Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The 1st Manila Ska Festival: Come Rain, Come Moonshine, and Sneaking in at the ASEUM Art Festival in Mogwai

By now most of you people have already seen those fab photos of the 1st Manila Ska Festival uploaded in numerous Multiply and Facebook accounts. So what exactly happened last Saturday (July 25) at Cubao X? I arrived at the venue (in front of the Wooden Gallery) at around 9pm, in time for Hopskatch's set. Already there was a good number of people in the audience gathered in front of the stage. Stayed on for a few numbers until someone grabbed me to meet, well, Caliph8, who was invited to do a DJ set at neighbouring Mogwai.

[Some explanation here. Caliph8 spinned on the occasion of ASEUM (Asia-Europe) New Media Art Symposium's 1st International New Media Art Festival in the Philippines. A five-day affair of conferences, exhibits, fora, and what-have=you's, last Saturday I think was the final leg of the art festival in the form of VJing and sound experimentations at the Mogwai Cinematheque, of which Caliph8 was one of the performers. Some photos inside the cinematheque below. Also check out this site for details.]

(In photo: video screening accompanied by sound experimentation, an
d Caliph8 - in blue shirt - doing what he does best.)

Also entered the Wooden Canvas which featured the photo exhibit. The walls showcased photos, both old and recent, mostly of bands who performed that night (Shuffle Union, The Marcos Cronies, Steady Movin' Beat, among others). Old photos brought me to times past: Clubska, Skamax, out-of-town forays (oftentimes Je would come, leaving me behind here in Manila because I have to report to work everyday, shame shame), Kolumn days. Interesting documentation of the bands' visual evolution, indeed.

Okay, I apparently digressed. After Hopskatch came Steady Movin' Beat. By this time, some people in the audience have drank enough and were gradually getting into skanking mode. The flurry on the dancefloor continued when Life Without Francis (that's Pink Cow without their vox Francis for you) stepped in and sang originals and covers (a smuttering from The Clash). The amount of alcohol intake is, without doubt, proportionate to the activity on the dancefloor.

(In photo: JR of Shuffle Union and Hilboy of Bisikleta Productions, hosts to the event)

When Rocket Punch took the stage, rain poured in from the pregnant skies.By then the crowd, which had really swollen, cramped at the sides and at the makeshift tent. The rains stopped somehow by the time The Marcos Cronies were playing. The rain obviously could not stop the people from having a good time.

Sige kag skank pipol!

Shuffle Union finally took the stage, joined in at some songs by Noel of Skabeche. For a moment I was on time travel. I first saw Shuffle Union about 8 years ago in Mayrics. While they were already showing promise then, the lads were a little restrained, and January could not been seen without her shades (hehe). Time has passed quite fast and endowed this band with maturity and confidence. SU did their originals, as well as their favorite covers (Tainted Love, among others). They paid tribute to two of their mentors who had since left the physical world - Luis Guiang and Je Bautista - by playing "Thank You Weslu" (a song the band wrote specifically for Weslu) and "Absolute" (a song originally by Absolute Zero, Je's very first band, and popularised by Put3ska). Watching the band and the crowd from afar gave me an ethereal feeling, and at the same time a sense of longing.

Shuffle Union dancefest

The last time I saw Jeepney Joyride was during that ill-fated gig somewhere in Quezon about 5 years ago. (I am not about to tell you how horrid the event was ... I just want to say to prospective producers that, please, when you book your musicians in gigs far away from Manila, please, TREAT THEM PROPERLY! Give them decent transpo, decent food, and decent place to sleep. DON'T MAKE THEM SLEEP ON THE SAND. Ok, enough said.) Been a while. The band is still as hyperactive though Norman hasn't done some tumblings that night. I sort of missed them.

Finally, Coffee Break Island. If you people follow my posts, by now you would have known the bands that I like to watch live. CBI is one of those bands. These guys have gone a long long way from the first time I saw them in Millenia some 7 years ago. Evolution indeed is a very curious thing.

And so is the weather. I walked in the rain, leaving behind a highly energised crowd, some really drunk. I thought to myself, as I was going home, that sometimes, erratic weather is not enough to put a good gig down. Congratulations to Shuffle Union and the rest of the bands, to Wooden Canvas, and to PiliSkapinas. It has been one fantastic night of music, alcohol, and friendships. Thank you very much, once again.

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