Tuesday, January 22, 2008

THE REBIRTH OF MUSIC FRONT: Finally Coming Home

Allow me now to speak to you as a fan of one of Pinoy punk's most enduring icons, Arnold Morales.

It is not very easy to talk about the merits of a man whom I personally regard as my idol, friend and role model, the way I look up to an older brother which I never really had. It seems that until now, Arnold does not realize the impact he has left in the consciousness of several generations of punks. In all likelihood, he will refuse to believe that I mean every single word I have written here, probably preferring to think that I like (*insert name of another punk band here*) instead. But that's another story.

Such is the humility of this man.

Suffice to say that when I first heard a voice over the radio many many years ago, a voice reeking of danger dared say, "Ano'ng sabi mo? Ikaw o ako? Ba't sino ka ba? At sino rin ako?", I was stunned. And intrigued.

Who the hell is this band? And who is this man who seems to summon the demons with his unmistakable derring-do?

The voice belonged to Arnold. The band: Urban Bandits. Aggression-filled, angst-ridden, all-testosterone. My life has never been the same again....

Fast forward to 1987. Arnold Morales formed Music Front, his post-Urban Bandits and pre-Put3Ska outfit. Of all his bands, Music Front is the least known, having only played in two venues before they finally disappeared. And although a full-length album had been recorded, the songs landed in the hands of nary but a very few people in the underground scene. Because of this, and because of the paucity of written materials about the band (I can only recall a single article about Music Front which came out in Jingle Chordbook magazine), Music Front has been regarded by many as a unicorn of sorts.

To rephrase this unicorn metaphor into a simpler query: Did Music Front ever exist?

Most people learned the answer to this question last Friday at Weslu's tribute gig at the Purple Haze Bar, as they came face to face with THE unicorn.Music Front reformed for the occasion of Luis Guiang's death anniversary and played to a highly-charged audience. The line-up consisted of Arnold on vocals, ex-Deceased Jun Quiane on drums, ex-Absolute Zero/Betrayed Je Bautista on bass, and prolific guitarist Albert Ascona, who also plays for The Beauty Of Doubt, Throw, NoFuckingMorals and 217 more bands, as he would jokingly say. The inclusion of Jun and Je has been described as providential. Roughly twenty years earlier, Deceased and Betrayed actually opened for Music Front at Puesto Legarda, which was said to be the better of Music Front's only two gigs ever.

The blistering set started off with "Let's Dance," a sharply edged song whose riveting melody echoes post-punk influences reminiscent of Echo and the Bunnymen's heavier works. The audience, which had started to sing along with the chorus, shortly went wild as Arnold bellowed "Mga kapitbahaaaaay!!!", essentially announcing the segue to "No Future Sa Pader."

Music Front also did "Start A New Day," whose opening line, "There's nothing wrong between the earth and the blue sky," is the most creative line I have heard in a while. They also played "What Is A Friend," a sentimental ditty rumoured to have been recorded by Put3Ska for what would have been a third album, making it timely given the occasion of the death anniversary of the band's dear Weslu.

It is a pity Music Front did not play the anthemic "Jolly Dominique," a song which was redone by Put3Ska in the 90s, as well as Arnold's ode to one of the world's cheapest forms of communication, "Radio." Three more Urban Bandits hits ("Manila Girl," "Nagpapapansin, Pansinin," and "Blood In Every Heart") completed the electrifying set.

Arnold and his crew were more than warmly welcomed by friends and supporters who slammed and jumped furiously throughout the set, with some even trying to literally grab a piece of the lanky frontman in excitement. Never mind that there were technical mishaps, including a bass string that snapped in the heat of the set (how do you really break a bass string unless you are playing to a highly intensified outburst of passion.)

There is truth to THE unicorn.

And Arnold Morales? He has finally come home.

We saw each other soon after the set. He was beaming as he approached me, and I promptly extended my hand. He took my hand and enveloped it firmly in his palms, and that moment seemed to have lasted an eternity filled with unspoken gratitude, trust, and fraternal bond. No, I will never forget that humbling instance of humanity which has left me dumbfounded up until now. My idol, my friend, and my older brother has remained steadfast after all these years.

Welcome home, Arnold.And as for you, keep faith in the scene.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

masyadong mayabang yun nag guitara dyan sa music front akala mo kung sinong magaling meron pa raw sya 323 more bands eh yun lead sa you tube di naman pasok... yun ba dahilan kaya pinul-out nyo yun video sa you tube? dapat ang tanggalin yun guitarista masyado mayabang meron pa raw 323 more bands di naman pala marunong mag lead guitar. nasayang tuloy yun NO FUTURE SA PADER!

PALITAN YUN GUITARISTA...

Anonymous said...

FLAMING! FLAMING! WAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Anonymous said...

Hinde nga akma yun lead nung nag guitara sa MUSIC FRONT., kaya pala inalis sa YOU TUBE. nabasa ko pa yun Myspace account ng Music Front cguro yun guitarista rin ang gumawa kase kung babasahin mo fan na fan ang dating nya sa pag sulat ng account atsaka hinde na nga sya sinasama sa frame nung mga pics pinipilit nya pa rin na half face daw nya halatang sinisik-sik yun sarili.

MUSIC FRONT Palitan nyo Guitarista nyo.... yun lang

marami iba pede mag-guitara sa inyo

Anonymous said...

WAHAHAHAHA! FLAMING TALAGA!!! ANO BA MERON ANG MUSIC FRONT???? cge, matulog ka na.

gian said...

na meet ko na din sa wakas si tito arnold.. this last saturday, its my tita nella's birthday.. its an honor as a fellow musician, to share some interests and thoughts with him. i'll be supporting him through his career. pinipilit ko na bumalik sila sa music scene, sana mag 2loy 2loy na..

-gian oyales

Anonymous said...

sir can you list all the songs of music front? or at least the ones they released as part of an album. Thank you very much in advance. OI OI OI