In which I remember you as a time of day
I wrote about h8ing festivals a few weeks ago, and I’ve held that belief for a while now, having been extremely exhausted at one of the Laneway festivals in Singapore (post here; film photos here). And yet, I found myself in one late last year. My family scheduled a trip to Bali and Explosions in the Sky was playing in Manila in the middle of the trip. I was devastated and figured out ways I could maybe come home a little earlier, but the fares were too expensive and I thought it wasn’t very nice of me to do that to my folks who wanted all of us to be together. Luckily, they announced a Singapore date on the last day of my trip, so I decided to forget all that I had hated about festivals (lol) and go anyway.
I flew in early on the day of the festival. My family went home to Manila on an earlier flight. I literally went to change my money, drop my bags off (thank you, Tita Elaine and Tito Rene!) and took the train to meet up with Sarie and Pau for brunch (thank you, Tito Rene for driving me to the station and Nilo for the EZ Pass!) after I landed in Singapore. I think we might have missed the first act and arrived in the middle of the Last Dinosaurs’.
We found Erwin & Elyoo there! I think they were there for Wild Nothing. Sarie was, too.
Unfortunately, there was something wrong with their sound system. I suspected the problem was with their keyboards. It was a sad moment, so I’m not going to get into it.
OK, so the situation was also kind of a nightmare. It rained a few hours before the show, and we didn’t have anywhere to sit because the ground was so wet/damp. Everyone knows that an energy conversion strategy for festivals (or anywhere, really) is to only stand up for bands you really, really have to be in front for.
There were free chips, though. Tom Yam flavor, I still dream about ya.
Anyway, I didn’t take a lot of photos. I was really, really tired and was honestly only really there for Explosions in the Sky. It was nice seeing Best Coast, Ra Ra Riot, and Mew though, and I discovered some really nice music from Veronica Falls, Last Dinosaurs (who apparently passed by Manila?), San Cisco, and William Fitzsimmons.
We found a spot by the hills for the sets of The Cribs and Mew, where the ground was strangely less damp. The thing to remember during music festivals, also, is that you must have great timing. And also a high threshold for mud and sinking in it.
Then, in the middle of that crowd, where I could see the tops of people’s heads and the blinding lights from the stage, my life changed or something.
This is what they played (“Sorry, we don’t do encores.”) and they didn’t really talk, just came and did what they intended to do. And that was more than enough.
- First Breath After Coma
- Catastrophe and the Cure
- Postcard From 1952
- Greet Death
- Your Hand in Mine
- The Birth and Death of the Day
- Let Me Back In
- The Only Moment We Were Alone
It was fucking beautiful and sad all at once. I couldn’t believe I was there, and that they ended their set with my first favorite song of theirs—all 10 wonderful minutes of it—and a crazy, dancing lady who invaded everyone’s personal space couldn’t shake me out of this outpouring of love and goodness and hope.
I wrote this on their Facebook page about two years ago when Take Care, Take Care, Take Care was just about to be released.
And that little thing meant the world to me.
That they were there—really there in front of me—and they could speak to me with the music they played, after everything I had to do to get there on this night that just felt strangely impossible, it took all of myself to keep from unraveling. It was so amazing. I love them so much. They were the last ones to play, and it didn’t even matter how long I waited on that day, because I waited for them long enough, and I didn’t think this would ever happen.
That 8-song show is a story they’re trying to tell, and it is a story I would want to hear again and again.
At some point, I began to cry (of course) and I saw this guy look at me from across the crowd, like “Is she okay?” but I didn’t even care, because that feeling surpassed everything and I just wanted to bask—literally bask—in their light, or at least the lights from the stage they were on. (I was totally basking, with tears streaming down my face, haaaaa.) I know this might be something routine for them; I don’t think they change sets very much, but this was something new for me. In that moment, this was everything to me.
When we finally got a cab after the show, Sarie and I went to eat with Kris and Tata (amazing place that’s open until 2am. IN SINGAPORE.) before going on home. I spent a few more days (2 full ones, I think?) before flying out on an early flight back to Manila.
I’m not sure what took me so long to write about this, but I have been having some sort of drought in my life, in that everything just feels so stupid and wrong and hard. But the truth is that maybe it’s possible to look past the bad things, to smile despite the shit storms you have to weather.
Sometimes, all it really takes is a shift in perspective.
Sarie even got them to sign one of my records, which was super sweet and thoughtful:
Under the cut, a few more photos from that afternoon and the plane ride home.