Friday, September 23, 2011

Mari's Wedding and my Jack Daniel's JD Set 7 Tour Launch Gig

I coursed through this day (August 19, 2011) through sheer willpower given the day involved traveling to Batangas, to Tagaytay, and then to Eastwood. I had to attend my good friend Mari's wedding in Batangas. Then head to his wedding reception in Tagaytay. Then head to Eastwood for a Jack Daniel's JD Set 7 gig with one of my bands, Jack Versus the Crab. This entire day affair was coupled with bringing a lot of percussion gear, and battling through cluster headache attacks in between.

That morning started off with me waking up early to a mild cluster headache attack. Luckily it was just a lingering headache and not a full blown attack. My suki cab driver picked me up at my apartment. I loaded my 2 congas, and a gig bag with my rig, chimes, and toys contained within. I got to Roland's place and he seemed just as sleepy as I was. We loaded my percs gear into his car, and just chilled at his place while having some much needed coffee. Roland was nice enough to offer to drive me to the wedding and to the gig, and even help me with all my percs gear. The coffee and some medication helped my headache. So I was momentarily encouraged that I will actually pull this entire day off.

(Photos from Mari's wedding were from my Blackberry. The Eastwood photos, except the Urbandub picture, are from Shaui Padua, Joanne Salas, and Leo Dimaano)

We first had to head to Tagaytay, the venue of Mari's wedding reception, to dress up into our formal wear. The drive over to Tagaytay was pleasant. I got to talk to Roland about the latest that was going on in our lives. And he seemed relieved that despite all the heavy things happening in his life that I was relatively understanding and non-judgmental.

Arriving at the hotel of Mari's wedding reception, I stepped out of Roland's car and breathed in the fresh and cool Tagaytay air. I was thinking to myself that I should move out here some day. It would be a pleasant place to retire in. As I was part of Mari's entourage, I had to have a barong made by his fashion designer friend. So that I would have the same style and design barong as the rest of the entourage. Roland being not part of the entourage wore a stylish suit that Millet put together.

After some awkward feeling picture taking at the hotel grounds, everybody started proceeding to the church where the wedding was slated to take place. The church was small, yet cozy. While I was waiting for the ceremony to begin, I would get slight spikes of head pain possibly signalling a headache attack coming. I would cringe my eyes each time and just hope that it wouldn't get worse. The ceremony began and throughout the ceremony, I was swimming between the area of pain and slight pain. The wedding ceremony was your standard ceremony proceedings. The string ensemble up in the church rafters was a good touch in terms of musical accompaniment for the wedding.

I found the wedding gown malfunction of Mari's wife, Raech, that happened mid-ceremony amusing. Patching up her gown took a while, and people were just playfully shaking their heads and quietly laughing at the situation. I'm sure that would be a memory of Mari's that will last forever.

The wedding ended with picture taking. Then everybody proceeded back to Tagaytay to attend the reception. Prior to the reception proper, everybody proceeded to the back of the hotel for cocktails. This was when I succumb to the temptation of hitting Jack Cokes. At that point of my cluster headache cycle, alcohol actually triggers headache attacks. But I risked it since I will for sure be drinking Jack Cokes at my Jack Daniel's gig later that night.

It was nice to see some old friends that I knew through Mari. It's been years since I hung out with them, so I didn't feel any of the old mutual closeness with them. But it was nice to see them and catch up even if it's just about trivial subjects. Conversations surrounding why there was a big phallic eggplant on the wedding cake, and Mari's past crazy escapades were the most amusing of topics.

I agreed with Roland that we had to slip out before the reception proper began. We gave our apologies and goodbyes to Mari and we hit the road. It was funny that within minutes of leaving Tagaytay, I actually started getting a cluster headache attack. The pain got so intense that I asked Roland to wake me up when we get to a big gas station if I pass out due to the pain. I was getting worried that I may not be able to play at my gig later. So I buckled down and endured the pain as best as I could

We got to South Super Highway after an hour or so, and stopped at a big Caltex gas station. I changed in the bathroom into something more comfortable than a barong. I then hit the biggest Starbucks cappuccino possible and some medicine.

Roland and I soon hit the road, and Roland tried his best to keep my mind off the pain with the different topics of conversations we were focused on. Hanging out with the dude has always been fun, and this road trip/gig was no exception. Fortunately, my headache attack subsided at some point when we got to C5. I was so relieved since my headache attacks back then would last longer than it did that day. When my headache subsided, I smiled at Roland and said "Oh yeah, this gig is gonna be awesome." Roland smiled back and said "Yes!".

There was some traffic on C5. But I was just glad that my headache attack died down to worry about the traffic. Roland had a new-found interest in driving. So even with traffic, he was thoroughly enjoying driving.

Fast forward to Roland and I arriving at Eastwood. Finding parking and lugging all my percussion gear backstage at Eastwood Plaza was surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be. I went up to the staff at the backstage entrance and indicated that I was part of Jack Versus the Crab. When they asked who Roland was. I just said "Oh, he's my PA." They instantly gave us sticker bracelets to wear as backstage passes. Nice, that was too easy.

The backstage area was amazing. Jack Daniel's really made sure all the bands performing that night were taken cared of. Each band had a long table for themselves. Buffet food and non-alcoholic beverages were all free and in seemingly endless supply. Of course, the only actual booze you can drink at Jack Daniel's events is Jack Daniel's. So as I anticipated earlier in the day, my drinks for the night were yet again Jack Cokes.

The event itself was bustling with activity. There were a lot of people who came out to watch, along with some current and old office mates. My good friend Joseph and another old office mate, Kenny also arrived separately. A good friend and also old office mate, Joren, showed up to watch me. I was so glad that the people I invited to watch actually showed up. Another friend Pedro showed up as well and he brought Jackie and Joanne with him. That was actually a pleasant and welcome surprise since none of those three have ever seen me play with any of my bands.

With so many people at such a high profile event, I was starting to get nervous. I showed Roland my hand and it was involuntarily shaking. But my band mates were all tipsy and not nervous. So their spirits lifted me up to a certain extent.

Roland helped me set up my gear and even helped me heave them on stage when it was our turn to play. Stepping on stage and looking at the crowd watching was such a surreal experience. I've been to Octoberfest, Fete de la Musique, and UP Fair gigs and performed in front of large crowds. But it still feels overwhelming to see a large crowd beneath you from a elevated stage.

Below is a video of the last song we performed that night.

"The Song I Never Finished"

Overall, I was proud of how I played that night. I was especially proud of my solo during the last song we performed. I really felt like I pulled it off well even though my solo was sandwiched in between the two most highly skilled members of the band, Empi our bassist, and Fritz "Dr. Sticks" our drummer. I didn't even notice that night that I was projected on the large screen to the side while I was soloing. So doing well during that solo was such a huge relief.

To my surprise, my friends Guy and Millet followed that night and were able to watch my band perform. Roland headed out with those two for a while to grab a bite to eat. I hadn't had dinner myself. But I was in such a high state that I didn't feel hungry at all.

Urbandub was the last act for the event. That was, as always, a whole lot of fun. My Zoom Q3HD was with Joseph amongst the crowd. So I wasn't able to take any videos of Urbandub's set that night. As the Urbandub fanboy that I am, I was having fun singing the lyrics of all their songs from backstage.

The night ended with me and Roland walking several people to their cars or the near vicinity of their cars. Joseph and Kenny joined us along with Millet. And that remaining group of people headed to my place to hang out and wind the night down. The four of us guys spent the remainder of the night playing Dungeon Hunter: Alliance on my PS3.

So attending a wedding, going to a big gig, and then gaming at the end. That was once again a whole lot of fun. This marked the last day I actually was boozing and having fun with friends given that my cluster headache cycle started to go full swing since. But I don't regret pushing myself hard that night to make the entire day work. I will remember that gig for the rest of my life.


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