I missed going out to watch live gigs. I used to do it more often, get plastered in the brain and blasted in the ears, stumble home blind drunk and half-deaf. Those were good nights.
By now I’d like to think I’m passed my wild and reckless youth phase. I’m in my wary late twenties, and my bones are weary. There is a comfort in heading to Conspiracy and spending Friday nights watching Joey Ayala again and again and again. He hardly ever changes up his set, and his music is consistently wonderful. The waiters have come to memorize our usual table and our usual drinks. While that’s pretty great, it’s become routine.
I thought I’d spend the past month going to live gigs more, discovering new music or rediscovering old favorites. This city can be surprising when you let it.
Discovered The Jeffrey Zulueta Experience at Tomatokick one fine night. There were other bands playing that night, but these guys held the place down spectacularly. A sort of jazzy/ ska-ish fusion with kickass drums. Check them out at the link, and come find them playing live.
Talahib was playing at Handuraw another night. We’ve come from a friend’s film screening of the Balangay voyage documentary, and what do you know– the Talahib gig was co-presented by the Save the Philippine Seas movement.
Always great with their world music, covering classics like Asin and The Jerks. Socially aware music for the peoples, y’all. I hear a new album is in the works. Looking forward to that.
Another night, I was heading to Handuraw to catch Lady I. It was raining when I got off at Anonas extension. Walked a few blocks before the rain became unbearable and I had to find shelter around the area.
A stone’s throw away from Handuraw was a milk tea place. Noticed there was an unusual number of people inside at that time of night. Noticed too that the people seemed to be tripping to recorded classical music. Thought I’d check that out. I walked in to find a string quartet in full swing, playing Sweet Child of Mine and Kissed by a Rose.
The milk tea place was holding a trial string quartet night and invited The Keystings to jam. Accidentally walking into new, unexpected music– it’s a beautiful thing.
After that, it was time for roots and reggae with Lady I in Handuraw.
In retrospect, this may have been the first time I’ve seen them play in Quezon City. More often than not, I had to drag my ass to the dirty fucking south, in the hellhole that is Makati, to catch them. I don’t know why that is, exactly. How and why did the south become the hotbed of music that it now is?
The Quezon City music scene used to be more lively than this. But when they closed down Xymaca, Column Bar, Freedom Bar, shit on Cubao X in its prime so that now it’s yuppie ground zero, and renovated 70s Bistro, everything changed.
One type of music in particular hardly ever comes rolling into town: hip hop.
I normally dislike going to Makati. That stinking armpit of Metro Manila. Where cars get preferential treatment over pedestrians, beer costs three times more than usual, there are hardly any cheap eateries, taxi drivers are out to mug you, and people are dicks. I’ve come to realize that Makati assholes are a different caliber altogether compared to the garden variety assholes we get in Quezon City.
But for this one night, I was willing to make peace with that place. Headed there after work last Tuesday, to catch Mos Def’s one night only engagement.
Hung out with a group of hip hop heads– most of whom weren’t from Makati at all. We came from Project 6, Fairview, or Bacoor in Cavite. Through hell and rush hour traffic, we rode buses and trains and jeeps or hoofed it. The local crowd came in Expeditions, with uniformed bodyguards trailing them. Fuck that. We came to keep it real.
It was the sweetest thing.
At the end of the show, we decompressed at a friend’s art gallery. Crushed a bit, little bit, rolled it up, took a hit. Then it was back to our daily programming. But it’s those nights out with friends and good music, that keeps us steady on our grind.