A Year in Concerts

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As everyone says every 365 days or so, it’s been one crazy year. So many things were crammed into 2013 that I can’t believe it’s only been around 365 days since I wrote last year’s Lessons from the Arena. After so many highs and lows, the time has come once again to revisit my concert experiences from the year that was. In consideration of your attention span, dear reader, I will only choose one or two concerts a month at most :)


jabbawockeezJanuary brought me my first project very early in the year: The Jabbawockeez live in Alabang Town Center. When I first found out that I had to put together a miniature version of their Vegas show in our mall, I felt like fainting.

The multi-level stage, rows upon rows of moving head lights, the medical arrangements that had to be ready in case of a bad backflip… the list of requirements was a long one. And while of course our suppliers were well-oiled machines with their corresponding jobs, the responsibility of making it all work well together rested on my shoulders, and any slip up would result with my head on the chopping block.

Despite all my initial anxiety about the scale of this show, I’m glad I was able to pull it off. The mall was packed with Jabba fans, the group had a comfortable stay, and everyone went home with a bit more spring (and pop-‘n-lock) in their steps.



The lovely Ovation Productions brought me along to spend Single Awareness Day Forever Alone Day ahem, pardon me, my wrist had a cramp for a second there… Valentines Day with the lovely Jessica Sanchez and her equally talented American Idol co-star, Colton Dixon.

‘~A Short Valentine Story~’

Once upon a time, there was a girl named…uh.. Darla. Yes, Darla. Now Darla was minding her own business before the spring pageant backstage when suddenly the most dashing prince in all the land appeared. Prince… Bolton. Prince Bolton only ever came to Darla’s merchant village for the spring pageant, so Darla decided to say something charming, eloquent, and kind as he walked by.

Unfortunately, just as Darla caught Prince Bolton’s attention, a wicked witch cast a spell on her, taking away her voice! All that poor Darla could do was a little hop and a wave as she squeaked out a little “Hi” that was two octaves too high. Pitying the cursed girl, Prince Bolton chuckled and flashed a blinding smile before going on his merry way.

The End.

Wow, poor Darla. Good thing that story was totally fictional, right? *cough* moving on.

paramoreThe newly Farro-less Paramore found their way back to Manila the very next day. I gotta admit, I was still half expecting that “Heeeey, JOSH!” move they always used to do and it made me a little sad to remind myself there was no more Josh to flip over Hayley’s back.

Despite the palpable change brought about by the fallout, one does not simply attend a Paramore concert without rocking out in reckless abandon. 

The group has definitely grown up since their Pressure days and embraced a sound that makes you sing and make pancakes rather than tear your room to pieces with your fingernails but hey, I guess we all have to grow up at some point right?


malasimbo-music-fest- (1)

Malasimbo Music & Arts festival had some pretty amazing moments. Rising musicians gave us something to Google after the show, everyone just chilled and danced like one big family, Jimmy Cliff had us dancing throughout his estimated 312 encores (sorry Jimmy, I was too tired and tipsy and fell asleep after the 8th “One More” encore,) and Joss Stone made all the women and gays in attendance question their life preferences.

My favorite moment of the trip however, did not take place at the show. In a bizarre stroke of luck, as my friends and I were having breakfast at the place we were staying, who shows up but Joss Stone! She walked up with a camera crew, sat on a beached bangka, and just started jamming away with local up-and-comer, Quest. The handful of us that got to witness this “bonus track” of Malasimbo was totally ready to go home once it was over, cause the trip just couldn’t get any better.

In Memoriam: It was also around this time of the year that Manila said goodbye to Dayly Entertainment, a group that brought us so many memorable experiences in the concert world. Their tenure was a short one, but we’ll always be thankful for the great shows they brought us.


By April, everyone was down with the music fest fever. Toothpaste giant CloseUp entered the fray with their 12-hour EDM party, CloseUp Summer Solstice. Despite my not being a huge fan of EDM, Summer Solstice was definitely enjoyable as it was nice to be outdoors on a cool summer night with good music and good friends.


Summer Solstice was but the beginning of the EDM party craze in 2013, as other big names followed suit with raves of their own.



May brought us indie paradise as Karpos Multimedia launched Wanderland, the Philippines’ answer to fests like Laneway and Coachella.

Wanderland definitely makes it into my top five concerts of the year simply because Karpos made it not just about the show itself, but also about the experience as a whole. Wanderland could truly be called a music festival because they didn’t just stack up a long lineup and called it one. Everywhere you turned in Circuit’s concert grounds, there was something to see. Live painting, games, booths, and art installations were in abundance the whole day, ensuring there would never be a dull moment.




June brought me to a more old-school show that reminded me just how beautiful classical music can be. Lovely as this show was, I must note that if you want to invite media people to cover and promote your show, you don’t have them to attend and shoot the show then ask you to stop taking photos when you actually do. Not cool, CCP.




Fall Out Boy got a hero’s welcome as they made their triumphant return with Save Rock and Roll. Shooting this show was quite difficult as I couldn’t quite juggle singing, dancing, and shooting all at once! This one was a surefire win for Ovation Productions and Music Management International.


Pulp can pull off this music fest thing with their eyes closed. It was no surprise that Bazooka Rocks II was a runaway hit as band after band got the crowd singing, dancing, and jostling around in a circle pit. At this point I must thank Lee Jeans for letting me hang out in their VIP balcony, giving me a great view without worrying about having my camera gear crushed! haha.

In Memoriam: This was also the night we tearfully said goodbye to A Rocket to the Moon, a group Manila had not seen since LIV5 at the Ayala Malls. Parting is such sweet sorrow.




Talented songstress Alicia Keys  pretty much blew the rest of November’s concerts out of the water. That is all.




The wonderful Globe Telecom brought me front-and-center to ZEDD live in Manila. I left the camera at home for this one and decided to sing and dance the night away. We all came out of there looking like we completed full marathons! This was definitely a stellar way to end the year.


So there you have it, some of my favorite concerts from the twenty-something concerts I’ve attended and/or helped organize this year. As much as I would’ve liked to write about all of them, I doubt anyone’s attention span is that long, including mine. So here’s to a brand new year! I’m sure Manila’s music community will only continue to grow into a globally recognized concert capital ;)

Happy 2014!


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