Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Fête de la Musique 2011 Experience

I was actually waiting for my good friends Roland and Millet to send me copies of the pictures they took that night before I blogged about it here. But it's been a few weeks since this night already. So I figured I'd get around to posting this today on a rainy/gloomy Sunday afternoon.

This particular post is my experience gigging at Fête de la Musique 2011 at Bonifacio Global City last June 25, 2011. This is an exceptional double treat for me. I got to gig with a very skilled big band called Jack Versus the Crab. AND I got to play on the "main stage" of Fête de la Musique. The few times I got to play at a Fête de la Musique event was always on the "alternative stage". So being able to gig up front and center of the main stage was a dream turned reality.

I only had 1 studio practice with the band 2 days prior to the gig (first practice with them ever). We were planning on playing 5-6 songs. So I had to practice during the afternoon of the gig day itself just for added measure. I was already nervous early that day. If I wasn't practicing along the few songs that I either had recorded or the band posted on the net, I'd just be listening to those tracks while eating or surfing. I got to a certain point that late afternoon that I just told myself that was the most prepared I was ever going to be given the lack of time to completely immerse myself with the band's music.

My good friends Roland, Joseph, and Sarah came along with me to help me with my gear and cheer me on for that gig. Joseph volunteered to bring along my Zoom Q3HD and camera stand because we both knew that handshakes are very evident when taking video with my Zoom.

Finding parking was surprisingly a lot easier than in Fête de la Musique's of the past. I guess that's because the main stage was a little further away from the rest of the stages that night. When I got to the artists' lounge, I noticed that the band was already in full force. All 9 of them were already there. We gave each other high-fives when I entered the room. Waxie handed me my artist's ID/pass so I can easily get to the artists' lounge or backstage without any hassle from security. One more Fête de la Musique Artists' ID for my collection. Yes!

Boobie, my Puerto Galera home-grown friend was apparently the stage manager for the night. I kept seeing him around the scene when I either gig or watch good bands perform. So it was nice to know that the main stage was in good hands.

I parked my gear in some corner of the artists' lounge. I figured it would take a lot of effort for anybody to just swipe my gear given I always need at least 1-2 friends to help me lug them to gig. So I wasn't worried about that, and just headed back out to join my friends.

The venue of the main stage was at Arts in the City, which to me has been the smallest venue in Fête de la Musique's history for a main stage. The stage was roomy length-wise. But it would've been better if it were raised so that the crowd at the back can have a clear view of what's going on onstage. So instead everybody tried to squeeze in as close to the stage as possible to get a glimpse. That's probably my one and only very minor complaint that night.

My friends Millet and Guy soon followed to catch my gig. And I saw my aunt, Sol (who's just the same age as me) there as well. I was headed to the bathroom that time when I saw her. She asked me if I was going home already.

"Hey! Wait, are you going home already?"

"Nope, I'm gonna be playing in a bit."

"Really? For what band?"

"Jack Versus the Crab"

"Since when have you been playing with Jack?!?"

"Since this week. LOL!"

The last time Sol and I saw each other, I was just a fan that watched Jack Versus the Crab at the Jack Daniel's Chosen 7 event in White Space. So it came as a surprise to her that the next time I saw her, that I was actually IN the band already.

I saw our past SunDownMuse band manager from years ago, Roence. We've been chatting through Facebook for a while but hadn't really hung out in so long. So it was nice to see her there. She hasn't seen me play percs since those days when she booked gigs for SunDownMuse. So she was excited to see how much I've improved and especially how I gelled with such a good band like Jack Versus the Crab. She got me to take swigs from her innocently looking water bottle with a smooth yet strong brew contained within. The brew goes down easy. But you can tell there was at least Absinth in there among other things that I couldn't identify.

Roland kept taking pictures with his DLSR and Joseph slowly weasled his way to the front of the pack so he can set-up my Zoom Q3HD on a stand. Joseph told me he had every intention of zooming into me when I get to solo during one of our songs. Although I'm a whore for gig video footage, I got real nervous when Joseph said that. I showed Roland my hand, and it was shaking. So I kept feeding myself and my friends beer to calm me down and liven up the mood of my friends.

The other acts were definitely entertaining. Brigada is apparently still together but I didn't see Inky playing with them. I guess the group changed leaders at some point. Brigada showcases Brazillian Sono beats/rhythms. That mixed in with Planet Zips fire poi exhibitionists, and some flamboyantly costumed dancers (they looked like Las Vegas showgirls) was definitely fun to watch.

Nyko Maca Presents Gafiera played next and that was entertaining as always expected of the band. The funny part was that the band attempted to play a 5th song. All bands for that night were limited to just play 4 songs. And this band's songs were usually longer than most because of all the adlib jamming in middle of their songs. So when they attempted to push it and play a 5th song, halfway through the song, the event organizers cut off power to their amps and mics. We all initially thought some glitch happened at the sound mixer board. But apparently it was the event organizers' way of saying "4 songs only, get out!".

When it was nearing our time slot to play, I chugged the beer I was drinking and headed to the artists' lounge. Waxie, the leader/songwriter of the band, re-introduced me to the band's PA, and reminded me to tell the PA whatever I needed. So I talked to the PA for a bit and set up my stuff in the artists' lounge beforehand. Fête de la Musique has always been known for quick set-up and pack-up in between sets. And this year's Fête de la Musique seemed to be strictly following the time schedule they have. This is a first in my experiences with Fête de la Musique events. Much credit goes out to the organizers for running a tight ship.

Wally Gonzales' band finished up their set and then it was our turn to play. I could feel my hands shaking as I lugged my gear onstage. The PA and some backstage techs helped me and the rest of the band to set-up given we have a lot of members in the band. How nice it was that for once, I didn't have to ask for a chair. It usually is a struggle for me at any gig regardless of venue to get a chair to sit on. But that night was an exception.

Once we started playing, the view of the stage and the crowd from my vantage point was so surreal. The lights were bright so I could only see a sea of blurry faces. This both amplified my nervouseness and planted a smile on my face. I wasn't sure whether my smile was just a defense mechanism or a genuine sign of enjoyment. I guess it was both.

Below are the videos that Joseph took of the entire set using my Zoom Q3HD. Joseph was so upclose to the stage that he couldn't get the entire band all in the same shot. But he'd swing left or right depending on who's soloing at any given song.

The last song we played is a jam song. It provides an opportunity for every band member to adlib solo for 4-8 measures, including each one of the horn section. I was having so much fun leading up to this song. And then I turned stone-cold nervous. My friends could tell because that eternal smirk on my face disappeared once we got to that last song. It was because during our band practice, the band sandwiched me in between Empi the bassist, and Fritz "Dr. Sticks" in terms of soloing in the song. Below is the video of that last song.

Joseph told me after our set that he's seen me solo better than that. But at the time, in all my nervouness, it was the best I could do. I think I pulled it off quite nicely. Albeit, brought the crowd energy down coming off of Empi's kick ass extended bass solo (Waxie signaled the band at the time to go an additional 2 measures for Empi to solo some more). I was definitely on the shoulders of giants. And I was just glad to be part of it regardless if my skills are not up to par with my bandmates.

After the set, I quickly shuttled my gear back to the artists' lounge and headed back out to my friends. I got high-fives from Roland, Joseph, and Guy. And I got hugs from Sarah and Millet. They said they loved our set because the sound was so thick due to the sheer numbers in the band. And they said I definitely meshed well with the band's music. I never take compliments well. But I was so happy to hear that from my close friends.

After drinking it up a little more at Arts in the City, Guy and Millet headed back home. Sarah had something to do early in the morning, so she begged off the festivities after some time. Roland, Joseph, and I lugged my gear back to Roland's car and headed to North Park on Makati Ave. for some eats. We ended up at my place playing Dungeon Siege 3 for the rest of the night. Music, Booze, and Gaming. That's definitely our style of geekery.

Waking up at my place semi-hungover the next day was equally surreal. I couldn't believe that I just played at Fête de la Musique's main stage with such an all-star band. Later that day, Waxie and I were texting back and forth. One of his last texts to me was...

"Welcome to the family!"

Yes!!!! /raise clenched fist up in the air


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