February 14. The date is very well-known to people all over the world as it is the day that we celebrate Valentine's day, a celebration of love to a family member, girlfriend, boyfriend or your wife/husband. While some go to great lengths and cash to find a perfect venue for their Valentine date, others just settle for something different. Something...alternative.
This is what I experienced when I attended a Valentine Concert entitled "An Estrogen Valentine" at B-Side at the Collective in Malugay Street, Makati City last February 14. It was produced by my cousin who manages a music studio in Canada and an OPM advocate. The name of the event suggests that it is mostly women performing in front of a crowd. And it is not far from the truth.
I attended the place at a suited time, with my date in tow. She was opting for a Ogie Alcasid-Regine Velasquez concert at Smart Araneta Coliseum but I promised a long time ago that I'd support my cousin's concert. Besides, it was pretty close to where I'm residing. It was my first time to go to The Collective, so I really don't know what to expect. Turns out that it is almost what the name of the place implies: a place for a select group of people like rockers, skaters, art aficionados, food connoisseurs and music critics. There are stores that sell foreign food, skateboards, art toys and bars. The place is at B-Side, a bar as well. The ticket price is 200php/person, with a special rate of 300php for couples. There are 2 free beers per ticket and a free copy of December 2011 Esquire Magazine, with TV5 President Manny Pangilinan on the cover. The event was pretty big and had tables and chairs. The makeshift stage had the large amps installed along with party lights hanging from above. It also has some LED lights and a smoke machine placed on the stage for some effects to the music experience. Trippy. There are some air conditioners as well since it was outside the actual bar but there are places that the air conditioner doesn't reach, which is where we are at. It was a little humid but it can be tolerated. The place was dim but not dark. We were near the stage but we were facing the left side of the performers.
As usual with Filipinos, there is the notorious "Filipino Time" so the event started at least 3 hours late of the set time. But we could also attribute to the large traffic since it is February 14. Dylan of JACK TV's The PEEP show and UN radio DJ fame hosted along with a tall, foreign guy that I have no idea who he is. Sorry, guy.. The first performers were Flying Ipis. They're an all-girl band that plays indie-punk music. This is my first time to listen to the band but they're featured in FHM but I wasn't able to follow what they're playing. They're pretty loud, or that's one of the disadvantages of live music. The vocalist was going around in circles while singing, so their band name really applies to her. You almost want to swat her with a slipper. Their last song started with the vocalist screaming using a megaphone. It was a pretty good touch.
A filler singer-rapper came next, Urban Hope of Fliptop fame. He was the one who was supposed to play first but was late. He's disabled so he's on a wheelchair. But that didn't stop him from rapping about peace and the "hard life". He also sang the late Francis M's masterpiece, "Kaleidoscope World" to which the crowd sang to, especially the chorus part. He also invited some street kids that would be on Kitchie Nadal's act later on to sing with him, and the 2 kids were very talented.
Next on the act was Turbo Goth, a 2-member couple band that plays techno-pop-goth. The vocalist is a very statuesque female who models. The guy is the one who supplies the sounds through his guitar, tambourine and a synthesizer as well as entertainment in the form of him gyrating a lot and jumping all over the place. I kept on shouting after every song that he should be sedated. They were pretty good , they made a very explosive start. Their music is not that loud like the first band, but as usual I can't follow their songs except for their cover of "Bizarre Love Triangle". In the end they asked a friend in the audience to play along with them and if I didn't know better, they'd almost want to thrash the stage if not for the sake of other bands performing after them.
After some "parlor games" were done to give time for the band to sound-check their equipment and also to promote the event's sponsors, Imago was up. My girlfriend and I was really waiting for them to play because at least we can follow what they are playing. I was a little surprised that the vocalist was pretty small in person. But it was never a hindrance, just an observation. I'm glad that after all these years the band is still together with the original members still intact. Everybody in the crowd sang to their hits "Sundo" and "Akap". It was a good set.
Next came Kitchie Nadal. It has been a while since she moved to Canada, and she looked more girly than before, with leggings, a yellow sequined sleeveless top and a purple scarf. She played her new songs first, where I've noticed that it is more political than her previous songs about love and relationships. She also collaborated with some street kids who rapped and beat-boxed along with Kitchie's chords. She played a lot of songs, more than the previous band's, which also includes her old-time favorites "Wag na Wag mong Sasabihin" and "Same Ground".
Next up is a new band called Junior Oca Experience. It's like they're a filler band but they really delivered. They're the best example of a band playing live music. They're loud but audible. The vocalist sings very clearly. But they played almost for 30 minutes with 2 songs ("Banal na Aso, Santong Kabayo" and "Englishman in New York") and 1 instrumental. Why that few? Because they played too long, with their saxophone, drums, bass guitar, lead guitar solos. There was even a part where the drummer went to the microphone and did some beatboxing as well as the vocalist using a voice synthesizer and imitating some guitar chords. It was entertaining and you get your money's worth but it was too darn long. I joked that if they would make a full-length album it would take 2 and a half hours to finish. And after they finished their set you would think twice about asking for an encore.
Finally Up Dharma Down performed in front of the crowd, and you could see that they are the ones that the people are waiting for. They got excited, and clamored to be in the nearest place to look and hear the band. The vocalist had a new hairdo and performed well, although most of the songs on the set are new to me. I only know one song from their set and it's the song "Oo". What I noticed is their sound requires a lot of sound-distortion technology. You'd see the guitarist step on the foot pedal that controls what sound his guitar is making numerous times. I humorously thought that when he stepped on one pedal his car would drive by itself. At near of the end of the set the vocalist urged the audiences to get really close to them. I guess she'd want their fans to get a good picture/video of them to show to their friends. She was very hospitable. In the end they looped a soundbyte that gave a surprising exit of the stage.
The show ended at 3am. It was tiring but the show was a success and made me renew my interest in OPM. It just goes to show that Valentine dates don't need to be really expensive as long as it makes you spend time with each other and learn a thing or two from your partner. Like girl empowerment. And knowing the meaning of the word "Estrogen".
P.S. I kid, I know what estrogen means.
all photos copyright 2012 Mari Arquiza