Monday, October 06, 2008

Concert of the decade

And now, finally, it can be told: yesssss, I was at the Eraserheads reunion concert. And that’s my picture above, showing off my green VIP wristband (thanks to a friend who was a friend of Buddy’s partner), my half-full Vitwater bottle (I think it was lemon-flavored, and quite overpriced), and my maroon Marvin the Martian shirt (oops, sorry, he’s on the front part). In the background is the giant stage with this really BIG video screen that, as a fellow e-heads fanatic noted, was something like the ones you’d see in those whirlwind Oasis concerts. Which only goes to show that the fab four from the University of the Philippines, who used to perform in makeshift stages and do these cheap gigs around the city, have really hit the big time. They have sold millions of albums, overturned the whole Philippine music industry almost overnight, won the MTV award, and did some successful shows outside the country. And, perhaps thanks to their decision to finally split up after that line of chart-topping songs came to an end, they’ve attained legendary status among the rock-and-rollin’ generations of Pinoys who are now either working their butts out somewhere around the globe or busy spending their relatives’ hard-earned money in SM malls around the country.

Which made me think when I first heard about the reunion concert: what the hell are these guys thinking now? They're already living legends, for buddhasakes. They’ve accomplished what Robert Jaworski did in almost two decades of playing Philippine basketball. They’re still selling records with their new bands and projects. And now they’re willing to give it all up for another night of fame. Well, as Nietzsche lamented more than a century ago, reflection seemed to have really lost its dignity among today’s fast-thinking homo sapiens, including the modern Pinoys. Maybe it was a desperate effort to prove once and for all that they’re not following in the footsteps of John, Paul, George, and Ringo who remained steadfast to their no-reunion position. Maybe the concert was going to be some kind of tribute to their leukemia-stricken contemporary and friend Francis M., the Pinoy master-rapper who went on record after Ely’s first angioplasty that he thought it was high time for the guys to consider performing together again. Or, maybe it’s just all for the fun of singing the old songs and reliving the whole e-heads experience, while Ely can still hold the guitar and belt out those iconoclastic lines.

What the heck, I finally thought. If there’s going to be another Eraserheads concert, not even Nietzsche turning in his grave could stop me from being there. It was actually my first ever e-heads concert. I’ve bought all their major albums in cassette format. I dutifully replaced all of them when compact discs and CD players became the norm. I even have an autographed copy of that Fruitcake book (which I gave as a gift to my eldest daughter when she graduated from pre-school). But, believe it or not, I’ve never been to an e-heads concert before. Last year, I bought this bootlegged CD with a scratchy recording of their performances in a bar in Quezon City. Not the same thing as being in a live gig or concert though. Used to get the latest news or “tsismis” about their gigs, TV appearances and major concerts from articles in these cheap music magazines a.k.a. “songhits”. It was from these features that I learned how Ely, Raimund, Buddy and Marcus were able to slowly polish their live acts (which reviewers then often cited as their weak point). Nope, definitely not the same thing as hearing the guys live, today, years after that trend-setting Ultraelectromagnetic Pop album. It was like going to People Power 2 in EDSA, after you missed People Power 1 completely in 1986, and you were thus just pretending all those intervening years that you were a true-blue activist.

It was a chance to redeem myself.

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