Last Friday Nite! 2023 (LFN), is a continuation of the legacy left behind by the tradition of “Starry Nite” in SMU. Before the pandemic, students would celebrate their last day in school by meeting up with their friends, and spending their time in school with a celebration before they prepare for their final exams.
To recapture the special feeling of Starry Nite that SoundFoundry’s predecessors evoked, the 20th EXCO rebranded Starry Nite to “Last Friday Nite! 2023” in hopes of signaling a revival of traditions, a change of the times and a move towards a more wholesome and inclusive way for the students in SMU to enjoy their last Friday in school.
Passion For Music
Edmund Yew, a third-year Business student at SMU, and the 20th President of SoundFoundry, played a huge part in the conceptualisation and strategy behind LFN.
He shared that LFN involved a lot of hard work, sacrifice and passion. As the team were students just like him, they had to juggle school and personal commitments along with their responsibilities as SoundFoundry EXCO.
“I think that our genuine passion for music and for the club helped us unite towards a common goal, and everyone played a small part in helping build what became LFN,” he said.
The team started preparing for LFN by conceptualising and crafting its unique identity. Their previous endeavour, Soundscape 2023, ventured beyond the confines of the school, emphasising a more abstract and transformative musical experience at SCAPE Ground Theatre.
To distinguish LFN from Soundscape, they envisioned it as an on-campus party—a lively fusion of a party and music festival coinciding with the last day of school. This vibrant event aimed to provide students with a platform to relax, unwind, and revel in the festivities before their final examinations.
Once the concept took shape, their efforts focused on a multifaceted approach; from organising band auditions, managing stakeholders, coordinating with artists, filing for permits, securing vendors, and meticulously curating the event’s program.
Abigail Lim Hui-Wen, a second-year Politics Law and Economics student and SoundFoundry Events Executive, was involved in writing the script for the emcees, and ensuring the booths were good to go.
She was also part of the events team that painstakingly moved the logistics from the different stakeholders and locations, making sure everything was going smoothly.
“We wanted to make it an event that SMU will remember, and we put in a lot of effort into securing welfare (like the free goodies), and just making LFN a last hurrah before all the (exam) mugging,” shared Abigail.
Aiming for a post-pandemic revival
The pandemic posed immense challenges for arts clubs like SoundFoundry, depriving them of opportunities, creative freedom, and resources to showcase their artistry to the world. Throughout this period, there was a palpable sense of loss—a feeling that generations of progress, history, and cultural continuity were interrupted, especially in the absence of a proper handover of Starry Nite’s legacy due to the constraints imposed by COVID-19.
Amid these hardships, the enforced pause prompted SoundFoundry to pivot towards fostering songwriting and original compositions, emphasising adaptability and agility.
Their efforts culminated in organising their first post-pandemic external concert in May 2023, Soundscape. This event evoked joy and nostalgia among attendees after a two-year break from live music. However, it also emphasised the importance of communal celebrations on campus grounds. Here, the idea for an on-campus concert began.
“I would say that live music is indeed back, and SF is committed to preserving this magic of music that is so important to not just our community but our wider SMU community and friends,” said Edmund.
Drawing insights from various music events in Singapore and within SMU, the team identified a need for an inclusive event accessible to everyone. To ensure broad participation, LFN was strategically planned for a public, easily accessible area. Additionally, the decision to offer the concert free of charge aimed to attract passers-by who might not otherwise have known about the event.
Incorporating F&B booths with free game booths and food was aimed at enriching the overall attendee experience, catering to diverse interests.
Abigail briefly noted that performers refrained from conducting a live soundcheck at the venue as classes were ongoing. Additionally, the team sent emails to professors and CCAs utilising the venues to inform them about the concert taking place.
The anticipation for the performances grew as the production details were meticulously handled to ensure a seamless setup and consideration for ongoing classes.
However, behind every successful production lies the heart of the event—the captivating performances. From seasoned bands to emerging talents, each artist’s preparation and dedication added an aura of excitement to the imminent show.
Cauliflowers, a five-member band founded by RP alumni Darius Boey, made their return to the stage at LFN five months after performing at the renowned Indigo Scales’ Drop Dead Gorgeous IV event in June.
The second-year Social Sciences student, who was also the band’s versatile bassist and guitarist, shared the emotions he experienced on the day of the live show.
“I honestly felt nervous because LFN was something that my band and I had been anticipating and practising hard for,” he said.
He pointed out that his band completed their soundcheck that very morning, reflecting on the surreal feeling of stepping onto the LFN stage. Expressing anticipation, he conveyed how his band awaited their cue backstage, poised to deliver an outstanding performance.
“The most unforgettable part was seeing and hearing the huge crowd that contained our family and friends, and knowing we were giving them a good performance, making their trip down (to SMU) worth it.”
Charis Lee, a third-year Business student and vice-president of SoundFoundry, the lead singer for her band tubs for LFN, shares the same sentiments as Darius.
“The nerves only hit me minutes before my performance where my mind went blank and I was not confident that I could even remember a single lyric.”
Feeling intimidated, she found solace in the unwavering support and confidence displayed by those around her. Encouraged by the reassurance in her capabilities, she was able to regain her composure and stepped onto the stage with newfound confidence.
“I’m so grateful for them, especially my band members and President Eddy.”
Charis fondly reminisced about her band’s performance, highlighting the most memorable part as the final song transitioned from “Tale as Old as Time” (from Beauty and the Beast) into “Beauty and a Beat” (by Justin Bieber). She eagerly awaited this twist, proud of her band’s innovation, anticipating the audience’s positive response due to the familiarity and popularity of the songs.
Charis enjoyed the element of surprise, pretending unawareness before the transition, and was thrilled by the crowd’s energetic reaction upon hearing the familiar lyrics “Show you off,” echoing the joyous experience shared with her band.
“I’ve been waiting to reveal it for really long because it was a twist that I was so proud of my band for coming up with, and I knew that it would be very well received as they are two very well-known and loved songs.”
Chang Aik Chuan, a second-year Social Sciences student, also the lead singer for his band dukes, looks back on his journey in SoundFoundry leading up to LFN.
“I didn’t come into SF thinking I would be a vocalist. I was mainly a bassist and occasionally played guitar with other members, but I was convinced to make the switch to sing after we couldn’t find anyone available to do rock and metal with us,” Aik Chuan recalls his experience.
As a novice singer, he underwent a lot of trial and error to refine his vocal techniques. Seeking guidance from seasoned vocalists within the club, he diligently learned their methods for warming up vocals before performances and managed to use them effectively for his LFN.
Despite experiencing natural nerves on the day of the performance, Aik Chuan assured himself and the band that it was merely another routine day. With a history of numerous performances, they avoided adding unnecessary pressure on themselves. Notwithstanding technical glitches and making more errors than usual during the show, he asserted that it was the most comfortable they have been on stage.
One of his favourite moments on stage was the buildup and ending of the last song on their set list, One Step Closer by Linkin Park.
“We slowed down the song and there was so much suspense – when the music hit and I could see the crowd headbang and shout the lyrics with us, that was so visceral and heavy,” Aik Chuan recaptures the memory in his mind.
LFN Beyond the Limelight
While the artists left an indelible mark on stage, the whole team involved in SoundFoundry embarked on a journey of their own behind the scenes. Each member of the EXCO committee, with their unique responsibilities and challenges, walked away from LFN not only with the joy of a successful event but also with invaluable lessons that reshaped their understanding of event production, teamwork, and personal growth.
“This whole event planning experience has taught me many life lessons. Things like communication, relationship management as well and just thinking outside the box, really helped pull the entire thing together,” Darius reflects on his journey.
When the members were elected as SoundFoundry’s 20th Executive Committee a year ago, there was a hesitation to envision orchestrating something of this magnitude. However, the experience has been enlightening for them, fostering strong camaraderie and valuable friendships throughout this collective endeavour.
“As a band member, this experience pushed the boundaries of what I thought was possible with live music. For some context, my keyboardist is also a DJ, and his knowledge of the different patches and things you can play around with on the keyboard enabled us to play the music that I didn’t think a live band would be able to play without a backing track,” Charis recalls her experience as tubs’ vocalist.
As SoundFoundry’s Vice-President, Charis also had the opportunity to gain fresh insights from her highly experienced and hardworking team members about the meticulous planning involved in orchestrating a large-scale event like LFN from start to finish. She mentions that her newfound experience would impact the way she works significantly if she were to plan any events in the future.
“In the future, I look forward to LFN being bigger than ever, and to be even more inclusive by incorporating more art forms like dance and visual arts, as well as food options. We also want to reach out to all the tertiary institutions to come and enjoy the show (with us in the future), as it is not just for SMU students,” Edmund shares his final thoughts on LFN as SoundFoundry’s President.