SUPREME ON ASSIGNMENT: Fete and the future of indie music
Ian Urrutia (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Fête de la Musique has become France’s most pertinent cultural export, a phenomenon that is celebrated in 120 countries worldwide, including the Philippines. For one day, independently organized productions put on free shows featuring different genres of music, as thousands of fans gather hoping to stumble on their favorite bands.

Out in the crowds, there has always been a sense of communal belongingness at Fête, but this year, I got to participate in a different way, as a producer behind the Indie Stage, along with colleagues from Ndfy.me and Docdef Productions. It is here, on the front lines of Pinoy music’s biggest day of the year, that one really gets a feel of things — from the frustration of putting on a show with little support, to the joy of seeing the broad spectrum of homegrown music alive and rocking.

People began lining up at our stage at Green Sun Hotel two hours before we began. Perhaps it’s because the wonderful Reese Lansangan opened our stage. We were her first stop in a string of performances for Fête, and boy did she set the bar high. By the time funk-jazz troubadours Milesexperience hit the stage, the venue was already jam-packed. Milesexperience are the same guys who smashed B-Side’s record with 700-strong attendees for their album launch this summer. Everyone in the room, it seemed, knew the words to their songs. The SunManager, Coeli San Luis and Skymarines followed, and they didn’t disappoint music fans of all stripes. At 6:15 p.m., the security personnel informed us of the number of people at our stage: “1,483 sir yung nasa clicker stats,” he said. We couldn’t believe it.

More people entered as Oh, Flamingo brought the fun back to indie-rock with their proggy, tropical-infused music. Bassist Billie Dela Paz persuaded the audience to replace the chorus of “Two Feet” to “Two Fête,” which everyone sang, laughing. A Spur of the Moment Project artists Tide/Edit and Tom’s Story kept the momentum going, but this time, everyone in the crowd was one — they knew how to mimic the guitar parts and break down sections of the songs in their repertoire.

Perhaps the real highlight of the Indie Stage was Ang Bandang Shirley, the enabler of infinite feels, the band behind the songs of your romantic and (un)romantic life. The crowd went wild for Nakauwi Na. They put their hands in the air as Selena, Ean, Owel and ttheir friends break into the chorus of their latest single Umaapaw. Photo by JEREMY CAISIP

Full House

At 7 p.m., with Farewell Fair Weather, Autotelic, and the popular She’s Only Sixteen playing, we had 2,000 people inside, forcing the venue management to call our attention. We tried our best to have a few people get in, and I did see some people frustratedly trying to make it to the moshpit. It reminded me of days when I’d slam my way in front of an open venue to watch my personal music heroes kill it on stage. 

Speaking of heroes, perhaps the real highlight of the night was Ang Bandang Shirley, the enabler of infinite feels, the band behind the songs of your romantic and (un)romantic life. The crowd went wild for Nakauwi Na. They put their hands in the air as Selena, Ean, Owel and ttheir friends break into the chorus of their latest single Umaapaw.

At 6:15 p.m., security personnel told us about the number of people at our stage: “1,483 sir yung nasa clicker stats,” he said. We couldn’t believe it.

The show didn’t stop after them, though, as Cheats, The Ransom Collective, and Serif left the crowd longing for more. The night ended with the venue still at capacity, with bands such as Conscious and the Goodness, Sud and Jensen and the Flips eliciting screams.

Local Support

As I stared at the sea of Pinoy music fans, I wondered why it took a diplomatic advocacy started by the French Minister of Culture to engage thousands of Filipinos to come together in the spirit of music appreciation. Not to fan the flames, but the lack of support from our own government and the excessive tax burden that they put on creative industries has made many musicians leave the country and seek opportunities abroad. State initiatives that put premium on Filipino music diversity are few and far between, except perhaps for Malasimbo Festival, whose local government and tourism officials work hand in hand with professional concert promoters to make Puerto Galera one of the most promising music meccas in Southeast Asia.

Isn’t it time we created a music festival that exposes curious ears to music made outside the comforts of commercial studios? How about a week-long music convergence that offers discovery opportunities for people who haven’t been exposed to the ragged corners of Saguijo, Route 196, Pineapple Lab and Mow’s? How about taxation incentives for private companies that support music projects like this?

“A music festival is our chance to show everyone the depth of talent that we currently have,” says Glen Macadaeg, my co-organizer for #FeteIndie2016. “The role of a music festival, at least from my perspective, is to be the heart of the whole scene, while the artists and fans, are the blood.”

Perhaps this was all just the alcohol talking. Perhaps these are impossible dreams of a few idealists. But as my co-organizers and I joined the crowd and sang and screamed and cried with them, we knew we had something special.

Till next year.

* * *

Ian Urrutia is the founder and editor-in-chief of VandalsOnTheWall.com, a great place to find new Pinoy music. Tweet him @ianurrutia.

 

 

 

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