For two nights last week, the past, present, and future of Pinoy music melded as one.
At 19 East on 27 August, three young acts — Pinkmen, Zild, and Ena Mori — shared the bill with Apartel. The place was packed, which meant the bands have a fan base.
Pinkmen had finished its set when I arrived, but the succeeding performers made me feel I hardly missed anything.
Zild (Benitez), wearing a black trench coat with “Oh, Lunes Na Naman” scrawled at the back, looked like an apparition from a period when classic rock, punk and disco joyfully coexisted.
Fronting a quartet in an intense, blistering number, Zild, bassist of the currently on hiatus IV of Spades pranced onstage and growled about the return of repression: “Umiikot lang ang panahon, ang bagong dekada sitenta!”
The next few songs blasted with electro-dance energy. By the time the band’s set was over, friends and I looked at each other and smiled approvingly. This Zild dude is hot.
Apartel, Ely Buendia’s new band, sounded interesting with a trumpet player, a percussionist, dance beats, and falsetto vocals. If this is an effort to break totally free from his Eraserheads past (after The Mongols, Pupil, and The Oktaves), then Buendia has unanimously succeeded.
Ena Mori was a revelation. Fronting a trio with Tim Marquez on keys and a drummer, the classically-trained Japanese-Filipino musician sang and danced and seemed to channel the B-52’s with Gen Z sensibilities.
Just before the set began, Jamie Wilson took the mic and asked the crowd to let go of their chairs and tables to enjoy the music. It was good advice. People wouldn’t let go of Ena Mori into the wee hours.
Meanwhile, at My Bro’s Mustache on 3 September, Chickoy Pura alternated with a guest act, Dong Abay Music Organization — the former Yano front man on vocals with bassist Simon Tan, guitarist Kakoy Legaspi, and drummer Abe Billano.
If Pura as a solo artist was a bright reminder of the best of folk-rock, the slow numbers of the likes of Clapton and the Velvet Underground, plus of course his socially conscious originals, Abay rattled the audience with the anger, frustration, sarcasm, sensitivity and joy of songs from his Yano years and beyond.
He was a beguiling presence — spouting off carefully crafted lyrics, getting lost in the music while dancing like a kung fu master, and then haranguing the crowd: “Ayaw niyo makinig e, sabi ko huwag niyo iboto si…”
The songs bore a common thread — they spoke with sincerity in a poetic tone: “Mahirap maging mahirap…”
I sat transfixed, and realized Abay remains relevant as ever. “I never stopped,” he told me after his gig.
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