Saturday, March 21, 2009

Eraserheads Live! The Final Set

Last August 2009, the Eraserheads, the greatest thing that came of out the music scene, finally played a reunion concert which people of my generation have clamored for these past years. My love for the Eheads was tackled, albeit shortly, in this previous post. I'll probably write a long essay on why I'm such a big fan of the group and why they have such a big impact in my life and thinking one of these days. I never really accepted the group's breakup. I knew their run as a group was over but it never really sank in to my inner consciousness.

But going back to last year's reunion concert, I really wanted to be part of the momentous event. I planned on getting tickets to watch it with Cay but I couldn't get around to doing so because I was swamped with work. The days passed by and I ended up not being able to see the show. The concert was cut short for a reason known to everyone already, and I still felt even worse.

But the news announced early this year that there would be another concert called the "The Final Set" was welcome news to me. Even before I began to worry about getting tickets for the show, Cay suddenly told me that a friend of hers has tickets she can sell us. Talk about a deus ex machina.

During the day of the concert, Cay and I went to the venue early because we knew most people would flock there early as well and so we had to secure a good spot in the concert grounds. We met Cay's friend and learned that the tickets were of the Silver kind. There were the V.I.P., Gold, Silver, and the nosebleed section tickets. It turns out that our tickets provided a good view of the stage and was close enough for comfort.

The area was a great venue to hold the expected 100,000 people. Security was swarming all over the place and food stalls and merchandise booths were littered everywhere.

We found a booth with chairs and claimed it as our own. The place had a good view of the stage and had chairs to rest on after standing for a long time. It's like having our own skybox in an NBA game. Sweet!

Night came upon the place and signaled that the show was about to begin. The place was jam-packed by then. There were the MTV VJs who gave inane and annoying shillings and were booed for their effort. I took it as opportunity to meet up with some friends who I found out were also watching the show.

The event finally began with the monitors showing clips of the Eraserheads during their MTV appearances throughout the years. And when the Philippines' Fab Four were finally seen on the stage, the crowd just erupted with cheers and excitement. Finally, after years of hoping against hope, I finally saw the Eheads playing together. Cay had said several times that this wouldn't happen. She said my dream is like that of a kid who still hoped his divorced parents would get back together. In this case, they won't be getting back together, but at least they will go out on a date to please the kids.

The first set had Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, and Marcus Adoro sharing lead vocal duties. Ely delivered the usual pop-rock favorites from the band such as "Magasin" and "Torpedo", Raimund did the hard rockin' songs like "Insomnia" and "Alkohol", while Marcus surprisingly belted out a great reggae version of "Huwag Mo Nang Itanong". I was surprised when the group played a personal favorite "Waiting For The Bus". The fans pleaded for Buddy Zabala to sing as well but he won't have any of it. The only song I remember Buddy taking the lead vocals on is "The Fabulous Baker Boy" from the album "Fruitcake".

Throughout the event, the fans kept on asking to see a group hug from the group but it was not to be. The group would make a gesture that made for a group photo op at the end of the concert, though.

And it was shown in the concert that their secret weapon for the night was Jazz Nicolas of the Itchyworms, who played the role of a genius instrumentalist with aplomb. The Itchyworms, along with Sugarfree, are the two groups whose music I've enjoyed the most these past years due to the fact that they are the most obvious children of the Eraserheads' legacy once you listen to them.

The second set consisted of Eraserheads songs done in acoustic, to change the pace from the previous high-energy set. This part had the emo Eheads songs like "Julie Tearjerky" and "Kailan", released during a time when emo was an unknown concept. This set also included the immortal "Pare Ko" that made the group a household name. You can just imagine 100,000 people singing along to it in perfect tune and words. After "Overdrive", the group said its goodbye but nobody was leaving.

Throughout the concert, I sang along to all the songs, being a huge fan who knew all the lyrics. You know how the lyrics of the songs you used to listen to as a kid seem to be the basic sentence patterns that pop in your head constantly? That's the case with me, along with comic book dialogues and cartoon character lines. So yeah, the Eheads songs are deeply embedded in my mind. And the Eheads' songs, as cheesey as it may sound, never fail to transport my mind back in time, both to happier and troubled times. Cay said a lot of the songs they were singing were B-side tunes. To a real fan, no song is a B-side song. All are killers, no fillers. And the show was so good that the energy level didn't go down a single notch all throughout.

The final set contained the emotional tribute to master rapper Francis M., who passed away the night before the concert. Huling El Bimbo, considered by a lot of people, including me, to be their magnum opus, was to be their last song. Ely lit the piano from the album cover of "Sticker Happy", or a replica of it, on fire, to signify closure I presume. As the song was being sung, a magnificent fireworks display left everyone in awe of the magical moment that was transpiring before our very eyes. Different emotions were going into overdrive (no pun intended) in my head. The Fab Four plus Jazz gave their bow and left the stage.

Cay, me, and our group didn't leave the area. I don't go out immediately in an event as soon as it's finished. I usually let everyone or most people leave before I head to the exits. Guess what? The band came back on stage to do a stripped down encore, seemingly reminding people that back in the day, they were just college students playing for the love of music and considering a gig in Club Dredd a major accomplishment. The crowd that was already outside rushed violently back to the concert grounds, resulting in a mixture of different ticket holders, with nosebleeders suddenly finding themselves in the gold section. Heck, people who had no tickets got inside to enjoy the last few songs. But my group retained our "skybox". In the encore, they played Pinoy favorites "Ligaya" and "Toyang". Ely went down to the crowd to let them sing a few lines and Tim Yap managed to show what a complete faker he is. The show ended and the Eraserheads finally bid their final goodbye.

The event was just awesome and I doubt if any concert will be as great as this or as meaningful. Did I get a sense of closure? Yes, a bit. I got over the fact that the band just broke up so suddenly and left everyone dazed and confused. I realized that I really have to brace myself for the fact that the group may never be back together again. But the hope is still there. And I can now celebrate the greatness of the Eraserheads without that stab of melancholy and tinge of regret that their disbandment brought about.

And as for me, the Eheads' music made my past flash before my eyes. I spent the following week assessing myself once more, looking at how far I've come and how far I have to go. I celebrated my success and accepted my failures. That's the power of the group's magic. And as a song of the group goes "the wheels are rolling like a rolling stone/ alone I choose the road less traveled on". Rock on.

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