I went to a lot of concerts this year. I don’t say this as a boast (you try battling through rush hour traffic to get to a venue on the other side of the city, to see an artist you only half-like, or even not at all), but rather an expression of disbelief and gratitude. Because this is my last column entry of the year, I thought it was appropriate to list down my Top 10 concerts in Manila for 2013, with the hope that us music fans will have more reasons to sing along, scream out loud, and pump our fists in the air in 2014.
10. Dia Frampton (January 5, Hard Rock Café—It was a small show that was reportedly organized in just over a week, but Pinoy fans turned up to see and hear one of the standouts of the first season of US reality singing competition The Voice. Sweet and charismatic, Frampton channeled Vanessa Carlton and Natalie Merchant onstage. She’s coming back for another round, January 21 next year.
9. Fall Out Boy (Auguest 8, Smart Araneta Coliseum) —I wouldn’t call myself a big fan, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the madness that is a Fall Out Boy show. Three-time visitors to Manila, FOB went on hiatus then got back together this year to release a new album and go on tour. The show was so crazy people (mostly young women) were being fished out of the mosh pit, slightly dazed and confused. Clearly, Wentz and co. have still got it.
8. One Republic (November 6, Smart Araneta Coliseum) —Who knew Ryan Tedder could sing like THAT?! Well, most of the One Republic fanbase, probably (which is not small, I realized). The frontman’s fantastic vocals and showmanship were on full display that night, and after the show, I drove with their new album, Native, blaring all the way home.
7. SugarSmashGin (October 21, Smart Araneta Coliseum)—You’d think anyone whose musical awakening occurred during the 90s would be fighting for tickets for a show featuring Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray and Gin Blossoms, but huge sections of the Big Dome were conspicuously empty that evening. Anyone who wasn’t there, though, sure missed a good show, with fun, lively sets from all three acts. Sugar Ray gets special mention, for totally wiping off the supposed d-bag tag with a not-too-shabby, crowd-pleasing performance.
6. The Script (March 30, Smart Araneta Coliseum)—The Big Dome was bursting at the seams the first time they were here. Obviously, Pinoys couldn’t get enough. It was more of the same from the Irish trio this time around, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The band wasn’t above cheesy gimmicks though: Danny grabbed some girl’s cellphone from the crowd and sang “Nothing” to whoever was on the other line.
5. Jason Mraz (May 14, Smart Araneta Coliseum) —It was his sixth show in Manila, but the singer-songwriter isn’t losing any fans. On the contrary, it seemed the venue was even more packed and definitely louder since the last time he was here. Unlike his last show, Mraz was with a full band this time around, and brought the house down with his trademark vocals and catchy, meaningful tunes. No shame in admitting it: I’m a fan.
4. Zedd (December 12, MOA Arena)—I’ll always remember 2013 as the year my education in and exposure to EDM really began. I still like my music coming from old-school guitars, bass and drums, but this year I discovered that the occasional club/house/trance/whatever isn’t so bad. Swedish House Mafia was stellar, Avicii was hyper-energetic, but Zedd was just pure, unadulterated FUN. Sampling everyone from Icona Pop to Blur before dropping the megahit “Clarity,” Zedd was, hands won, my favorite EDM act this year.
3. Aerosmith (May 8, MOA Arena)—Those who are old enough to have caught Steven Tyler and co. at their prime would best understand how much of a big deal it was that Aerosmith finally landed in Manila after all these years. From Steven’s outrageous outfits and make-up to over-the-top production (including a showstopping version of “Dream On,” on top of a grand piano), the iconic American rock band played their hearts out in a show that was as amazing as everyone expected it to be.
2. Japandroids (August 19, Hard Rock Café)—It was the show I thought would never happen. They’re hardly known in Manila outside fastidious indie rock music circles, but thanks to boutique concert organizer Kind Assault, the Canadian duo of Brian King and David Prowse played a killer 15-song set that just about blew the lid off the Hard Rock Café. It’s the kind of authentic, no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall rock music we hardly hear about these days with the watered-down dreck we get from mainstream pop rock. The duo stayed afterwards posing for photos and signing CDs and shirts, proving that “rock stars” and “nice guys” aren’t mutually exclusive.
1. Stars (February 16, Metrowalk Tent)—Call me biased, but the Stars show was my favorite of the year. There was tremendous energy from Torquil, Amy and the rest of the band, which was reciprocated by the small but devoted following who turned up for the show, and an insanely long set that had ears ringing and hearts singing by the time the amps finally fell silent two hours later. They promised they’d be back; you can bet I’ll be back right back there with them, too.
Special mentions: The First Wanderland Music Festival, the Close-Up Summer Solstice, Jessica Sanchez and Colton Dixon, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Paramore and The Ataris.
* * *
E-mail email@example.com or follow me on twitter @pauljohncana