Saturday, June 26, 2004

Throw Your Hands in the Air

Just got home from a good gig, and I am so annoyed. This is not normally how I feel after a good gig, in case you're wondering. But then again, this is the first time I've gone to a gig at Club V, in Makati.

So I went there to attend the Sun Valley Crew launch of their third album, "It's All Natural." The opening acts were decent, although plagued with technical difficulties, some having to do with the sound, most having to do with the lights (at one point, the overhead lights started strobing, flashing full on and off, simulating rapid blinking -- and the Club V people couldn't turn them off. The strobing went on forever until half the people were blind or insane). Nevertheless, we witnessed some impressive human beatboxing by Turbulence, Caliph8's engaging, almost-stuttery flow, and this other act whose name I'm not sure of (I think they were called Grand Cru-Z) -- but when Sun Valley Crew took the stage, it was clear who the best act of the night was. Armed with a full band lineup (including, yes, the guitarist from Chicosci, and even featuring a genuine saxophone solo at one point), they sounded great, and they delivered great hip-hop songs with a touch of soul and jazz -- in short, they should have brought the house down.

But the crowd -- man, the crowd sucked. These people, I don't know where these people were from, some of them looked like stereotypical yuppies, some of them were dressed for the occasion in baggy hip-hop gear, there were a lot of mini-skirted, high-heeled women -- but it didn't matter what they were dressed like, all that matters is that they weren't feeling it. It was a good thing Bernie and Marcus arrived, fresh from that Drip gig elsewhere in Makati -- otherwise, I would have been the only person moving to the music in my row, near the front. Most of the other people stood still as if they were looking at a painting, and even more annoying, almost everyone up in front was fiddling with their camera phones and digicams, 'preserving the moment' instead of enjoying it. SVC's set was uniformly strong, but the crowd remained mostly inert even during surefire crowd-pleasers, like "Rockin' It" -- when you hear that "This is the way we rock it, this is the way we make you move" chorus, how the hell do you not feel like jumping up and down?

Bizarrely enough, the height of the evening in terms of crowd participation was during the damn sponsor games, for God's sake. Our boss Vernon dropped by just in time to catch this interlude of idiocy. We watched as a tall, attractive, ostensibly demure girl removed stickers randomly placed on some guy's front, whilst blindfolded and using only her mouth. We thought she couldn't do it, at first, and then watched in amazement as she ran her face all over his body and picked up sticker after sticker with ease. "She's a pro!" Vernon exclaimed. Then there was a grotesque dance contest, between two pairs. We chose to root for the pair with the guy who looked like he should have been playing golf instead: this bespectacled, chunky guy with his long-sleeved shirt tucked in. Well, better him than the other guy, who looked like he thought he was Michael Jackson but who couldn't even move in time to the beat, he was so pathetically drunk. The winner was judged by the crowd's reactions, so we hollered and clapped and Vernon banged his beer bottle for pair #1. When they took the prize, Vernon said, "My work here is done," and left.

I remember the Sandwich video launch (for "2 trick pony"), at Big Sky Mind. Cebu-based hip-hop outfit Dice + K9 performed as a support act that night, and the crowd gave them so much love that they basically overshadowed the headlining act. (Not that I think Sandwich minded -- Marc Abaya and Raimund Marasigan both jammed with Dice + K9, and everyone just had a lot of fun). People were on their feet, hooting, waving their hands in the air (like they just didn't care), requesting song after song, dancing, singing along. And this was an indie-rock crowd, in friggin' Big Sky Mind. Those supposed hip-hop fans at Club V tonight should be ashamed of themselves. Once again, I realize: great gigs are a two-way street. And with that, I say good night, or good morning, as the case may be.

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