Ink, Denim, and Rock Music

06 Oct

DISCLAIMER: To whoever may read this blog, be prepared for a whole butt-load of teenage drama, wit, and the occasional sap fest. On a more serious note, however, my word limit of 1000 was, well, obliterated and the reason is because of all my add-libs seen in (parentheses) like so. They aren’t really necessary for getting my point across, they’re just there to keep the essay light, fun, and very much me so feel free to skim through them as they just add lots of unnecessary wordage. ūüôā

For almost a year and a half the soundtrack of my life was played by one band and one band alone: The Maine. It was music that spoke to me in every way; whether it was the raspy manly voice of the lead singer that I absolutely love, the killer guitar work that is just pure ecstasy to my ears, the lyrics that gave new meaning to every word, or their genuine down-to-earth appeal, I was hooked and, just like every teenage fan-girl out there, I was determined to meet them–my inspiration.¬†They’ve been to the Philippines twice; the first of which they were unknown to me, the second, their concert was held in too far a venue that I knew I wouldn’t even get a second thought from my parents to be allowed to go. Then, opportunity struck. I was walking with a die-hard (and, yes, I do mean sneak-out-of-the-house-and-stalk-bands-at-their-hotels-in-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning-while-they’re-having-breakfast-die-hard) boy-band fan friend of mine and she happened to mention a “music festival” called Bazooka Rocks and asked me if I was going. The conversation went something like this:

Friend: Dude, you know Bazooka Rocks right? The Maine and like other bands will go here. Even that rock girl whats her name? She’s coming too! And its like the third time The Maine is coming its so cool like they started their world tour here and they’ll end it here too OMG they love it here i love them……<more teenage¬†estrogen-powered chatter>……so yeah Bazooka Rocks!

Me: (I stopped listening after The Maine) What!? What is Bazooka Rocks?! When Where How?!

Friend: Dude, what is wrong with you how can you not know Bazooka Rocks?

Me: I¬†don’t¬†know….how do¬†you¬†even know about it? Wait,¬†never mind, don’t answer that.

And so we parted and I had one thing on my mind: Bazooka. Freaking. Rocks.

I have to admit I thought it was a long shot. It was a moshpit, a living, breathing, mass of crazy fans thrown together in an enclosed space. If they jumped, you jumped even if you didn’t want to, every single one of them trying to get closer to the stage. Sheltered me who was barely allowed out of our house (which was within an enclosed small townhouse with a guarded gate) alone had doubts I would even get a glimpse of my favorite band. But I went for it. It was pretty much a blur how we got to the ticket booth in MOA that day but we got there, purchased three tickets for me, my little sister, and my dad (yes, my dad–as if I’d be allowed to go alone, psshh yeah, right) and I went home with half a smile (because my mom had given her ultimatum about how she didn’t know it would be like that, how people get hypnotized in those things, typical paranoid mom speech and she said it’d be the first and last concert thing I ever go to blah blah). When I plopped down on my bed staring at the little square piece of board paper, my eyes literally started watering and I had the stupidest ear-to-ear I-think-I’m-in-love grin on my face as if that little paper was the answer to world hunger; and for that moment, I swear it was everything I needed it to be.

We walked from the parking lot across the street to the SMX convention center via a bridge connecting the two buildings. As we descended using the elevator, the music blasting off the speakers was palpable, literally shaking the ground we stood on almost as if the building itself was breathing in and out guitar stints and drum riffs. It was enough to get me nervous with excitement. We showed our tickets to a rather tattooed gentleman who resembled Wiz Khalifa plus Lil Wayne and his less inked, less pierced, and less dread-locked friend stamped us with BAZOOKA ROCKS on our left forearms. It was kind of like a sign, I guess. The Wiz Khalifa look-a-like and the average Joe represent what I thought I was getting into and what I was actually getting into, a sort of expectations | reality sort of thing, respectively.

Entering the place I didn’t really know what to expect (but I was sure scaring myself with imagining things the past few weeks of what a moshpit would look like in the flesh, after all, all I heard were stories from some survivors–my blockmates and friends) but it sure wasn’t what I saw. We got there at 11:00 am seeing as the gates opened at 10. Filipino bands were given the less than prestigious slots in the earlier hours of the Sunday and when we got in a one Robin Nievera, son of Martin Nievera apparently, was performing with his (in his words) “not band”. There were people watching, about a rough estimate of 60 people gathered round the stage and about 200 others lined up for “merch” or merchandise of the foreign bands that would be playing later that day. I came for The Maine and somewhere along the way I started loving another band that was coming that day too: Mariana’s Trench from Canada (the only other band that was not from the United States). They were playing waaay later that day at 6pm (they were playing consecutively with The Maine going first) so I went home first. That was the first time I saw a clear as day demonstration of our tendency to favor all things foreign over local. I realized this as I was explaining to my dad on the walk back about how the local bands were given less than half an hour to play their set and that they were given the super early time slots, about how they really weren’t given any sort of promotion beyond their names being printed 2 font sizes smaller beside the names of the foreign bands on the ticket. I pondered this on the way home.

When I got back from my nice long nap from not being able to sleep the night before, I was refreshed and ready to par-tay. I got back to SMX at around 4 30 pm and I saw a huge increase in people. Way less people were lining up for merch as they were all mosh-pitting, making death-walls, cross-roads, swirlies whirlpools, things I didn’t even know were possible by the performers’ whim and wave of a hand. 27 people crowd surfed in one song, a new record, according to Jonathan of Forever the Sickest Kids. It was pandemonium and I was happy just standing in the by-lines laughing hysterically with joy and disbelief that I was actually there. The fans were amazing. I saw this one girl who copied every tattoo John, the lead singer of The Maine, had onto her body with a sharpie. She was even wearing a signature outfit of his: a denim vest with a plaid sleeveless shirt and skinny jeans. I almost went up to her to ask for a picture. Boys oozing with confidence (among other things) were removing their shirts and waving them above their heads like flags in support for their favorite bands–it was absolutely hilarious.¬†¬†I realize its all about the passion and total love we all have for these bands and the different forms of expression we use to show it. Some live by “imitation is the greatest form of flattery” while others just go by plain old PDA or Public Displays of Addiction and/or Obession with signs that read “YOU ME BED NOW”. I couldn’t help but blush for the performers. Shame on these people!

Why couldn’t they be this pumped up and crazy over Robin Nievera, or Salamin, or Penguin (the other local bands)? Its not like they weren’t any good. So why the less than amazing reception for our very own Filipino artists? I didn’t see anyone dressing up like Robin Nievera walking around. Thinking about it now, though post-concert, and all, I see not only the support and love but also the pure, palpable “colonial mentality” that really governs the Philippine youth even more so today than before. Support for things that are foreign and the belief that they are superior is something that really has grown within our everyday way of life. So I saw that here. Another thing, is this globalization at work? Well, possibly but for it to be truly globalization, according to Ian Condry, there would have to be individualization of the global trend in the specific market or geographical area. Did I see that here? Answer: Yes, yes, I did. Crazy teenagers screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs dressing up like their idols and even marking their skin with permanent marker than won’t get off for weeks for them–this was right off of fans all around the world, nothing individualistically Filipino there but then I went off to buy water at one of the booths a smile came to my face. Parents were sitting there waiting for their kids to finish head-banging and screaming. Now, that is Filipino. Even my own dad came for Pete’s sake! I saw the knew catch phrase: Parents. More fun in the Philippines. or even Concerts. More fun in the Philippines.

At the end of the day, I was exhausted and my voice (or lack thereof) was horribly hoarse but it was Bazooka Freaking worth it. I saw John and Josh (the lead singers from both my favorite and second favorite band, respectively) and my eyes were opened to yet another reason why it really is more fun in the Philippines. It was awesome.

‚̧ Bella Bertillo

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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Music Festival


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