It felt very surreal to arrive back to Singapore, felt like everything was a dream, or is this a dream? Maybe when school starts it will be a nightmare. Everything that happened in the past 6 months is very surreal indeed, and getting back into hot and sunny Singapore, the all-too-familiar right-hand drive roads lined with trees, into my tiny flat, suddenly my room doesn’t seem that familiar. My bed feels different, my table feels different, yet it probably remained the same. It’s a strange feeling.
Let’s see, where shall I start? Maybe with Spirit West Coast.
Spirit West Coast at Del Mar was probably the most reqardig experience so far. Being able to go on stage filming all my favourite bands heard on Air1 is like a dream come true. I volunteered for a video crew position by faith a few months back, knowing that I would probably come alone since no one else will be as crazy as me to want to come all the way down south to San Diego just for a Christian music festival.
I rented a car from the local Enterprise, by grace I was able to upgrade to a Prius using a coupon I had with only $17 increase to $150/week. It was an awesome deal for a fuel-efficient car of 45mpg on average. Earlier, I posted a few ads on Zimride and Criagslist, with the latter being more responsive and more last minute on the day post. Managed to find a girl who’s going lighting in a bottle in irvine, which turned out to be a hippish electronic music festival. More on that later. Also picked up an Indian guy who works in the valley but whose home is in Valencia. This two pickups allowed me to offset my gas charges. Great!
The drive down south was pretty smooth with a stopover in Gilroy and somewhere 3/4 down I5. On the way it was quite interesting to chat with the two people from very diverse backgrounds. The girl, Lisa, is half-jap and graduated 2 years ago and isn’t doing anything at the moment. She’s the loud, loves partying and having fun and going wild kind of girl, probably the most wild that I’ve met; while the Indian guy, Ramesh, has a sad story as he lost one of his sons in a traffic accident. Sad story, but what to do, life goes on.
It took about 10 hours to reach SD with the evening LA traffic and drop offs, although google said 8 hours. The girl kinda drove thru the traffic, fortunately we have the awesome carpool lanes. I couldn’t make it for the 8pm meeting, and I managed to find a hostel at Ocean Beach and decided to turn in for the night. There was free parking, and some crazy backpackers partying along the street. Other than that, I slept with 5 others in a stuffy room for $20 a night.
The next morning, drove a short way to Del Mar Fairgrounds, managed to park without paying, and registered as a volunteer and went to find the stage where the video crew is. There was a truck and a small trailer, along with a few picnic tables, BBQ pit and lotsa food! The people were very nice, mostly lau jiaos who have been volunteering at the festival the past few years. Met the two bosses, Tom and Dave, who are two nice and funny guys, reminds me of Encik Teoh and the MSGs lol. They like to joke around, sometimes sarcastically, but all in the name of fun. The morning was a pretty simple one, with Traci showing me around the cameras, and I managed to explore the painting, directing and sound rooms in the truck. The first performance started at around 1pm, and my first job was doing the side camera. I must say, it was my first time filming live with a headset strapped to my ear, listening to the director’s instructions and sometimes using my initiative to find my own shots. It was really really fun. I was on the side camera once, on the right main camera twice, on handheld twice, and handheld pulled twice. Doing handheld was another experience altogether. Although the camera was heavy, but nuStudios trained me well I guess, and it was cool to get the angles that I was seen in DVDs: behind the drummer, CU on the keys, low angle on the electric guitarist, CU of the audience worshipping etc. It was wayy cool! I must say I wasn’t a very good cable puller though, I wasn’t fast enough to catch up. But it was all good.
I also was blessed to be able to try out the painter position after watching Traci do it once. Painting is actually controlling the iris thereby controlling the brightness of the pictures that appeared on screen. I painted for some artist and barlowgirl, it was definitely exciting as it puts you in a seat similar to the director’s: being able to view all the monitors and painting them in real time is a challenge. I was also praised twice by Ben from JCTV, once for doing a good paint job, and another for being a good worker in helping to keep the cables. (Thank RSAF for teaching me how to be a good worker. lol.)
The bands which were there were quite amazing: Skillet with pyrotechnics rocked the crowd, Steven C Chapman, Newsboys with the new dc talk lead vocalist, Stellar Kart, Hawk Nelson, Franesca, Fireflight and much more. There are really many young talents around. Matthew West said his testimony on how he was diagnosed with almost losing his voice, but a miracle happened and he was healed completely, and now he can sing great songs to God.
Sleeping in the car is another experience altogether. Not the first time since I slept twice in the car in NY. The Prius haa nice fold-down rear sests, allowing a flat surface extending to the boot. Hence I was able to lay flat on my comforter. I thought it will be warmer this time in San Diego, but it was still very cold in middle the night. I had to turn on the engine for the heater to work for a bit. It was also a miracle to park the car: I drove in the first day without paying any parking fee as the parking lot attendant is not there yet. When I drove out at night to enter by tg camping gate, I was supposed to look for the campground manager as the attendant was not able to issue me a coupon. But I couldn’t find the manager, but since I’m inside, I just parked anyway near the backstage area and parked there forever.
On the way back from Del Mar, I picked up another guy, Bobbie, who wanted to go SC from SD, and the same girl again after her festival. She was very hyper and jumped to the back seat and told the guy what happened in her music festival. The interesting thing about the conversation is how similar our music festivals are and yet how different. In her festival, she met the founder of the event, who was apparently a “legit” (slang for awesomely authentic) person who spoke some “words of wisdom” into her life. Also she thought that music is a bridging langauge among people and make her feel like part of a larger united community. Similarly, at Spirit West Coast, there were preachers who spoke words of wisdom, and music was a universal language created by God for man to express our worship. The difference is that the latter connects with our inner spirit being, while the former only scratches the surface of it. How much more the world needs to hear!
Spirit West Coast is one of the events that completed my “world tour” of Christian stuff, in addition to Catalyst West Coast, Spring Celebration and more. I shall continue on this on another time.