As I write this, I’m listening to Elton John’s Tiny Dancer.
An inappropriate song considering it’s fame when I just watched Stages
Session’s Independent show with musicians who are still under the mainstream
music radar. But if you’ve seen Almost Famous, you most likely know where this
is coming from.
My knowledge about music is actually limited to all of the 213 songs by the Beatles, movie soundtracks, and also a couple from Les Misérables. Sure, I listen to indie
music especially during ten-hour road trips when my playlist has been exhausted
but other than that, I have zero knowledge about independent musicians. I
almost never stray from the kind of music I listen to nor plan on writing
about music reviews anytime soon, that is except when I re-watch Almost Famous.
I wanted to know what it would feel like to get behind the scenes during
performances (or is it technically behind the stage?).
I arrived in Maybank’s
Theater Globe Auditorium during the bands’ rehearsals and sound checks. Being
there, sitting on an empty row of seats with an almost completely empty stadium
save for the crew and performers, I was able to witness the process of last-minute
fine-tuning of the program. For the first few
minutes, I stayed in my seat and figured out the lineup and tried to identify
the people I listened on YouTube prior to arriving at the venue. Gio Levy and
the rest of his crew were practicing when I arrived. His cool and charismatic
voice was reverberating through the auditorium with pauses in between to set up
the acoustics. Around me, the rest of the Stages team were also hustling to
prepare for the show.
The next person on the rehearsal was Curtismith. The music
coming from his mouth is fast and lyrical, but you can still hear and
understand every word in the rap. The crew had to cut Curtismith’s rehearsal
short due to some technical problem and then Tom’s Story was up on stage, lost
in his own guitar rifts and taking the small audience with him.
I was going around the auditorium by now. Taking photos and
observing the dynamics of the band and crew, how they seamlessly work in small
auditorium in the dark with minimal noise, in fact, aside from orders in the
microphone to adjust the light and sound, you won’t even notice that the
performance was only a rehearsal. These people know what they are doing and are
in sync with each other that no words need to be exchanged, music was the only
constant “noise” in the room.
I sat once again when I heard Bullet
Dumas in the microphone. He was serenading the audience-empty hall with his
folk song-like music. I noticed his music was something that's new to the ears,
something unusual to hear these days but surprisingly familiar and nostalgic. In
my years of listening to auto-tuned pop songs, the country-born and bred lass
in me was brought out. His music had me longing to go home in the province
while I was seated in a dark auditorium in the middle of the city.
I now know Coeli’s voice. It’s not something you would forget
easily. Her voice, accompanied by her cello playing is something that haunts
you. In a good way of course. Her voice has this hauntingly beautiful quality. Her
lyrics are true and raw, and it gives you this unexplainable sadness and sentimental
feeling when listened to. Different from Keiko Necesario’s cold and thick
voice. Keiko’s voice is something that would perfectly accompany you when it’s
raining. Oddly enough, reminding me of Norah Jones.
By the time the rehearsals wrapped up and the musicians
getting ready to take the stage, people were filling in for the event. The
Manila String Machine and the Ateneo Blue Symphony were opening the show with
their instrumental rendition of Rivermaya’s Elesi. I was silently mouthing the
lyrics thinking what should I write home about.