“. . . We’re very grateful to be here tonight, to be part of this event; a celebration of this generation’s music. So give it up for all the performers tonight, all the artists who are creating new and alive music – this is what this event is all about. It’s not about indie, it’s not about being major, it’s about THE MUSIC. It’s about OPM. So give it out for OPM!”
Out of all the gigs and performances and concerts I’ve been within the past 2 years, I will always remember two: one of them is this night.
We’re talking about MCA Music’s Get Music Indie-Go concert that happened May 20, 2017, at MOA Arena in Pasay City, May 20, 2017. It featured independent artists that are some, under their label, some not, and one with a different label. We can all say that they’re a power team of a lineup, and it’s everyone’s dream to see them perform in a venue worthy of their talent, with clean toilets and space where you won’t have to sweat like you’re dancing Zumba while watching them play.
Much as I wanted to see them all in one place, I didn’t really think that I’ll be going. But then a few weeks into the event I got an invite from a director/boss friend to shoot for him on that day, and I accepted. Needless to say, I missed shooting, and this is a good avenue to not just shoot but also watch and listen to the artists I have known and liked, and not familiar to.
Such was the preparation for this event; I was there for the Pre-Concert Press Conference that happened almost a month before May 20, and after that, there were a couple of rehearsals for each performer the last couple of weeks and days before the big day itself.
I was part of the Video Team under Director Jiggy Gregorio, and I was one of the at least 15 cameras that were his walking eyes and feet during that day. Our call time was 8 AM, and I swear I went to bed early the day before, but it was only when I woke up early that day (around 4 AM) that I read the message saying that the call time got changed to 6 AM. So I got there 8 AM, and they were there; weary from the night before. Apparently, they went to the rehearsals last night and they haven’t slept that much.
Nevertheless, we can all sense the exhilaration, excitement and anxiety that comes before anything big can happen; as the suppliers set up the stage and as we took up our positions, and as the people lined up outside and waited, as the bands did their sound checks and prepared themselves for what is coming ahead, this night was anticipated long before it has come true.
Personally, with just their sound checks I was already getting goosebumps. Never did I knew that it is nothing compared to what is in store for this night.
But let’s break this down first, before I go on about this fairytale-like night; this gig was a tough sell. We can be realistic in saying that the tickets for this show are quite expensive. Going at a maximum P4,000 for VIP standing, and upper box at P1,000, one will normally agree that we can see them, almost with the same lineup, on music festivals, gigs, and shows which would on normal occasions would only cost Juan de la Cruz 300-500 for entrance, with free beer at that. Often it’s free.
Practically, and also if you have this line of thinking and you don’t usually go out of your own box for a change, you won’t buy this. But for one, let’s take it from another point of view; let’s consider the venue. We can say that the venue itself, from a financial point, is expensive because of all the advantages you get if you book your event at MOA Arena, much more if you will be performing there. Expert lighting and stage setups, professional sound engineers and a digital sound board (I do apologize if I don’t know the technical term for that board with all the knobs and switches that are supposed to tune the sounds from every instrument on the stage. Apparently, for every sound check, all the settings can be saved and templated so the sound engineers won’t have to re-do the sound settings from scratch when a particular performer is already set to play on stage.). That’s just from the technical end. Let’s also mention the comfort that you’d get once you are actually inside the place. I have nothing against all the venues where we normally see them play live, but really, being in a fully-airconditioned place where your armpits won’t cry when you want to see them play is a change I’m very willing to welcome.
Even if this change means I would have to dish out 4 Grand to stand in front of the stage, hell yeah I will. If I have enough resources to pay for them.
That’s another thing – “if you can pay for it”. What with the argument stated above, if we are on a budget (and that’s very understandable) the norm is to just let this pass and wait for another gig where we can see them when the price is wallet and budget friendly.
But how often can you see a work of art expressed and presented at the height of its power, excellence, and grandeur? Not every day. Not in a rickety bar, not in the streets, and even if you can see a recording of a part of that night somewhere in the interwebs, seeing, hearing, and feeling the moment unfold in front of you is an experience you will always remember.
I believe I can speak for all that was on that night, from the audience to the people that made it happen, to the people that were there to document the night, to the people that had support roles and to the artists that rolled out their art’s finest that night, had this memory tainted to the core of their being.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Ninno drop those verses like bombs, Somedaydream capturing the audience as if it was the 1975 performing, she’s only sixteen rocking their hearts out, Conscious and the Goodness serenading your soul; okay I get the point that you can see them do these in a normal gig, but not really. Not in a good sound system, and with everything else I am trying to point out.
There’s more too. It didn’t have an entrance cost of 1 Grand minimum for kicks.
We had An Honest Mistake (a band that came all they way from Malaysia – apparently they have been here for six times and found it nice to actually live here) performing one of their songs with Save Me Hollywood’s Vocalist, Gabby Alipe performing two of Urbandub’s Originals (Grabe ito sobrang solid. Sobrang dream come true for me makita at marinig sa ganung setting yung Soul Searching at lalo na yung First of Summer) along with two new songs of his own, Jensen and The Flips bringing the funk out like they own the night (Highlight for their set for me was when Carlo went up the seemingly catwalk part of the stage like Mick Jagger, and when they got to the instrumentals part of “SLOW” playing it as if they’re a metalcore rock band), Reese Lansangan’s ethereal presence at the get go of her set while singing Aristophanes, Sud’s Dreamy and Bed Voice-like vocals singing his hit, “SILA” (I’m telling anyone that can read this, Iba ang pagkaka-kanta at pagkakatugtog nila nito nung gabing iyon, sobrang nakakakilig!), and last but definitely not the least was MilesExperience backed up by sopranos and tenors, and almost a percussion band during their set (Lalo na sa Silakbo. define goosebumps).
If I can compare this to fine art, for me it’s like seeing any work that came from any well-known artist (Luna, Amorsolo, Abad, etc) for just 10-15 minutes each.
Now, Isn’t that worth paying for?
MCA Music wrote that this event is a “Celebration of Indie Music and an advocacy in Support of bringing Filipino Artists together”. Forgive me for thinking that record labels were always out to make money and to bend an artist’s will and passion towards that direction, but this time really, it’s not about that. It’s not about ticket sales, not about getting us crazy enough to buy a ticket we can only get if we are bourgeoisie (burgis sa tagalog), not about the instant return of investment, and sadly, not even about getting decent talent fees from the part of the Artists that performed.
It was about giving the artists an avenue to shine.
It was about getting the art out in its best possible form.
It was about giving the audience the best possible venue they can offer.
It was about setting expectations on how far we Filipinos we can go in terms of aesthetic sound, and we can actually best the most famousests (emphasis and exaggeration intended) of the world with our own.
Most of all, it is about Original Pinoy Music, at its purity, unadulterated and supreme, wrapped up and presented to its lovers at its eminence.
I ended the day telling one of my friends that we Filipinos are finally arriving at an enlightenment period not just with the brain but also with the heart; for art captures and holds more than logic, but most importantly, emotion.
I hate to sound preachy, but coming in from what I learned from church, we put our treasure where our hearts lie. Mostly we view money as something we need to keep and we can’t live without, but really, it is just a tool to be used to achieve an end. The act of giving money out does not just tell how rich you are, but also where your hearts lie.
Ultimately, the act of giving out money is more spiritual than financial; it’s what that act of giving that represents where your heart lie.
And if you love music and know it’s value, even if money is an object, kung gusto mo kaya mo gawan ng paraan. Real talk lang. If we can be financially rich at a moment to buy a ticket to see Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, All Time Low, Ed Sheeran, and all other famous artists, why don’t we start with our own?
Sana bago natin bigyan ng halaga yung hindi talaga atin, sana pansinin at pahalagahin natin yung kung ano yung meron talaga tayo bilang Pinoy.
I hope there will come a time that we can boast off that we bought a ticket that’s hella expensive for a local indie act on a spectacular venue. I hope that my aspirations are right, that a renaissance for modern Filipino art for this period is at its start.
And I hope a lot of us have this mindset too.