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Unplugged and Uncovered: Project Tomodachi

by Kristoffer Videl Wijono

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!"

muttered emcee V under his breath, emcee C by his side. The crowd that had filled up the auditorium was beyond impressive (especially for a student-run project, in a 300-person venue)—and frankly quite intimidating, he thought to himself. Still, the folks came for a show, and a show was what they were getting. As he walked up the stage, he steeled himself, all the while unconsciously picking at his slightly wrinkled clothes.


“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen!” he began.


“Welcome, one and all,” his partner followed up, “to the Interhall Live Band Concert…Project Tomodachi: Heartstrings Unplugged!”


And just like that, Project Tomodachi had officially begun.


Emcees V and C

(Photo credit: Tricia)


The Start of a Friendship

Project Tomodachi is a concert with a rather tragic background, yet still one driven by a noble motive—something it successfully achieves with each iteration, given the wondrously positive reception it always draws.


Project Tomodachi is an initiative by RH Unplugged, whereby bands from the Halls of NUS each record a couple songs to be released as an interhall album. It was motivated primarily by the impacts of the pandemic on interhall relations, which were severely hindered by the restrictions set in place then. As the name suggests (tomodachi means friend—for the benefit of all the uncultured non-weebs among the readers), the concept of the concert emerged to strengthen interhall friendships and keep everyone going through the noose of the pandemic.


KR Inspire

(Photo credit: Tricia)


Originally a simple Spotify album comprising the various bands’ own recordings, the project has since evolved to also include a live concert, the first of which was during last year’s iteration (January 2023). Seeing the great success of last year’s live concert (which sold over 120 tickets), our dear RH Unplugged committee set out to produce a re-run this year.


This year’s theme is ‘Heartstrings Unplugged’, meant to signify how the event serves to celebrate love, friends, and family—fitting like a glove with the project’s tomodachi moniker. Pieces performed were all centred around the concept of love and relationships, jointly showcasing their multifaceted nature through the power of music. To top it off, it was set precisely a week after Valentine’s Day—in the season of love!


With seven extremely talented CCAs from Raffles Hall, Sheares Hall, Eusoff Hall, King Edward VII Hall, and Kent Ridge Hall (on top of two very cheery and more importantly as-un-cringey-as-possible emcees—apologies for the shameless self-plug), the success of the event clearly did not surprise anyone in attendance. Such a major, external, and—most significantly—interhall event, however, could not have appeared out of thin air. Only through the tireless toils of the RH Unpluggies was the concert able to truly succeed.


KEVII Band

(Photo credit: Tricia)


The Makings of a Friendship

The planning process for the Project kicked off close to a year before the actual day itself. RH Unplugged Head Raeanne mentioned how planning began “in the summer”, where the major components of the event were decided on, including preserving the essence of Project Tomodachi—the Spotify album recording which the original iteration comprised—despite the various logistical complications entailed. It is tradition, after all!


While the main RH Unplugged committee handled external affairs and administrative matters, the internal Tomodachi committee within the CCA helped to iron out the other details. The Publicity team handled public outreach through social media and poster design (if you saw our posters around Raffles, hope you liked them!), the Logistics team procured any necessary materials and helped set up the venue on the actual day itself, and the Welfare team took care of everyone involved in the event—performers and committee alike. Despite the workload amidst the Week 6 rush, the teamwork was smooth, and a fun working environment was evident for all. As Welfare member Tiffany herself shared, “It was quite a fulfilling experience to work together with my fellow CCA friends and EXCO. And seeing how successfully the show went, weeks of preparation were worth it!”


Sheares Geyao

(Photo credit: Tricia)


Rocky Times in a Friendship

Unfortunately, not all the issues were easily addressed. The previous year’s concert benefited greatly from having access to the venue for the entire day, allowing for plenty of setup time as well as tech runs for the performers. Moreover, excuse letters for the performers were able to be procured without issue, thus allowing performers to reach the venues earlier to enable a more seamless setup process. This year, though, there were no such luxuries: the venue only allowed for 10 hours of usage, and only the folks from Raffles Hall were granted excuse letters. This meant that the performers had to make do with tech runs much shorter than last year’s. Moreover, both performers and emcees alike had only one chance: there was insufficient time for a full rehearsal, so despite some issues popping up onstage, the show had to go on.


EH Bandits

(Photo credit: Yihui)


Good Times in a Friendship

Nonetheless, these small bumps did little to dampen the atmosphere in the auditorium. The audience erupted with applause and cheers after every performance, which only further pushed the performers towards even higher emotional highs. Emcee V said, “There’s nothing quite like seeing an entire crowd burst into cheers at the end of an awesome performance.” Indeed, joy was evident in everyone’s faces, even amidst RH Unplugged vocalist Sze Ying’s relationship status roasting. One incoming freshman, W, who was kind enough to indulge us, also shared, “I thought it was an eye-opening experience since I got to see many of the halls perform and see their styles!”


The beauty of the show did not merely end at entertainment, however, as it presented itself as an opportunity of cultural exchange amongst all the jolly performers. Sparks flew all across as performances ranging from Sheares Geyao’s lively Mandopop to RHockerfellas’ funky grooves and KR Rockers’ high-octane solos filled the auditorium. As legendary RH Unplugged & RHockerfellas multi-instrumentalist (lord) Simeon himself put it, “It’s been so incredible seeing all the different performers come together and play such different things tonight!”


RHockerfellas

(Photo credit: Yihui)


The concert itself was quite the smashing success. Project Tomodachi 2024 managed to significantly outsell the 2023 predecessor (approximately 175 and 120 tickets sold respectively, excluding special invitees), and it could be confidently said that every band really managed to showcase their music to their fullest potential. The pride and joy of each performer was on full display every single second they were on stage—a clear reflection of the support they received from the loving audience (thank you to everyone who came!).


KR Rockers

(Photo credit: Tricia)


Celebrating a Friendship

Given the widespread joy in its wake, it is easy to surmise that Project Tomodachi once again managed to achieve its aim of promoting and celebrating relationships. Hopefully, we will see more and more of similar interhall events so that we can transcend any boundaries between halls.


If anyone missed the performance or misses the performance (man, I sure miss RH Unplugged’s Love), then make sure to come stream our joint album on Spotify when it comes out! :) 


RH Unplugged

(Photo credit: Patrick)


See you at next year’s Project Tomodachi!


Project Tomodachi: Heartstrings Unplugged

(Source: RH Unplugged Tomodachi Publicity Team)


Special thanks to:

  • RH Unplugged Head Raeanne Lim for sharing about the planning and execution stages of Project Tomodachi

  • Welfare Team member Tiffany Margareta, incoming freshman W, Lord Simeon Yap, and emcee Kristoffer Videl for agreeing to supply quotes

  • All the performers from Raffles Hall, Kent Ridge Hall, King Edward VII Hall, Eusoff Hall, and Sheares Hall

  • The entire Project Tomodachi committee, as well as everyone from Tech Crew, Board of Photography, and Phoenix Studios for helping to make Project Tomodachi a great success

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