Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More on the reunion concert

And what a redemption it was.

The music video on the screen was finally replaced by a countdown indicating exactly ten minutes before the concert start. Prompted by diehard Eraserheads fans among those in the SVIP and VIP sections, the crowd began accompanying the last ten seconds of every minute as if these were the final ticks before the big bang, and with much cheering and laughter after each “zero”. My throat was already dry and itchy from all that shouting by the seventh or sixth minute, and I was coughing my heart out afterwards. Funny thing was, I didn’t even hear my own voice amidst the noise. It was akin to those emotionally charged scenes in artsy films when the audio suddenly shifts into a paranoia-inducing hum, steadily grows into a loud heartbeat, or just disappears completely. And by the time the crowd was supposed to be chanting the final five seconds, the numbers were already lost in the wild din. Hands were raised in the air, necks stretched towards the stage, and minds dipping into an ecstatic state as fireworks, lights, Ely’s voice, and the opening riffs of “Alapaap” (Filipino for “sky” or “heaven”) exploded on stage.

And the rest was history, as they say. For the next half hour or so, everybody was in a total frenzy jumping and singing along with their favorite E-heads songs that Ely, Raimund, Buddy, and Marcus dished out on stage. And they were quite good too. More than the much touted month-long rehearsal before the concert, I thought the guys’ engagements in the post-heads period contributed a lot in terms of polishing their performance skills and actually improving their musical styles. Besides a host of other things, including taking on bass guitar chores for another legendary local band The Dawn, Buddy had been quite busy composing and providing soundtracks for friends’ videos and documentaries (did it in fact for this study tour video that my former NGO produced a couple of years ago). Raimund, perhaps the most musically active of the four, did a lot of producing for other local bands, composing for local ads and movies, and experimenting with his Squid 9 persona, apart from eventually front-acting for Sandwich. Marcus, went on a surfing pilgrimage to Ilocos before coming out Eric Clapton-style with his own album. And, of course, Ely stayed at the forefront of the Pinoy rock scene with his new bands (and learned all about what he called “guitar-driven” compositions).

Which made the reunion concert, I think, just something to make the kids and the not-so-young fans happy. The Pinoy fab four have simply outgrown the band. It’s like Paul rattling on about missing John and the other guys as sounding boards for his own creative process, and nothing more. “Real Love”, that technologically-assisted collaboration to bring in the voice of the late John Lennon, was but a shade of the classic Beatles tunes. Midway through the reunion concert, some of the brash fans in the audience started shouting “group hug”. Perhaps they also felt the subdued detachment among the four men on stage. Each seemed to have his own mini-stage on top of this cylindrical platform that bore him since the start of the concert. Raimund would occasionally stand up from his drumming duties, and raise his hands which the fans would take as a cue to start another round of applause and hoots. Buddy would throw a mineral water bottle to the audience, take off his white blazer and get back to his guitar playing. Marcus seemed so caught up with the performance he appeared like he was in another plane altogether. And the frail-looking Ely would stay cool, though a bit stiff, throughout the concert, hitting those difficult notes competently and sometimes prompting the audience to sing along.

I couldn’t tell from their performance if they were enjoying being together again. But in the same manner that they could play together well despite such lack of presence as a group, I concentrated on just enjoying my first Eraserheads concert.

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