Saturday, November 19, 2005

Rude Boy and Rude Girl's Night Out

After picking up my DSL reimbursement from Len's place, Lyn and I decided to take a detour to Tiendesitas to check out the reggae show (courtesy of NU 107 and the various sponsors) last night. We were repeatedly hearing the radio ads for the event on our way to Boni so we thought it would be a shame to miss it.

We missed the last few songs of the second act (as far as I could tell) because the place was packed without a parking slot in sight. We eventually parked near the Ortigas Ave exit. I was expecting the setup to be the full-fledged concert type where there was an open lot and people sprawled on the ground smoking pot or whatever. It turned out that the main area (about half the size of a football field) had tables and chairs for eating/drinking while the different food stalls were located along the sides. The well-lit stage was in the center back portion.

By the time we arrived, the Brownbeat All Stars were starting their set. I had heard good things about these guys on the radio and in print (Pulp magazine) a few years back, but didn't really pay any attention to their singles when they were still being played on NU 107. In fact, I found their songs to be a bit annoying at the time since I couldn't appreciate the whole ska/reggae genre just yet. But as with many good bands, hearing them live changes everything. I think the real ability of a band can be judged by how well they play live. Sure, your songs could sound great on CD, but that's because you have have the luxury to re-taking, editing and tweaking all the little flaws you'll come across while recording in the studio. But when you're on stage in front of the crowd, that's something else. Anyway, their set rocked - all the instruments came together, with Skarlet doing awesome vocals. The trumpets and sax were great, complementing the keyboards, drums, and bass - not to mention the trademark ska guitar arrangements.

NU 107 jocks Andy and that guy from Against The Flow were the hosts for the evening. They did some mini-contests between sets to give the bands time to set up their equipment. It was nice and a bit weird to finally see the faces behind the voices. I would always hear their disembodied voices on the air, and seeing them on stage was a bit surreal.

The other acts in the lineup that we caught were Reggae Mistress and Mishka Adams. When Reggae Mistress came on stage, I wasn't expecting the singers to be on the heavy side. To be honest, I was a bit thrown off because of that and was a bit distracted. But they were really good, so after a songs into their set, it didn't really matter what they looked like. Here I am hating overrated boy bands on account of their sparkling smiles and conveniently polished looks...while judging genuine musicians based on what they looked like. Tsk tsk. It's the music that counts right? So yeah, they were good and even played a burning version of No Doubt's "Underneath It All".

Thoughts on the whole thing: seeing all the sponsors' banners and products being displayed in the general area, it felt a bit demeaning to see them plug their stuff when all I came for was the music. It felt a bit icky seeing the commerical machinery in action, with those GSM Blue girls going around promoting a product they probably could care less about. But then it would be impractical and unfair to feel that way. As someone put it, money makes the world go round.

I would like to say that music should be an outlet for social reform, breaking down the status quo and all that other lofty stuff I assumed to be true back in high school and college. But the fact of the matter is that music is still business, a.k.a. a means of sustaining one's self by selling a commodity or service. Given that fact, it doesn't mean that music can't be true, pure and honest. You need someone with the capital, facilities and financial means to get your music off the ground and into the people's ears. There are sell-outs (read: Pinoy Ako, Pinoy tayo), but there are honest, earnest musicians that need sponsors so they can be heard. Quid pro quo right? Nothing wrong about that.

About an hour and a half into our stay, we finally found a table so we could sit down and eat. I was surprised to run into my classmate from high school who turned out to be the owner (or manager) of the place we ordered our sisig from.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night...I wish we could have stayed longer and caught the other bands that played. We should have brought a camera - we were pretty close to the stage so we could have taken good shots of the performers. I wonder if the bouncers would let us take pictures right near the stage though.

This is all I can show for all the great music we heard:

If you look real close, you'll notice the smudged signatures of the band. They were selling their EP album at the venue so we thought of getting a copy. Lyn convinced me to go backstage and ask one of them where I could buy their CD. I felt very nervous and felt like I had a big "L" on my forehead as I walked towards the people (it was dark so I couldn't see who they were really well). I think it was Fern, the bassist, who I asked about buying a copy. He said we would have to wait for their manager who took a quick restroom break. So I waited right next to the backstage entrance and Fern finally came over and gave us a copy. We felt a bit bold and asked him if we could have the band sign our copy to which he gracefully agreed to. So there it is: pure, raw music in its unadluterated form, hot in my hands. I can imagine what they had to go through just to get their CD published. There was some purity to it, giving my money directly to the band - and not to some pirate or middleman. Thanks NU, I came out of it with a rekindled love for music.