I don’t know why I stopped listening to new music, but I’ve settled into my favorite bands and favorite songs. I’m not that updated on new releases, I just keep using the same old songs in my mixes… which is probably why I don’t even make them anymore.
The meager collection of music I have now still bring me some sort of comfort, which is what I sought after when I was much younger and looking for new music to accompany the weird new feelings that made me sadder than I probably ought to have been. Today, I wrap myself up in the old, familiar songs and try to will myself to feel better.
Opening Acts: Outerhope, Ciudad, and them together!
One of the bands I grew close to by listening to their songs was Stars. I don’t listen to them nearly as much as I used to, so when I learned of their Manila show date, I was pleased and wanted to go. But I wasn’t as excited as I would have been five or six years ago—the peak of my Stars listening. Still, I wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
The show was cathartic and emotional; I was filled with a surge of both joy and release. First of all, it was unreal to see them live. I never, ever thought they would consider going to Manila, because people rarely ever do, and yet there they were. And they were singing songs that were so special to me.
I remembered exactly what the songs meant to me, recalled every single little feeling attached to them, relived how much it hurt or how good it felt, whatever it was. I forgot how much meaning and feelings I tethered to songs, and in a way, it was liberating to discover that it really does get better. Perhaps not in the way that we hope or prefer, but better nonetheless.
I gotta say, I’m enjoying these stripped down, “full band” sets. Completely swept away by this performance and The National’s “Vanderlyle Crybaby” in Singapore.
There are a lot of things I can say about the whole experience, but I don’t think I really have to because I know that whoever watched the same show with me knows exactly what I’m feeling and exactly what I mean. Besides, I don’t think I would ever do it justice. It was a fun, wildly emotional night, punctuated by a ton of funny moments, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on it. Although I think I may have, in a way, “outgrown” some of their newer stuff (if that makes sense), it was still a special night. Because Stars taught me to deal with my feelings in a way that was honest. It hurt, sure, but it was the truth.
I was fourteen years old when I first saw Ciudad play live. It was, predictably, at my first high school fair. I was part of the Variety Show committee, and I had a laminated ID, a Sharpie, and a few hundred bucks (and some dignity) to burn. My OPM knowledge was hardly vast—I had CDs and tapes of Freestyle, Barbie’s Cradle AND Kaya, HAHA—and that one magical night opened my eyes. I saw Ciudad, Itchyworms, Twisted Halo, Narda, The Pin-Up Girls, Sugar Free, Imago, Ramp Queen, Sponge Cola, and a bunch of other bands play well into the night as I scrambled around making sure that people were doing their rounds and that every band was fed.
I left that “show” with a few drumsticks (lol), a broken guitar pick from Mondo Castro, some CDs and EPs, and a new and burning fire for local music and seeing bands play live. I didn’t get to watch a lot of shows in high school because they all happened at night and I am a baby with no car or driver’s license. I compensated by getting myself a second-hand Washburn XB100 (with DiMarzio pick-ups) with my own money, though I should tell you that I still don’t know how to play the bass.
In college, I drenched myself, as much as I could, in live music and production. I joined AMP, Ateneo’s music org, even though I didn’t know anything about making music. I did know how to write and take photos, though, so that’s what I did. It was tiring and frustrating at times, but deep, deep down, I loved every little bit of it.
I am, at best, a big fan of music. I tried being a musician, but that kind of dream doesn’t work out so well when you are talentless in the music area. So, I listened and I loved. Whenever a band I liked was playing a gig, I would be there if I could find a way to get there. Even if they played the same songs, and even though I saw the same people. Somewhere along the way, though, I forgot why I went to gigs and I lost some of the excitement, so I stopped going.
The reason this entry exists is because in the middle of Ciudad’s set last Saturday, I remembered why I fell in love with music and why I loved watching the bands play, and being in a crowd of people who probably felt as big as I did then. We even only caught Ciudad’s set because I lost that anal part of me that needed to be at gigs on time.
It was something I welcomed—being teleported back to that feeling that was ignited when I was fourtee, almost ten years ago. My good friend, Ryc, burned me a copy of Hello! How Are You, Mico the Happy Bear? because I couldn’t find it anywhere anymore. She made me listen to bands like Weedisneys, the Happy Meals, Splitcide, Boy Elroy, Plane Divides the Sky, and Spelt Backwards. I met some other bands on mIRC, and I truly loved all of it. To tell you the truth, I probably won’t be able to say if a band I loved from back then was good or not, because a part of me will always love them.
Ciudad is somewhat symbolic of my early awkward days, where all I had were my LiveJournal, the three or so friends who read it regularly, my words and other people’s music. Everybody always claims that they used to be so awkward, but I assure you—I was the real deal. Here is proof:
They’re symbolic of that time, because they were the first people on stage that fateful night (November 23, 2002), and Mikey was the first person to sign my ID. And that was the moment that I knew I was gone and over the moon for music that surges through your bones, and makes you feel connected to everything else that ever existed.
During the launch of their newest album, Follow the Leader, I felt a similar sense of closeness with the people who were there, whether or not I knew them personally. It felt so good hearing the new album played live, even if we were too short to see past taller people’s heads. It was so nice to have been a part of something special, even if most of the people I shared that night with were strangers.
There’s a Lonely Road to Sunday Night — Ciudad
And then, when Marie Jamora played a longer trailer of Ang Nawawala, as well as the music video for “There’s a Lonely Road to Sunday Night” (directed by Ramon de Veyra, I think), I just felt love course through me. And I knew I had to write this entry, so here we are.
I have a lot of memories of Ciudad. I have often wailed at people, asking them if they would be my strawberry jam, and I have often been met with dumbfounded faces. During another org-related event in 2006, they played an entire set with a girl gypsy-hippie-dancing across the whole length of the front of the stage. I stole an extra prod pass saved for a friend or roadie of the band that never showed up.
In 2008, I danced along to them with friends, and I kept shouting at them to play a really old song, and I don’t remember if they played it, but I’d like to believe that they did.
One time, Mikey even commented on a vlog I made because I used one of their songs as my background music. He said it was cool, even though I know it was definitely not. And that is how I know that they are nice people.
Anyway, the gig was great, even though we missed a really big part of it. I know you probably can’t really trust my opinion, after this long-winded, overly personal tribute post of sorts, but do yourself a favor and buy their latest release, Follow the Leader.
It filled up a hole in my heart that I didn’t even realize was there.
New mix that started when I put Ryan Adams and Bon Iver on loop. (“Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.” is the centerpiece of this mix, even though he says it as eksetera. It’s a darn good song that I find myself crooning in the middle of the day.) A lot of songs I love in between. Enjoy. Download here.
- “This Heart’s on Fire” by Wolf Parade
- “405 (Acoustic)” by Death Cab for Cutie
- “Pale Blue Eyes” by The Velvet Underground
- “Dry the Rain” by The Beta Band
- “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.” by Ryan Adams
- “Ghosts” by Laura Marling
- “Say Please” by Monsters of Folk
- “England” by The National
- “Lump Sum” (Daytrotter Session) by Bon Iver
- “Kreuzberg” by Bloc Party
- “The Wind” by Cat Stevens
- “Rose Parade” by Elliott Smith
Finally, I get to somewhat write about Death Cab for Cutie. Being generally unemployed as we are, Sarie and I lined up at around 1:30 p.m. for an 8 o’clock show, and we thought that might have been too much. But when we got there, there were two other groups of people who had already been waiting there since 10 and 11 a.m. Call it crazy, but we’ve been waiting for this show for ten or so years.
A few hours into waiting, we caught part of the sound check. It was spine-tingling hearing Ben Gibbard’s voice float towards us across the room, through the glass. (A melody softly soaring through the atmosphere, hehe.) I felt my heart rise up to my throat, and it was a nice preamble to the show we were about to see. Some of the songs they played weren’t part of their set list but we didn’t know it at the time, so it was like an extra show. These were the songs they played:
- “Different Names for the Same Thing”
- “Meet Me on the Equinox”
- “Death of an Interior Decorator” — this was particularly fun. Everyone we were there with sang, Can you tell me why you have been so-oh-oh-oh sa-ah-aaaaahd?
- what we think might have been a portion of Big Star’s “Thirteen”
In the end, I wasn’t allowed to bring in my SLR—hey, a girl’s gotta try!—so it’s been a painful wait for these photos to be processed, since I took with the only other camera I had with me, an LC-A+. With only one range, four focus points, and a dark room, I’m pretty happy with the results.
There are a handful of local musicians that I respect and love with all my heart, so it’s always a joy for me to see them get opportunities to be heard in other places of the world. Outerhope (which, if I’m not mistaken, I got to hear at a high school fair I went to… when I was in college*) was invited to be part of this year’s NYC Popfest, but they needed help with funds, since it’s such a long way to travel.
Attraction! Reaction! organized this event to help raise funds. Aside from wanting to help out people whose music I believed in, I noticed that EGGBOY WAS PLAYING. I love Eggboy, Diego Mapa’s solo project pre-Tarsius, and so you can imagine how excited I am.
They sold merch such as Number Line totes, Outerhope’s CDs, and posters of the show. I don’t even have any more walls left, but I got 2 posters. Thankfully, they set up a project on ArtisteConnect, if you find it in your heart to help them with funding.
* I don’t even know what I had been doing there, so don’t ask me.