Once Upon a December

“I’d like to invite everyone to sing along with us,” said a man as he faced the crowd.  Sitting among the people that the man had just addressed, I didn’t hesitate and began searching for that slip of paper inserted into the booklet given to me earlier.  On the paper were the lyrics of a song I had heard a thousand times yet realized just then I never really knew by heart.  “Come and behold Him.   Born the King of Angels!   O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”   I sang in my low voice, making sure that I would not be too loud so as to not attract any attention unlike the woman seated in front of me who was belting out the lines with no apparent difficulty.

It may sound as if I was in Church praising God, but I was nowhere near one.  It was not even Sunday.  In fact, it was a chilly Friday night, and I was in Pasay City.  I, along with hundreds more, was in the Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo or the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and the man who encouraged everyone to lift their voices was Mr. Herminigildo Ranera, or as I should properly call him, Maestro Herminigildo Ranera, the conductor of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) for that night.   Yes, audiences don’t sing during orchestral performances, but as you can probably tell, this wasn’t a regular orchestral performance to begin with.

Despite the rain and the distance of the venue, I decided to go and witness the PPO’s concert last December 14 because I knew it was going to be extra special.  If the lyrics of the song were not obvious enough a clue, it was a Christmas presentation; moreover, it was PPO’s final show for its 36th season, which also coincided with its 45th anniversary.  I had already missed their performance at UP Diliman the week before, along with various UP choral groups, wherein they performed Handel’s Messiah, so I didn’t want to miss this one anymore.  After all, Christmastime isn’t all year round.

PPO_20182

Taking of photos or videos while the concert is ongoing is prohibited, but this was taken literally a few seconds before the orchestra members left the stage, so the rule no longer applies! 😉

The orchestra performed these as part of the repertoire: The Christmas Elf – Overture (Pfitzner), Violin Concerto No.5 in A (Mozart), Hansel and Gretel Prelude to Act One (Humperdinck), The Nutcracker Suite (Tchaikovsky), and different carols such as Pasko na Namang Muli, O Come all Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World.  Young Filipino violinist Joaquin “Chino” Gutierrez, who especially made the trip back home from Austria, where he is studying at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, was the featured soloist and superbly performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto.  The sound of the soaring violin, accompanied by the orchestra, tugged on my heartstrings and transported me to another time and place, and wove a tapestry of scenes in my head despite the absence of lyrical images.

The Nutcracker Suite, I must say, was my favorite part.  One of the main reasons I wanted to be there that night was primarily because of it.  I knew it because it is a popular Christmas ballet, but I wasn’t fully aware of how it went.  Or so I thought.  Once the PPO played one movement to the next, it was only then that I came to the realization that I actually knew the suite; I just didn’t know that they belonged to the same composition.  Obviously, when it comes to classical music, although I do enjoy consuming it, I have yet to fully acquaint myself with that world.

PPO_20184

After two hours, some showering of bravos, and encores, the night was finally done.  Some people immediately got out of the building while others still milled around the lobby.  Outside, the lit fountain in front of the CCP continued to spew water up in the air.  Further out was a view of Roxas Boulevard with the headlights of vehicles, lampposts, Christmas lights and lanterns cutting through the dark December night.  It was only a few days before Christmas and several more before the New Year.  I momentarily stood there at the lobby and absorbed the scenes, glad to have experienced a lovely time before the year would finally bid everyone adieu.

 

Advertisements

язык и музыка

до свидания (bye) and нет (no ) — these were the only Russian words I knew until a couple of years back, and I wouldn’t even have known them if I had not encountered them in some Hollywood films. Russian was practically an alien language to me, recognizing only how the letters looked but had zero knowledge about how they even sounded.  In films, Russian sounds strong and intimidating, but it was these features why I’d always wanted to learn it ever since I was young in the first place.  I never got to explore the language, however, until 2016 arrived.  Strangely, the biggest push for me to start learning it was the confusing and toxic political situation of the country in 2016.

Long story short, the Philippines — thanks to then newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte — started pivoting towards Russia, which was something that was unprecedented given that the Philippines had always been a vocal and strong ally of the United States. I thought, “hey, perhaps this is a sign that I really should start learning the language!”  Well, I didn’t really seriously study Russian but more like got myself acquainted with the alphabet and some basic phrases and sentences with the help of some language apps and websites.  I only did so whenever I had the extra time or extra patience in me, though.

To supplement the apps, I then decided to start watching some Russian movies and listening to some music.  Growing up with only Filipino, English, and a bit of Spanish music, I naturally had extremely limited knowledge of Russian music, being familiar only with a few names in the classical world such as Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky, and at the end of the spectrum, Regina Spektor and the pop duo t.A.T.u.

To be quite honest, I thought all I was going to find when I typed “Russian music” on Spotify was a bunch of either metal or clubbing songs, but I was proven wrong!  Yes, there were metal and electronic-heavy tunes, but there were also a lot of other songs that better suited my taste. Listening to a handful of them, I realized that they sounded very much like the ones I listen to here in the Philippines; the only difference was that the singers were using another language.

There were these couple of playlists that helped me discover several good tunes: The Best of Russian Indie Music of 2014 and 2016. Many artists sang in Russian, but there were also those who had English lyrics. Since I couldn’t understand what the others were saying, I could only appreciate how they sounded.

Here are a few of the artists that I have discovered via the playlists and beyond:

Mana Island

Наадя

Artemiev

Марсу Нужны Любовники

КИМАКИМА

Pompeya

The Tweed

Unfortunately, since I didn’t really study the language seriously, I still can’t comprehend their lyrics. Without a copy of the lyrics and their translation, I can only pick up some words and phrases but cannot grasp what the song really is about.

I know I’ve still got a pretty looonng way to go when it comes to the language, but at the very least I stumbled upon some nice music, right?

Was Geht Denn Ab, Leoniden?

Whenever Leoniden post an Instagram story, I never understand anything they say except the occasional mention of “Swipe Up”, certain names of some German cities, and their current favorite greeting “Was geht denn ab?”  Everything else is lost on me (but I like watching them because they’re hilarious!) The same isn’t applicable when it comes to their music, however.  It’s not just because this band from Kiel, Germany opt to sing in English and the language barrier has been eliminated, but moreover, I can relate to their words.

leoniden

photo: gigmit.com / L-R: Lennart Eicke (guitar, vocals), Felix Eicke (drums), Jakob Amr (vocals, keys, synths), Djamin-Izadi Kooshki (keys, vocals), Jann Phillip Neumann (bass)

It wasn’t always like that, though.  I discovered them through an internationally syndicated radio program called Passport Approved, which aired on Jam88.3, a local radio station, earlier this year.  I got introduced to their sound when I heard Nevermind, a guitar and keys flavored upbeat track, with a dash of choral singing added for good measure.  It didn’t really catch my full attention, honestly.  I even failed to get the band’s name or the track’s title, only learning about these details later on. The same thing happened with their other song 1990: I simply heard it. It went on for several weeks, until finally, one Saturday morning when I walked past my radio while it was playing 1990, I heard the vocalist and a choir declaring

“Anyone can fill the space beneath the sky...”

What once were words that merely entered one ear and exited the other now remained and prompted me to stop and listen right then and there.  

 

I then rummaged through Passport Approved’s website to find out the identity of this band, and when I finally did, I checked out their discography and realized that these people from halfway around the globe had been trying to tell me something all along.   I listened to their self-titled debut released in 2017, careful not to simply abandon listening to the entire work by focusing only on the ones I got acquainted with the first, something I am guilty of doing with some of the albums I’ve listened to during this streaming era.

Leoniden employs the basic guitar and drums combination as well as some keyboards and synthesizers. It is notable, however,  the presence of a choral group, whose contribution can be heard in Nevermind, 1990, Sisters, Storm, and City.  Having a choir then distinguishes their sound from that of the other new bands’ in the market today.   It is an album filled with catchy hooks and youthful exuberance. It is also angsty and many of its lyrics deal with frustration, hope (and lack of it), the search for one’s identity, among others.

 

 

These qualities are extended to Again, the band’s sophomore album released just last October 26.  The sound of Again has more elements and uses more synths compared to its predecessor. It is dancier, more complex, and more pop. Vocals are higher in pitch and more confident.  The album deals with positivity, identity, doubts, anxiety, and love — something that many can surely relate to.   Personally my top tracks are Kids, Not Enough, People, Alone (which I couldn’t stand listening to initially), Slow, and most of all River, which is mellow, lush, and multi-textured; it is a stand out in the album.

Although the year isn’t finished yet, I can undoubtedly say that Leoniden are my best musical discovery this 2018, (something I already realized as early as August!), and I definitely recommend their albums to people who are looking for music that’s fresh, highly energetic, fun, and introspective at the same time.

 

______________________________________.
Habibis, get to know Leoniden more and get yourself addicted! 😀   Drop by their official website and their Instagram page.

Karpos Live Mix 3.1 part 2: The Royal Concept

It took quite a long while and even some assistance from guitarist Filip Bekic before The Royal Concept could set up, which made me wonder if they were having some technical difficulties. Once finally done though, The Royal Concept graced the stage and were greeted by an ecstatic crowd who had longed for the band’s much awaited return.  

TRC_full

The Royal Concept wasted no time in making an otherwise lazy Sunday night into a dance party.  They launched their set with 2011’s Gimme Twice quickly followed by D-D-Dance.  Most of the songs played were taken from their debut and only full album so far, Goldrushed, interspersed with some from their 2015 Smile EP and their current offering, The Wake Up EP released in the middle of their Asian tour last September 26.  

Larson established pretty much from the get-go an excellent connection with the audience: addressing the crowd and giving some bits of information about some of their songs.  For example, before playing In the End, he said that it was a favorite of his and that it was written in Bekic’s parents’ living room almost ten years ago. In another instance, after playing Shut the World, he gave everyone the “biggest thanks from Sweden” and expressed his appreciation to Over October and co-headliner, Urbandub. Larson also voiced out his amazement at the richness of live (band) music in the Philippines and compared how different it was in Sweden, where DJs were the the top acts.  He also urged everyone to continue their support for the live music scene.

TRC_mcs

photo: Manila Concert Scene. I don’t really recall them playing these four songs, though: Hurricane, Need to Know, Radio, and Wild Things.

Larson would also frequently go to the barrier to sing there and get some hugs from the crowd, something that many of the fans took advantage of by getting some selfies with the front man, embracing him, or even stealing a kiss. But perhaps the biggest interaction he had with the audience was when during Damn, which, by the way according to Larson, was a request made by some Filipino fans he met during the M&G, he decided to go crowd surfing.

Ever since I saw Thomas Mars of the French band Phoenix go crowd surfing (or at least attempted to do so) in 2014, I’ve always been a bit worried about artists doing it.  I’m no stranger to mosh pits, and I have even been bruised up on one occasion by body slamming men during a nu metal show (I was fine.  It was actually fun!) but I’d prefer slamming than artists crowd surfing, honestly!  In my experience, when there’s a mosh pit, people can choose whether to distance themselves from the rowdy audience members or join the riot, but when an artist mingles with the people, almost everyone in the crowd would want to be closer to him, so they can take photos or get to touch him.  Some won’t care if people are getting squished so long as they get to be closer to the front man. (I’m looking at you Phoenix Manila concert 2017!) So when I saw that Larson was preparing to jump into the crowd, and I felt the wave of people pushing me from behind, all I could think of was “Oh, no!” Although I didn’t want to be part of any of it, I found myself getting nearer and nearer to the front man, so I braced myself for a potential disaster.  Finally, he was just right above me, and I had no choice but support him. My mind though was screaming “Get this blonde dude on that stage NOW!”  :D. Fortunately, his crowd surfing stint was really brief (maybe less than 20 seconds?) and the people were able to carry him.  Seriously, I let out a sigh of relief when it finally ended.

TRC_bekiclarsson

Some minor boo-boos:  For starters, Larson’s microphone kept on slipping and he accidentally dropped it during Fashion; the mic on his keyboard also wouldn’t stay put and kept on pointing downward; he and Robert also almost bumped each other on a couple of songs; Larson had someone fix his monitor while singing Smile; and he slightly slipped while he was stepping on one of the amps on Shut the World.  All’s part of a live show!

Larson was not the only one who took the spotlight: Filip Bekic showed off some skillful guitar action, and I particularly find his guitar performance during Kick It and his solo during Cabin Down Below memorable.  It was also during the latter when drummer Povel Olsson took the vocal responsibilities from Larson and sang a part of it towards the end.  Keyboardist Jonatan Larson, despite being in the farthest location was also thrust into the foreground during Smile and Up All Night. Bassist Magnus Robert, on the other hand, seemed to have been blissfully lost in music during the performance of Shut the World.  

The band ended the night with Just Wanna Be Loved By U, a ballad off Smile EP.  After all the sun soaked, synthesizer heavy tunes, it was a good way of calming everybody down and ushering the new work week ahead.  Some people, including I, were actually clamoring for the band to play Goldrushed, but they no longer did, which was rather unfortunate because I was sooo looking forward to it.  

But I  really can’t complain because I got more than what I had expected, anyway.  It definitely was the most fun concert I had this year thanks largely to the audience. Apart from the fact that the people didn’t drop Larson while crowd surfing (haha!), many were not stuck on their phones, merely standing still to capture moments on their devices. They sang.  They waved their hands. They jumped. They moved! On Our Way would be the most enjoyable part for me as everybody (well at least in my section of the audience) was so pumped up and the energy was really high.

TRC_bekic1

I just have an issue with the trackspots.  Many times,  I could barely see the faces of the members (and to think I was near the stage).  Ironically, it was Over October’s members that had the best illumination; I could even see Janessa’s (drummer) face just fine.  

So how did I end up meeting The Royal Concept?  A last minute decision to purchase some merch and line up! As I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, I didn’t really have any intention of joining any M&G activity, but while I was near the exit, I thought why not grab the opportunity to meet them?  I mean, I was already there, and I planned on taking photos of them while having the M&G with other fans, anyway! So I impulsively bought some merch (special thanks to the couple whom I met who offered to buy the merch for me while I was in line) and the next minute, I was right in front of them.

Days after the concert, Karpos tweeted The Royal Concept saying “See you soon.”  I wonder how soon it would be: Will they be returning to Wanderland in March 2019?  Will they have a stand-alone concert in the first half of the new year?  I don’t know when or where it would be.  All I know is that I hope to be there when it happens.  

 

 

 

_____________________

P.S.  Before the concert ended, Larson invited people to hang out with the band at some bar.  I wonder if anyone did accept the invitation.  

 

Karpos Live Mix 3.1 part 1: Urbandub

Four years ago I had the opportunity to ask David Larson some questions during a live Facebook chat sponsored by Karpos Multimedia, the producer of Wanderland Arts and Music Festival , wherein Larson’s band, The Royal Concept, were a part of.  Larson, one-fourth of the said Swedish quartet responded, and I was delighted to have interacted with a band I discovered and wrote about here a year prior.  Two weeks back, I had again the opportunity to interact with Larson only this time in person.  But unlike the confident me who asked him a couple of questions in 2014, I couldn’t think of anything to say this time.  Instead, all I could do was smile and bashfully say “Hi”. I guess I got a bit intimidated because he was just silent and he looked the most serious among the five!

karposlive3.1_2

I normally don’t watch concerts (or even like leaving the house) on Sundays nor buy early bird tickets, but as soon as I saw a radio station re-tweet The Royal Concept’s announcement of their return, I immediately blocked the date in my calendar and purchased ticket a week after despite not having anyone to go with.

I neither wished nor expected to have an M&G experience with The Royal Concept when I attended the Karpos Live Mix 3.1 last October 7.  I didn’t care if there were some M&G passes being given away prior to the show, and when I learned on that day itself that there were some merch being sold for an after-show signing, I didn’t even bother to buy any.  My sole goal that Sunday night was to catch Urbandub and of course The Royal Concept, whose debut at the 2014 Wanderland I failed to witness.

Urbandub + The Royal Concept seemed like an odd mix.  As the vocalist of the band She’s Only Sixteen, Roberto Seña even commented on Twitter, it was as if Phoenix and Deftones (or Glassjaw) were having a concert together. And I couldn’t agree with him more. Urbandub’s hard-hitting music didn’t quite match The Royal Concept’s sunny and upbeat tunes. But in a way, it was perfect to me, too, since I’m an admirer of both groups. I didn’t have to endure one just to wait for the other to come up on stage.  It had, however, been such a long time since I got to see Urbandub live — eleven long years to be exact, and in the case of The Royal Concept, although I knew the members and I was familiar with their EPs and album, I must admit that I could not really consider myself a massive fan compared perhaps to the other people who were present that night. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to see them both; in fact, I got excited literally from the day I heard the announcement up until the day of the show itself. I knew that it was something I would definitely regret if I let it slip.

Over October_KLM3.1

For a few seconds, the drumstick slipped off Janessa’s hand.  It was barely noticeable and she quickly recovered it, anyway.  On another note, their guitarist, reminded me of Mike Elgar.

The concert was started at 19:30 by a local band called Over October. Consisting of four members –a couple of Josh’s, Joric, and Janessa– the band performed 4 songs (Scream and Wait being two of those) that had a mix of acoustic and melodic pop-rock flavors.   I had not heard of them before that night, so it was interesting to experience all their songs live for the first time.

Rock royalty Urbandub took the stage at around 20:30 and performed a string of their hits and some non-singles, starting with Soul Searching, the song that opened their doors to the Manila market.  Their 12-song set came from their 2003 – 2009 albums, many of which from 2005’s Embrace, a personal favorite.   

Setlist:| Soul Searching | Gravity | Endless, A Silent Whisper | Frailty  | A New Tattoo | Evidence | A Call to Arms | Sailing | First of Summer | Guillotine | The Fight Is Over | Alert the Armory

urbandub_lalaylim_klm3.1

Lalay!

Aside from the fact that I’d be seeing Urbandub after such a long time, another thing that made the band’s performance special was the attendance of bassist Lalay Lim-Geronimo, who stepped away from the limelight when Gabby Alipe and John Dinopol reformed the band in 2016.  Lalay is, without a doubt, one of the best bass players in the local music scene, and seeing her play again was actually one of the biggest things I looked forward to that night! Her energy simply radiated on stage every time she hit the bass or sang with Alipe’s emotive vocals. The same could be said about Dinopol, who seemed weightless every time he jumped and rock along to their songs.

Watching Urbandub after 11 long years put me in a big throwback. There were times I felt I was transported back to Saguijo or Kublai’s watching a Sonic Boom Productions gig. At first, I thought, the crowd wouldn’t be that receptive because they might be mostly composed of young people waiting only for The Royal Concept, but I was wrong. The audience was very much engaged during the whole performance of Urbandub: reacting to Gabbys “hugot” lines and jokes, cheering, and singing along, prompting Gabby to comment how he appreciated it.  Clearly, the audience was having fun, but it was apparent that Urbandub were, too.

urbandub_klm3.1

“A lot of you are singing along, and it’s beautiful!” – Alipe

urbandub_klm3.1.2

Together with Lalay, Gabby, and John, Russ Manaloto and Sam Saludsong filled in the roles of additional guitarist and drummer, respectively.

I liked how Alipe would introduce some songs with simple and short descriptions (e.g. how Sailing is about their home; A Call to Arms, about hope; and A New Tattoo, about unrequited love, etc.) and whenever he would tease the audience to let go or move on from being brokenhearted.  Also notable was the time when they suspended a part of Evidence, and then only Alipe and Dinopol resumed playing so slowly, side by side, before having the full band continue and wrap up everything.

About an hour after Urbandub started playing, they were finally down to their last song, Alert the Armory, which paved the way for the next act, one of Sweden’s musical exports, The Royal Concept.  

Summer Noise

Image result for summer noise 2018

It was around 5:30 in the afternoon.  About thirty minutes more and what was left of the soft sunlight penetrating the huge glass windows encasing the concert venue would give way to the night.  In front of me were mostly young adults cheering this lone female musician onstage, and behind her, a name was displayed in a bold bright yellow font:  BP Valenzuela.  This must be the earliest gig I have ever been to.  Well, this is a first, I thought while fanning myself with a flyer given to me at the entrance downstairs.   This was no ordinary gig, and I was not in any of the usual bars I used to frequent back in the days when gigging was a ritual for me.  I was at Summer Noise, a music festival organized by The Rest Is Noise held last May 5 at the Century City Mall Events Space in Makati.

Aside from the fact that it was my first time to watch an afternoon gig that was already well underway, this concert had other many firsts.  For starters, it was my first proper music festival.  Music shows that had a long roster of artists such as the UP Fair and other school gigs were the closest thing to a music festival I had ever attended.  Practically all music events I had been to were held only in bars, concert halls, or arenas as in the case of international acts.  Next, it was the first music festival I attended on my own.  I have been to major concerts alone, but compared to music festivals, I didn’t have to watch them for more than five hours or wait for a long time for so many bands to set up and begin.  It was actually funny because just a month before, I declared that I didn’t think that I would ever learn how to watch a concert with more than two bands alone and yet there I was.

I would not have attended it to begin with if one band had not been included – Dicta License.  The last time I had seen them was in May 2015, and I had been missing them since.  Attending Summer Noise actually hit two birds with one stone: I got to see Dicta License again after three long years and I learned how to be on my own in such an event (because I cannot always miss such events just because no one is available or interested to accompany me!)

BPValenzuela_SummernoiseAside from being able to watch Dicta License, I was also exposed to a slew of acts all coming from different genres.  This was the first time after such a long time that I got to watch Filipino bands.  I used to gig a lot, but as years passed by, I found fewer bands that really interested me and I had less time to spend on watching them.  In addition, many of my gig buddies have stopped attending gigs, so it was even more difficult to be out there.  Seeing all these new faces and not just their names on music websites, and hearing what they had to offer was then a treat.  Also, three international acts were injected in the roster, making the event even better.

Since I arrived late, I got to watch only half of the total number of bands that were playing.  Like what I have mentioned earlier, BP Valenzuela was the first act I caught.  I rather expected a lot from her set since I knew many people are into her electronic-laden tunes.  However, the sound system was not cooperative that day and messed up some parts of her performance.   She apologized several times for the technical glitches, something that was not entirely her fault.  It was hard for me to appreciate her sound since there was either too much feedback from the microphone or blare from the speakers.  Perhaps, another reason why I did not appreciate her music much was that the songs she performed sounded the same to me that it was difficult to finger where one song ended, and the next one began.

SO16_Summernoise

Next up were She’s Only Sixteen, whose performance totally pumped up the crowd, and their The Strokes-ish song Dying to Meet You brought many people dancing on their feet.  Their set was fun and made it impossible for me not to bob my head along to the tune at least though most of what they played were new to my ears.

The first international act for the night was Hong Kong-based band, The Sleeves.  The members of The Sleeves are actually from the UK; the vocalist’s accent was a dead giveaway.  They were introduced as having influences coming from The Kinks, The Sex Pistols, The Stone Roses, and other big rock n’ roll names, so I expected to hear some big guitar-centered tunes.   And they did not disappoint.  Their guitar work was superb; all three guitars conversed harmoniously and the drums tied everything together.  Their set was in fact one of my favorites that night.

TheSleeves_Summernoise

Synths and guitars took a back seat as soon as turntables started to appear in front of the stage after the performance of The Sleeves.  It took some time to finish setting them up, but it was well worth the wait.  Uprising, a hip hop collective comprising of about 12 or so rappers, then launched a sonic attack on the audience.  Accompanied by their own visuals, the group spat verses that dealt with about politics and society.   Watching them and hearing their words actually gave me goosebumps.   It had been a while, honestly, since I heard music coming from a Filipino band or musician whose music was related to sociopolitical concerns, all with their ills and pitfalls.

Uprising_Summernoise

Uprising was the perfect act to introduce the next band, Dicta License, as both have similarities in style and content.  Dicta License finally took the stage and opened with Sugat followed by Daloy ng Kamalayan, a song about education and was pinpointed by vocalist Pochoy Labog as an important tool in combating fake news that is widespread in our society today.  Other songs performed that night were The Enemy, Ang Ating Araw, and Alay sa mga Nagkamalay sa Dekada Nobenta, which saw Labog immersing himself with the crowd  — something I had seen him do for the first time.

Nothing changed when it came to Dicta License: the intensity was still present and the set was still the same.  What changed, however, was the crowd.  I had been to many Dicta License gigs before Summer Noise, and each intense performance from the band years ago was equally reciprocated.  The people at Summer Noise, unfortunately, were not as engaged as I had hoped them to be.  Yes, they clapped and cheered for Dicta License, but compared to the audiences of Saguijo or of Freedom Bar, for instance, the reception that the band got was not commensurate to the fervency given by Dicta License.  I could not help miss the old Dicta License gigs I had been to then.

DictaLicense_Summernoise

The tinge of sadness turned into a painful pinch when Labog admitted that sometimes they wondered if there was still space for bands like Dicta License to exist in the music industry.  It is always a sad thing when good bands question their relevance, you know.

Despite their admission and doubts, Labog announced that they were actually working on their sophomore album, and that hopefully it would get released later this year.   Although I had already heard them make a similar statement more than a decade ago, I’d like to remain hopeful that they would finally stick to their promise.

The second international act, this time hailing from Singapore, then followed.   I am not so much  into rock instrumentals, but Permanence, made me appreciate them.  Their heavy and intense set, although riddled with technical difficulties especially in the beginning, created this wall of sound that surrounded the venue with an electrifying atmosphere, absorbing everyone in the audience.  For the duration of each song, the people were mostly in silence, only to release their thunderous cheers and applause in the end.  Despite all the glitches and second takes, the performance of Permanence was impressive.

Permanence_Summernoise

Munimuni, the band that came after Permanence, perhaps the received the most appreciation out of all the bands I saw that night.  From the moment they came up the stage up until they performed their last song, people were so receptive and so ready to sing their hearts out.  I read somewhere later on that they were considered the “darlings” of Summer Noise, and I would have to agree.  Their indie-folk tunes made many swoon.

If many sang along to Munimuni, Mandaue Nights and The Ransom Collective made people move:  Mandaue Nights brought with them their dancey 80s inspired electronic beats, and The Ransom Collective, their bouncy folk indie songs.  Mandaue Nights proved that language should not be a barrier to appreciating music as their songs were set in Cebuano.   There were even moments when the vocalist would mistakenly talk to the crowd in Cebuano, forgetting that many could not understand what he was actually talking about!

 

There were still three acts waiting before the night was officially over:  Tiger Pussy from Cebu, whom I was able to watch for a few minutes, Tom’s Story, and X0809 from Thailand.  However, I could no longer sustain my energy and decided to leave the venue despite not finishing the event anymore.

Staging music festivals is not an easy feat, and I must commend The Rest is Noise for making it possible.  However, it would have been better had the sound system functioned more smoothly.  There were technical difficulties that interrupted the performances of several bands that made watching them frustrating (eg. microphones malfunctioning, feedback from speakers, low volume on some songs, etc).  Also, the event would have benefited from better lighting design and more concessionaire options.

The production is set to showcase numerous local bands as well as several international acts for its year-end special, which this time, will be scheduled for two days in November.  I am still uncertain if I there’s going to be someone I know who’ll be willing to come with me on either of those days, but I don’t think I will mind if I fly solo again.