Rock the Riles 2014!

This is one of the music events that I really look forward going to. In my college years, I always deprived myself of attending because of academic or racket stuff. And this year, I really intended to attend Rock the Riles 2014.

The arrival of the super (slow) typhoon did not stop the organizer, Rock Ed Philippines from pushing through this lyric celebration of International Human Rights Day. They instead asked people to drop off donations for the survivors of Typhoon Ruby which is still [slowly] striking the Philippines as of the moment. Rock the Riles has been going on since 2005, but they had to cancel that of last year’s and last last year’s because of calamities that devastated the country then. But this year, typhoon or no typhoon, it’s on. The MRT station seems sturdy anyway–plus it’d be the last one to be flooded should there be heavy rainfall.

I’m not really sure if it’s their first year to hold the event in the MRT stations, because I am aware they usually hold it in the LRT lines. It’s quite impressive, actually, that they were able to book an event in the MRT considering their ridiculously tight regulations there. One can’t even take photos in the MRT stations with a professional camera. Anyway, there were eight stations chosen as the venue “stage” for performances: North EDSA, Quezon Ave., Cubao, Shaw, Boni, Buendia, Ayala, and Taft Stations. The performers were playing simultaneously so it meant you could only choose the performers you want to watch–only bound by time and the volume of MRT passengers because you have to travel, of course.

Around 1PM, I first arrived at the Quezon Avenue station, that being the closest to where I was from. There I chanced to see a band named Cunejo singing “Sembreak” originally by the Eraserheads.

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While watching them, I was scanning through the internet about the lineup of performers in other stations, and I saw that Top Junk was playing in Shaw at 1:30PM so I rushed immediately and bought a ticket to Ayala (since Yolanda Moon and Up Dharma Down were performing there later in the afternoon.) I left the Quezon station which was just beginning to gather audience from curious passengers.

At Shaw, there were also not much people yet. There were a few photographers and organizers but that’s it; so I was able to position myself at the front. After a few minutes, an all-male band named Sando started introducing themselves to the public.

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The band has a good sound to its original songs. They were so chill, the lead vocalist being so playful while singing. As most performers, their ad lib had innuendos in them, which I didn’t mind. Funny naman. When they finished, one of the organizers took over the stage to present and introduce Rock the Riles to the public. Gang Badoy was really perky and funny. She was so natural “onstage.” Despite being the founder of Rock Ed, she looked so casual yesterday. As what I told a friend who likes Gang so much: parang mamamalengke lang, haha. She even had her tote on in the beginning.

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After teasing the members of Sando band for not wearing, well, sandos, she proceeded to tell everyone about the awarding ceremony that would take place in Shaw Blvd. station later that afternoon. The X.OSY Awards would give honors to 10 outstanding former out-of-school youth who were able to sustain good life despite the lack of formal education. The X.OSY trophy poses as a salute to the ones who proved that while schooling is not for everyone, learning is. There are several progressive and radical means of learning, anyway. Gang Badoy mentioned that the Office of the President of the Philippines was informed about this and they immediately issued a statement to honor the event. At the back of my mind, I was thinking it’s epal, but it’s also a good thing that the national government recognizes and appreciates the initiatives civilians do which they, for some reason, couldn’t. Gang even jokingly mentioned that the award was named such as a sort of satire to the sosy people who are not that relevant anyway.

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The trophies were made from recycled brass, by an artist whose name I forgot. Perhaps anyone could mention it so I may update this? I came closer to have a closer look at the trophies which seemed really regal. They were intricately designed (carved?) and Gang said that the artist didn’t ask for fees. Everything for good cause.

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While I was taking photos, Gang approached me and expressed her awe with the trophies. She was really nice, and she even asked for a high-five twice. Afterwards, the next performer, Kai Honasan, played.

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Her voice was so sweet and compelling. I enjoyed her set completely. And it was mentioned that she’s a semi-finalist to the show The Voice of the Philippines. You may want to check her out over Youtube maybe.

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And finally–the reason why I got off at Shaw Blvd. station: Top Junk with Tuesday Vargas and her husband Coy Placido, also guitarist of the band Session Road. Top Junk was so great! I’m happy they played “Hangin,” which I personally like so much.

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Aside from the use of synthesizers, they utilized a megaphone in an uncanny way–which created a cool, terrific effect to the song. Galing! After their set, they threw out Top Junk shirts, but I wasn’t able to get one. Sayang. I wonder if those shirts are available somewhere. Right after their set, I rode the train to check out Ayala Ave. It was almost three in my watch so I hurried so I could find a good space.

At the Ayala Station, I was delighted to see DJ Lambert of Jam 88.3 hosting the Ayala leg of Rock the Riles. He looked so nice in his wax-sheathed head of hair, haha. There were not much audience then so I was able to find a spot in the middle front; but people slowly gathered as the gig went on. Before the next performer began to hit his set, there happened a[n also simultaneous] singing of the Philippine National Anthem where everyone sang because no artist wanted to lead the singing. Ironically.

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Next to perform was a guy known as The Ringmaster. It took him so long to fix his set with all the synthesizers, plugs, and wires. When he finally began his first song, he stopped because he said he couldn’t hear himself. More fixing of cables and switches while we stood there. In the crowd, friends were chatting while those loners like me stood silent and awkwardly still. After a couple more minutes he found his sound, only to be interrupted by a few more feedback problems with his set’s bolts and nuts. It’s painful to watch a performer having such difficulties in front of everyone. And his voice was not even the problem. Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the performance because I could see him looking pissed and disappointed while singing. Much as I love electronica and soul.

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Then there’s Maude to the rescue. As always, the good performers that they are, gave an excellent performance. They actually sounded better than their prod last time in Dakila’s event at the QC Circle. The sets in Ayala seemed longer than that of Shaw’s. Each band performed around five songs, which was pretty fair, actually.

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Next to perform was a band named Pulso. It was my first time to watch them, and I didn’t know how to react. To start off, they are excellent musicians. They played their songs so well and perfectly (no vocals). I could sense that they were trying to give a good show; plus they looked like they were playing passionately (permission to use that word: passion) as they turned on their headbanging and face-twitching moves. But the thing that killed the deal is their introduction to each of their songs. The vocalist blabbered about love and getting hurt and that all these are just a journey–only to find out that the title of the song they were to perform has something to do with, guess what, journey. Or journeying. At some level, I was skeptic with the intention, thinking if they were doing it as a parody or a stint to make people laugh but no, the vocalist was so serious about it. It’s as if he was either giving the audience an advice about love or he was telling snippets of an anecdote about his lovelife. It was so awkward that it made me cringe. Another sayang. They could have just skipped to the good part and played their music.

Before Pulso played their last song, they announced that the next to perform was Up Dharma Down, and the crowd cheered. Only to find out that the next performer was the band, Yolanda Moon. Some people got really disappointed. A group of friends in front of me even went away already, since it was really hard standing up for several hours.

Good thing I love Yolanda Moon and its sound.

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Two thumbs up to the vocalist! I am still yet to determine their genre but I have a hunch they’re soul. Special mention to the drummer and keyboards guy who were just as superb. I enjoyed the set that it made me forget Pulso’s trite drama, haha! Okay, I’ll stop. Anyway, when they’re done, DJ Lambert announced the arrival of the most sought-after band at least in Ayala. People cheered again upon hearing Up Dharma Down’s name. Those who were seated in front stood up already, people readied cameras and phones and tablets. I was squeezed in the middle of excited fans.

We waited for ten minutes before they were able to fix the mikes.

Another ten minutes to arrange their equipment.

And another fifteen minutes to wait for the band.

Honestly, my excitement died out because of the waiting. It happened the first time at the UP Fair when UDD came in late again, but we waited since we all love Armi and her bandmates. When they finally arrived, the crowd went wild again. And to be fair, they played so well. They were generous enough to perform an all-out rendering of their famous songs.

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This is Armi’s only good photo from my camera because all I could see were these:

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There was no way I could see her face so I just enjoyed listening and singing with her. After the set, I even saw college friends who were also watching. Some were even volunteers to the event.

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I was supposed to watch the energetic Giniling Festival but I had a 7PM dinner with friends and it was already 7:15 so I took off. As I stood (still) inside the MRT, I realized that I only paid P14 for everything since I technically did a round trip from Quezon Avenue to Ayala and back. Sweet! Only too bad, I wasn’t able to watch other bands like Mayonnaise, Chillittees, Peryodiko, Flying Ipis, and The Squibs

Surprisingly, I arrived at Philcoa around 7:45 and we were already in Maginhawa before 8PM. We had dinner at Qubiertos somewhere in Kalayaan Ave, though.

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Congratulations, Rock Ed! I am hoping that the messages were sent across the fans and music enthusiasts, especially the random train passengers. Thank you for bringing the cause to the streets without causing traffic hassle. Long live Filipino music! Until the next Rock the Riles.

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