While 2017 may not have been the best year for a number of reasons, it was definitely a good one for live music. 90's favorites, Oasis front man Liam Gallagher and pop icon Britney Spears, finally made it to the Philippines; Coldplay performed to a sold-out crowd of 35,000; LANY played Wanderland AND five mall shows; and Phoenix declared Manila as "the best singing crowd" ever.
Here's a look at our favorite gigs of 2017.
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It might have been their fifth year, but 2017 was a year of many firsts for Wanderland. It’s the first time the annual event was held outside its usual home, the first time they had three stages instead of two, and the first time they (finally!) had a Southeast Asian performer in the line-up.
Exploring the Wanderland Jungle was a totally different adventure, even for veteran festival-goers. But at the end of it all, the stellar lineup and their even more spectacular performances made up for the issues brought about by climate change, the long gaps between acts and the lack of green that we’re more used to. And while The Temper Trap crooned about moments and loves and dreams aloud to the cool southern wind, we realize that the wild was worth the wait after all.
It hasn't even been a year since we brought UK singer-songwriter Lucy Rose to 12 Monkeys, but with the release of her new record and short film Something's Changing back in July, she’s returned to us so soon to grace us with her warmth and charm, making us fall for her time and time again.
With the screening of her short film that documented her fan-booked tour in South America, it comes as no surprise that Lucy made time after the show to meet and talk to her fans in the absence of a formal meet-and-greet session, listening to stories of how they came to know of her and and how her music has altered their lives for the better, capping an emotionally-driven night.
Bandwagon Nights #1
Bandwagon curated its first-ever bar gig last September, as an after-party for Lucy Rose's Manila show. Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Elise Huang, April Hernandez's TheSunManager (plus a horn section), Fools and Foes, The Ransom Collective, and Ben&Ben were part of our indie folk showcase for the night.
During 6th and 7th of May 2017, BTS performed in a full house at MOA Arena. Fans, namely A.R.M.Y.s, were disseminated around the venue before the show for each day. They prepared fan projects, merchandise, and various giveaways to bring together even fans that traveled from outside Metro Manila or the Philippines solely to catch the show. Let alone how young or old fans can be, classes or even our day jobs can’t hold back an avid fan from watching their favorite artist live. All you need is a concert ticket, a bus or plane to Manila, and your box of emotions set to be released into the wild.
Watching The Maine live for their Lovely Little Lonely Tour gave me goosebumps and some butterflies in my stomach. Their latest album is something hot and fresh on the plate. It sounds like them but also feels entirely different from all their past records. They kicked off with Lovely which followed by Black Butterflies and Déjà vu, turning the crowd of human beings into a pool of teary-eyed goo.
The experience of basking not just in Liam Gallagher's presence (and among dedicated fans), but everything that made him grab the headlines — on magazines and on massive stages — propelled me to a different, but not entirely unfamiliar state: the exhilarating high only live music can give.
Manila’s no stranger to being the most enthusiastic in the spectrum of concert crowds but last night, Phoenix vocalist Thomas Mars dubbed us the “best singing crowd” and thanked us for knowing all the lyrics, saying it’s not the same back home. “In fact, we loved the first time so much that we decided to come early this time after the record’s out. Hopefully next time we’ll come before the record’s out,” he said.
It was clear how long TTNG fans had been anticipating this event, from the amount of cheers that sprung forth every time they played a track off their first album,Animals, and how shirts featuring the album art were the first to run out of enough sizes at the merch table.
In spite of this, or maybe because of it, the gig felt as though we were supporting dear friends instead of long-time heroes. Both the boys of TTNG and Mylets (Henry Kohen) fit right into the scene so seamlessly, effectively removing the barrier between audience and artist that has come to be expected with foreign acts coming to the Philippines.
Once Oh Wonder set foot on stage, the whole room cheered. Listeners were at once treated to a show of dynamic, neon lights and the live wire performances of both Vander Gucht, whose dance enabled her fans to get “high” on her amount of energy; and West, who rocked on with his strings and pedals, jumping around and letting the music sway him. From releasing their first track “Body Gold” to “Ultralife”, the status they’ve since acquired is the fruit of his and Vander Gucht’s hard work. Both Josephine and Anthony could only do so much without the other, and having a relationship that’s bigger than love is better than going solo.
It’s true what LANY said about giving it their all in every show. It’s the way they show their appreciation to their fans by giving them “something you won’t ever forget” as Paul had said earlier that day. The band’s energy never faltered on stage: Paul’s dance moves, Les’ intense guitar playing and Jake’s drum solos. The band was consistent with their performances, despite cheers from the crowd overpowering Paul's vocals at times.
It's no surprise Chris Martin knows how to work up a crowd, and despite the distance some fans had from the stage, the Coldplay frontman assured that they were sending them "everything they've got" and that "this would be the best concert we've ever played." Pretty sure many fans would agree.
The first time I listened to the band’s music was also the first time I had even heard of them, which was when they announced that they were playing a gig in Manila. The next couple of months were a heady mix of infatuation and endlessly looped playlists as I weighed the cost of flying in from Singapore.
In the end, I’m glad I made the trip, and Yumi Zouma’s intimate gig at 19 East, with UDD playing the opening set, proved to be my most memorable gig of the year.
There were plenty of momentous performances from the acts, such as the drum-off between Cheats and Sandwich, Little Drummer Boy Suman Dancel playing drums for his dad Vin (Peryodiko) and being unfazed the entire time, and Carlos Castaño’s return from a long drought of gigs. These memorable happenings at the Red Ninja Year Ender fest were indeed early holiday gifts to dedicated music lovers and supporters of local music, and it was something to be truly thankful for.
While there were a number of unforgettable moments that happened, the theme of respect and courtesy in the music industry became the highlight of the night, especially when BP Valenzuela, CRWN, and Flying Ipis played their sets with a splash of advocacy.
The festival was originally scheduled to go on at the MOA Concert Grounds, but inclement weather days before the festival prevented the organizers from setting up the outdoor venue. The EDM party had to be moved indoors and Road to Ultra turned the MOA Arena into a massive dance club for the night - from the giant LED screens to the light show, the crazy fans to pyro and flashing lasers, homegrown DJs to international headliners - Hardwell and Zedd.
It took 19 years, but the pop star finally made it to our shores, arriving via private plane on the day of the concert. Britney Spears performed a total of 24 songs - she skipped our personal favorites, 1999's "Sometimes" and the Janet Jackson-esque "Anticipating" - focusing on her choreography and massive stage production.
Britney fans and all sorts of Britneys sang their heart out to every single song, earning Manila the "best crowd so far!" title from one of Britney's dancers. The crowd couldn't get enough and we're still on a high as they left in droves, singing Britney hits on their way out of the MOA Arena.
While the place is beautiful and the music was fantastic, the heart of the festival is undisputedly the people. It is worth taking note that the organizers exuded grace under pressure and remained nice despite the many difficulties they faced during the event. What's equally magical is the warmth of the friendly locals who were willing to go out of their way to buy medicine for sick visitors or return valuable items accidentally left behind. More than anything else, Lio Beach Festival has proven during those three memorable days that there is so much more to see (and love) beyond the waters.