It’s always quite awkward to go to a gig upon a friend’s recommendation, especially when he is one of the people who set it up. You may not be a fan of the bands performing, if you know them at all, and you’re putting your faith into his taste in music when yours places so far away in the spectrum. Needless to say, it could not turn out well.
Last Friday my friends and I were invited to go and see Reset: Sounds of Summer, featuring some of the most promising college bands in the metro. We arrived early enough at Black Kings’ Bar in West Avenue to witness a mixed crowd of students and young professionals fill up the intimate venue.
This wasn’t just another gig in the city; Reset also served as the grand launch of For the Record Events, the organization behind this event. It’s an optimistic venture in the midst of the issues our music industry is constantly facing, and it’s that type of venture that this industry most needs. Ijiran Cañamo, the friend who I received the invite from, functions as the Production Head/Stage Manager of the group. With him is Cris Argamino working as Marketing and Finance Officer, Alwyn Batara as Creatives Head, and Lans Rosales as Logistics Head.
“Since a lot of great artists are undiscovered,” Iji said, “we thirst to help these artists to at least get a feel of playing in a gig with a real crowd. I believe, all these undiscovered artists just need a little push upward and that’s basically what we’re doing.”
Each of them is or was part of his own band—not uncommon for most undertakings in the industry—and they were all brought together in UP Manila’s prime music organization, UP MOrg. No stranger to the scene, they started the collaboration because they recognized the need to “showcase the talents of underappreciated independent artists while cultivating the OPM scene.”
Lans relates that in their college music org, many new bands ended up disbanding because there was no opportunity for them to gain experience from gigs. “All of us know how hard it is for a college band to get gigs outside, so we wanted to help other bands out,” Alwyn succinctly adds.
A slow, broken applause began as the first band set up on stage, a group of UP Manila Dentistry students and faculty. Although Matrix’s nervousness was apparent from a distance, all that eventually dissipated as the frontman—their professor—began to exchange playful banter with the audience. Not long after the rest of us found ourselves earnestly singing with them as they covered 80s songs from Duran Duran and U2.
Picking up the pace, Cattleya revealed to us their catchy yet refined brand of rock music. I imagine they are what young couples would want to listen and sing along to—while being hugged from the back, swaying underneath the stars, that type of thing. If you’re unattached, lend them your ears still; there’s no doubt that these Marketing students from PUP can hit it big in the airwaves.
Laguna’s TYCA built and built up the energy in the room with their rock and reggae sound; so did Soil & Green’s polished take on metal music. Both bands were there to bring some balls to the evening with their unreserved riffs, combined with gutsy drums and bass.
Taking a break from the music, the host Riezl engaged us with a good round of raffling prizes. Some failed to claim their gift checks and shirts, but we and the rest of the crowd were more than happy to receive the generosity from the event’s sponsors.
Properly buzzed and still on a roll, we resumed the merriment. With a name likeBlangko Berso, the band that played next obviously prided on aggressive vocals that burst with meaning. Adamson University’s Pintakasii similarly proved their strength in vocals, melding the artistic dissonance between rock and rap as influenced by Gloc9 and the late Francis M. However, the lyrics and melodies tended to drown in chords and beats—understanding the content of their music, besides their sound, became quite a hurdle.
The night was grinding to a halt but not without Staffbox’s dynamism filling everyone’s ears. Along with some of the other bands, I found this set particularly impressive. Drawing their inspiration mainly from Rage Against the Machine, Staffbox displayed skilled guitar playing, a thumping bass line, reverberating drumbeats, and biting vocals. This was the perfect note to cap off the event with.
After attending I can’t help thinking of the careless declarations that OPM is dead, which seem to sprout every now and then like a very stubborn wart. Such declarations often cite mainstream media exposure as the yardstick for OPM’s success; but here I witness two aspects from which the industry derives most of its value: the artists that remind us of Filipinos’ capacity for creation, and the venues that are eager to showcase them.
These two, I think, while only a part of a whole, are enough to dispel the pessimism that feeds those sweeping statements. Lans told it true when he said that the music scene here in the Philippines was a goldmine for talent and musical genius.
But I want to add that For the Record does more than introduce new performers to the scene; people who are unacquainted with this type of music, this culture, are allowed to immerse themselves into new territory. “We hope that they will learn to be more appreciative and supportive of local acts to feed this nation’s hunger for quality and creativity in terms of music,” Cris said.
For someone like me, whose playlist prominently figures new wave, indie pop, and R&B, I’d say I left that rock-oriented night with my ears and my curiosity properly satiated. If you missed this noteworthy event, keep your eyes peeled because For the Record Events promises more soon.
For The Record Events Cultivates Manila’s Rock Music Scene