IN PHOTOS: Bon Iver, Death Cab for Cutie, and more thrill fans at Wanderland 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The stars and planets aligned at Wanderland Music and Arts Festival on its 4th year. With a killer lineup headlined by Death Cab for Cutie and Bon Iver, the hype reached astronomical proportions, and on Saturday, March 5, music-lovers took off to outer space at the Globe Circuit Events Ground to watch their favorite musical stars live. (READ: Interview: Bon Iver, The Naked and Famous on new music, visiting PH)
When Bon Iver went on stage with the opening strains of "Perth," the crowd was instantly blown away. It was the band's first time in this part of the planet, and it was indeed quite an otherworldly experience.
The Staves, a folk trio from England, joined frontman Justin Vernon and company in a heavenly, ghostly chorus in songs like "Lump Sum" and the slow-burning but rewarding "Towers."
By the time the band sang "Flume," however, festivalgoers who were softly singing along fell into a total hush – a surrender to the sublime. The words of "Holocene," albeit in a different context, were apt: " ...And at once I knew I was not magnificent."
The crowd was just swept by the currents as Justin, with his ethereal falsetto, crooned his way through "Blindsided," "Michicant," and "Calgary."
At one point, Justin expressed how he and the band felt honored by Manila's welcome: "We are far from home, yet it feels so very at home." In the middle of some songs, he said that he wanted to speak a little bit more: "We have some time constraints, so we wanna just kind of keep plowing through. But we just wanna say how thankful and humbled we are to be here tonight."
All things must come to an end – but not without Justin taking the center of the stage for a crowd favorite, "Skinny Love."
Skinny Love! pic.twitter.com/HF7bLdgNK4— Paolo Abad (@PaoloJAbad) March 5, 2016
Afterwards, Justin encouraged the crowd to join him in singing "The Wolves (Act I and II)." The song gradually built up as he sang, "And the story's all over / In the morning, I'll call you / Can't you find a clue / When your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue."
Later, the crowd joined him in a thunderous and cathartic chorus, "What might have been lost" – a truly magical thing to behold. (WATCH: PH fans sing along with Bon Iver in Wanderland encore)
The crowd joins Bon Iver in singing "The Wolves" pic.twitter.com/ZVOLWWQnwG— Paolo Abad (@PaoloJAbad) March 6, 2016
Death Cab for Cutie
On March 5, 2012, Death Cab for Cutie played their very first Manila show at the now-defunct NBC Tent in Bonifacio Global City, and exactly 4 years later, they returned to play at Wanderland.
For many people in the crowd that evening, the music of Death Cab for Cutie was the soundtrack of their younger years.
Frontman Ben Gibbard and company sang their classic tunes in between tracks off their latest record, Kintsugi, such as "Black Sun" and "No Room In Frame." But to the delight of their fans, they also performed their most beloved older hits, like "Soul Meets Body," "Marching Bands of Manhattan," and "Title And Registration."
Death Cab's songs can be heartbreaking. Past the middle of their set, “What Sarah Said” just tugged at heartstrings with its poignant words, which fans sang at the top of their lungs: "I'm thinking of what Sarah said – that 'Love is watching someone die' / So who's going to watch you die?"
Ben followed up with the melancholic tune "I Will Follow You into the Dark. He strummed on his guitar, as the crowd sang along just like last time in 2012, "If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks / Then I'll follow you into the dark."
In spite of these anguish-inducing moments, Ben lightened up with a bit of banter. Being such an animated frontman, he had some things to say about the stage. "I swear to God, they built this stage on a f*cking trampoline – is that what they built this on?" he said, chuckling.
He also showed some love for Bon Iver, and said, "I haven’t seen them in a super long time, and they killed it!"
Ben also approached the crowd during "Cath…," and even grabbed some fans' phones to take selfie videos with them.
Death Cab closed their set with "Transatlanticism." As this happened, many closed their eyes to take in the moment. Couples embraced each other, and someone beside me even teared up – snapshots of heightened emotion against the song’s plaintive voice. “I need you so much closer,” sang Ben, echoing all our thoughts.
Earlier in the day, we were able to catch other stellar acts:
Just more than a month after their Laneway Singapore outing, Cheats gave the Wanderland crowd in Manila some high-octane tunes to jump along to. Fronted by the energetic trio of Jim Bacarro, Saab Magalona, and Candy Gamos, the band electrified the afternoon crowd with their set, starting with "Crash" and ending with "Accidents."
Panama, the synthpop duo of vocalist/keyboardist Jarrah McCleary and drummer Tim Commandeur, played some sun-drenched '80s New Wave-esque tunes as festivalgoers danced the afternoon away. They ended with a crowd favorite, "Always."
Later in the afternoon, Tim also took to the decks as Commandeur for a DJ set of awesome reworks of indie favorites and more.
Aussie indie pop band San Cisco ramped up the afternoon energy with their groovy tunes like "Golden Revolver," "Magic," "Run," and "Fred Astaire." Vocalist Jordi Davieson, who confessed that it was his first time to wear shorts and sandals for a show, still busted out some slick moves for the band's Manila fans.
CRWN and Jess Connelly
Wunderkind beatmaker King Puentespina aka CRWN teamed up with songstress Jess Connelly to weave a smooth and sultry soundscape.
Up-and-coming rapper Mito Fabie aka Curtismith also joined the duo onstage for "With You."
Hugo Manuel, aka Chad Valley, sang with a voice that induced a sort of bittersweet nostalgia.
His tunes could evoke the John Hughes films of yesteryears. There were also hints of The Smiths and Ultravox in a lot of his tracks – take "Shell Suite" and "Fall 4 U," for example. However, he went beyond an '80s revivalism, and kept the crowd around his stage transfixed.
The Naked and Famous
The Naked and Famous played anthems that roused the Wanderland crowd in the evening.
Their songs pulsed with a distinct energy. Thom Powers' hypnotic croon and Alisa Xayalith's birdlike voice soared above synth-laden melodies which were at once angsty and ecstatic.
Indeed, the New Zealander five-piece didn't back down with their energy – from "A Stillness" to "Punching in a Dream" and their signature anthem, "Young Blood."
San Francisco-based "folktronica" producer Mikey Maramag aka Blackbird Blackbird was proud of his roots, saying, "My parents are from here, so this is a real honor." Dishing out bangers off his records like Boracay Planet and Summer Heart, Blackbird Blackbird had festivalgoers flocking to the smaller DJ stage where he was playing.
The blazing sun was beating down on the sprawling Wanderland grounds when the festival opened, but festivalgoers were also treated to a variety of activities and grub – all set against a backdrop of colorful inflatable planets, Space Invaders, and art installations.
Were you at Wanderland? Whose set were you most excited for? Share your best memories in the comments! – Rappler.com