Friday, June 25, 2004

Seeing The Dawn

Well, Almost Famous wisdom aside, I think you're cool, in the best possible sense of the word. :) Definitely cooler than a lot of the supposed rock stars I've interviewed.

Speaking of The Dawn, they were on the bill of the first real concert I ever went to, when I was 12. (I think I had tagged along with some family members to a David Benoit concert before that, but that doesn't count. What a mistake. I got so bored and sleepy that I ended up going out to the lobby and reading my Thing comics instead). I still have my Ultra Storm ticket somewhere, but I don't have to look at it to remember that The Dawn weren't even the headliners then -- it was The Rage (The Rage! My God. Who remembers The Rage?). These were the days when every local band had the word "the" before its name; rounding out the bill was The Amo. I don't remember too much about specific performances or songs that night, but I do remember the thrill, to be jumping up and down, and singing along, with thousands of other people -- to be standing, near the stage, instead of on the sidelines, which were safer -- all for the first time.

The Dawn remained an important part of my life through most of high school. My friends and I knew the songs from the first two albums well; I would even draw the little stick-figure men from the cover of I Stand With You in my binder. When Teddy Diaz was killed, it was something we could barely wrap our minds around: so senseless, such a waste. Their third album didn't -- perhaps couldn't -- affect us the same way the other two had, but it was still pretty good. Whatever life a song like "Salamat" might have once had was sucked out by its incessant use in beer commercials, but lesser-known numbers like "Little Paradise" still found their way into our days and nights.

I remember going with friends Dexter and Voltaire and Erwin to The Dawn's All Hallow's Eve concert. We were 14 or 15 years old then -- not being able to afford better tickets, we ended up on the upper levels, where all the druggies and gangs were. Numerous fights broke out in our section. I remember Voltaire standing very still, not moving to the music, for fear of accidentally elbowing one of our less sober neighbors and getting pulled into a confrontation. We heard "Salamat" far too many times that night -- they looped the San Mig commercial and kept playing it in the half-hour or so before the band got onstage -- but the band's version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" was a fun surprise. I think that was the concert that eventually got released as a live album. Wonder where my copy of that album is now.

I only completely lost interest in The Dawn around the fourth or fifth albums. Sorry, Francis Reyes -- nothing to do with your guitar prowess, obviously. It's just that the new songs seemed to have lost whatever the old stuff used to have that made it important to me. Maybe it's just that I was older. As a music fan, though, one always hoped for a resurgence of that magic. I was at the launch/mini-concert of their last album, at the Music Museum (was that in 2000? Has it been four years already?), hoping, hoping. But the only magic that sparked to life was during their renditions of their old hits. I look elsewhere for that thrill I first tasted as a 12 year-old concertgoer now. These days, it seems really hard to find.

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