Astronomical Flare: Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider Live in Manila
Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider’s musical breakthrough can be likened to the beginning of a star. Like gas clouds pulled together by gravity, music was the gravity that pulled them to similar paths, and set their world into a whirlwind musical adventure. From College Musical to collaboration projects, and composing original songs throughout the years, their light has only gotten brighter.
This light passed by Manila with intense luminosity, even if for a few nights. Two shows, two different crowds coming together for the supernova that is a live performance. Inside the concert hall, early birds waited patiently, as more fans trickled in the venue.
Rita De Guzman, clad in an all black glittery outfit commanded the stage with her confidence as she opened the show. Though her time on stage was brief, she showcased her vocal abilities in three songs. She ended her set with an original, which was refreshing from the norm where local talents limit their capabilities to renditions or cover songs.
The atmosphere, though dark and frosty, rang with anticipation. The crowd knew what was coming next. Red lights in synch to a pulsating beat triggered more suspense. As drummer Joel Manduke, followed by guitarist Jason Pitts, appeared on stage, the hall resounded with screams. As Kurt ran to his keyboard, the screaming intensified, and the crowd broke loose as soon as Sam darted on stage.
The second night of the Manila leg was an assortment of original songs from Sam’s debut album Make It Up and latest EP, Wildfire – Shadows, Grey Area, Wildfire, Love and Us – to medleys and mash ups of popular songs. A distinctive quality in Sam Tsui and Kurt Schneider’s renditions and mash ups is their ability to take a song and make it their own. As Sam explained, “We turn our favorite pop songs into ballads.”
Sam and Kurt were powerhouses on stage, their personalities adding flavor and spark to the show. Throughout the twenty-song set list, Sam’s energy level never faltered. He maximized the stage, jumping, dancing, and flying from one end to the other. His charisma was evident as he talked to the crowd as if talking with friends. Kurt was another beam of energy, displaying his wit and humor: sporting his summer glasses for their Summer Pop medley, displaying playful expressions, asking the crowd about balut, and running around the stage to capture the Philippine crowd going nuts.
The Philippine crowd has made a lasting impression as Sam declared, “Manila has become a city that we love.” More than that, they concluded that Manila is one of the best audiences they’ve had, describing the crowd as “nuts”, but in a good way. Though there were seats, a huge crowd flocked to the middle isle, especially when Sam and Kurt gave out wristbands and a shirt, during which a mini-fight broke out to get the latter souvenir.
Later in the evening, Rita De Guzman made a second appearance on stage, but this time to sing Bring Me the Night, a duet with Sam Tsui. The song as explained by Sam is about missing someone far away. He added that that was how he was going to feel about the Philippines.
The heavy downpour that clogged highways, and put cars at a standstill, were challenges that fans faced to get to the show. These obstacles were all worth it given the spectacular performance of the night. Occasional technical glitches did not stop the Sam, Kurt, Jason and Joel from giving their all, and maintaining that sky-high energy throughout the show.
Being a nation fixated with taking selfies, Sam and Kurt joined the bandwagon to take, yes, a selfie, with the crowd before launching into the final phase of the show. After which, they sat at the edge of the stage, Kurt with an acoustic guitar and serenaded the crowd with Don’t Want an Ending. More people left their seats to join the growing crowd upfront to get the best view of the night. Sam and Kurt have gone a long way since that first video on YouTube, and there’s no mistaking that wherever they go, they leave a trail of glowing stardust.
Written by Izzy Matias
Izzy Matias is an avid concertgoer with a penchant for the arts. Though she is soon completing a business degree, she immerses herself in the creative world: music, fine arts, literature and photography.
Follow Izzy on Twitter @izzmatias
Photos by Carla Barretto
Carla Barretto is a busy bee that eats, sleeps, and breathes concerts. When she’s not shooting shows, she’s planning them herself! Her production and multimedia backgrounds blend into this peculiar mademoiselle with a love for live music.
Follow Carla on Twitter @heycarlaaa