Thursday, October 28, 2004

Bad Dream, Good Idea

Been at home for three days trying to get stuff finished and failing miserably. Margie says elves are to blame and I'm inclined to believe her, but elves can only go so far -- hiding my research, misplacing my interview tapes, etc. The constant fatigue and disinterest and lack of focus are all my own (unless the elves have gone so far as to drug my food, as well).

Dreamed last night that I was in a car with Paul Guadakomeda from the office, Ebe Dancel of Sugarfree, my dancing engineer friend Avel, and Astrid, an old friend from college. Paul was driving. We traveled way way out of the city on a dirt road to a huge mansion of Chinese-influenced architecture, which looked out of place in that remote, sparsely vegetated, almost desert-like area. Inside the mansion was our boss, Vernon. The gist of the dream was that we had all gone there to seek a boon, and we were turned away, boonless, but not exactly surprised or even upset. And then, on the return trip back to the city, I woke up.

I guess the dream was mildly prophetic. I had an idea for our December issue -- that it would be sprinkled throughout with short sweet blog-like essays by the staff (you, me, Peach, Joey, Conch, Denise, Bernie, etc), each on a certain aspect of music -- nothing straitlaced or agenda-laden, just easy-to-read, fun stuff; personal, but not self-indulgent. For example, you on making mix CDs, Peach on recording her debut album, Joey on his out-of-town gig with Skychurch, etc. So of course Vernon shot it down today. Oh well. He claims we focus too much on the staff as it is. That was, of course, not the point of the essays; the point was to focus on music, in an accessible way. We could get a bunch of other writers to write short, blog-like essays on music, and then he could complain about the freelancer payments instead. Anyway, I still think it was a good idea.

Friday, October 22, 2004


Well, people might as well hear it here first: the Slipknot concert has been officially cancelled. Not that I give anything even remotely resembling a fuck, but I do feel bad that so many people (Denise and Cait, especially) have put in so much work to have it come to naught. The band's still proceeding with their Asian Tour, skipping the Philippines due to concerns related to the US State Department's continuing travel advisories warning American tourists against coming here. They chickened out, in other words.

In the meantime, here's to hoping that MTV will be able to bring in a halfway decent foreign act for the Music Summit in December. Sigh. The music scene needs cheering up.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Pixie Dust

Last night, at the end of the travel writing workshop at the FHL, one of the workshoppers (Kathy, who had also signed up three years ago at one of the first workshops I'd ever facilitated) treated us to a show of her fire spinning skills, which she'd learned during the extended stay in South Africa which she was preparing for the last time I saw her. It doesn't really sound like much if you describe it--two flaming balls of fuel-filled balls of Kevlar, being twirled on the ends of metal chains--and even Kathy says it took her only two weeks to learn. She offered to teach me for free.

Hm. Hmmm...

Okay, the truth is that fire spinning doesn't hold any particular thrills for me, and I don't really feel any compelling urge to take that up. But it did make me think about my landmark birthday coming up, and how I don't have any plans for it just yet. (So far, there are only two words on the Birthday Plans page in my notebook: "drink" and "unconsciousness.") Why not do something that frightens me? I think everyone should do something they're scared of once in a while--it's good for the soul.

And this relates to music how, you ask. Wait, I'm getting there. There's an interview on Salon with Charles Thompson of the Pixies, and it's the kind of interview that I dream about. It's also the kind of dream I wake up screaming from. I mean, here you have an interviewee from a band that you truly respect, and he has very strong opinions about music, and he's smart and articulate, and I'm really interested in what he has to say--but he also hates interviews and interviewers. "One thing that hasn't changed about Thompson is his interview style. He can be variously tangential, disengaged, ecstatic and bored," says writer Scott Thill in the introduction to his Q&A. Not to mention downright hostile.

I feel so conflicted and confused reading this interview. When Thompson attacks music magazines for being gossipy, there's a part of me that wants to applaud, like, Yeah, give 'em hell, Charles! But then I remember that I also belong to the opposition. "I want to be Lou Reed and I want the writer to be Lester Bangs. Know what I mean?" Thompson says. "I want him to be so into it that he's arguing with me about the validity of a song I wrote. I don't care if it's insulting. I don't care if it's challenging or whatever." And I'm thinking, Yay! Lou Reed! Lester Bangs! . Just before it dawns on me that I'm never going to be Lester Bangs, and no matter how much of a Pixies fan I am or how mellow Charles Thomspon gets to be in his advancing years, he's going to hate me.

This was like the time they offered us a Garbage phoner, with either Shirley Manson or Butch Vig. I'm a really big fan of their music, but the thought of interviewing either of them scared me so much that I gave the phoner over to Bernie. It turned out to be Butch Vig (!), and he turned out to be a sweet, easy interviewee. To this day I envy Bernie for that interview, but I still don't know if I'd do it, given another chance.

Of course, 30th birthday fast coming up, there are but a few things I would say no to these days.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Anniversary Song

Hey ho, Judgment Bunny! :)

Realized belatedly that PULP just churned out its 50th issue: the one, unfortunately, with the 6cyclemind cover feature. Despite an electronica feature by yours truly and your always-reliable reviews section, it is, quite possibly, one of the most lackluster issues in recent memory, seemingly devoid of enthusiasm and riddled with typos and outright mistakes. (On the bright side, I finally got to use the word "lackluster" -- one of my favorites -- in this blog). It's too bad. After all, being the comics collector that I am, I've always been a sucker for the landmark issue numbers. "Spectacular 50th Issue! Collector's Item!" "Double-sized 100th Issue Extravaganza! Unbelievably Special Guest Stars!" "Mind-blowing 300th Issue! You are 30+ Years Old and Still Reading the Same Titles!"

And on the heels of that belated realization comes galloping the fact that, counting my first freelance forays, I've been writing for PULP for over two years now. Amazing, considering that prior to this job, the longest I had been employed was two months (not counting my stint as columnist/contributing editor at LegManila). It's still fun, this job; I'll always enjoy writing about music and interviewing musicians (um, depending), but if the criteria for staying with something is whether you're still learning or not -- as a wise friend once told me -- well, I have to wonder.

I pitched what I believed were some nice ideas some months ago for the 50th and/or our 5th anniversary issue this December -- including an artist/industry-based survey of the 5 best (not best-selling) albums of the past 5 years, accompanied by little interviews/features for the top 5 ranked (admittedly, a very Q or Rolling Stone-esque thing to do) -- but they got shot down without being considered very carefully, I thought. Even Joey and Peach seemed to like the suggestions, but as we know, only one person, ultimately, calls the shots. Ho well. As I always end up telling myself, it's not my money, and it's not my magazine (if it were, I'm guessing Slipknot wouldn't be on the cover... not that I have anything against Slipknot. I guess I feel about them the same way Joey feels for, say, the Stone Roses).

Am just rambling, now. Better to sleep it off. And to all a good night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cab Rides and Cover Versions

Listening to Paul Weller's Studio 150 at 6AM on a Tuesday morning. Not bad. Comfort music, in a way; songs familiar (The Carpenters' "Close to You," "All Along the Watchtower") and obscure (an unreleased Noel Gallagher song, Neil Young's "Birds"), rendered by Weller's weathered rasp and a small army composed of backup singers, a string section, and special guests from friend-bands like Ocean Colour Scene and The Stands. Everything's very well done, and Weller's signature style shines through, but as a whole, the album isn't very compelling.

There are, generally speaking, some cover versions that almost obliterate your sense of the original, that's how good they are (I would include The Sundays' version of "Wild Horses" on that short list; Stones fans can hate me all they want). Or they are sufficiently different from the source that the result is two almost completely distinct listening experiences (yes, I enjoy BOTH the U2 and Pet Shop Boys version of "Where the Streets Have No Name"). For the most part, on Studio 150, Weller neither enrages or astonishes, and while that means the album has no real high points, it must be said that there is nary a low point to be heard here, either. It's just a good, unsurprising set of tastefully-done songs in a 70s soul/guitar-pop stylee, perfect for -- well, perfect for cool early mornings when the sun's still half-asleep.

Oh, and here's a game I love to play when forced to listen to the typical public transpo radio stations that are always broadcasting teeth-gnashingly familiar love song crap from the 70s and 80s: I imagine them being covered by someone I actually like, whether it's David Bowie or Massive Attack or whomever. One can't assign artists randomly, though: you have to really imagine the new version, and really believe it might actually be good, might lift the song from its cheesy mediocrity. Examples: Nick Cave doing the Bee Gees' "Emotions" ("In the words of a broken heart it’s just emotions/ Taking me over/ Tied up in sorrows/ Lost in my soul"), Roddy Frame doing Christopher Cross' "Never Be The Same", and Freddie Mercury doing basically any of those over-the-top exercises in pop song sappiness by Air Supply (especially "Here I Am"). Haven't thought of an appropriate cover artist for Charlene's "Never Been To Me" yet, though I do find it easy to imagine a Tori Amos version -- spoken-word section and all. Knowing Amos' penchant for covers, maybe it exists, somewhere.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Here Comes Judgment Bunny!

Luis is back...and how! Glad to see you're posting again. It was getting a little lonely here, and as a result, I was beginning to get a little self-absorbed. ;)

My musical luck lately hasn't been as good as yours. My latest musical adventure--and here we use both the words "adventure" and "musical" loosely--was last night's Nescafe De-wired acoustic band competition, the last of the eight elimination rounds, and the second one I sat in as judge (Conch and Bernie both took turns on the other rounds). The winner last night were the brothers Michael and Angelo Manahan, collectively known as Michaelangelo. Minus points for creativity when it comes to finding a band name; plus points for looks. And, oh, they were pretty good musicians, too.

I was happy with last night's winner, because they were my pick, although for a while there I was worried that I might've been giving the handsome brothers extra points for their fragrant good looks (i.e., mukha silang mabango), I closed my eyes during their performance, and confirmed that, yeah, Michael's voice was doing something to my insides. I liked that his voice wasn't the typical smooth, sweet, and brain-curdlingly bland voice that makes so much of this so-called genre. Michael's voice had some rough edges, which he used to good effect, and their pick of covers just walked the line between a little off-beat and memorable, and familiar and crowd-pleasing.

That said, I still had issues with the judging process for this whole thing. I suppose every contest shows the particular biases of its judges, but the De-wired criteria focused nearly exclusively on vocals, with almost nothing awarded for musicianship. A full 30% was given over to "vocal quality," but points for musical performance had to be subsumed under the hazy headings "originality" and "stage presence." I'd like to think that I can appreciate a good voice as much as the next person, and sure, it's not for nothing that vocalists are called front(wo)men, but ignoring the talents of the musicians in the band is just plain dumb. As a result of this limited system, my scores for the bands always came out nearly level, even when I vastly preferred the performance of one over the others. The truth is that good vocalists are easy enough to find (although it's something that's eluded the Purplechickens), but it's quite another thing to put together a good band and make good music.

To their credit, Nestlé and the event organizers have scheduled deliberations to come up with new criteria for the finals on October 22, and have invited representatives from our office to help out. I'd like to come dressed in my Judgment Bunny costume (headband and ears, and a basket full of "judgment oranges"). I'll hop on to the table, point to each of the people in turn, and scream, "Your taste sucks! And your taste also sucks! You all suck! Your opinions are all wrong and sucky! Stop all this sucking and kill yourselves now!!!" And then I'll pelt them with oranges till their skins are as bruised as their egos. That'll teach them not to mess with Judgment Bunny.

Step by step (ooh baby)

This post has nothing directly to do with music. Just wanted to share this excerpt, from an essay on essays:
I've always been fascinated by comb-overs, especially the extreme sort that make a man look as if he's wearing a beret made of his own hair. Surely this is a lowly sort of thing to be interested in -- the sort of superficial quizzing best left to teenage girls. And yet there is something underneath. The key question, I realized, is how does the comber-over not see how odd he looks? And the answer is that he got to look that way incrementally. What began as combing his hair a little carefully over a thin patch has gradually, over 20 years, grown into a monstrosity. Gradualness is very powerful. And that power can be used for constructive purposes too: just as you can trick yourself into looking like a freak, you can trick yourself into creating something so grand that you would never have dared to plan such a thing. Indeed, this is just how most good software gets created. You start by writing a stripped-down kernel (how hard can it be?) and gradually it grows into a complete operating system. Hence the next leap: could you do the same thing in painting, or in a novel?

I've been reading about such things as entire novels written through accumulated text messages (thanks to Indira for the link). Been wanting to try one. Of course, I plan many many things that never happen.

The Lost Art of Livin'

Talking to Margie about her Sinatra review sparked within me the urge to dig up a book I got secondhand a couple of years ago -- The Way You Wear Your Hat (subtitled "Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin',") by Bill Zehme. Not your typical biography, it's arranged more or less according to topic -- "Pallies," "Broads," "Style" and so forth -- and peppered with anecdotes, bits of onstage banter, quotes from FS and family and friends, and lots of great photos: a bygone, swingin' time captured in words and images, in black and white. "Arguably, no man ever lived life more broadly or confidently or stylishly than Frank Sinatra. So I sought his large legacy of mortal wisdom, plain and simple," writes Zehme. Sinatra was amused by his request, and generous with his replies.

How do you get over a broken heart? ~ "You don't. I think being jilted is one of life's most painful experiences. It takes a long time to heal a broken heart. It's happened to all of us and never gets any easier. I understand, however, that playing one of my albums can help."

One of the last mix tapes I ever made -- in the sense that it was an actual cassette, and not a CD -- was for my father, a mix of some of his favorite Sinatra songs. I think he still plays it in his car to this day; it strikes me that he's been listening to FS for maybe half a century by now, maybe more. Growing up, that voice was always there for us, which I suppose made it easy to take for granted. (I remember rewinding and playing a green-colored Sinatra tape to death, as a child; aside from the color, I remember little else about it, except that it had "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"). The Beatles, my brother and I had to seek out specifically, aware of a huge gap in our music-appreciating knowledge, but Sinatra -- I suppose by the time I hit high school, I figured I had listened to enough Sinatra to last me the rest of my life (I was wrong -- after I made that tape for my father, not so long ago, I made a copy for myself, which I was to play quite a lot in the months to follow).

What is the most important thing a father can tell his children? ~ "Be true to yourself. And stay away from the dark thoughts."

Going through The Way You Wear Your Hat makes one nostalgic for a time and a place one never knew firsthand; for nights out on the town, fighting "a relentless battle against sleeping before sun-up," going to black-tie parties with sunglasses in your pocket, laughing hard and loving recklessly with one's pallies. Not that one wants to be part of that crop of fairly recent Rat Pack wannabes, flashing their borrowed lingo and secondhand swagger; there's something sad and pitiful in that, even if an imitation of style may be better than no style at all. And deep down, no matter how attractive an earlier era may seem, perhaps one senses that the depictions of all silvery ages are just linings on clouds, that the perception of glamour remains where perhaps the reality of pain and cruelty has faded, and that nothing, after all, is better than the present moment, with its stalwart friends and swoon-worthy lovers, these days of fulfilling work and happy-grinned play. And speaking of work, since, after all life can't be all tuxedos and Jack Daniel's:

What is the secret to doing good work? ~ "Never to accept anything without question. Never ignore an inner voice that tells you something could be better, even when other people tell you it's okay."

A good rule for work, and a good rule for livin', in general, I should think. Not that I don't break it all the time. Which reminds me -- it's almost 6 AM, and time to get back to work now. ;)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Unreal Sunday

But tonight we feel like stars
We’ll play our air guitars
Cause we’re eighteen
It’s a perfect night
To sing our prom theme

-- "Prom Theme," Fountains of Wayne

As you can tell from the above quote, even though it is now almost 6 AM on a Monday morning, I've still got the non-drinker's emotional equivalent of a hangover, caused by last Saturday's Prom Night. Except for the bit about being eighteen, those lines are pretty appropriate (and you know -- maybe because of all the 80s nostalgia, maybe because of the excellent company I was with -- this was one of those times I just completely forgot what my age is. I might as well have been eighteen).

Just finished rewriting yesterday's blog entry to make it suitable for our impressionable PULP readers. I actually wish I could make it longer -- there are so many details I want to mention, like the blinking-lights tiara worn by that member of Death by Tampon, or Ebe Dancel sliding between the legs of Imago's guitarist (almost as obscene as it sounds) -- but I'm already over 600 words. ;p

Felt slightly unreal all of Sunday. Drifted. Slept little snatches of sleep. Not a bad thing, really. Watched a DVD of Tears for Fears videos, which sank me even deeper into intense description-dodging high school feelings, a brief resurgence of that odd fleeting sense that one is both immortal and incredibly fragile. So many trivial things in one's past can still affect one so much -- the memory of a childhood car ride, a sunset you observed while sitting on a stone bench beside your high school football field. What matters? It's all just life.

Will probably feel more solid tomorrow -- I mean, later. But for now, words fail me.

And the lovely mirrorball reflected back them all
Every triumph, every fight, under disco light.

-- "Mirrorball," Everything but the Girl

Sunday, October 03, 2004

After the Prom

That's it. I think I can stop going to gigs for now. I don't think I'm going to top this one any time soon.

Just got back home a short while ago, a little before 3 AM, from the Admit One Production, "BLAST PROM DI PAST: Mga Kantang Pang-Mirrorball." Oh, man. What a night. It's kind of stupid to be writing about it right now, because with the state my mind is in, I don't think I'm going to find the words to do it justice. Sure, the lineup was impressive: Imago, Cambio, Sugarfree, Twisted Halo, Happy Meals, Itchyworms, Drip, and, um, Death By Tampon -- so I was expecting a great gig. But you know, it wasn't a gig, it was a party. I thought the affair hit its high point too early, with that wonderfully shameless medley by the Itchyworms, which included everything from "Stars" by Simply Red to "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred to "Xtasi Xtano" by whoever the heck that was, but I was so wrong. The night was just beginning.

Everyone was so good (with the exception of the usually reliable Happy Meals; their vocalist Odin is still in the States, and his substitute couldn't cut it) -- Death by Tampon were a fun, energetic surprise, Halo did a great take on OMD's "If You Leave," Imago left us gasping with their rendition of "Take My Breath Away", Diego Mapa got lucky while Cambio sang of "Endless Love," Sugarfree performed the magnificent "Prom," of course, as well as Bon Jovi's "Never Say Goodbye," and Drip -- with the gorgeous talented Beng Calma (resplendent in her white prom dress) on vocals and Ian and Malek on electronic thingamajigs -- delivered the best version of "Rush Rush" ever. Quite possibly the best possible version you can have of that Paula Abdul song.

And then, debunking the notion that the evening couldn't possibly be any more preposterously smile-inducing -- our friends won. Our friends won! Congratulations, Margie, and congratulations, Thor, on being crowned Prom Queen and Prom King (respectively)! Basically, the Admit One Prom was what everyone's sucky high school Proms should have been -- a giddy, insanely happy affair, no chaperones or awkwardness, with lots of music and dancing and singing along, where lovely, genuinely nice people get crowned King and Queen, and all of the bands rock.

It all ended in a gloriously endless jam (how many times did they call out, "Last song! Last song na 'to!"), involving basically all the band members present who weren't too wasted to perform, and spanning the party/senti 80s kids gamut from "My Sharona" to "Blister in the Sun" to "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Ebe Dancel (with Raimund Marasigan, Vin Dancel and Aia de Leon) delivered an epic rendition of "With or Without You." Aia belted out "Crazy For You." Raimund did "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" Vin sang an intense "Boys Don't Cry." You get the idea. PULP photographer Gani ran out of batteries taking pics of everything that was happening. Part of me wished that a film crew and a sound recording crew had been there too, so that the evening could have been completely covered for posterity, but it's probably best that it just stays in our memories, unsullied and ever-shiny.

It wasn't a perfect night for me, though, what with Yvette sick and at home. Oh, the slow dances and fast dances we could have danced, to the music of our past! Ah, well. (At one point -- during the cover of "Pride (In the Name of Love)" -- I called her up, so I could at least share that bit with her). There aren't many things that ever turn out exactly the way you wanted them to. This night, though, must have come close, especially for anyone there who wasn't missing someone else.

Tired. Happy. And finally starting to get sleepy, now, buzz finally fading a bit. What a night, what a night.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Singing Off To Sleep

Three things I don't know right now: 1. why I'm still in the office, 2. why I'm still awake, and 3. what exactly to make of Kitchie Nadal's solo debut album. The first two are kind of easy, actually. In much the same way that Neil Gaiman's formula for immortality is "not dying," the reason I'm still here is because I haven't gone home yet. It doesn't seem worth the effort at the moment, so instead, I've been surfing, catching up on music and comics sites, drinking ridiculous amounts of caffeinated soda and eating crab soup and potato fritters, and listening to some CDs I intend to review for PULP's next issue, like The Stands, Wolfmann, and -- maybe -- the Kitchie Nadal release. I'm listening to it for the second time now, and still, I'd be hard-pressed to name a rating I'd be comfortable with. Nothing below two oranges and nothing above four just about covers it, but man, that's a wide range.

Attempting to please the world at the age of 17, you kill your babies and call it offering
The stench of truth: a life for a life. To be kind is to be unkind.

-- from "Fire"

Two things I'm sure of right now: there's a lot of good songwriting here (Kitchie has a way with a chorus, and the lyrics are accessible while remaining a far cry from simple-minded -- people who found the Mojofly material to be uninspiring should give this a chance), but it all sounds too clean, it needs to rock a little harder. I don't want to hear every plucked guitar string, every bongo beat. The production puts one in mind of 80s pop-rock, and not entirely in a good way. One actually misses the rough original versions of "Deliverance" and "Run" that her website used to offer in low-quality mp3 format, and songs like "Fire" and "Bulong" sounded a lot more thrilling live. The guitars need to be dirtier, and the drums need to kick a whole lot more ass, especially on a great potential anthem like "Bulong."

Minsan ang kagitingan ay wala sa bigat ng pinapasan, kundi sa pagsukot pag harap ng kabiguan
Tumatakbo ang oras, gumising na at bumangon na, pagka't hindi na ikaw ang biktima

-- from "Bulong"

Kitchie's voice itself, which is what lends these pleasantly solid (yet admittedly not massively original) songs their distinctive touch, is an acquired taste; some may find her oft-deployed breathy fragility grating. I think it's effective and appropriate on the whole, although, again, she should try rocking out and travelling to the edge of a potential loss of control some more. The deer-in-headlights look she sports on the cover may be taken for a representation of her leftover hesitation as regards her musical boundaries, despite the definite strides forward she has taken since her Mojofly days. One wonders how much of this restraint is due to her religious conversion, but it would probably be churlish to speculate. In any case, the obviously God-centric numbers like "You're Worthy" are no less listenable than anything else on this album.

Now she found a place to rest, where the shadows run deep
Lying there barefoot, dirty, singing off to sleep

-- from "Drained"

A lot of songs that become radio staples suck; good pop hits with artistic merit are few and far between. Maybe the best way to sum up Kitchie Nadal's debut is to say that I can easily imagine these songs being requested and played over and over again on the air, and also imagine myself not minding at all.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Guess Who's Back, Back Again

Wow, long time no write. It's been a weird month and a half for me; have been feeling that I'm always behind, always late, always running to catch up. "How is that different from the past decade or so of your life, Luis?" a voice from the balcony queries. Well, first of all -- security, throw that bastard out of the theater. That'll teach him to interrupt my monologue. Where was I? Oh yeah -- late.

It's not just deadlines, and it's not just a matter of taking on too much work, both regular and freelance. I have a fair idea of my capabilities, and I know I could be doing even more than I'm doing now, and doing it well -- I guess I've been blocked, or low-level depressed, or something. There are times when I feel that there's nothing worth getting out of bed for, but this is usually coupled with the strong sense that staying in bed isn't a fantastically attractive option either. As you know, Kidlat and I figured that it was probably a matter of not doing the truly fulfilling, creative work we're meant to be doing. Writing for TV and magazines and such is great, and financially rewarding (relatively speaking, anyway), but it's been literally years since I finished a short story I was satisfied with, for example. So anyway, I'm jotting this down in this semi-public forum so that, a year or so from now, if friends of mine who have read this entry realize that I haven't come out with a new book or two yet, they have my permission to whack me upside the head.

The AMP benefit gig on Katipunan last Saturday was great -- remember that place we went to before, to watch Hellbender? It's even grottier now, but that somehow added to the rocking-ness of the event. Instead of sitting beside a fast-food stall a few tables away from the stage, we were on our feet, and practically in the faces of the performers. I could, for example, have reached out and gently pushed the somewhat out-of-it Ely Buendia over. Not that I would ever do such a thing, he he. It was great fun to hang out with Margie, Marnie, Jovan and her boyfriend Nico (master of the matter-of-fact observation: for example, "Nakakahiya kayo"). Seems like it's been too long since I've been to a gig, much less gone to a gig just to enjoy myself and not cover it for the magazine and not worry about anything.

Highlights for me included the sets by Narda (all fairly new, non-EP material -- really looking forward to the first full-length!), Boy Elroy (lead singer/diminutive bundle of pop-punk energy Conrad was approached after the gig by a woman who offered to adopt him; he declined, explaining that "I already have a mother"), and of course Sun Valley Crew, whooo! *does Sikatuna Village gang sign; busts a move* Finally got to talk to Ryan of SVC face to face; previous interactions for my MTV Ink piece were through texts and e-mail. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Mongols finale -- as you know, their album didn't really grab me, and I was less than thrilled by their performance at the last Summer Slam -- but that night, they tore into their songs with an energy and a fierce joy that was infectious, and now I may have to dig out my copy of Buddha's Pest for a reassessment.

Am also interested in the upcoming release from one of Mongols guitarist Jerome "Bunny" Velasco's other bands, Daydream Cycle. Saw those guys perform a couple of years ago, in Sanctum. And btw, in the coincidence department: earlier today, caught The Mongols on MYX. Even greater, non-Mongols-related coincidence: days after I submit a Delays CD review which compares them to one of my favorite bands from my misspent youth, The Reivers, Thor writes about The Reivers in his blog. Got all happy and excited reading his entry. It was like when I discovered that Jing Gaddi was also a fan of that absurd and obscure cartoon, Tomfoolery. Now I'm sure that neither Tomfoolery nor The Reivers are figments of my fevered, pulsating imagination. I couldn't have dreamed up anything as good as Saturday anyway. Not to mention the collected works of Edward Lear.