La musique dans les rues

Emil Sarmiento

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In English: Music in the streets

A FLURRY OF MOVEMENT: Tayao of WilaBaliW is a dynamo on the stage. All photos by Emil F.A. Sarmiento

MANILA, Philippines – Well, that was a challenge.

With over 108 bands billed and spread in 10 stages, this year’s Fete de la Musique promised a night of music and partying. To an extent, they didn’t disappoint.

Great performances filled the event held last June 23. Acts like Pepe Smith, Radioactive Sago Project, Cynthia Alexander, Brigada, Indio-I, Johnny Alegre + Affinity, Slapshock, Miscellaneous and a host of others celebrated the music festival brought to fruition by Alliance Francaise de Manille and the French Embassy.

French DJ Collective Chinese Man headlined the event. 

This year’s Fete felt disjointed, however, when certain details barred the overall experience for those who attended. Some stages were too far apart and it seemed that there was no consistency in scheduling.

Endeavoring to visit all the sites in the day to see the best each stage had to offer, this journalist attempted to run the gauntlet.

We ran into some problems.

ONE HALF OF CONCERT topbillers Chinese Man performing at the Main Stage

Main Stage

Located just by the intersection of Kalayaan Avenue and Makati Avenue, the Main Stage was where most of the crowd gravitated to.

Brigada opened up the party with their usual, electrifying performance and, from then on, the performers aimed to keep the party swinging. Cynthia Alexander, then in the midst of her farewell tour, played her classics and enthralled the crowd with her guitar playing.

It was a bit of a struggle to navigate away from the main stage, the entire street having been closed down for the erected platform. This gave transients very little room to maneuvre to the other stages. 

THE PAOLO BLAQUERA TRIO performs its set

Rock Stage

Hot, damp and crowded, B-Side was the most isolated venue in the list. It also had the most number of bands (as well as the biggest names in Filipino music).

The main reason why this year’s Fete somewhat disappointed was because great acts who performed at the Rock Stage were almost 3 kilometers away from where most of the other stages were. It took a 5-minute walk from the Main Stage to Gil Puyat Avenue, another 10-minute jeepney ride to get to Pasong Tamo, and a 5-minute walk to The Collective. That’s a 20-minute journey from where most of the action was at, to a singular venue that featured an awesome lineup.

A cab ride cost almost Php80. Parking was a nightmare, and walking was definitely out of the question. Organizers pointed out that the original venue for the Rock Stage backed out at the last minute, and the lack of time caused the venue to be so far from everything else.

WilaBaliW gave a performance for the ages, captivating the crowd.

AVELINA LIM, 86, STILL listening to good old Jazz

Jazz Stage

Jazz aficionados homed in at the St. Giles Hotel’s Bayleaf Restaurant Bar & Lounge, one of the few stages where the venue fit the music. 

Jazz artists from different disciplines lke Paolo Blaquera, Luisa Sta Maria, Fuseboxx and Humanfolk swayed to their own beat and chilled to the classic that is Jazz. The homey feel of the softly-lit lounge kept the crowd at ease. The constant influx of Jazz music, coupled with the comfy setting, made this stage a wondrous experience. 

FETE DE LA MUSIQUE staple: books and other forms of literature were peddled along the sidewalk. The homeless man seemed out of place.

Electronica Stage

Time was a two-pronged stage for Electronica, another venue fitting for the music.

The dance floor downstairs served as the DJs’ playground, while the rooftop was for band performances. DJs Erwin Edralin, Anna Barcelona, Tom Turner and other spinners made the people move at the ground floor; acts such as Helen, Similar Objects and Feen orchestrated a chill out party up top.

A good place for partying, socializing and relaxing, the Electronica Stage was perhaps the best at this year’s event.

A CHILD IS CARRIED on the back of an elderly man, snaking through the crowd

Movement Stage

There was no stage.

In the middle of the road, a stone’s throw away from A-Venue, percussionists banged away as Planet Zips and HoopNation members exhibited their skills in handling zips (the safe version of fire dancing) and hula hoops.

The laid-back atmosphere of the street performances encapsulated what music festivals are all about: fun-loving people from different backgrounds enjoying a passionate display of art and craft. The performance finale involved actual flames, and was a signal to move on.

MAKING QUICK WORK WITH the snare, the Helen band drummer sets a good beat at the Electronica Stage

Hip Hop Stage

Located at KYSS, the Hip Hop Stage started late.

Most of the crowd was raring to go when Miscellaneous got to the mic, and guest MCs like world-renowned Protege took the stage. The bass-heavy sound system kept the place jumping. Because the venue was tucked in a side street along Makati Avenue, it was intimate and unobtrusive.

Not adjectives you’d normally associate with Hip Hop, but the stage was nevertheless perfect for the music.

CLEANING UP WAS AN undertaking

Reggae/World/Ska Stage

At Heckle and Jeckle Bar, Flippin’ Soul Stompers stole the night.

Bing Austria (of Put3ska and Juan Pablo Dream fame) got the crowd up and dancing as the band rocked the stage. They also gave out a free CD compilation entitled, “Keep the Faith” from the Manila Soul Club. Always entertaining, Austria made sure that everyone in the bar was involved in their performance.

What was a tad surprising though was that the bar started charging festival-goers an entrance fee when it got past 10pm.

BING AUSTRIA AND THE rest of the Flippin' Soul Stompers ratch up the crowd at Heckle and Jeckle

Latin Stage

Perhaps the biggest dud in the series, the Latin Stage was held at Chihuahua.

No, the place wasn’t that bad. Sadly, the background music was the music for the Latin Stage. They had Latin Night.

They seemed to serve good food, though.

FRANCIS MAGAT, WILABALIW BASSIST, prepares for their set at the Rock Stage

Blues/Soul Stage

It was the second most-isolated venue of the event, located at Society Lounge at the Atrium (corner of Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas).

Reggae act Tropical Depression performed early (take note of which stage they were at), a fact that saddened this journalist (Fete this year forced me to make hard decisions).

The distance from the Main Stage is walkable. However, it was a good 15-minute trot, and it took you through a route that takes you away from most of the crowd, the further you go. It was slightly depressing.


Church Stage

That’s right, there was a Church stage.

Located at Saints Peter and Paul Parish, choir groups were on deck, performing Liturgical Music for those who arrived at the venue, either out of curiosity or to listen to some uplifting songs.


In conclusion

Fete de la Musique is always a must-see for any Filipino music-lover, and this year’s wasn’t any different. The lineup of each stage was a good mix of great acts and rising talent, while the sideshows of interesting individuals and the parade of beautiful, stunning people walking up and down the concert grounds kept the event socially relevant.

There are a few other notes, though — aside from the distance between the stages — as to why this year’s Fete ranks below Fetes of old.

  • It was a bad move for most of the heavy hitters to perform early. It meant that there were less people to view headliners as opposed to placing them at a later time slot, when most of the crowd had made their way to the venue.
  • There was no schedule available, only a list of bands performing. This caused a significant amount of stress for this journalist (Cynthia Alexander/Radioactive Sago Project/Tropical Depression conundrum), and planning became more reactive than initiative.


Fete de la Musique of years past have always been defined by their settings. Makati Avenue was both an apt, as well as a trying venue for this year. As always, the location changed the strategy of listening to the music.

Some attendees simplified their gameplan by sticking to one venue. This enforces the number one rule when going to concerts: always plan ahead. The number two rule is to always bring water.

Where will Fete be held next year? –


(Keep posted for another account on Fete de le Musique here in RAPPLER by music lover Pia Ranada.)

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