Sunday, January 29, 2006

Old Friends, Uruk-hai, and Wily Filipinos

Is that really the Rivermaya logo? It looks more like the logo of a bank or insurance company. Just sayin.

So last night at the Terno Records gig, someone asked me if I was, in fact, The Wily Filipino. While I flirted for a nanosecond with the notion of pretending to be someone I'm not (a notion that occurs to me with alarming regularity), I had to admit that I am just plain Luis of Kristine and Luis are Listening, international jetsetting genius and undefeated Ultimate Fighting champion. However -- there is a very real possibility that Kristine is secretly The Wily Filipino, given that a recent overview of some local rock albums had this to say about the new Rivermaya "Greatest Hits" CD:
"I'm probably remembering things wrong, but wasn't there a time when Rivermaya didn't sound like (or look like) Coldplay? Half the songs on this anthology have those faux-inspirational, hold-your-head-up-high lyrics that U2 should have abandoned twenty years ago; the other half sounds like bad Radiohead -- you know, kind of like Coldplay. In a word: insufferable."

The Terno gig/Up Dharma Down album launch reminded me in many ways of last year's Fete de la Musique: too many people crammed into too small a space, a strong Uruk-hai presence, and having to appreciate bands from too far away, due to the crowd (unlike in venues such as Saguijo or Big Sky Mind, where there is a very real danger of accidentally being tripped over by your favorite frontperson during a set). Ah, the price of popularity. Terno is an excellent label and I'm glad to see so many people drawn to their gigs, but now I'm wondering if there's a better place to hold the next one.

Indira and I ended up holing up in Chunky Farflung and Black Soup for most of the night to get some breathing space. Nice thing was that we kept running into friends and acquaintances, new and old: Brendan, Ginny, Katrin, Lala, Karlo, a couple of Luises (improbably enough), Crissy, Peach, Robert, ex-PULP photographer Gani, Eric, Kate, Therese and of course Fran, among lotsa others.

Drip's set sounded great from where we were, but from where we were, we could barely see them. Pedicab's set was a lot of fun; early enough in the evening that the crowd had not yet grown to unmanageable proportions, it got people singing along and -- in one case -- literally flipping upside down, kicking legs up in the air. Up Dharma Down -- the band of the hour -- delivered a surprisingly tepid set, marked by pseudo-jazzy instrumental noodling and a lack of really engaging material. People who had been waiting for the band all night long ended up drifting off, and talking distractedly amongst themselves (though "Maybe," as always, was a definite highlight). Am listening to their debut album now, though, and it's very very good; all bands have their off-nights after all, and UdD usually deliver exceptional performances.

But, returning to the subject of wiliness:
"The wily Filipino. How often have I gone to bed at night with that phrase echoing through my head. And yet only recently I became aware that I had never actually seen one. I had driven through Filipino neighborhoods, but everyone and everything I saw was rather straightforward. Signs signifying this or that -- the dry cleaner, the auto repair -- all seemed innocuous, but probably hid a true guile lurking underneath. I wondered under what circumstance the wiliness would come out" -- from In Search of the Wily Filipino, by Steve Martin


denise said...

ay, i want that Rivermaya album! La lang, gusto ko lang pakinggan and make funny faces while listening to it, at paulit ulit na mag sabi ng "what da?!" kada track hehehe..

Erik Mann said...

I was looking for blogs about martial arts and came across yours. Great blog you got. I have a website somewhat related you might find interesting.

Gloss Girl said...

Rivermaya? *screams like a wounded horse*

Speaking of martial arts, and of wounded horses, my body feels like it's been trampled by a herd of wild mustangs with super ninja powers. ouch.

R. O. said...

rivermaya is for teens and i think it should be 'judged' from that standpoint

Kristine F. said...

Rivermaya is for teens? And it should be judged from that perspective? Hm. Kinda contentious point there, because the whole point of criticism (music or otherwise) is to draw a line somewhere.

Criticism is not about absolutes, and the kind of judgment it metes out isn't the kind that aims to define its subject absolutely. Criticism is a lot of things, but on the most personal level--the level on which this blog and, perhaps, most reviews writing is on--it is about owning up to one's perspective, and not allowing another person's perspective from hiding all manner of sins.

Wait, wait...this is a long blog essay waiting to happen. So I'll stop.

All I know is that, so far as I know, Rivermaya have not placed a "Warning: Music contained inside is juvenile and for teens only" sticker on their CDs, and have never, so far as I know, claimed so verbally or in print anywhere else. However, a magazine article did declare Rico Blancoldplay "King of the Geeks" once, and I must say: I am a geek, and you, Rico, are not my king.

And now, to have my third cup of coffee and some food before I get any bitchier.