MANILA, Philippines – It was a day of musical celebrations as Fête de la Musique marked its 20th anniversary in Metro Manila, June 21.
It’s also the first time in 20 years that the free concerts were held in 3 main and 19 pocket stages, across two cities—Makati and Manila—with probably over 100 bands performing.
Fête de la Musique not only brings out different genres to the various concert stages, they also bring together the diverse subcultures associated with the music.
The mod squad
A man walks into a bar wearing a Union Jack shirt.
“Sputing.” Bing Austria recalls how his parents and uncles referred to those dressed to a T.
Bing is himself impeccably dressed from head to toe—white long-sleeved shirt with black polka dots, matching pinstriped vest and trousers, fancy dress socks, and what look like ostrich-leather lace-ups.
To the uninitiated, he looks like he just stepped out of the movie set of Austin Powers, with his ‘60s-inspired “dressed to kill” get up.
Fashion is an integral part of the lifestyle of the mods, a youth subculture that originated in the UK in the early ‘60s. But it’s really the music component that really defines the mod subculture.
And Bing, who has been making music for 25 years, is “Papamod” in the local music scene. He knows his music as much as his fashion. Bing can go on about the roots of mod music, its influences, its many incarnations, and its ever-evolving state.
“I’m really punk rock. But I realized I was more mod in the late ‘90s,” Bing narrates. “Actually, I’m just a mod revivalist. The real mods lived in the ‘60s.”
Bing was then part of the popular Ska band, Put3Ska. He was also part of Tropical Depression during the ‘90s.
Now, the main mod man has organized the first ever, mod stage in Fete de la Musique’s 20-year history in Manila.
“I want to give Pinoy mods a venue to come together,” said Bing.
So the mods came, parked their classic Vespas and Lambrettas, outside the lounge, and danced to their music till the wee hours of the night.
Like his idol, Paul “The Modfather” Weller of The Jam and Style Council fame, Bing is constantly evolving himself along with his music, which is the essence of being a mod.
Contributing to the world of hip hop
As fans were waiting for the old stalwarts of the local scene—Legit Misfits and Nathan J—to go on stage, people sitting on a bench outside the M Café smiled as they watched a group of BBoys go on a dance showdown.
“When somebody says ‘Uy, hip hop!’ I’m proud because I know what it means. I know what it can do” said Lema Diaz of the hip hop culture. She’s been part of the local hip hop scene since the ‘90s, and a founding member of the famed Philippine All Stars.
She said hip hop is easily embraced by the Filipino culture, or any culture for that matter, because its basically about a universal feeling—love, peace, or having fun—that knows no race or gender.
“If people can understand what that really means, it can change a person’s perspective, it can change lives, it can change a whole nation. That’s how powerful it is,” expounded Lema, who claimed that she, too, has been changed by hip hop.
When the Philippine All Stars competed against other hip hop dance crews, nobody gave them a chance.
“Everybody thought, ‘How could you win? You’re Filipinos!” Lema recalled. “I wanted to change all that. I asked, ‘What is about me as a Filipino that I can contribute to the world of hip hop?”
They went on to win the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in 2006. With the victory, they not only gained ground in promoting hip hop locally, but also put the Philippines in the world map of hip hop.
Part of being hip hop is about having respect for oneself, self-discovery.
New school rock
“Sex, drugs, rock n’ roll” is old school cliché.
Apparently, there’s a “new school of rock.” So says Dave Pimentel, the 29-year-old drummer of local band Faintlight, who got interested in rock music some 20 years ago. According to Dave, musically speaking, new school is “more technical.”
“There are odd-time signatures, the riffs and rolls go beyond the basic. Its more melodic,” he said. “So we are able to showcase our versatility when it comes to our musicality.”
To old school rockers, it may sound like new school is simply referring to progressive rock, the sub-genre popularized by bands such as Yes, which combined complex instrumental arrangements with cosmic (or sometimes, out-of-this world) lyrics.
But new school rock may really be new. Their audience is a new generation of music fans, after all. And the medium by which they reach their audience is very now. Without the support of local radio stations and major record labels, Faintlight, along with other bands, new school rock or not, harness the power of the social media and bring their music online.
Dave narrates, “When we uploaded some of our music videos, some people asked what happened to OPM rock n’ roll. Then some people replied, it evolved into a new school sound.”
Another band was playing their set on the rock stage when Dave rejoined his band mates outside BSide.
Meanwhile, a few electrified fans flailed their arms and punched the air as they slammed in the mosh pit.
Whatever the genre, whatever the subculture, music is moving with the times. It will also continue to move us.
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