IN PHOTOS: OneRepublic, JaDine, Apink, and more at electrifying MTV Music Evolution 2016
MANILA, Philippines – "I think God is smiling on us. It cooled down. It’s night. It’s not raining. This is perfect!" Ryan Tedder, lead vocalist of OneRepublic, told the crowd at MTV Music Evolution 2016 on Friday night, June 24 at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds.
When you schedule an outdoor concert at the start of the rainy season in Manila, the odds are you are going to have some precipitation, especially in the late afternoons or evenings. The organizers were prepared though with tents in all the right places. They even offered free raincoats – in various colors – to all who entered.
Just as the show was kicking off, Mother Nature took her cue. The crowd – in unison and rather quickly – put on their newly gifted attire as the heavens opened with an unceremonious downpour. It tapered on and off for most parts of the evening, but luckily held off for the entire segment when OneRepublic took the stage for the final performance of the night.
But the rain certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd. If anything, it got them even more pumped up.
The sets themselves were rather short, with most of the artists performing under a 30-minute mark. The entertaining antics and comical banter by the MTV Asia VJs Alan Wong and Hanli Hoefer, along with MTV Pinoy VJs Yassi Pressman and Andre Paras, kept things rolling along – rather skilfully, I would add, as the stage production team shuttled to and fro in the shadows as they readied for the next act.
There were also "dance offs," as individuals were shown dancing on the big screens, along with various contests, rewarding those who were uploading the coolest photos. They were also periodically throwing freebies into the crowd, even using cannons to launch t-shirts into the air and into someone's hands.
The headliner, OneRepublic came out with guns blazing at the end of the night; I’ve photographed them before so I knew what to expect.
The lead vocalist Ryan Tedder does a bang up job during his live shows, and he's one of those artists who may actually sound better live than on a recording. You could feel the give and take – the crowd and the performer – as he almost immediately connected with them. They're a fantastic way to cap off the evening, I would’ve loved to have heard more.
He also spoke of their last concert here at Araneta Coliseum, saying it was “one of our favorite shows we’ve ever done in our entire career” and it wasn’t just lip service, you could tell he meant it.
"Everyone here is just so nice, it’s almost hard to freakin’ believe," he added.
Later on in the show, Ryan spoke of material he’s been working on for the new album. He announced to the crowd, “I’ve been writing and recording a little bit in Manila [in] the last couple of days, so look for yourselves in the liner notes of the album.”
James Reid and Nadine Lustre
Filipino pop darlings James Reid and Nadine Lustre, also called by their most avid fans as "JaDine," performed a mixture of solo tracks and duets. As a Joe Jackson song goes: "Happy loving couples make it look so easy." (READ: How James Reid and Nadine Lustre became an official couple)
Perhaps a bit sappy for some, but I was impressed with their duet numbers, there was something special there. There was an obvious spark that enthralled the audience and added a delightful buzz to the show.
We’ve all experienced a singing duo who are just going through the motions, yet are obviously not in love. But that was certainly not the case here. It was refreshing to appreciate songs performed with genuine emotions.
The crowd exploded, as one of Korea’s favorite K-Pop girl groups, Apink danced their way out to center stage. I’m not a huge K-pop fan but what registered here was the group's ability to sing – harmonically even, like something you may hear from a record.
All the while, they danced with finely-tuned coordinated movements – not an easy task for a group of six, which consists of Park Cho-rong, Yoon Bo-mi, Jung Eun-ji, Son Na-eun, Kim Nam-joo and Oh Ha-young.
They occasionally addressed the electrified crowd in English, wholeheartedly thanking them for their support.
They circled the huge stage without missing a hitch – certainly a favorite of the night, as evidenced by the overwhelming response from the crowd who were clearly were loving it.
Far East Movement
Far East Movement, an hip-hop and electronic dance music (EDM) trio took to the stage in the confident Los Angeles-grown hip-hop style you’d expect. These guys have been around for a while and are no strangers to the circuit, founding members Kevin Nishimura aka Kev Nish, James Roh aka Prohgress, and Jae Choung aka J-Splif.
They expertly cranked up the crowd to a steady climax and you should’ve seen the the place absolutely light up when they busted out their hit song, “Like a G6.” The entire audience of thousands all jumped in unison, so I could actually feel the effect of the on the steel platform I was standing on. Not unusual in an arena but this was on solid ground, not constructed flooring.
They blew away the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds with a laser light show and expertly placed stage effects, and at one point, crowd surfed while weaving words in slick hip-hop fashion.
Gary V and Gab Valenciano
The superstar father and son tandem Gary V and Gab Valenciano showed off their insanely electrifying dance moves. Undaunted by the uncooperative weather, they hit the catwalk, baptizing themselves in the rains.
Both of these gentlemen are accomplished singers; however, it was captivating to experience them dance together. We witnessed more than just their complex choreography, but an unspoken connection and an innate silent language, as they are both tied by blood.
American singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha hit the stage, energetically telling the crowd, "I’m from Brooklyn, New York City."
Bebe Rexha is not quite a household name, but she's definitely no stranger to the industry as she has written music for other artists – names you'd recognize like Eminem, Nicki Minaj or Rihanna.
She's not a stranger to the stage either. Her professional beginnings were with a band that was organized by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. Her career is still budding at the age of 26, but the lyrics and catchy hooks of her well-written songs had the crowd moving along to every beat.
Keep an eye out for this up-and-comer – odds are you'll catch the name again.
Overall, I was impressed with the consistent polished feel of the MTV event. It had a quality sound system – especially for an outdoor show – and a thoughtful setup with everything just where it should be.
The highly skilled VJs made it look easy, entertaining the crowd of thousands who really are there to see the performers, and not to listen to banter. Unfortunately, the rain also caused technical problems on a regular basis throughout the night, but these were addressed relatively quick.
Combine the strategically placed video screens throughout the grounds, a visually appealing light show, and top-of-the-line visual presentations at perfectly timed moments and the night would certainly be classified as a success. Just leave out the weather more appropriate for ducks and it would've been close to perfect.
Were you there at MTV Music Evolution? How was it like seeing your favorite acts? Tell us about your experience in the comments! – Rappler.com