The (E)xperience

The creative team paid careful, painstaking attention to detail and honored each song with unique visuals. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

Some thirty years ago, in another life, Robbie Sunico and Patrick Reidenbach took the Eraserheads over to my porch after they locked up Club Dredd for the night.

We just all gathered to drink, jam, play music, talk, wait for the sun and think those days would last forever. Those were the days I was at the club maybe three nights a week while holding a job at an ad agency. You think you can do anything when you're in your 20's.

It's both an absolutely surreal and wondrous experience to now have been on their porch, one big enough to fit 70 to 75 thousand other “guests” for a truly historical show.

Among the crowd, somewhere else was Patrick and his family — who I only got to communicate with via text message. How on earth to find your friends in that haystack. Oh, and maybe up there in the great beyond, taking a gander at the commotion on earth, was the late Robbie.

As far as concert production, direction and creative design went, this one was undoubtedly top notch. A large iconic reverse E hung above the stage, lit up to stand out (and blend in) as needed with the lights and graphics and videos projected on stage. You could tell the creative team paid careful, painstaking attention to detail and honored each song with unique visuals.

Our tickets put the show start time at 8:30 p.m. Opening act, The Diegos, ended their exuberant 90's tribute set in time for the band to take the stage pretty much on the dot. How often does that even happen here? At an hour and fifteen minutes in, after playing 14 of the 15 tracks from the “Cutterpillow” album, an intermission was announced with — get this — a thirty-minute countdown clock.

Two giant white inflatable balls with the E on it were passed around and the UP Pep Squad went on stage to entertain the crowd. The show had its own half-time show. The group of guys behind me had the right idea, they found cartons to fold up and sit on as needed. I had to use the railings to do calf stretches. Oh to be 20 again.

Along with the excellent production, I have to say, the weather utterly cooperated. It would have been a different story had it rained. But the skies held up and every now and then, I'd be treated to a cool breeze.

The Eraserheads — Ely, Buddy, Raimund and Marcus were joined on stage by musicians Mikey Amistoso, Audrey Dionisio and Jazz Nicholas. The late Francis Magalona was magically present via the wonders of technology and the energy of his legacy; as for the next generation, his sons Elmo and Arkin joined in along with Ely's son Eon. Mel Villena and orchestra, Gary Valenciano and members of the “Ang Huling El Bimbo” musical were likewise part of special numbers.

The last song, was, as many of us predicted, the final track from “Cutterpillow,” “Ang Huling El Bimbo.” It also brought me back to the time they played the same song at the wedding of my friends Lee and Scott in 1999.

I know there probably were not that many options for a venue. But I only imagine what it would have been like if it at least had arena seating. As it was, everyone was on flat ground and beyond the first two sections, you really needed to rely on the video wall to see what was going on on stage. And seats to rest on would have been come in handy too especially for those not in the “mosh pit.”

When the show let out, the barriers past the sidewalk could not contain everyone filing out. Eventually, concert goers merged with the traffic on Aseana and Diokno Boulevards. Walking out to find rides, or to get to wherever they parked — at Mall of Asia, Ayala 30th, Solaire, or some nearby lot with space. One of the traffic cops who saw it all just had to be realistic and instead of trying to stem the overflow of humans, just told everyone to mind their phones and wallets.

Even in smaller venues, in recent years, I've always been hard pressed to say hi to any of the guys — they'd always be surrounded by fans saying hello or asking for photos. The only time I do get a good chat in is when I'd catch them on an off night, at a mall or bar.

It's been quite the journey, apparently with miles more to go as they just announced a world tour for 2023. Congratulations guys, the same goes to your incredible production team and dedicated support crew.

When it comes to bands, I never say never and who knows, when all my hair is grey, there may yet be a “Muling El Bimbo?”

Though I'll be sure to have a lawn chair and book a massage for the next day.

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