PULP Summerslam. The yearly pilgrimage for both Filipino and foreigner rockers and metal-heads.
Every year, PULP magazine, along with brands such as JB Music, SMART, Tribal and Colt 45 team up to bring to the people a festival like no other. I got the chance to head out to the Slam with a few of my friends this year to see what all the hype is about.
We got off our car, incredibly pumped up, to be met by a line that spanned around three whole blocks. The line was made up by, for lack of better terms, the whole spectrum of people, from the rich to the poor, the extreme rock fanatics to the casual listeners, the punk rockers to the metal moshers, so on and so forth. It was a complete mess of different styles, personalities, nationalities, cultures, and basically every other thing that could define a human being.
While waiting, I decided to take a look around and kind of observe the kinds of people present. The concert, having an extremely cheap entrance fee, attracted all kinds of people, but mostly people from the lower middle and lower classes. The general attire for the day could be summed up in one word: black. Black shirts, shorts, shades, caps, beanies, and shoes as far as your eyes could see. Although there were the rare few that broke the norm and wore brighter colors, the general population decided to stay true to that rock and roll image and dawned all of the gear that “screamed” the names of their favorite bands and showed off the gang symbols from which they belonged.
Piercings and tattoos were also a common site during the entire event. The tattoos varied from person to person, but from what I saw, having a tattoo or a piercing wasn’t enough. It had to be exaggerated to the greatest extent. So many had tattoos, “sleeves,” they call them, covering the entirety of their arms and torso, even up to their neck and backs. Earrings weren’t enough either. “Tunnels” or ear stretchers were also widely seen and opened up from the size of a twenty-five centavo coin to a full-sized yoyo.
After a while of waiting though, we were finally given the signal to enter the stadium. Going into Amoranto was like entering a whole new world. It was only when we got inside when I saw the eccentricies of everyone present, eccentricies that were seen in the way that the people carried themselves. We saw the wildest hairstyles and the weirdest outfits; things that people on the outside of the stadium’s walls would see as trash, but were seemingly accepted, and even celebrated, at the concert.
The first few bands start to play and they’re local. From the minute the first band started playing, the crowd went absolutely insane. Drinks were being passed around, the crowd was jumping, and everyone was collectively singing out the lyrics of the songs they recognized. It wasn’t until the third band though, that the crowd initiated that which is solely associated to a rock concert of this magnitude: moshing. Moshing is kind of like the heavy metal version of dancing at a club. There’s a gap or a “pit” in the middle of the crowd where people run around, crash into each other, and basically just let everything loose into the air. From time to time, the bands would call for certain kinds of moshpits, like the “wall of death,” where the crowd is split in two and told to run into each other as fast as they can, or the “circle pit,” where the moshers run around the pit, pushing everyone in their way.
After the first few local acts came the international headliners. Before it started, I had the feeling that things were just going to go over the top, and without surprise, they did. The screams got louder, the pits got wilder, and the bands, simply put, just became a whole lot more awesome. The concert went on for hours. We stayed from 12:30 in the afternoon until 12:30 midnight, and even then there were still a number of bands that were yet to play. Within the twelve hour period, I experienced a number of firsts, including almost getting thrown out for throwing plastic bottles at the stage, walking around a crowded rock concert half naked, and witnessing a couple in a loving embrace, moshing in an overly-chaotic moshpit.
Now you would ask yourself, what relevance these seemingly violent and absurd acts have on individuals and on society. In my opinion, events like PULP Summerslam are around to serve as, one, a release from the stress of everyday life, two, a place for the “outcasts” and rebels of society to belong, and three, a voice for the voiceless.
First, it’s a release from everyday life. Generally, people attend concerts and parties to get away, even for a few hours, from the responsibilities of everyday life. This is especially true during Summerslam and other heavy metal/rock concerts and festivals. The fact that random acts of violence towards people you don’t know are accepted, coupled with the more common acts during concerts such as jumping and screaming at the top of your lungs, makes it the perfect venue to let everything loose.
Second, it’s a place to belong. Popular society’s image of beauty and norms have always lead those who chose to adorn their bodies with tattoos and radical forms of piercings, such as tunnels and snake bites, to be seen as outsiders; abnormal because of the way they chose to express themselves. Festivals such as this provide venues for those ostracized by society in this way to come together to share and celebrate the ideals each of them live by and the music they hold dear.
Lastly, it’s a voice for the voiceless. The men and women present are mere individuals of the working class. Their voices hold little weight when it comes to what’s happening around them, in their societies and countries, so naturally, they would look for a way to get their voices heard in the loudest, most in-your-face way as possible. The thing about heavy metal bands, and this is the thing that I truly respect about them, is that they put themselves at the level of their listeners. They make it a point to make everyone aware that they aren’t alone and that the ideals and morals they believe in are right, because they pretty much believe in the same things when it comes to religion, politics and popular culture. I believe that because of this, people come and show their support for these bands because their voices, as loud as they are, give them the sense that their opinions and beliefs are being validated and being spread throughout the world. Reassurance for those things that may seem much too radical for others.
I would say that PULP Summerslam was an experience like no other. I’m a sheltered upper middle class student who wants nothing more than to experience the things outside the four walls of my home, and this concert did just that. For once, I felt like I was part of the society I so desperately wanted to be part of growing up. This will definitely be something I will come back to over and over again.
– Miguel Santiago, SA 21 I