Bathed in the rosy glow of the sunset, the Upper Quad’s transformation from field to concert venue was complete.
The tiled landing had become a stage. The grassy field, seats for an enraptured audience. The sconces running along Block B’s exterior functioned as surprisingly well-positioned spotlights. But perhaps the most impressive and important transformation of all was that of the beleaguered law students who had been replaced by star-studded performers.
Turnout was high despite clashes with two events being held on the same night (Mooting 102 by MDC and an Opening Ceremony by CDRC). Some were there to support friends who were performing. Others had been enticed by the free dinner catered by Grain that was heavily advertised in the event’s promotional materials.
Students grabbed their food (and their friends) from under the umbrella benches, settling on pink and white picnic mats. As the picnic mats were filled, students spilled onto the open grass, some enterprising students dragging the wooden benches out onto the grass to create more seats.
The performances kicked off with an opening address by NUS Law Dean, Professor Simon Chesterman, who gave a charming rendition of a traditional Australian bush ballad, Waltzing Matilda. This was followed by a dance performance set to Flowers by Lauren Spencer Smith, featuring dancers Hester, Nat and (waltzing) Matilda.
A student (who declined to be named) read poetry and shared his dream of publishing an anthology of poems one day. Prof Joel Lee sent hearts fluttering with his Sinatra-esque singing and a stand-up comedy set which featured many heartwarming stories about his wife.
Other highlights of the night included a cover of She Used To Be Mine (from the musical, Waitress) by Marc Tham, LawArts Director and musical theatre nerd, and the Freshers’ Week Band (FWB), comprising members from the Orientation 2022 Freshers’ Week Committee who shocked audiences with their musicality and their wide mastery of instruments from the keyboard to the guitar to the saxophone.
FWB had originally formed for the purpose of performing at Gala Night during Freshers’ Week. Unfortunately, they were forced to cancel their engagement after several band members caught COVID, making the members feel like the effort they had put into practice had gone to waste.
“So when we heard about this Arts night, we just knew we had to sign up,” said Zen Shawn, FWB’s drummer. Incredibly, he only started learning the drums a few months ago.
While many bands performed that night, the event was no Battle of the Bands. On the contrary, the lines between the various performances seemed to blur increasingly throughout the night as performers from one set returned in later sets to help out friends who needed a spare guitarist, keyboardist, singer or drummer. Members of the Year 1 band (consisting of Amanda, Kelly, Teng Ang and Noleen) could even be spotted dancing furtively in the wings by eagle-eyed audience members during FWB’s performance of New Light by John Mayer. In the often competitive environment of law school, it was heartening to see the spirit of collaboration prevail.
Finally, it was time for the highly-anticipated Open Mic segment. A form for song requests had been circulated a few days before the event in the batch Telegram channels.
“For clarification, the person who sent in the request is supposed to sing,” said Marc gleefully as he called out the Telegram handles of the people who had submitted their songs. Unfortunately, no one owned up. Thankfully, the segment was saved by the audience members, who quickly turned on each other and called out the names of friends and classmates they were keen to see onstage. The talented Open Mic Band adapted quicklyto the situation, learning the song requests on the spot.
One Year 2 law school couple who was “sabo-ed” by the audience were Seth Tay and Ayumi Lim. Initially, only Seth was “arrowed” but his girlfriend gamely joined him onstage to sing Beautiful People by Ed Sheeran. However, it was Cyril Teo who really stole the show with his stage presence and high notes in She Will Be Loved. Although the Open Mic Performers might have seemed less polished than the previous acts, they certainly more than made up for it with their sheer good naturedness and raw charisma.
“But all good things must come to an end,” said Marc, concluding the night with words of gratitude for Prof El, Prof Simon, Prof Joel Lee, the “talented, but I’m trying to find a better word because they’re like insane” Open Mic Band, Performance Night Comm and the emcees among many others.
“This won’t be the last you see of us. Goodnight, and thank you all for coming and staying with us to the end.”
Overheard @ NUS LawArts Finale Night:
“Honestly, Grain is 10 times more appealing than any other caterer.”~ An anonymous student explaining the decision-making process behind his attendance at LawArts finale night
“For those of you who liked it, I’m Joel Lee. And for those of you who didn’t, I’m Yeo Tiong Min.”~ Prof Joel Lee, rounding off his final (“no don’t say ‘final’, it’s the 7th month”) song with a bit of material from his side hustle as a stand-up comedian
“I’ve had five pipakaos today, so if my voice cracks, just laugh.”~ Nicole from Freshers’ Week Band
“Shift421cobra, where are you? Is there a Luo Tianhong in the crowd?”~ Marc reading out Open Mic Night song requests and calling out names after revealing the shocking twist behind the request submissions
“She wiiiiiillll be loved”~ Cyril channelling his inner Adam Levine during the Open Mic segment
- Waltzing Matilda by Dean Simon Chesterman (accompanied by the Open Mic Band: Charlotte, Joash and Ivan)
- Dance performance by Hester, Matilda and Nat
- Poetry reading by Javier
- All of Me, All The Way and stand-up comedy by Prof Joel
- Joash and Ashley
- Ivan and Joash
- She Used To Be Mine by Marc Tham
- Band performance by The Freshers’ Week Band: Shawn, Nicole, Ashley, Noel, Daniel, Ivan, Darryl and Zen Shawn
- Band performance by Amanda, Kelly, Teng Ang and Noleen
- Jared Khoo
- Open Mic performances (accompanied by the Open Mic Band: Charlotte, Joash and Ivan)
Emcees: Kim Ye Dam and Lee Jia Jia
Performance Committee: Marc Tham, Eliora Joseph and Tan Yuxuan
Relive the magic of Law Arts Finale Night 2022 with our playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0otlLfye41NQedWUF7BXiS?si=dd24c3fd793a4876