IN PHOTOS: Rakrakan Festival 2017
Rakrakan 2017 was a wonderful day of music, with performances from a plethora of this country's most outstanding musical artists. From mosh pits, to on-stage surprise birthday celebrations, with street artists and skateboard demonstrations, and even a musical guest appearance by the Philippine National Police chief himself, this festival had it all.
I was impressed by my first visit to the now-annual event, launched in 2013. Never mind the tantalizing variety of music in the line-up – a taste to suit almost every musical palate on the planet – what impressed me the most was the overall organization and execution of the event itself, which is a formidable task for these large-scale shows.
Rakrakan originally had 100 bands on the roster, but a handful of groups dropped out at the last minute in protest of the presence of PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and other government anti-drug groups. The event had the theme "OPM Against Drugs," in response to the Closeup Forever Summer tragedy that happened in 2016, where 5 died due to drug use.
The variety of musical genres on each of the 5 stages (yes, 5) was a sampling of top-tier artists in the OPM music scene, along with relative newcomers. The festival showcased various genres – from rock, metal, and ska, to reggae, indie, folk, and pop rock. They had it all.
Initially, I was concerned about the stages being aligned parallel to each other, but it worked out much better than I anticipated. Yes, there was some noise bleeding from one area to its neighbor, but it was mostly only noticeable when you drifted back a considerable ways from the stage itself. When directly in front of the act you were watching, it was not too bad, and you could catch the wave of sound from the band within your vision.
But the huge advantage to this set-up, as far as festivals go, is the ease by which a fan can progress from one stage area to the next, which at times can present a problem. This can be a crucial factor when you're trying to catch two shows happening at nearly the same time. At this event though, you could pull off getting from one section of the grounds to another without taking too much time.
The more open layout, with the various checkpoints, gates, and distances you must negotiate, worked out well for a majority of the crowd. I've attended a few of these that really require logistics to get from one stage to the next, to the portalets, or to find refreshments, and some even have dedicated phone apps. Five or 10 minutes may not seem like a big deal, but it could turn out to be close to half of the performance time on a shortened setlist of your favorite band.
They stuck close to the original plan for the play times, with none of the stages falling behind any considerable amount. Hand it to the stage techs, who skillfully maneuvered the equipment from one act to the next with only minutes in delay, and at times virtually no delay at all. Using a split stage idea, the next band up would be placing their equipment on the left or right side as the other side performed. Surprisingly, this was not as distracting as you may think. Generally, the viewers' attention is forced on the lead vocalist, and you wouldn't even notice the scurrying on the other side.
There were some technical problems at times, which is to be expected – feedback at times, a microphone not working, or on-stage monitors being too high or too low – but all were quickly remedied without much trouble.
Other activities, like skateboarding demonstrations, graffiti painting, meet-and-greets with select bands, a variety of food booths, and a wide selection of music-related merchandise all rounded out the day well.
The weather held out nicely, with a slightly overcast sky for the afternoon and only a hint of a drizzle right before showtime. The overcast sky cleared up by sunset. Perhaps the afternoon clouds were even a blessing in disguise, shielding everyone from the blazing tropical sun.
Each band had about 30 minutes to perform, so depending on the chatter in between songs, most could fit in 5 to 7 tracks. A welcome relief from what you'd normally see at these sponsored events, which generally only allow enough time for 2 to 4 – simply the band's top hits. That drives me crazy, as the groups don't even have a chance to warm up, play something new, or really start to work up a sweat. At Rakrakan, though, they did, and it was apparent in the energy level of the performers and in the attentiveness of the crowd.
In the evening, the PNP chief surprised the crowd. Rather than the typical short speech you would expect to hear, Dela Rosa actually performed as a guest vocalist with the group Banda Ni Kleggy. Granted, he's not the most outstanding singer, but held his own as he traded off lyrics with Kleggy Abaya, the lead vocalist. (WATCH: PNP chief Dela Rosa sings at Rakrakan 2017)
Obviously, I couldn't catch all the bands performing, and I'm sure I missed plenty of action, but here are my favorite photos of each of the groups that I was able to check out.
The Riot Act
Orb of Blood
The Buzzer Beaters
Save Me Hollywood
Banda Ni Kleggy
Drive Me to Juliet
Jensen and the Flips
I was super impressed with this event. It could use some tweaking here and there, but nothing major – what a fantastic day of music. I photographed about a third of the artists on the list before, a few of them more than once, so I knew what to expect. Others, I had only heard of. So it was an interesting mix, and for the most part, a pleasure to cover.
Combine all factors: a wide spectrum of music, stable weather, relative ease of movement throughout the grounds, and thoughtful content, and you have a list for success. If you haven't attended yet, keep an eye out for it next year. This one is highly recommended for your fill of OPM. – Rappler.com