This blog has been live for almost four years and yet it’s been terrible with Filipino music. We’ve been terrible with Filipino music. Sure, last year we reviewed more local albums than the previous three years combined, but still, we’re terrible. So, in an attempt to rectify that, we’re launching a new monthly column, going live on the last Thursday of each month, devoted to Filipino music, perhaps often indie, we don’t know, we’ll see. We’re calling this The Local Outsider simply because we’re outsiders to this scene, a scene that demands deep, deep immersion to be even let in – and since we’re busy people with jobs and obligations to juggle, this will do. It might be tokenism, but this will do. So. Shall we?
Friday night’s Jack TV MAD Fest was, arguably, a festival built around the fact that they got Kimbra to perform. I mean, save for the four DJs that followed her – I didn’t watch them for obvious reasons, and also because Rainy and I were really tired – the acts were limited to three songs each. But it was a nice way to be reacquainted with the best Filipino music has to offer: a good mix of established acts and new ones bubbling under, making you wonder what the hell happened to “OPM is dead”? So, in the following paragraphs, my five highlights, plus a quick run through the rest.
In the past few years we’ve seen more relatively out-of-mainstream acts perform in Manila. Gone, it seems, are the times when the only foreign artists who would stop here are 60s and 70s bands targeting baby boomers, or the obviously big pop acts. Now we’ve had visits from Grimes, the xx and Tegan and Sara. We’ve had the Wanderland Festival last April, an attempt at bringing summer festival culture to the Philippines (albeit with half of the line-up being Aussie acts with, likely, a very small following). And, of course, there were the bigger acts, like Joss Stone at Malasimbo (which has been going on for a while and has been, so far, mostly under the radar) and, last month, the Killers.