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The band’s name says it all. Just like you, we asked: “Who the fuck are they?” Apparently they’ve got a huge cult following because they were the lucky winners of the first Manila Music Festival’s Indie Rock Band Competition wherein the public got to vote for an unsigned act to open the festival’s proceedings. Well, better recognize, because these guys aren’t going to be nameless for long.
Audience reaction: The sweltering heat during their performance was enough to elicit some head bobs, head bangs, and for some…head aches.
Need to know: In 2008 the band won the Battle of the Bands grand prize earning them an MTV Philippines music video and a five-year recording contract. When MTV Philippines lost its mojo, shut down, and went down the drain, so did their deal with the firm.
Sounds like: Sort of like the Arctic Monkeys and The Hives with a tinge of local flavor. Pop-punk repackaged into undiscriminating aural friendly tunes.
Best listened to: With an open mind and an opened bottle of liquor. These dudes’ have got some jams that are faster than a speeding bullet.
Composed of vocalist Irene Tengasantos, guitarist Mags Gahol, bassist Eric Hernandez, and drummer Puto Gonzales. The swift and chill reggae band–whose vocalist is the spawn of local Reggae icons Reggae Mistress–is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to getting the crowd into a hip-swaying mood.
Audience reaction: By the time Lady I took the stage, most of the attendees have settled on their banigs to relax. People couldn’t help feeling high on Tengasantos’ powerful voice, shaking their money makers and grooving to outstanding covers of Bob Marley. Must have been all that secondhand pot smoke lingering in the air.
Need to know: If you dig the flow of island rhythms you can catch more of Lady I on eradioportal.com and UR 105.9’s Dancehall Radio.
Sounds like: The waves of a beautiful and peaceful beach; a vacation from the jarring hustle-and-bustle of the urban jungle.
Best listened to: After smoking a blunt, a bowl, or a bong hit. They aren’t bad sober, don't get us wrong. But a little green just might propel you to the shores of Jamaica.
J-Hoon Balbuena assumes this alter ego when he isn’t slamming the drums for rock band Kjwan.
Audience reaction: Though it took a fake ploy of seducing the crowd with phantom freebies, people were bathing in the sun, eyes shut, and eating-up all the excitement he had to offer.
On cultivating the local music scene: “It’s very important to do so. We import a lot [of music] so I believe it’s about time we export. I hope we try bringing newer sounds like hip-hop and electro to the forefront because we all know rock is there, and will always be. I used to use the drums a lot to get people off their asses and on the dance floor, but now I try to use my beats to get them in the groove.”
Sounds like: Jazzy hip-hop beats that are a slurp of sexy ecstasy. A far cry from his percussion work, Noodles is fresh, funky, and sating for one’s musical appetite.
Best listened to: Fist-pumping (hopefully not of the Jersey Shore kind), hands in the air, and with a lady by your side.
The answer to the question is the NU Rock Award and multi-Awit Award winning jazz alternative band led by sultry songstress Kat Agarrado.
Audience reaction: One of the more, erm, sikat local acts to take the stage. The band churned out popular hits such as “So Blue”, “Turning My Safety Off”, and “Mr. Musikero (Puwede Ba)”, the latter winning for Best Jazz Recording and Best Jazz Arrangement at the 23rd Awit Awards. Agarrado’s stage presence and showmanship as a performer was evident; audience member’s sang along, mesmerized by the goddess-like siren. Their final song, a rendition of POT’s “Panaginip” was a dreamy capper to their set.
On covering “Panaginip” (on stage): “This one’s for you Karl! We miss your crazy ass!”
Sounds like: A little bit of funk, a little bit of soul, and a little bit of jazz wrapped into one petite smoldering front woman.
Best listened to: If we had some that day, a perfectly chilled bottle of red wine and a pack of strong cigarettes to amp the serene vibe they brought to the fest.
This US-based Cebuana has been making Netizens fall head over heels in love with her cool and crisp vocal chops via YouTube music videos. Her EP, Heavy Eyes, is a jewel that’s rough around the edges but soft and sweet at the very core.
Audience reaction: Everyone seemed under a spell as this nubile ingénue hit every note with a refreshing iciness enough to dry the sweat beads forming on their foreheads.
Need to know: Based in Dallas, Texas she flies back and forth to the country when she needs to perform. Her EP is a charismatic homage to the Pinoy culture and roots that she’s clearly come to recognize and embrace.
Sounds like: We’re hearing a heavy influence of Erykah Badu and Jill Scott here. She might not think so, but there’s an obvious allusion to these female soul masters.
Best listened to: We’d recommend her music for couples who, like her set that day, like to start a day with a soft and tender kiss, and like to end the night getting hot and heavy.
Jorge Wieneke is a young and fresh ambient electronic and instrumental hip-hop DJ with original and often weirdly interesting beats that rival a lot of his more experienced contemporaries. Not similar to anyone we’ve heard lately, his against-the-grain style is quite promising.
Audience reaction: Drowned and immersed in his galactic take on the turntable. Lunod is the term most pinoy listeners would use, and nakakalunod it was indeed.
Need to know: Rumor has it that after witnessing his performance at the Malasimbo Music Festival last March, Mars Volta’s Eureka the Butcher tapped this lucky dude in hopes of a collaboration. Panis!
Sounds like: The soundtrack to a science fiction film. This is the music of the future. Highly experimental and unlike anything we’ve heard this side of the country–or planet. There’s nothing dirty or messy about the way he spins, and if anything, it seems everything is calculated to a tee.
Best listened to: We hate to say it, but we wish we had some sort of psychedelic and/or psychotropic substances to accompany his musical talent. Keep your eyes closed, and you’ll find yourself succumbing to involuntary shoulder shakes.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Now a solo MC and DJ who collaborates with numerous artists, he is one third of iconic hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Together with MCs Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, they were the stellar pioneers of eclectic hip-hop in the 80s. Remember tracks like “Can I Kick It?” and “Bonita Applebum”? That’s their work, and they’ve proven they’ve got some mighty fine rapping skills at that. On his own, he’s still sounding epic.
Audience reaction: The first of the three main foreign acts was a miasma of positive energy. The contagious tunes he mashed-up from classic Michael Jackson to the Talking Heads’ “Once In A Life Time” to Outkast’s “The Way You Move” had people bouncing up and down, shooting their guns (water filled ones, don’t worry), and having climactic ear-gasms.
On keeping the audience pumped (on stage): “Do you guys have kids to go home to? Little brother or sisters you have to baby sit? You guys got to get to work early in the morning or something?! Then get up!”
Sounds like: Professional DJ-ing at its finest. Global in quality and not scrimping on taste and variety, his set radiated through each audience member regardless of age, race, and gender.
Best listened to: On your feet as you bounce up and down; or in the club, with your honey at your side, grinding to the pulsating music.
PHOTO BY MELISSA LOUISE O'NEAL FROM THE ALI SHAHEED WEBSITE
A legend in the field of hip-hop, this reformed gangster turned a new leaf after taking a trip to Africa. Nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, he is the founder of the Universal Zulu Nation, a group of rappers, Djs, break-dancers, and graffiti artists hell-bent on social change and awareness. In his eyes, hip-hop is a tool for the greater good and not simply the “bling-bling” culture most fools make it out to be.
Audience reaction: The sport phrase “and the crowd goes wild” best fits his set’s description. People are on the stage, making like partyphile hooligans released from rehab.
On the current state of hip-hop: “We need these radio stations to play all the different versions of hip-hop. They should mix the old with the new and the new with the old. Hip-hop, soul, jazz, classical…I don’t care if it’s Filipino music. Play the old music with the new music, and in television they should play the old videos with the new videos because that way it creates a balance–what we call in Ancient Khemet Africa as the balance of Maat. This is what we need because if we display “cuss, kill, bitch, hoes” all day long then that’s the mentality that the people will start thinking. So it [music] should be about making love to your woman, peace, unity, love, having fun, and power, then this creates a greater balance in music. Research what hip-hop is, understand it.
It’s a culture; it’s a movement for the people by the people. Don’t get caught up in commercialism. Make hip-hop happen all over the Philippines with peace and love. Fuck that shit about killing each other and calling women bitches. Love yourself; love your history because we aren’t just black, brown, yellow people. We are all indigenous, indigenous to the whole Earth. ”
Sounds like: Revolutionary. It’s music that will not only have you bumping and grinding, but in awe of the sheer genius that is Bambaataa.
Best listened to: As Bambaataa puts it, ““Hey we didn’t fucking come here for you to look at us! Get up and dance! Dance to the music! Shake that ass! Show me what you can do!” Enough said.