I lost count of how many times I had read that comment on the official Facebook page of 3D: Danao, Dancel, Dumas, when they were busy promoting the trio’s third concert together. Money-wise (and for those on a tight budget), I totally understand why spending thousands of pesos to see these talented musicians live is not an option for those who already saw them (or planning to see them) during their gigs at Saguijo, Route 196, or Conspiracy. On the other hand, for followers of the trio (and for music fans in general), the IISA concert (produced by Gabi Na Naman Productions and Vandals On The Wall) is an event that shouldn’t be missed. And if you skipped it, sorry, but you just missed one of the most memorable concerts in the local music scene this 2018.
There’s just something special about hearing Danao’s sweet voice, Dancel’s powerful range, and Dumas’ eccentric singing prowess on the big stage, backed by a full band and the Manila String Machine Orchestra. I’ve seen them perform in gigs both together and individually so many times before, but their performance last June 9 at the Kia Theater brought their fans into a whole new world—a world where we did not feel the raging Typhoon Domeng just outside the venue, as we were too consumed by the intensity inside the theater.
IISA can be described in two words: solid and sulit.
Danao was the first one to perform. Along with the heavy downpour outside, his soothing voice enveloped the theater, making everyone feel the “cuddle weather” even more. He performed his hits “Kahit Na,” “Dapithapon,” “Bakuran,” and “Right Time,” making the audience remember those times when our hearts were full (and okay, even broken).
But what made his set even more special was when he called his special guest, former bandmate Kakoy Legaspi onto the stage. The riffs of the guitars and Danao’s affecting voice as they performed “Ikaw At Ako” and “Kahapon” made everyone sigh in awe.
Dumas came up to the stage next, opening his set with a powerful rendition of his song “Limguhit.” Everyone was cheering him on just after that first song. I even heard my seatmates say, “I didn’t appreciate him before, but now, I know why people love him. He’s exceptional.” And that night, along with the full band, the orchestra, and even the lights, he gave his best performance to date.
Dumas also joked around in between songs. “Kaya konti lang ang kanta ko kasi mahahaba lahat. Isang kanta ko pa lang, 3 songs na nina Ebe at Johnoy,” he told the audience, making the jam-packed Kia Theater burst into laughter. After, he performed “Tugtog,” “Put To Waste,” and even debuted a 12-minute song, titled “Wala Ka Na,” with the help of the crowd. He also sang a Waray song, “Hain Ka,” which he dedicated to his kababayans and the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. “Write using your dialect,” he advises us. And after hearing “Hain Ka,”—which I barely understood—I realized that even though we can't understand the words, sometimes, what’s important is that you feel the message of the song.
Last to perform was Dancel. He sang Sugarfree hits like “Kwarto,” “Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak,” and “Tulog Na.” His voice was still powerful. And how he managed to sustain every high note, even if he wasn't feeling well, still amazes me. He sang nonstop, with little banter in between. And although he said only a few words, it was through his music that we felt all the emotions. He also serenaded the crowd with favorites “Lakambini,” “Kasayaw,” “Paalam Kahapon,” and “Dapithapon.”
Dancel also shared the challenge of finding a special guest to be with him that night. And after a month of thinking, he decided that his guest would be us, the audience. He even expressed how grateful he is for the undying support and unconditional love from friends and fans. He fittingly ended his set with “Bawat Daan,” which got everyone singing.
To end the 4-hour concert, the three sang a heartfelt rendition of “Handog,” which I believe is dedicated to all those who braved the storm to watch them that night, and to those who supported them as they went from performing together in dingy bars all the way to the big stage. “Parang kailan lang, ang mga pangarap ko'y kay hirap abutin. Dahil sa inyo, napunta ako sa aking nais marating,”—honestly, it’s us who should be thankful that we got to witness three of the most talented and unique local artists of this generation together. And it’s not just about hearing them sing their hits and each other’s songs—it’s more of witnessing how their friendship bloomed through the years (shown through the get-to-know interview videos during the show, and their brimming chemistry even on a huge stage, which you wouldn’t see in their normal gigs), despite being opposites in terms of style and personality. They made us feel like we were part of that special bond, and the IISA concert was a celebration of that.
Photography Mark Jesalva