The gig venue is a bar restaurant called "Bob Marlin". When I first heard about the place, an image of a cartoon drawn marlin that rasta dreds came to mind. Not a logical caricature. But it'll do.
I was surprised to see that the place actually had decent gear. Their drumset was mic'd and they had nice guitar amps, bass amp, and even a keyboard amp. This relieved Roland a little because it takes a load off from him to sound tech especially when the drumset is mic'ed.
There were 3 local Naga bands that played before the 5 Manila bands did. The first of which is a band called Hapitones. I've seen these guys play before at a previous Naga gig. But this time, they had a fuller horn section. They had two trombone players and a trumpet player. The horn section added to the Ska theme of their music.
The 2nd local band to play is called Skinflute. They're basically a rock cover band; covering songs the likes of Razorback and other local rock acts. They weren't spectacular. But they didn't suck either. It was nice to rock along with the band given I recognized so many of their cover songs.
The last local band to play was a band called Blakbord. Frennie asked me if I knew some bands that I could recommend for her birthday celebration. I suggested this band called Sidhi, who are heavily influenced by Matisyahu. She declined the suggestion. And the reason is because of Blakbord. The band is essentially a Matisyahu cover band. Given Naga's liking to Reggae music. The Hebrew-esque rap reggae sound of Matisyahu songs would definitely be a bit hit out in Naga. So I'm guessing these guys get a lot of guys locally.
I've seen LC (Reklamo guitarist and vocalist) in other 3 piece bands in the past. We used to gig with LC every Saturday for close to a year back in the old 6Underground in Makati. The band was called NtoN back then. LC wasn't singing much and focused on wailing on his guitar ala-David Mustane, which I found cool back then. Reklamo has a similar LC guitar playing flavor. But has veered away from too much Megadeth, into something a little more eclectic. I found myself singing along with them during one of their cover songs. "We don't need no education!" "Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!"
I've always loved Chad's band. And their performance that night was no exception to what I've come to expect from them. Their sound is "Eclectic Rock" as Chad puts it. The Reklamo drummer was amazed at Chad because Chad would do complicated bass riffs while singing. Something that's not very easy to do. Even sting plays post bass riffs so that he can focus on his vocals. I wish Liquid Jane played Everlong by the Foo Fighters though. I love it when they cover that song.
It was then our turn to set-up and play. Islaw, our bassist, was so trashed because Milagros goaded then to drink a lot of what happens to be his favorite alcohol beverage back in college, gin. Islaw apparently took one of the gin bottles and took several large gulps of it like he came the desert and he was drinking water. Most of us are used to Islaw's drinking binges. He always manages to play fine despite his uber drunken state.
Gino, our guitarist, left his gear on stage because he's also the Liquid Jane guitarist. So he just chilled for a while until the rest of us were set-up.
The bane of percussionists that we have so much gear that we're always lagging behind in setting up. Briggs, our vocalist/guitarist, thought everybody was set-up already and begain playing the first song. Unfortunately, I wasn't fully ready yet. I hadn't pulled all my percs toys out yet and set them down on the stage. So I ditched the toys for the first song.
I enjoyed our set, even though I didn't feel very good about it. My band started without me. And Jerrold, our drummer, was so worried about Islaw's drunken state, that he stopped playing before the last song was actually over. This kind of left an anti-climactic end to the set. Oh well. Not every set can be a kick ass set. I think I played okay that night. But I made a number of mistakes which kind of disappointed me.
After our set, I just ordered more of the over-flowing free beer to make up for the disappointment. I'm easy. It took me 2 more beers for me to snap out of it. Well done San Miguel. LOL!
Now this band is absolutely kick-ass. Each band member is highly skilled. Yosha started out as a "for fun" band by married couple Yosha (vocalist) and Karel (bassist). Almost all of them came from UP music.
And each of them is way too good in their own right. I love Mike's (drummer) solo, where he maintained a stomp beat despite all the complicated fills he was putting in. The keyboardist plays a lot like Wowee of Jazz Volunteers. Yosha had such a sultry voice. And Karel, damn him. I've never seen anybody with that level of speed in person in my life.
This band is just hands-down a collection of all-stars. They have an album launch this coming September 29. I'll see if I can go to this gig. I've seen them 3 times already and I'm always blown away. This band will either inspire you to practice your instrument some more, or make you throw away your instrument because they're just too good. LOL!
Yosha was supposed to play last. But they requested to play sooner. So Frennie asked MDC if they could play right after Yosha instead. Normally, that would freak out MDC or any other band because you can't really top Yosha in terms of skill. But those guys were so trashed that they didn't really care at that point. I love watching Manila's experts on da riddum stylee. Their DanceHall Reggae style was a big hit with the crowd (all the more lending to the fact that Naga really likes any form of Reggae).
Sappy was there for the set. I missed his deep Shaggy-esque vocals in their songs. I knew for a fact that Macky, the bassist, was trashed beyond his mind. But his playing was steady in a very Gorillaz-esque style. I love these guys. They're always fun to hang with during gigs, and even more fun watching them play.
The rest of the night was a blur to me. The only things I remembered after the gig, was waiting up for Briggs to finish up helping Frennie with the arrangements at Bob Marlin, and eating at Biggies. Biggies happens to be more popular as a fast food chain than even McDonald's in Naga.
When we got back to the hotel, some members of Yosha and Liquid Jane were lounging around at the lobby not planning on sleeping because they leave pretty early. I then realized that I was the only non-learned in the group. Karel, Mike, Drew, Gino, they all came from or are still studying in UP Music. But nevertheless, they treated me well and I was part and parcel of the conversation like I was their musical equal. That felt good actually.
I was thinking about not sleeping myself and just pass out on the tour bus. But then my eyes were getting heavier and heavier, so I hit the sack.
I woke up a few hours later. Jerrold and Islaw already left our room because they had an early airplane flight back to Manila. I went downstairs, and slowly enjoyed a nice breakfast. Other bands started trickling down and joined me at the large dinner table. The hotel still feels like an upscale bed-and-breakfast. It felt homey. But also had a tinge of class in its presentation.
Bus ride was quicker because I was asleep more during the trip home than I was going to Naga. The orange color of the bus weirded me out at first. But I didn't care after a while since I was hungover and dead tired.
We had 2 stop-overs to grab something to eat. The second stop-over was at the same McDonald's with the make-shift bar with a showband playing beside it. It was daytime. So there was no showband this time. Thank God. I don't think I wanted to LSS Beyonce and Black Eyed Peas for the remainder of the trip home.
After snacking at McDonald's, Roland and I saw the sign above and uncanningly read it as "Cleanest Restroom". I suppose this was the hangover talking. But upon close inspection it reads "Clean Rest Room". Either that or we need to start getting a pair of glasses. LOL!
We all got back to the Isarog Bus Line near Araneta Colliseum in good time. Roland helped me lug my gear back to my appartment, and he chilled at my place for a while. We just ended up loafing around, watching this or that anime, or concert video on my 32" LCD TV. Not a bad ending to my out-of-town gig weekend.
I wanna go gig at Naga again. Gotta redeem myself from the way I played that night. But in terms of feasting on Naga delicacies. FRIGGIN' AWESOME!!! I think I gained 4 pounds in just a span of 3 days. LOL!
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