Review: 7107 International Music Festival
MANILA, Philippines – To put the 7107 International Music Festival together, it wasn't enough to invite one or two big-name artists, have the show at all the usual big-ticket venues, and then be done with it.
The show had to be unlike anything the Philippines had ever seen – a large-scale festival in the mold of Coachella in the US, and Glastonbury in the UK.
Despite some glitches and a few on-site foibles, 7107 delivered on the promise of a dream weekend for music fans.
For many of the people who paid the steep ticket price and made the trek to the Global Gateway Logistics City in Clark Field, Pampanga, the 4 magic words were Red Hot Chili Peppers. When the inclusion of one of the most popular rock bands on the planet was confirmed, everything else was icing on the cake. Still, organizers made sure concertgoers had the experience of a lifetime.
Security was omnipresent (important in a massive event like this one), and the sound system was effective and no doubt obsessed over by talented experts. For the convenience of guests, portalets were aplenty and scattered around the perimeter. Co-presenter Smart, and its subsidiary Spinnr, also had several on-site gimmicks, including an air-conditioned tent with sofas and giant TV screens exclusive for subscribers under their network.
There was a surprisingly wide range of food choices, as people were not allowed to bring in their own food, as well as provisions for a comfortable meal, including a dedicated "mess hall" with chairs and tables under a tent.
Organizers also chose a different approach to ticketing, with crowds being asked to pay only for general admission and VIP. While higher ticket prices generally mean being closer to the stage area (as is the usual practice in most concerts), at 7107, VIPs chose to pay a premium not for proximity but for access to an elevated platform further away from the stage, akin to box seats at stadiums or concert halls.
This guaranteed that those who paid extra felt they had the best "seats in the house," perched above the bigger crowd, who, at the same time, were given the chance to be as up close to their musical idols as much as metal barriers and other eager fans would allow them.
On the first day, things got off to a slow start. Gates opened at 12pm, but, expectedly, few heeded the call. Even with a few international acts like Natives and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour on the main stage, there was a dangerously thin crowd. Things weren't much better on the second stage, where most of the OPM acts played.
But as the sun went down and darkness set in, the audience started to swell. The DJ sets kicked things up a notch, particularly the beats of Kid Ink and DJ Riddler. Over at the second stage, the bands tried their best to entertain the crowd, with outstanding performances by Techy Romantics, Taken By Cars and Kjwan.
Even past 10pm, people were still arriving at the venue, no doubt lured by the night's closing act, renowned DJ, Kaskade. His extended set fed the appetite of thousands of fans who partied till well past midnight. The evening was punctuated by a stellar fireworks display.
The venue was noticeably more packed the next day. With the festival's biggest names scheduled to play that night, audiences positioned themselves as close to the main stage as early as possible. Because a vast majority of the crowds elected to set up camp here, there weren’t as many at the second stage.
Organizers should consider a different approach to dividing the acts and stages, should there be a second edition of the festival. It was a little sad to see bands playing to a near-empty field when thousands upon thousands of people were at the festival in total.
At the main stage, Up Dharma Down delivered a solid set, despite an anemic response from the audience. "Why aren't people more pumped up?" a guy behind me asked.
Obviously frustrated at the less-than-warm reception the crowd was giving the artists, he and his friends were trying to liven up that section of the audience with constant whoops and whistles. I reasoned that people were probably saving their energy for the main act later.
Whether it was intentional or not, what was cool about 7107 was the variety of genres the artists represented, all playing in one festival. Itchyworms was contemporary Pinoy pop at its best; Rocksteddy delivered local folk-rock; Scarlet Heroes was a band from Malaysia that was all power-pop-punk, much like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus; Kendrick Lamar was the latest poster boy for a new generation of rap and hip-hop superstars, and Empire of the Sun was full-on theatrical dance pop of the David Bowie and Queen variety, complete with outrageous costumes, back-up dancers, and a guitar-smashing by frontman Luke Steele towards the end –we rarely get to see that these days. Each of the artists had their own contingents of fans who began to make their excitement more visible (and audible) at the parade of world-class talent performing one after the other.
But of course, and as always, they saved the best for last.
Because the whole festival ran like clockwork, the Chili Peppers materialized onstage at almost exactly 10:30 pm, right on schedule. True rock superstars, the quartet of Anthony Kiedis, Michael Balzary (aka Flea), Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer (with the addition of longtime touring members Mauro Refosco and Chris Warren), immediately launched into an intro jam that segued into "Can't Stop," driving the most hardcore of fans to near-insanity.
After an unbelievable 30 years as a band and countless live shows, it would have been easy to phone in their performance, but from where I was standing, they seemed to give it their all. Flea, in particular, did not disappoint, with his signature moves that visibly delighted the crowd. The band performed a full, 90-minute, 20-song set that included many of their hits, including "Dani California," "Soul to Squeeze," "Under The Bridge," "Californication," and a gut-busting rendition of "By the Way," that ended the regular set.
They came back a few minutes later to do an extended jam, "Sir Psycho Sexy," the Robert Johnson cover "They're Red Hot," and the big finale, "Give It Away."
"Support live music," implored Flea right before exiting the stage, and another fireworks display closed out the festival. "Go out and see it." It couldn't have been easy to mount the event, but all things considered, in the eyes of the music fans who expended energy and resources to get there and stand for hours just to watch artists perform onstage, the 7107 International Music Festival was musically an unequivocal success. – Rappler.com
Note: The writer of this review was invited by Smart as part of a press group to experience 7107. The review reflects his own experiences and opinions.
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana