Phum Viphurit
Nikki Bonuel
Cool for the summer
Fiel Estrella ( - May 25, 2019 - 9:30am

Returning acts, homegrown legends and long-awaited favorites gathered for an unforgettable moment in music at this year's Summer Noise. 

It was a scorching Saturday in Greenfield District, the only respite from the sun being the shadows cast by trees and skyscrapers around the area. A stage has been set up in a sprawling parking lot, flanked by large screens and lights. There were tents and barricades all around, but somehow, it was the presence of food trucks and Jack Daniels that made it clear a something exciting was taking place. 

Welcome to Summer Noise. 

In its second year, the much-anticipated music festival from independent music event prod The Rest is Noise brought back beloved international musicians, showed some love for Filipino faves, and stepped it up with highly anticipated major acts from all over the world. 

Cynthia Alexander
Nikki Bonuel


Aside from jumping around and singing along to mainstays on their playlists, attendees got to buy cool merch along with original art and zines and must-have apparel from a mini-market place. They also got to enjoy meet-and-greet sessions with the artists, and efforts toward accessibility and inclusivity included Filipino sign language interpretation for all performances. 

First onstage was the hip-hop collective Uprising. Listeners got to rage out, express their frustrations, and let off some steam to rousing songs with plenty to say from the likes of BLKD and Kemikal Ali. The set was followed by Cebu indie rock forerunners Sheila and the Insects, Taiwanese post-punk outfit Sen, and multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Cynthia Alexander, whose songs provided a sense of solace — a cool breath of fresh air even with a backdrop of the sweltering sun. 

Nikki Bonuel


Next came a one-of-a-kind collaboration between Tide/Edit and The Ringmaster just as the sun gave way to brighter lights and darker skies, and She’s Only Sixteen welcomed the night with galvanizing renditions of their most danceable anthems. Taiwanese shoegaze band Manic Sheep followed and gave everyone something to scream about. 

Dream-pop outfit Subsonic Eye and self-proclaimed “uncool pop” act Sobs, who both hail from Singapore, played back-to-back sets. In an act reminiscent of the prom scene from 10 Things I Hate About You, singers Nur Wahidah and Celine Autumn, from Subsonic Eye and Sobs, respectively, joined each other’s bands onstage and sang a few lines from each other’s songs — a total delight to watch. 

Sobs/Subsonic Eye
Nikki Bonuel


Next came the heavyweights, starting with modern icons Up Dharma Down. Armi Millare exuded ever-effortless cool, belting out heart-wrenching songs from their arsenal, including crowd favorite Tadhana. Norwegian singer-songwriter Jakob Ogawa played a set that met an enthusiastic response from the crowd despite technical difficulties, preceding American rock band Turnover. 

Australian indie rock quartet Last Dinosaurs, who first played shows in Manila in 2013 and 2014, returned after five years and implored everyone to remind them why Filipino crowds are the best — asking their audience to, quite literally, bring the noise, and raising the energy with new songs and hits like Italo Disco and Honolulu.

Experimental pop musician Michelle Zauner, also known as Japanese Breakfast, declared before her set that she was going for a John Travolta look — presumably from Pulp Fiction, because she was turning heads in a gray suit. (She ditched the blazer after one song, because the heat wouldn’t let up even near-midnight.) Zauner owned the stage, and even the giant speakers beyond, and captivated listeners with new single Essentially and Everybody Wants to Love You. 

Japanese Breakfast
Nikki Bonuel


Closing out the show is Thai charmer and singer-songwriter Phum Viphurit, who, with his bucket hat and infectious grin, made the crowd swoon and sing along to Sweet Hurricane (during which he got surprisingly emotional) and Lover Boy.

Summer can be a drag, and the heat can be unforgiving, but when you’ve got good friends, a bit of booze, the wonders of the city, and incredible live music, it’s hard not to bring all of the noise. 

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