We took our first whiff of the hot summer breeze two weeks into March at the Filinvest Event Grounds for Wanderland Pixels. Transporting us to a byte-sized world we are all very fond of, the festival which is now on its sixth (sixth!) year is clearly at its biggest, proven by the tens of thousands of tickets issued hot and sold (out) fast.
There is no doubt that the community has grown since the festival's first run in 2013 and, together with it, the lifestyle choices, music preferences, and the overall tastes of the attendees have seemed to change. But Karpos Multimedia is no noob in this game, having already mastered the basic formula that makes a great festival a success, no matter the type of crowd. Their line-up still spectacular and their aesthetic always on point, Wanderland proves that they are bound to return year after year for a long, long time.
Wanderland seems to be warming up nicely to its new home in the south. They seem to better know the lay of the land, plotting it with prettier installations and better-placed booths. The games area, art market, as well as the arcade were all very inviting, attracting attendees to work on an activity or to check them out at the very least.
Unlike last year, the show started relatively on time. Acts played within their scheduled time indicated on the now-familiar and very informative leaflets that are distributed at the event on a yearly basis. It was a very good call to go back to the original set-up of having two stages instead of three. No slow loading time here: set-up and sound checks were quick and the flow from one performer to the other was seamless.
This year has provided a wider array of food and beverage choices: flavored beer, iced coffee, pork sisig on crab fat rice — and even very affordable tapsilog! It may have been because of the more spacious area for dining, but eating that Saturday felt less like a chore and more of a leisure. Having tokens at 50 PHP and 100 PHP denominations are still very convenient, too.
Music Got Game
Year after year, we've seen homegrown acts up their game...and Wanderland 2018 is no different. Early during the day, Wanderband Basically Saturday Night and runner-up Carousel Casualties showcased local indie talent we all should be proud of.
Ben&Ben has shown us their musical prowess time and again, starting from when there were just two of them singing and playing for a songwriting competition to all nine of them performing in Singapore. It was, however, a different experience seeing them on a festival stage, with hundreds of people singing along to their heartfelt, folk-pop songs.
They played an early set, but the boys sure have a following: IV of Spades had attendees pumped up and running to watch them, faster than you can say "Ping!" From being Wanderband 2016 aspirants to drawing one of the biggest crowds at the event, the band is well-loved (and inspires love, even, if that onstage proposal was any indication) and we cannot wait to see what's next for them.
Music Got Game 2.0
This year's international picks were a fulfillment of many fan wishlists. Lauv had everyone swaying and singing as he filled the afternoon with his chill rhythm. Bag Raiders had the people bouncing to the soundtrack of the meme of 2017. Kodaline has finally, finally made their way to Manila, closing the show with feels that filled the grounds and beyond.
Jhene Aiko brought to the stage a handful of things that only the US-based singer-songwriter can: power in the form of her voice, beauty in the form of a harp and paper roses, and charm in the form of people dancing with her onstage.
And then there's Daniel Caesar, whose songs heard live are like rain after a long bout of drought. We're sure we are one with thousands of other fans who felt blessed that we were stuck with him even just for a few minutes while the sun set that Saturday.
A few Easter eggs
When you've developed a habit of attending an annual affair, surprises are always pleasant. This rang true on that Saturday as some of the performers had a few tricks up their sleeve.
Electronic four-piece Asch had the good vibe going on an otherwise annoyingly hot hour while making soulful music. Collaboration was key to Quest who brought some of his friends (like singer-songwriter Keiko Necesario and singer-actress Claudia Barretto) to the party. Jess Connelly also made her performance even more note-worthy by playing with a full band, including King Puentespina (more popularly known as crwn) on the drums.
Best of all was FKJ setting the Globe stage on fire, not just with him playing his many instruments (something we've seen in action at the Lio Beach Festival), but also with him creating a song for Manila right there and then. So when (((O))) appeared onstage, everyone's world turned 360 degrees and back.
As this was the biggest the event has been, lines were noticeably longer when you need to use the bathroom, have more tokens exchanged, or buy some food and beer. Hopefully, there will be more counters for these services next time because it just sucks to choose between keeping your place in the queue and running off to check out the performer onstage.
The participation of Wanderartists has been part of the core that makes Wanderland the premium arts and music festival that it is. Sam Bumanlag, JP Pining, Cholo Cardenas and Humbly did an awesome job, but it seems like their live art made was overshadowed by the other beautiful installations around the area. Perhaps partnerships with more artists are in order for next year's edition?
While the situation this year is way better (thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who tirelessly made sure that all areas were clean), it still didn't sit well with us that there was a need for other people to clean up after us Wanderers.
To all Wanderers, seasoned and new, we're taking this opportunity to remind you that your trash is your own responsibility and not anyone else's.
Wanderland Music & Arts Festival is an annual festival by Karpos Multimedia.