Posted by: nastypen | August 31, 2008

Scrum for Nostalgia

You would have heard by now about what happened to the Eraserheads reunion concert. I was there. And STILL I missed the drama. I had to leave the concert at the intermission because I was in a great deal of pain. Nemcy was sort of disgruntled that I wanted to leave her there while I rest at Fullybooked. While a giant clock was counting down twenty minutes before act II. Nemcy decided to join me. We had to snake through the throng inside and outside The Fort open grounds. Then it dawned on me later, when did a rock and roll concert have an intermission? Apparently, the lead singer Ely Buendia had a medical episode and was rushed to the hospital.

I thought Nemcy was so disappointed at me to miss the next half of the program….the better half with their bigger hits. So I had to stagger with her to the Fullybooked Starbucks to down in three minutes two glasses of cranberry juice. We had dinner at Figaro’s when Nemcy received a text message from Jay who was with us earlier at the concert. “Ely was rushed to the hospital. They (the organizers) told us to go home. =(.”

So I asked the two ladies sitting next to us if they came from the Eraserheads concert. They did. They told me that Ely Buendia sat on the stage and they thought it was all part of the act. Then he was gone. His mother died three days ago and apparently the mental strain of the reunion, the hype surrounding that concert, the expectation and tragedy just were too much for him.

And I could feel the two ladies were quite disappointed. They were rolling their eyes constantly. One sarcastically replied, “The organizers were brilliant. They announced about this condition Ely had and we were made to be silent for one minute to pray for his speedy recovery. We left. We paid for this concert. And I don’t know what the organizers will do about this.” I asked about if they wanted a refund. The woman smiled wryly and said, “Well, let’s hope they staged the reunion again and we can get in half-priced or something. We kept the tickets just in case.” I said, “Yup, there might be another reunion in a year or seven.” The two ladies just sighed and rolled their eyes at this dramatic development.

What an anticlimactic end to what was touted to be THE concert of the year.

I do feel bad for Ely. I thought that he might able to handle it. One friend of mine remarked when she found out about Ely’s breakdown, “What? Eric Clapton had to sing unplugged about his dead son! And that’s worse!” She does have a point. But then again, I cannot begin to imagine the stress Ely must be in right now. I hope he coasts through this.

To tell you the truth, I was lukewarm with the idea of an Eraserheads reunion. I watched at the sidelines as people went into a scrum for news online whether or not if the concert will push through; who are the organizers; what are the new rules fir getting a ticket; is it still in CCP?; people were having online battles regarding musical credibility versus selling out, is supporting the concert a support for cancer sticks; The Department of Health weighs in. Ultimately, all this brouhaha was a brilliant ploy and plus for the cancer stick company because you just cannot buy the buzz and media mileage they got for this “scandal.”

I was just traipsing about in my own world. I could live without seeing it. (Hell, if I missed The Jets reunion concert, I can miss the Eraserheads reunion concert, right? I would only die if I missed Kylie Minogue‘s and Tori Amos‘ concerts here in Manila….if they and financial backers are brave enough to put on a show here.) I am sure the Eraserheads reunion was going to be fantastic and that it would be legendary. I just didn’t want to exert effort for a ticket.

I didn’t even beg for a ticket. Nor did I buy one. I was asked by a former officemate who happens to be married to an Eraserhead. Out of the blue she texted if i wanted to watch. Of course. I can bring a friend. It has to be Nemcy. she’s a bigger Eraserheads fan than I am and both of us are unwilling to fork money for a concert because we live at the poverty borderline. So, Nemcy was happy.

Here are some of the pics I took.

Here is the opening salvo of the concert.

Our little group trooped over to the open grounds. As the hours passed, the crowds were in the thousands. We were at the VIP section…ehem ehem….and I looked at the bigger crowd of those who paid and it was huge. I smiled because I knew that their songs meant a lot to my generation.

I was concentrating on my breathing because it was jampacked. I did not swelter thanks to the breathing exercises. Although I feel a pain at my side starting to grow. I knew I would not finish the concert.

If anything, I love this event because of the audience. Yes, the Eraserheads played great. One remarked loudly that these guys are so much better now. And the opening was a doozy. A countdown. Screams. Jumping. Waving of digital gadgets on the air to catch magic. And laser beams! Light shows! A bordering-on-the-cheesy slide show.  The audience had so much energy.  “Group hug!”  They screamed to the four members who did not respond.  “Mag-usap na man kayo!” (Talk to each other!) screamed one audience member.  I guess warm cordiality on stage is not rock and roll?

The moment the Eraserheads were on stage again at long last was euphoric. Everyone went nuts. And the crowd estimate was 20,000.  They sang Alapaap (Sky; a connotation of elevation or being lifted) for their opening. That song was accused by the authority back in the day for insinuating getting high and I thought it was a great choice because the people were elated to see one of the greatest bands in Filipino history play again.

I was surprised when they played Hey, Jay for their third song. It was not that big a hit. I wrote an essay about that song in Eraserheads anthology citing its bravery of dealing with a touchy subject which is homosexuality. But as the song was nearing its end, I noticed that the coup de grace of the song citing that it is “Ok to be gay” has been omitted. Perhaps I was just dreaming. I asked Nemcy if she heard that passage I thought missing. She said it was there. But I can’t help being uneasy about it.

Ian texted me later and confirmed that omission: “Am kinda let down that he didn’t sing ‘be happy and be gay’ at the end of Hey, Jay. I wonder why? I mean, that’s the emotional apex of the song. Did someone make him unenlightened again or something?”

Nonetheless, the show went on with a blitzkreig of lights and lasers. The homos behind me were commenting on the green lights jutting out of the stage reminded them of J. Lo‘s Waiting for Tonight video. I laughed at that precise observation. The giant screen was pulsating with images from old music videos and memorabilia. I thought as this was going on, the last time I was at an Eraserheads concert in UP Diliman, they didn’t need spectacle. It was just their music and the band. Now, they had smoke machines. Something is off here.

But the people loved it. We were screaming. Jumping. Singing along. It was a huge karaoke gathering. It was the great release of several weeks of wrangling if this will push through or not; of fans being kept on tenterhooks…and now the concert was a huge event complete with a crane for a camera to sweep the crowds. It was just what the crowd expected of something spectacular.

It must be the knot on my side that is intensifying as the concert went on that made me leave early. I did enjoy the concert. It was just that I am no longer that student with my waistline in the 20s and the concept of high cholesterol was pegged down to my father and not to me. I guess I felt my age (moreso health dereliction) in that concert. Before, I could stay up until the encore is done. Now, I wanted to push the crowd to make me breathe.

So, I had to leave when they announced that twenty-minute intermission.

As we went out, there was a massive crowd of people who could not get in the venue. I even saw a couple of students. I wanted to give them our wrist bands for them to enter the concert. But the clever organizer used a material that is easily destroyed when tampered with. Oh well.

Ian texted me, “The saddest part of this is that any future tour organizer will be more wary about another reunion gig if they are not sure if they can even FINISH a show.” I got a text just now from my former officemate that “Ely is stable. It was exhaustion.”

So now, some people are sad that the concert was half-baked. Some pray for Ely. Some just shrug it off. Some hope that there might be another reunion in the offing. Some try to convince themselves that the money they paid was enough to see the greatest Filipino band of recent history reunite for an hour.



  1. Hey guys!
    Some pictures of the event can be seen here:

    And a video of the intro here:

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