You have to hand it to Bandwagon. Since their beginning in 2011, the Singaporean live music gig finder has moved to greener pastures and expanded their operations to the Philippines. As part of their launch in the Philippines, the Bandwagon team organized the Bandwagon Bus to Wanderland Music and Arts Festival, the highly awaited follow-up to their sucessful Urbanscapes predecessor back in December last year.
Hosted by the ever-affable pinoy radio NU107.5 DJ Francis Brew Reyes (think Lush 99.5’s Chris Ho or Class 95’s The Flying Dutchman) – a stalwart in the local scene – we were brought to some of Manila’s hottest gigging and vinyl spots.
On board the Bandwagon Bus – a beat-up excursion bus decorated with clouds and Christmas trees – we were introduced to the team. Meet Clarence Chan, the founder who eschewed a high-flying job to start a service that would now serve music lovers region-wide, and Camille Castillo – a minuscule girl with a wide smile, who served as the manager of their Philippines counterpart.
Members of the editorial team were present as well. Enter Editor Daniel Peters, a burly individual and fervent tastemaker in the local scene, Lead Editor Delfina Utomo – a chirpy lady, and Juhardi “Ju” Mohamed, a fun-loving prankster who has worked with the likes of Pleasantry and Amateur Takes Control.
Our first stop was 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub, a Hard Rock-styled cafe. In between finger food and drinks, we caught the The Raes, a soulful mother-and-daughter trio; Curtis Smith, a freestyle rapper nascent of Childish Gambino and Drake; and Hana ACBD, a neo trip-hop artist reminiscent of Hudson Mohawke riffing over the chilled-out vocals of Kitty Pryde.
We were soon ferried to Route 196, a dive bar that was located in the suburbs of Quezon City, a fair distance from where we were at Makati. A popular hotspot for university students, the bar was teeming with college students when we reached there. Entertaining us was a roster of burgeoning college acts, which included names like Donkey Hottie, Mindless Pop, Slow Sink and Oh, Flamingo! We headed back to our hotels that night with our musical third-eye opened – and tipsy, of course, courtesy of a friend called San Miguel.
Day 2 of the Bandwagon Bus brought us to an exploration of Manila’s quaint vinyl record stores. Members of the bus had fun purchasing long-forgotten records, which were selling at impressively reasonable rates. Tres Kuleros Records & Dry Goods – a small, two-storied shophouse – served as our destination of choice. Vinyls could be bought at as low as 50 pesos (S$1.50), and included unusual re-issues of indie favourites such as The Smiths, as well as treasures that were hidden in beaten-up flaking cover sleeves.
Armed with spoils, we made our way back to the bus where we were entertained by electronic duo Birdforms, who went acoustic for their performance. Comprising of veteran producer Nick Lazaro, and co-vocalist/guitarist Kara Chung, the act entertained with their brand of experimental pop-rock, and even threw in a cover of Foo Fighter’s “Everlong” for good measure. Incidentally, the pair were acquainted at Wanderland 2014 last year, where Lazaro was a performer. The tour ended on a high, where we were brought to Satchmi, a coffee-house-cum-vinyl store, for freshly made coffee.
With a rich and palatable music culture, its little wonder that class acts such as Eyedress and Rivermaya have made it to the big stage. The Bandwagon Bus was an eye opener to the world of Filipino music, and we couldn’t have had more fun exploring the sights of sounds of Manila on bus. Serving as the appetiser to our musical sojourn, the Bandwagon Bus made way for the feast of the night – Wanderland Arts & Music Festival. Till next time, Bandwagon!
All photos credited to Jensen Ching
Special thanks to:
Clarence and Camille for making this happen