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Young Star

BACK2ME: The Eraserheads reunite again

THE OUTSIDER - Erwin T. Romulo -

Thank you! Ang babait ninyo!” says frontman Ely Buendia to the crowd after playing, Poorman’s Grave. As announced, the Eraserheads reunited on Mar. 7 to “finish” their reunion gig, (interrupted last year when Buendia suffered chest pains after the first set). It’s only the fifth song into their first set but it seems that they’re slowly warming up onstage. If estimates are to be believed, there are about 100,000 people here at the Mall Of Asia concert grounds, the numbers swelling with each number the band plays. Chants of “Group hug!” are once again heard, just like last year when they first reunited — to which Buendia retorts (albeit jovially), “Kayo muna…

Relations within the band have always been the topic of much gossip, especially between drummer Raimund Marasigan and Buendia. The former collaborators (who penned songs such as Maling Akala and Tikman together) had famously fallen out. Worse, it had also managed to become a very public feud. The chants of “group hug” last year — echoed now — were driven mainly by this behind-the-scenes speculation. During the last show, fans were thrilled just by the sight of Buendia at one point turning and talking to Marasigan onstage. It was enough for the crowd, some of whom came home from abroad just to see them perform.

Tonight, those who were thrilled then are probably ecstatic now, as Raimund stands up from his kit and takes the microphone. The Eraserheads’ fifth member for tonight, Jazz Nicolas (who wears a T-shirt with the word “Extra” written across it, with the letter “E” printed backwards), takes his place behind the drums. Buendia then announces: “Ladies and gentlemen, on vocals Mr. Raimund Marasigan…”

The band then launch into Slomo from “Cutterpillow” and after that, Alkohol from “Circus.” (The latter is announced as a track from the Radioactive Sago Project, alluding to the cover version that that group did for the Eheads’ tribute album a few years back.) It’s during Alkohol that Marasigan sidles over to where Buendia is standing at the center of the stage. Seeing them performing on the same stage together was all fans of the band had hoped for — but somehow seeing them together on one of the big screens above the stage seemed appropriate, big enough to contain the significance of the moment.

Why? It seems only appropriate that any seeming acrimony culminate in this way: onstage, larger than life, in performance and in front of a crowd. If it seems a bit grotesque then you only have to realize we’re not even talking about the people themselves anymore but what they’ve come to represent for us, their audience, their fans. If anything, their personalities have become (as gleaned from their music and interviews) magnified or even distorted to correspond with what we needed them to be. The fact of their growing up and apart didn’t sit well with fans. Their subsequent troubles also cast suspicion on the Peter Pan figures they had become for us, making that time when we first heard them recede even further away. At its worst it also reminded us that we were growing old, too.

But as the band played two sets and two encores, only getting better as the concert progressed, it was also a reaffirmation (if not a reclamation) of how unsullied their legacy — and our own past relationship with them — remains. Playing the concert and hearing the music yet again is nothing less than a celebration of that history and how it remains standing despite the waste laid in the interim. 

The truth is that we’ll never really know how a band works or why certain people click — or why certain bands matter. It’s doubtful that the four individuals that make up the band (Marasigan, Buendia, bassist Buddy Zabala and guitarist Marcus Adoro) can give us an answer either. The complexities within a group are too myriad and fluctuating to ever be resolved. Not in one night (or even two). But the concert was gratifying for the fact that we witnessed four people who were the unlikeliest to succeed together as a band overturn expectations once again and play music. The choice to play Walang Nagbago is even more poignant upon reflection while the last line in Toyang (the last song the band plays that evening) is even more defiant than ever. More than that, the fact that the music has only gotten better with age should give us all hope.

We were not too young, neither are we too old at all.

ALKOHOL

BAND

BUDDY ZABALA

BUENDIA

ELY BUENDIA

ERASERHEADS

JAZZ NICOLAS

MARASIGAN

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