The line up at Route 196 on Tuesday night was an interesting mix of cult favorites and up-and-coming bands. Artist, writer and all-around music enthusiast Denise Roco organized the gig as part of a series to help promote “FebFest 2014,” a unique two-night concert featuring four international music acts.
The first two artists, Mogwai and Warpaint, performed on Thursday. The next two, The National and Youth Lagoon will play this coming Thursday, February 20. Both shows will be at the Metrowalk Tent in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
Foreign artists performing here are always a treat, of course, but the local bands that played that night were a pleasant surprise. I’ve been out of the local gig circuit for a while and so have not been as up-to-date with all of the new music acts. The invitation from Denise to check out the gig was impromptu, and it was the middle of a workweek, but I went anyway and I was glad I did. Two artists that have music literally running in their blood were on the marquee and are definitely worth supporting.
The night’s first act was a lone guitar-playing female singer named Clara Benin. It didn’t take long for the name to register: she was the daughter of former Side A bassist and songwriter Joey Benin. She began with a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” but the arrangement hewed more closely to Ryan Adams’ well-received rendition. Clara, who looked barely out of her teens, had a dusky, almost sensual quality to her voice that reminded me somewhat of Sarah Mclachlan and Dia Frampton. (I found out later that she sang the latest radio jingle of a popular fast food chain). That she performed original songs only strengthened my belief that there is a place for her in the local music industry and I wish her nothing but the best of luck.
The other band I really like that evening was She’s Only Sixteen. The band is composed of four twenty-somethings (Roberto Señaon lead vocals and guitar, Anjo Silvozaon bass, Andrew Panopioon guitar and King Puentespina on drums). If the lead guitar’s last name is familiar, yes he is the son of theater actors Robert Seña and Isay Alvarez. The band has been gaining notices in the local gig circuit for playing a fresh, modern mix of alternative with traces of garage rock and even the Manila Sound of the 1970s. I’ll admit an immediate bias as I thought I heard similarities in their sound to one of my favorite bands, Arctic Monkeys, so it was no surprise to find out later that they actually mention the British indie rockers as a major influence. Seña certainly inherited his parent’s powerful set of pipes, singing in an arresting, almost gruff manner that was difficult to ignore. They have actually had the honor of playing at 2013’s inaugural Wanderland Music Festival, but I missed their set (because I was tardy), but now that I know they’re this talented I’m making up for lost time and will certainly pick up their EP, which was released sometime last year.
All in all, it was a fun night and I was grateful to have had the opportunity to once again discover new blood. Despite the obvious hardships in establishing a career in the music business these days, it’s heartening to know that people trudge on anyway, spurred on by an inexplicable desire to write music and be heard. That passion is what true music lovers live for, whether you’re an actual performer or a listener just content to appreciate talent from the sidelines.
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Canadian pop-rock princess Avril Lavigne returns to Manila for a one-night only show tomorrow, February 17. It’s her fourth time here and when asked what keeps her coming back, she answered simply, “My loyal fans.” Recently married to fellow musician Chad Kroeger, the artist behind hits such as “Complicated,” “Sk8r Boi,” “I’m With You,” “Girlfriend” and many more performs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum at 8 p.m.
For inquiries, call Ticketnet at 911-555. Avril Lavigne Live in Manila is presented by Midas Productions.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @pauljohncana