Disclosure in Manila: Drawing out the ‘me’ generation

Meryll Yan

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Disclosure in Manila: Drawing out the ‘me’ generation
Manila’s millenials were in attendance to see the newest and coolest of their kind – British brothers Disclosure. The producers of the hit song 'Latch' show us how music (or maybe even the world) has changed

MANILA, Philippines – Concertgoers emerged from The World Trade Center hall soaked in sweat and covered in confetti. But judging by the satisfied looks on the fans’ faces, the electronica lights and sounds show that transpired was a rousing, heart-thumping success. 

But this was no ordinary hit concert. 

Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, 23 years old and 20 years old, respectively, are children of the 90s who have managed to bridge the gap between Sting and the oontz-oontz youth. 

And amongst a generation of DJs who merely consider lyrics and vocals as token breaks between their heavily choreographed beats, the two brothers actually marry analog soul with their digital masterpieces. 

Their big break single, “Latch,” is anthemic of this winning formula. Laying the romantic vocals of Sam Smith on an electronic bed of percussions, Disclosure created a unique sound that would put their name on the music map.  

After “Latch,” the duo’s rise has been nothing short of stratospheric. They have received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Album, headlined the most coveted music festivals (Coachella and Glastonbury, to name two). They are presently on a world tour that counts 40 cities in its itinerary.


 

And Manila was their most recent stop. 

GIRL POWER. Unlike most garage or house music DJs, Disclosure commands a strong female fan base. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

Forget school night

Fast-forward to the World Trade Centre and a sea of fans in skin-baring outfits, cropped tops, and short shorts waited with bated breath. After three front acts (The Diegos, Marc Naval and Jacques Greene), the duo finally stepped onstage.

And true to the audience, the stage transformed into a digital sound stage, with gigantic LED screens projecting hypnotic images as the brothers performed. It was clearly designed for the Instagram generation. 

Guy Lawrence, the older of the two, greeted the crowd, his Surrey accent audible, “We are Disclosure and we came here to party with you guys!” Manila’s Me Generation knew all of the lyrics by heart. The brothers kicked things off on a high with crowd pleasers “When A Fire Starts to Burn” and “F for You.”

As the two take off on their set, the dynamic and differences between the two were obvious. Unlike the brothers Gallagher of Oasis with their turbulent relationship, the Lawrence brothers have great chemistry. But they are obvious opposites in personality. 

BRITISH IMPORTS. Brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, the latest golden boys of electronica, played to an SRO Manila crowd. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

One drinks water. The other drinks beer. The other is obviously mischievous, while the other is dead serious. One is in a casual T-shirt, while the other is in a proper blue button-down.

Their sound is reflective of this yin-and-yang. They share the same headphones and take turns on the deck. Older brother Guy is the smiling one of the pair and was the first to be interested in electronica. Younger brother Howard is the brooding one, who, up until four years ago, was more interested in classic songs with lyrics than dance music. Guy’s roots are in the drums and guitar (he plays both), and this has resulted in the equal billing of beats and lyrics that has made Disclosure one-of-a-kind.

But these boys are not just the newest IT thing. In a way, they represent the revolution that is happening to the music industry and to the world. 

INSTAGRAM GENERATION. When Disclosure finally played hit song 'Latch,' the audience went crazy, whipping out mobile phones to capture the moment. Photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

How to be a millenial success

Disclosure’s success does not stop at their record sales and sold-out concerts. What is more note-worthy? Their success circumvents all of the old rules of music and of making it in the world. 

Barely out of their music production degrees in college, the two were just kids playing with their synth toys and computers in their parents’ house. But their origin story bears all of the makings of a Generation Me fairy tale. A MySpace page led to them being “discovered”  and set them on the path that has now led them to stardom and a sold-out gig in Manila. 

What’s refreshing is that the brothers have almost a geeky cool, if not laid-back, vibe to them. There’s a departure from the drug culture normally associated with EDM, or the mainstream machinery dripping from other acts, there’s a cutting edge but buttoned-up propriety to the duo.

Music critics argue about how to categorize Disclosure – are they garage? Are they electronic? Are they dance? What’s for certain is Disclosure is ushering in a new order. 

As the brothers tore through their two-hour set, going through all of their best hits from “White Noise” to “Flow,” they also showed that their musical lexicon is older than their age. References to “Renegade Master” and “Beat Broken Slow” were deliberately built into the songs. 

Amazingly, just a few years ago, the brothers were just tinkering with arrangements in their parents’ house, trying to copy the industrial sound of the construction work downstairs. No music background? No contacts? No problem. 

They are proof of the Me Generation’s power to make stars, drive sales. What started out as experiments in mash-ups, when amplified through social media via Soundcloud, Youtube, Spotify, and shared across millenial tribes, can become a global phenomenon.

It is not an understatement to call it a 2014-edition musical butterfly effect. 

As confetti rained down and the song “Latch” pumped through the speakers, the audience did more than dance along. From that attic in Surrey, a full house of Manila’s Me generation reverberated back. -Rappler.com

 

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