The Perfect Rock Show

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Kamikazee just coughed up an insurmountable amount of courage to do what they are doing now — self-producing a series of shows called the Tagpuan Tour after a 2-year hiatus, supported by nothing but the straightforward relationship of fans to musicians and vice versa.

The success of the first show held last February 3 in Imus, Cavite was due to to the desires of each and every fan to see the band again. They don’t have any sponsors yet, I don’t see media support or even a review. All you see are posts, comments, and photos of those who have watched the show straight from each and every fan who saw them live. The band are selling the tickets themselves, making an appearance to ticket outlets to show their gratefulness for the fans who have lined-up to buy.

There was no overriding authority dictating the conversation of what it was. It wasn’t some corporate party, fiesta, or anniversary. It was by far the most genuinely straightforward local rock show I have ever experienced. The huge demand by fans eliminated the divide that most local rock shows have failed to overcome for decades – the bands are no longer ‘token’ performers masked as headliners to support a product. Kamikazee and their music is the product and nothing can be more pure than the fans consuming the experience directly from the band.

It’s only the beginning of the year and they already have a set tour schedule. A well paced series of shows designed to reach as much people as they possibly could. This was an initiative that has never been done before by a local rock band, not in this caliber and magnitude at least and most importantly, no one has done it by themselves.

During soundcheck vocalist Jay Contreras went up to me and said, “Thank you.” I had this lack-of-sleep blank stare, in panic, wondering on how to react. I was trying to recall, “Did I send out the Contreras family a Christmas gift?” What did I even do to warrant this gratefulness? My camera is still in my bag, they haven’t even seen my pictures yet.

But that’s Jay, his comedic self is directly proportional to his sweetness. He was grateful for each and every person who was there making the effort to make the show a success. When guitarist Jomal Linao said the same thing to me too, okay I get it. Imagine all of a sudden a bunch of people started thanking you and you have no idea what you just did. Do I have a doppelganger who has been doing all these good things? For my forgetful self, that would be a nightmare.

During the show Jay told everyone at the show that he was unsure if people still loved them. How could they not? There have been trolls online who think that their Huling Sayaw Concert two years ago where they packed Araneta Coliseum was just a marketing ploy. I read a comment on their facebook page recently which said, “Akala ko disband na? Nauto lang kayo.” (I tried looking for it but I think it was deleted). Which is why then after saying what he said he ‘cursed’ off mic to at those who were against their return, to everyone’s delight.

A hiatus is important. In any artists life the need to regroup and find what’s important to be able to create things that matter. Music has become a job for Filipinos because we’re so good at it that too much work endangers the art. Which is why when we see bands that we claim we love but we would always request for the old stuff.

Writing a song is akin to splitting your chest open with an axe, which is why great work always takes time. To embrace the possibility of being irrelevant for a while for the sake of art is one of the bravest things one can do in show business. 

It’s always a risk, but sometimes it’s worth it.

Their newest song “Agimat” is such a fresh take on a love song. Named after drummer Allan Burdeos’ son with his wife, photographer Carina Altomonte, it was a song that struck me having a son of my own. It can be about romantic love too, but there’s this transcendent kind of love when you are inspired by your children. It’s inexplicably unconditional, life-alteringly grand and permanent.

“Ngayon ko lang ito nadama
May ganito pala kasaya
At ‘di ko sukat akalain
Ikaw ang bumuo sa akin.” 

The moment the song came on, I became a bit teary eyed. The visuals took me back to this touching encounter with Agimat when they visited my home. You see, my husband, Greyhoundz’ bassist Niño Avenido is obsessed with these smart LED lights that he installed in our living room that Agimat started playing with. For a good while Agimat was controlling all the lights in our house, announcing each and every color from green, purple, blue, red, pink and yellow as he pressed the control buttons.

So when these rainbow of colors burst in sync with the song on stage, all I thought was, Agimat must be really enjoying this. I also noticed that the spotlight was on drummer Allan Burdeos which probably helped Agimat see his dad from afar.

Of course I was living in the moment too much that I have no visual proof which is why you need to see it for yourself. This kind of attention to detail wouldn’t happen if the band wasn’t heavily invested on the show. That kind of personal offering is what makes a show perfect. It’s what makes a song great.

Also, the show was done by 10pm. 10PM??? Wait, you mean I didn’t have to painstakingly fight my body clock just to enjoy an event? No more hiding my yawns while listening to hit song after hit song not because I’m bored but because my physical state just can’t help it? Are you saying it’s actually possible that we get everything we need as music fans without the struggle, and can actually be disciplined enough to be on time?

Sorry, am I in the Philippines? Where our masochistic and religious nature tells us that we need to suffer to get to heaven? You’d be surprised to find out that there is a big difference between partying hard at 12 midnight and rocking out at 8pm. Believe me, that 4-hour difference is a whole universe apart.

Jay told everyone to tweet about event, humoring everyone to say that their show is ‘international caliber’ so that Kamikazee could trend even if it was just in Cavite. Even if it’s just third to the our usual national issues such as robberies and shootings (Quoting Jay cannot bring justice to his jokes, it’s not about what he said but more like how he said it, but hey, at least I tried).

This is just an example of how we’ve all set our standards low that any great local rock show can only be comparable to the international shows we spend so much for. Can’t we have a great show because it’s what we deserve?

Well we have one now.

Music deserves more than our apathy. We’ve become so satisfied with such impersonal experiences, (i.e. our satisfaction with online content) that we don’t know that we’ve actually settled for and have gotten used to mediocrity no matter how intensely we convince ourselves that we feel otherwise. Nothing beats watching a live performance. A live performance that’s done right, at least.

There are too many gigs we take for granted, knowing all too well that they’ll be at a bar at the next corner. Our desire to see bands is usually not as intense because, ‘heck, we’ll just see them next week’ until we can’t. Then we clamor for reunion like it was some advocacy that proves our loyalty to music, but then most of us don’t watch it anyway when they do, settling for extremely personal requests short of asking them to play in your own bathroom.

For people to set a new standard for themselves, they need an example to base their desires upon. Only then can they begin to imagine what they deserve. Kamikazee is driving that change and hopefully the entire Pinoy music industry will follow.

If you want to be a part of that change, see the next show.

MARCH 10 Malolos Sports and Convention Center. Tickets are available at SNDKTO. To view the rest of the photos, visit Kamikazee’s facebook page.

Check out my instagram at @rosarioko

Photos taken using Sony Philippines a7riii