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What's in a crowd? |

Young Star

What's in a crowd?

UNWRITTEN - Maria Jorica B. Pamintuan -

My brother once asked me, “Why do you have to watch concerts? You can just listen to the CDs!” It’s true. The songs on the CD are the songs played at the concert. Heck, there are some artists who sound the same, whether live or recorded in a studio. So, why do people love to trek to concert halls and grounds just to watch a live version of the songs on their iPods and computers?

Maybe it’s because people are looking for something more than sound. They want to see their musical idols in person. They want to feel the drumbeats and the bass lines in their chests and knees. They want to jump around and dance with the other crazed fans in the audience. Most of all, they want to be able to brag that they saw Beyoncé or Lady Gaga “in person.”

For some people, the bragging rights of having watched a big concert is incentive enough to pay P10,000 for a front-row ticket. They even keep the ticket stubs in their wallets as proof and make sure they have pictures inside the venue (just so it can’t be said that they picked up someone else’s discarded ticket from the garbage!). Indeed, concerts are just opportunities to see and be seen.  Before a concert starts, many members of the audience can be seen wafting through the aisles, looking for God knows what. Why can’t they just stay put in their seats and wait for the show to begin? I say they’re just looking for friends who can validate their presence at a hip event.

Of course, being seen is just  one part of the ego-boosting, pogi/ganda-point-raising experience that is a concert. It is more important to be seen looking beautiful. I find it so odd when I see girls wearing high heels to an outdoor show. Uh, hello! Ever heard of decency? What if you step on someone’s foot (which is not an improbable scenario in a crowd)? Even if you’re not concerned about injuring others, at least be concerned about injuring yourself! Open grounds aren’t exactly made up of bedrock; a stiletto heel could easily sink into soft soil. I’m not against looking fab at a media-covered event, but there are plenty of ways to look great without being a walking hazard.

A Pinoy concert crowd is certainly unique. For one, Filipino concertgoers know the lyrics to every song a performing musician sings. Pinoys do audience participation really, really well. Given the chance, I’m sure any member of the audience would get up onstage and sing side by side with their idols (with as much mastery and feeling, too!). Hearing a chorus of a thousand voices singing is a wonderful experience — and I’m just another fan, so how much more ecstatic must it feel for the artist?

Local concert regulars also make for a much tamer crowd compared to American audiences. Sure, seeing all the rowdy fans go crazy during a show can encourage and flatter a musician’s ego. However, no artists need fear that a Filipino will throw a water bottle at the stage, or attempt to climb over barricades (then again, there aren’t a lot of barricades to mount in the first place — just big, surly bouncers).

Besides, I think the crowd’s knowledge of the artists’ songs more than makes up for the mostly passive nature of the viewers. And lack of energetic activity doesn’t mean that the throng of fans isn’t enjoying the show — I mean, if the fans weren’t happy, they wouldn’t keep shelling out thousands upon thousands of pesos to watch the next big event.

Indeed, it seems that the amour Filpinos have for a live performance is only equaled by the amour that foreign artists have for the Filipino concert crowd. In recent years, artists from every generation, from every corner of the globe have made the Philippines one of the stops in their world tours.

In just a span of three weeks, there will be major performances by three big foreign musical groups. Tomorrow, the Backstreet Boys will hold a concert at the Araneta Coliseum. On March 9, Paramore will visit the country for the first time. And then, on March 16, Owl City will grace the stage as well.

Among the famous acts that have performed here are Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Avril Lavigne, Earth Wind & Fire, and Chicago.

Local artists are in the fray, too! The Apo Hiking Society, Martin and Pops (can I just say that divorced people should not be sweet?), Ai-Ai, Sharon, Sarah Geronimo, Zsa-Zsa, and Gary V. are just some of the popular and consistent performers on the Pinoy stage.

So, what is it about the Philippines that so attracts these music industry greats? Well, maybe it’s because Filipinos love music — no matter what genre, no matter what decade an artist is from. What’s more, Pinoys express this love — not in crazy, scary ways like crowd surfing, but through an obvious appreciation (and memorization) of the performer’s art.

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