MDR Live: A Silent Concert of Historic Proportions

Ely Buendia and Bamboo MDR Live

On May 8 at the Rockwell Tent, MDR (short for “Music Deserves Respect”) showcased history as it brought together two of the greatest OPM icons in one stage, and in a silent concert which was to be the first of its kind in the Philippines. Bamboo and Ely Buendia treated hundreds of spectators to the wonder of what a silent concert ought to be. Not only that, as a very welcome bonus, their sets also induced waves of nostalgia as the two played some of their classic hits from their former bands from the ‘90s.

So how does a silent concert work? First off, the stage was enclosed in a soundproofed glass which appeared to be a recording studio transposed to the center stage. The artists, with their accompanying bands, were subliminally mute to the crowd unless they plugged their headphones into the docks spread out across the venue. Similarly, people behind the glass couldn’t hear anything from outside.

Ely Buendia MDR Live at Rockwell Tent

It was a most unusual setting for everyone present. At the beginning, it took quite a bit of getting used to since it was very much like plugging your ears to an ordinary music player. As the concert progressed, however, the crowd got to experience the difference in terms of the quality of sound – how every note, every instrument and every bit of sound seem to blend seamlessly into something you usually call music, only purer and more personal.

Jay Durias, popularly known as a member of South Border, was the opening act for the evening. With his smooth vocals, he sang the sweet tunes of trademark South Border songs “Love of My Life”, “Rainbow” and “Habang Atin ang Gabi”, warming up the crowd to what would come next.

When it was Bamboo’s turn to take the stage, everyone was hyped. He came in with his usually magnetic aura – an amicable smile on his face and the relaxed demeanor to match it. With a small backing orchestra, he began by playing tracks from “No Moon, No Water” which included “In Shadows”, “Please”, “Morning Rose”, “Back on My Feet”, “Questions” and “Down the Line”. The beginning was a mellow, yet soulful set. The crowd was gently swaying to the slow, tranquil vibes of the tracks.

Bamboo MDR Live at Rockwell Tent

Bamboo Sony MDR Live

Things started shifting to high gear when he proceeded to play songs from his days as the front man of the band Bamboo – “Alpha Beta Omega”, “Tatsulok” and “Hallelujah” during which he personally went out of the glass stage to gauge the audience’s response. To cap things off, Bamboo also delivered the all-time Rivermaya hit, “214” and a striking cover of Black Crowes’ “Thorns in My Pride”.

With a guitar on hand, Ely Buendia then conquered the stage with a surprising deluge of a full Eraserheads set, catching majority of the crowd unguarded. However, even as Ely performed the classic E-heads song, he had his own spin on the tracks. Some segments of certain songs were slowed down while other parts were intensified. Compared to the album versions, the silent concert version had the guitar strumming hushed and the drumming less pronounced. The piano rearrangement along with Ely’s uniquely lethargic vocal style stood out.

Ely Buendia at MDR Live

MDR Live with Ely Buendia

The set included “Alapaap”, “Ligaya”, “Maselang Bahag-Hari”, “Wag Mo Nang Itanong”, “Spoliarium”, ”Magasin” and “Ang Huling El Bimbo” (in that particular order). It was nostalgic and uplifting to hear Ely Buendia perform all those songs in one evening. Somehow, it felt like an honor to just have witnessed it.

More notably, it was amusingly apparent how majority of the crowd still knew every word to the all the songs. They were practically singing along to each one. At some instances, the crowd’s voices even permeated the headphones. It just went to show that even after decades, Eraserheads’ music still continues to live on.

Bamboo and Ely Buendia MDR Live Concert

To officially close the concert, the two stepped out of the glass stage to perform “Come Together” which was originally by The Beatles, ending the evening on a very positive note. Each person left the Tent with that satisfied look on their faces.

What made the silent concert different from Bamboo’s and Ely Buendia’s usual live performances was the rawness of the music as they played. As a given, every element of sound was amplified through the headphones. You can perceptibly hear how the sound of the strings, the beat and the backing vocals made the slightest difference to the songs, which in effect, gave their live performance more depth than usual.

Ely Buendia Sony MDR Live Bamboo MDR Live

It was also interestingly surreal how you stare into figures playing inside a glass room and hear the music as it hits you in a more personal level. In a very convoluted sense, with the headphones on, it felt like they were playing for you alone even when you were in a middle of a crowd of hundreds and everyone was basically hearing the exact same thing. If you took them off during the concert, you’d practically hear nothing save for the crowd’s seemingly drunken chorus. Compared to traditional loud concerts, people were a lot calmer throughout the evening. There was less jumping around or whatnot. Some were banging their heads, but in a less furious way to avoid unplugging the headphones from their docks. Even then, the experience was definitely worth it.

Sony MDR Live Sarah Lahbati MDR Live

MDR Live was an evening of historic proportions. It was one hell of a privilege to be part of it. After all, it was the first ever silent concert here and the first ever concert to headline two of the biggest local rock icons of our time: Bamboo and Ely Buendia. Hopefully, there would be more of its kind in time.

Written by Sandra Mae Laureano

Photos by Glenn Michael Tan

* Special Thanks to Sony Philippines


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