The 7107 International Music Festival Field report
I would like to get this out of the way before I start Team Philippine Concert’s field report of the 7107 International Music Festival: Contrary to what the organizers plugged, it is my humble opinion that the Philippines’ music festival season kicked off with the UP Fair. The festival is fortunately riding on the season’s upswing, as it drew a mixed bag of anticipation and excitement over the course of its promotions. The festival promised to serve as a unique platform for our local artists to shine side by side with legendary performers. It is also aimed to promote the Philippine culture throughout the world. How did the festival fare? Team PC was in the midst of the action at Clark, Pampanga.
Day 1. Team PC arrived at the Global Gateway Logistics City by mid-afternoon on the first day of the festival. From the sounds blaring from the speakers and the sight of giddy concert goers oscillating between flocking and scattering at the grounds, it eventually became apparent that the party was in full swing even before we neared its gates. It was almost a compulsion once one enters through the gate, after the RFID tag in the festival wristband beeps that you are good to go, to immediately drink in the premises and let the wanderlust, the one that brought you to the festival from wherever you came from, lead you on. Although the organizers made it a point to take care of its media guests by providing us with a tent with amenities, we decided to skip that part and took on the entire festival head on. Because, hey, we’re here; being here is 90% of the entire experience. The remaining 10% is what you do after setting your foot on the festival grounds, and we set off to do just that.
First, we surveyed the concession stands, the merchandise stands, and the nook and crannies of fun the festival grounds offer. This should be standard operating procedure for any music festival goer, as one should familiarize where one can get food and water, relief from bodily waste, as well as medical and internet attention. It had to be said that the logistics did not disappoint the festival goers, as the organizers planned the facilities to be orderly, functional, and clean.
The stages were massive, artfully crafted platforms that has the singular purpose of putting the performers up on a pedestal like no Filipino concertgoer has seen before. Individually, the stages sounded topnotch. I have seen most of the local bands in the line up, and I can say this is maybe the best sonic output I’ve heard from them ever. But here’s where it got tricky: Festival goers could find it tedious listening to two stages playing simultaneously, as both are almost facing the same direction, and especially if both are playing completely different genres at the same time. Yes, you weren’t supposed to listen to both stages at the same time, but it is interesting to hear a band like Taken By Cars in one stage and an EDM act in another inadvertently meld their music in a makeshift harmony in the Angeles City air.
Hearing is different from listening, so in a multi-stage festival, you have to choose one stage at a time or for the entire day–unless of course you truly are an agent of chaos. The main stage housed most of the foreign acts, while the second stage featured mostly local acts. The festival organizers released mobile apps for concert goers, particularly the ones with OCD, to arrange their viewing schedules according to their preferences. In a music festival such as 7107, you cannot have it all, and you have to choose. And that is a good thing.
We sorely missed Natives and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, and we were dead set in making most of the rest of the day. Despite the allures of the party vibe brought by artists such as Kid Ink and DJ Riddler on the main stage, my bias towards rockier acts won, and we decided to stay at the second stage for the rest of the day. By the time that decision was made, Techy Romantics are already on stage, whose sound perfectly eased in our transit between the stages. Runway Crimes provided an edgier posthardcore sound afterwards, followed by Taken by Cars (fronted by Camyl Besinga of Techy Romantics).
Perhaps the brightest star that in the second stage for that day was a spirited performance by Kjwan, schooling the audience to the classic Pinoy rock from which the band is rooted. Marc Abaya and company was in prime form dishing out the band’s hits along with new material. They whipped up a storm of a finale with Audrey Dionisio of General Luna and Enzo Marcos of Severo lending capable hands. Drunk with such a satisfying set, we checked out the other stage and chanced upon EDM artist Alvaro commanding the audiences with his infectious beats. Most of the concertgoers were at the main stage by the time featured main act for the day Kaskade came on stage. Even though it was not his first time to perform in the country, the crowd’s reception for the world-renowned DJ was befittingly warm and electric for the returning hero of San Francisco house. Kaskade’s club classics capped off the first day, accompanied by a flurry of fireworks at the climax of the DJ set. Festival goers left the venue with a nary a tinge of weariness of a day’s festivities, only enthusiasm for what’s in store for the following day.
Day 2. Team PC decided to linger at the main stage on the festival’s second day. After a quick supply and gear check, we planted our feet in front of the massive stage, short of tying ourselves to the barricades to brace ourselves for the ocean of music fans set to pour in as the day progressed. We were greeted by a steady trickle of crowds gathering for the most anticipated performance of the entire festival. We were also in time for Itchyworms’ set.
“I told you I’m famous here in the Philippines!” exclaimed Itchyworms’ Jugs Jugueta to an anonymous audience member who may be watching the band for the first time. Whether that person he was actually talking to might be from backstage or not, Jugueta might as well be addressing everybody else in crowd unfamiliar with the band’s eclectically smart pop rock earworms. Their set-ending impromptu mashup of their hit “Freakout Baby” with lines from the songs of Madonna, New Order, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, and even Bob Marley delighted the crowd, and set them both dancing and grinning. Their buddy band Rocksteddy took the stage next and kept the audiences on their feet with their energetic pop punk attack. At one point, the band brought up Jhong Hilario from the crowd to the stage for a surprise freestyle dance, after a prodding of “Sample!” chants from everybody.
If the 7107 International Music Festival was to push just one local talent on to the world stage, no doubt it is Up Dharma Down. Proof? They are the only local artist to have an hour-long set in the entire festival. Plus, they are in a privileged position in the main stage lineup, right before the huge foreign acts. It came as no surprise, since their trademark sound has wide and popular appeal, and they have been headlining events relentlessly left and right. Their stage can only get bigger and their audiences wider. Considering how much the 7107 lapped up yet another on of their fantastic sets, UDD might as well be within radar range of international recognition.
Pity I missed Scarlet Heroes and only caught them at the tail end of their reportedly blistering set. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus came on next with a set that never gets old despite them having performed in the country a few times already. They pulled a surprise this time though by having vocalist Ronnie Winter’s Filipina girlfriend modify their hit “Your Guardian Angel” into a duet. Kendrick Lamar turned up the beats and the bass, and delivered his hits “Swimming Pools,” “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and “Backseat Freestyle” with his trademark fluid rhymes and rhythm. Empire of the Sun cranked up the party even more with the band’s own brand of dance music, and put out a performance that is equal parts 70’s disco and glam, 80’s new wave and pop, 90’s garage and rock, all set in the utopian future. What easily set them apart from any artist in the festival are the Australians’ use of elaborate stage props and costume changes–each in varying whimsicalness–by vocalist Luke Steele and their dancers.
After a longish break, Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage. It was awesome.
I could end this concert report with the preceding two sentences. How else should I describe an RHCP performance? After years of waiting for them to perform in the Philippines, after listening to their songs through the years on repeat on the radio and otherwise, after watching their music videos and live performance footages, after showering each member with admiration for their individual talent and as a band greater than the sum of its parts, after everything: there is no way anyone in the audience in the Global Gateway Logistics City that night would be disappointed. Well, OK, there are actually three ways an RHCP would disappoint: 1) the lack of John Frusciante, 2) the lack of songs from One Hot Minute, and 3) the lack of more of your friends who weren’t able to make it to 7107 IMF. Yet, once Flea unleashed the intro of “Around the World”, the word ‘disappointment’ melted away from everyone’s vocabulary.
There was no stopping RHCP from that point. Everything, everyone was frantic. The jam sessions between songs were magical. Josh Klinghoffer put everyone at ease that the guitar duties for the Chili Peppers are well served. Flea was in classic form, putting up a clinic for bass guitar and relentless energy. Chad Smith showed everyone who’s going to dominate in the much anticipated drum battle between him and Will Ferrel. Anthony Kiedis, brought as much as heart as he can with every line he spat and serenaded.
The band’s greatness shows in its fans. Looking around, there are RHCP fans of every age above the legal drinking limit, save for a few kids of the coolest parents ever who brought them along to introduce them to the Chili Peppers. There was nothing but love from the audience in the form of applause, sing-alongs, and a vast array of interpretive dancing. I was pleasantly surprised and amused by the crowd’s falsettos during “Under the Bridge”, and how they negotiated with scatting along with Kiedis in different songs. Someone even brought a unicorn mask just to wear it when the band played “Californication”–I assume he’s a firstborn (Sorry, there are no pictures as proof of my claim. But it did happen, I swear.).
As with their music, RHCP will never get old as they went about romping and owning the stage the entire night. There are moments the audience gets a glimpse of how the years have been generous and kind to Flea, Smith, and Kiedis, but those moments were points in their set when they pause and take breathers and let every sound decay right before jumping to the next song. Otherwise, the band is untouched by time–the lingering memory of Flea walking via handstand for the encore is testament enough. Ending their set with “Give It Away”, followed by a fireworks display, was perfect. Everyone went home wondering what the 7107 International Music Festival will offer for 2015.
Written by Peter Tolibas
Photos by Glenn Michael Tan
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