“We’re so glad to be here,” Vigil said in one of those diplomatic pauses. “But it’s not because of us that we came here. We’re here because you guys wanted us!” It was a special moment in the lives of all the kids who shrieked back love at the man onstage, a moment made possible by one of Vietnam’s first successful efforts at crowdfunding. And by the four other bands on the bill — Hanoi’s Nuranium and 18+, Nemesis from Danang and Annalynn from Thailand — who decided to cover their own costs and fly in for the show.
“It’s extremely tough to find someone to cover the performance fee,” K, the promoter who organised the show, tells me. “This is always the biggest issue... I suddenly realised that crowdfunding was the only way, if not the last, to get The Ghost Inside to Vietnam.”
Determined to fulfill his desire, K wrote an email to Corerior, an influential hardcore collective in Saigon, which was instrumental in helping put the night together. “The Ghost Inside is one of the many artists that they, as hardcore fans, unquestionably fall in love with.”
When K hit on this, things went ballistic. Through grassroots outreach and the efforts of a dedicated fan base, the video Corerior posted on Facebook attracted 20,000 views in three days. In the end, their backers totalled more than 100 fans and supportive parents who chipped in VND60 million, enough to cover the deposit for the band’s show in Vietnam, the flights in from Singapore and their hotel stay.
“For ages in Vietnam, rock music has been used as an easy medium for brands to exploit,” says K. “[The brands] offer various half-assed events and second-rate artists from abroad. The scene, whichever part we’re in, needs some fresh element. The fans need to have a voice that for long has been unheard of by promoters in town, expat or local alike.”
The Creation of a Scene
On May 14, the fans had a voice — not only in their background howls, not only in their know-by-heart echo choruses — but in the bands onstage, who were their collaborators in this thing Vietnam has rarely seen. I hadn’t seen it, that’s for sure. And somewhere in there, in that sweaty passion, in that endless flow of crowdsurfers from a not-off-limits stage — so different from the oft-brought-up My Chemical Romance arena show in 2009 — I saw a scene coming together.
From up onstage, Vigil introed, “This next song is about having the high school mentality, about being left out, being excluded for no particular reason.”
But as those intense, passion-filled kids climbed the stage, you could see they felt nothing like that. During the chorus, there was a chilling call and response. “All my life I’ve been searching for something / To break these chains, to break these chains, but I’ll keep swinging.” Hands reached up to the stage, touching Vigil’s shoulders as he dipped into the respectful distance. It was an intimate moment, which is all you can ask of a moment you’ll never forget. — Ed Weinberg