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.
“Kapit” by Imago | Yes, a part of me still twinges when I think that Aia de Leon has left Imago to pursue a solo career. (The head stands!) The band has, however, regrouped, recruiting Mayumi Gomez for vocal duties, while Mervin Panganiban takes over the drum kit. Their new EP is out – the album launch was two days ago, although I’ve seen copies of the record days before – and judging from this, the sound’s a little more aggressive, without losing its pop edge. (Someone on YouTube compared this to Sandwich’s early stuff, and I can hear it.) But I will have to admit, I will take a while to get used to Mayumi. The transition is not as jarring as I feared, but perhaps that’s the thing – if change is the storyline, then I can’t see it yet. But we’ll have to sit back for that. [NB]
“Akap” by Imago | A part of me is heartbroken that, one, Imago’s Aia de Leon joined The Voice of the Philippines, and two, that none of the judges spun their chairs for her. Fine, her voice isn’t very special, if you think of it, but then again, the power of her band’s songs – which also feature alt-OPM luminaries Myrene Academia and Zach Lucero – is in their earnestness, their sweetness, and just the fact that it manages to do so without being utterly achingly disgustingly saccharine. Also, yes, they’re nice people – I bonded with Aia and Myrene for a good ten minutes after one of their gigs in DLSU, back when I was a student – but then again, if you’re looking for a good voice alone, that never factors in, right? Maybe, I think, this audition is just a feeler of sorts – Imago still had a single out as late as two years ago, around the time NU 107 said goodbye – but perhaps, considering how off-base I was with my hopes for indie OPM months ago, perhaps no…
“Sundo” by Imago | I remember watching Imago perform back when I was a DLSU student. Well, I also remember getting the chance to meet the band. (It’s the upside to school performances.) I have a photo with drummer Myrene Academia, only it’s lost in the ether. I also have a photo with vocalist Aia de Leon, which is more lost in the ether. (Marcia, do you still have a copy of them two?) I oddly called her “crush of the day”. I don’t know why. I do know she was wearing shades that day and was nursing an ear infection, which explains her apology to watching fans during the concert: “no head stands today!” This was, what, six years ago? Around the same time as the release of arguably their best song, “Sundo”. Whether you disagree or not, you have to admit, this song is utter brilliance.