bang, and is sure to leave us with post-festival withdrawal for a while.