MANILA, Philippines - This year’s onslaught of foreign bands seems like a making-up for lost time to Philippines-based fans who have been yearning to hear their sonic faves in the flesh.
The latest in this steady stream of better-late-than-later Manila visitors are The Fray and Creed, two bands who will play out loud for one-night-only shows at the Smart Araneta Coliseum this Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
While each band may have a core following worldwide — our Fun Country included — a considerable lot may actually be fans of both, and, given the ticket prices, may need to pick between The Fray’s November 10 concert and Creed’s November 11 gig.
Interestingly, while these bands are different, they nevertheless share interesting similarities, which in the end might help the interested but undecided concertgoer to pick between the two shows.
1. American quartets formed by pairs of school buddies
The older of these two bands is Creed, which was formed in Tallahassee, Florida in 1995 by Florida State University high school classmate-chums Scott Stapp and Mark Tremonti. They went on to respectively assume lead vocalist and guitarist-backing vocalist duties for what would become Creed, with bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips completing the band’s best-known 4-man lineup.
The Fray, for their part, are also a US-based quartet hailing from Denver, Colorado and formed in 2002 by singer-pianist Isaac Slade and guitarist Joe King ― schoolmates in Arvada, Florida’s Faith Christian Academy. After initial collaborations with other instrumentalists fell through, the duo stuck with guitarist David Welsh and drummer Ben Wysocki, with a hired bassist joining them in tours.
What’s in a band name?
Creed are not rooted on the textbook, statement-of-belief definition of a creed, the group’s moniker a simple suggestion of Marshall’s from having been in a band called Maddox Creed. But if fans were to be asked, that 5-letter name is fitting given Creed’s often anthemic songs, which are fervently shared to the point of hardcore belief by its loyal fandom.
The Fray, on the other hand, are said to have picked out their group tag at random from a list of volunteered suggestions. The band has gone on to justify the serendipitous choice as being appropriate ― not because of their songs, which are often devoid of any rough-and-tumble sensibility, but in the offstage disputes that have “scarred” this very foursome.
2. “Singular” sensations
Watch the video of Creed's 'With Arms Wide Open' here:
Not counting a hit-singles compendium and a slew of concert recordings, Creed has had 4 studio albums to its credit in the last 17 years ― the relatively low output due in part to the band’s breakup turned hiatus from 2004 to 2009. These albums are their ’97 debut My Own Prison, ’99’s Human Clay, 2001’s Weathered and the 2009, post-breakup release Full Circle.
Still, the band’s first 3, pre-regrouping albums alone have yielded a slew of smashes, including “Higher,” My Own Prison and Weathered’s title tracks, and the Grammy Best Rock Song-grabbing “With Arms Wide Open.”
Perhaps the best known of Creed hits to local ears is “My Sacrifice,” a less-edgy staple on the now-defunct and sorely missed FM station NU 107.5.
The Fray themselves have had extraneous releases, including at least two EPs and a Christmas disc, but have had 3 full-length albums: 2005’s How to Save a Life, their eponymous ’09 album and this year’s Scars and Stories.
From this triumvirate, they have enough well-received singles to fill up their own, eventual greatest-hits album; these include “Never Say Never,” “Run for Your Life” and their debut ditty “Over My Head (Cable Car),” the latter about, and a play on the name of, Slade’s brother Caleb.
But The Fray will eternally be known for the title track to How to Save a Life, thanks to TV. Even before becoming their second single, “How to Save a Life” made the rounds of medical shows Grey’s Anatomy and then Scrubs ― with Grey’s going especially gaga for the tune, using it for an episode and an oft-repeated promo spot. (Asian cable channel Star World helped pushed that commercial and the song among us Pinoys.)
From there, “How to Save…” took a life of its own, becoming embraced by troubled souls who have identified with the song’s downbeat yet breezy, piano-and-drums-propelled reflection on having “lost a friend.”
3. Christian yet have been, to quote R.E.M., losing their religion
Not only are some of The Fray members alumni of a Christian school, they have also played in worship bands at Denver churches. And their songs often essay a comforting, keep-the-faith stance, with something like “Be Still” even bearing lines akin to scripture.
Creed, meanwhile, have been loosely labeled as a Christian rock band, thanks to the religious undertones of many of their compositions.
In the process, Creed and The Fray have ended up being championed, or at least written about, not just by secular outlets but also by Christian publications.
Yet both bands have pointed out that they are not exclusively Christian bands ― a shared position that is more of a fact and far less comparable to Peter the apostle’s iconic before-the-cock-crows denial of Jesus.
4. Hardly critical darlings
Watch the video of The Fray's 'How to Save a Life' here:
The Fray and Creed are mainstream success stories, the latter’s albums particularly enjoying multi-platinum status despite the turn of the millennium’s growing music piracy. Both have also been awarded or nominated for Grammy and Billboard music awards.
Music critics, though, have mostly been less receptive, with pundits dismissing each quartet as watered-down, too-earnest-for-comfort counterparts for better, earlier-in-the-game bands.
In the case of Creed, a so-called post-grunge act, comparisons abound to Seattle sweethearts Pearl Jam and even to the Pearl Jam-esque Stone Temple Pilots (previous Manila visitors both), due largely to Stapp’s reverberating vocal gift and the band’s whole arena rock dynamic.
In The Fray’s case, their piano-suffused, soft-rock balladry has earned comparisons to the more celebrated Coldplay (who have yet to visit us) and Keane (who were in town just last month).
In the end, Creed and The Fray’s lack of aural freshness, old-fashioned earnestness and conscious avoidance of sounding vague or enigmatic may be a bane for picky listeners, but are a welcome diversion for audio fans who prefer readily accessible fodder over impenetrable music.
5. Big acts with big shows
Say what anyone will about The Fray and Creed as bands per se, but based on several reports, they seem to be money’s-worth, hits-indulging live acts.
It is unlikely that Creed’s first ever PHL gig would be as eventful as their 2009 Houston gig, with its record-setting 239 video cameras and use of The Matrix-aping, multi-camera “big freeze” stunt, or that the rehabilitated Stapp would go onstage under alcoholic influence. But it is certain that the band’s testoste-rock would shake the Big Dome’s walls and compel attendees to heartily growl along.
The Fray’s Saturday night show, while softer on the eardrums than the next evening’s shebang, will most likely be one huge sing-along as well, the band rendering what could be a 15-track set list replete with a 3-tune encore and maybe even a cover. (Journey’s “Faithfully” and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” could be candidates.)
Low-on-dough enthusiasts might sacrifice either or even both shows and mock-sing “How to Save Some Cash.”
But the bands’ hardnosed fans might just make that leap of budgetary faith and, a la Stapp, joyously scream, “I’m free!” with rockstar glee. - Rappler.com