It's Better In The Philippines: 10 Things We Loved From Wanderland Festival 2016

The Philippines are known for a few things. To the Singaporean perspective, they are namely dried mangoes, deformed duck-egg balut, and asian hero Manny Pacquiao in this frenetic boxing-crazy nation. However, in recent times, the Philippines are upping their music festival game – and are quickly being known as a destination for their musical enterprise.

Within a span of two months, there was the Goodvibes Festival last month, and fast approaching April, the Kanye West-led Paradise Music Festival and the EDM turntfest ZoukOut Boracay end April.

To zest things up, our writers headed to Manila to catch Wanderland Music And Arts Festival 2016 last Saturday. Featuring the likes of indie-rock stalwarts Death Cab For Cutie, indie-folk crooner Bon Iver, electronic pop quintet The Naked And Famous, homecoming producer wunderkind Blackbird Blackbird and stellar electronic duo Panama – a truly epic line-up that left many indie lovers foaming at the mouth.

We list down the 10 things we loved – and what we disliked – from this celestial, space-themed music festival we headed over for the weekend.

What We Loved

Festival Grounds / Photo by Jikay Laborte

1. The Space

Wonderland’s spacious green at the Makati Globe Circuit Events Ground was evocative of music festivals around the region – Singapore’s Laneway Music Festival, Malaysia’s Urbanscapes, and Thailand’s Wonderfruit festival. With plenty of roaming space around, revellers were also spoilt for choice when it came to entertainment – there were plenty of festival aptly-named games such as the Plinko Prism, Space Static, and Sky High.

Photo by John Mari Marcelo, Infinity Blues Photography

2. The Weather

Makati’s searing heat was relentless – leaving us plenty of opportunity to soak up copious amounts of good ol’ Vitamin D. With a refreshing drink, a picnic mat, sunglasses and sunscreen in hand, Wanderland Music Festival seemed like the perfect picnic with good music, appealing to both sun worshippers and music-lovers alike.

Cheats / Photo by Cecelia Forbes

3. Sublime Curation of Music 

We’ve always been a huge fan of Wanderland’s sublime line-up curation – ranging from the likes of indie rock, rap, electronic-pop, folk, and even PBR&B. By 1pm and over at the Wanderland stage, the steady trickling-in crowds were treated to the tunes of nascent college indie rock dynamos Oh, Flamingo, Motown collective Jensen & The Flips, Laneway Alumnus & Minus The Bear-influenced act Cheats, and the chilled-out sounds of rapper-wordsmith Curtismith. 

Panama / Photo by Cecelia Forbes

San Cisco / Photo by Cecelia Forbes

4. Drummers Absolutely Ruled the Festival

From the likes of Panama‘s suave Tim Commanduer to San Cisco‘s ravishing drummer-frontwoman Scarlett Stevens, to Bon Iver‘s frenetic twin drum assaults – Wanderland Festival seemed like a playground for a host of brilliant drummers. Commanduer served as eye candy to thousands of swooning girls; Stevens took a break from drumming to sing solo acapella, and Bon Iver‘s scintillating twin drummers kept the pace with their earth-shuddering intense workouts.

CRWN, Jess Connelly & Curtismith / Photo by Cecelia Forbes

5. Skit-Break

We thoroughly enjoyed the show that Jess Connolly and producer CRWN set up, with the latter chugging out his Flume-like beats (similar to what we saw at Laneway Festival earlier this year) and even bringing out earlier performer Curtismith for rap-infused track “With You“. The frequent collaborators were stopped by a small skit of sorts, when a troop of Astronaut mascots disrupted their set by prancing around on stage.

Commanduer / Photo by Magic Liwang

Blackbird Blackbird / Photo by Cecilia Forbes

6. DJ, hit the floor!

The later sets were punctuated with the sounds of Panama’s drummer Commanduer – cue fawning girls – who appeared for a solo DJ set; the placid, shimmering tunes of Chad Valley and the guitar centric riffs of producer-wunderkind Blackbird Blackbird, who stunned with his infallible trap beats and pitch-shifted vocals. The smaller Globe Stage played host to brilliant producer/electronic acts, who revved up the audience for the later acts to come.

The Naked and Famous / Photo by John Mari Marcelo, Infinity Blues Photography

7. The Naked and Very Famous

The time soon made way for indie-pop darlings The Naked and Famous, who coincidently performed in Singapore earlier this year. The evergreen frontwoman Alisa Xayalith and co. pumped into salient hits such as “Young Blood”, “Punching In A Dream” and “Rolling Waves”. Coupled with co-frontman Thom Powers whispered baritone croons, the band’s nostalgic tunes made us feel like teenagers in love all over again.

Bon Iver / Photo by Magic Liwang

8. Bon Iver, The Illustrious Tear-Jerker

Bon Iver‘s set was arguably the highlight of the night, with frontman Justin Vernon captivating with gusto and his trademark falsettos. Flanked by two drummers, backing English band The Staves, and a captivating kaleidoscopic light show, revellers felt an influx of emotions – one that was haunting, introspective, and devastatingly heart-wrenching – from this beautiful folk troubadour. When Vernon went acoustic and spilled into tracks “Woods” and much-hyped single “Skinny Love” – many could be seen belting voraciously along in unison, and there was nary a dry eye spotted in audience.

Photo by John Mari Marcelo, Infinity Blues Photography

9. The Wonderful Filipino people

We can’t help but heap praise on the hospitality and civic consciousness of the Filipino people. From the friendly folks to the significant less amount of trash seen at regular festivals, we could only surmise that Filipinos are a environmentally-conscious and friendly bunch.

Death Cab For Cutie / Photo by Magic Liwang

10. Death Cab For Cutie 

Not one to be bogged down by too much emotions, the time soon made way for the headliners of the night – indie rock juggernauts Death Cab For Cutie. Death Cab For Cutie have been around for as long as we can remember – even surpassing the golden age of emo music – making them one of the progenitors of the original scene. Ben Gibbard and co. appeared onstage to rapturous applause, and aptly kicked into 2015’s “No Room In Frame”. Gibbard was on fire that night, demonstrating his multi-instrumental flair and even willingly engaging in selfies in the crowd. Notably missed on stage was former guitarist/producer Chris Walla, who was replaced by touring guitarist Dave Depper.

Death Cab For Cutie / Photo by John Mari Marcelo, Infinity Blues Photography

Although we were a tad miffed that fan favourites “Sound of Settling” and “Your Heart is An Empty Room” were omitted from set, we the concert-goers, were left satisfied throughout. Wanderland Music And Arts Festival 2016 proved to be an experience that was fun, enriching, and with a brilliantly curated line-up. Here’s to greater heights, Wanderland!

What We Hated

Photo by John Mari Marcelo, Infinity Blues Photography

1.  The Severe Overcrowding

Organisers failed to take into account the popularity of Wanderland Festival this year. With the likes of  Death Cab For Cutie, Bon Iver, The Naked And Famous, and Panama, there should have better anticipation by organisers of the massive crowds that came with it. We suggest Wanderland take a page out of Laneway Festival Singapore’s book. Criticised in their 2015 edition for being overcrowded, Laneway Singapore made several swift changes expanding the festival grounds, implementing the controversial no re-entry rule, and adding different stages.

BP Valenzuela / Photo by Jensen Ching

2. The lesser number of acts this year

One of the huge draws of last year’s Wanderland Festival was the strong showing of hallmark Filipino acts, who ranged from BP Valenzuela, Hale, Sinyma, Kate Torralba and CRWN. This year’s dedication to the scene felt muted, considering the significantly less timings given to local acts. Statistically speaking, only 12 acts performed this year  as compared to 16 acts last year  resulting in plenty of waiting and elevator music in between. We wish that the waiting times can be offered to up-and-comers next year.

RFID Tag / Photo from Lollapalooza

3. Boy, do we hate RFID tags 

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) tags are a bane to the festival-goers existence. Not only are they intrinsically stuck to your person, i.e. you cannot hand over the credits to your friend to help you buy things – there will always be leftover credits stuck in your tag at the end of the day. Coupled with frustratingly long queues throughout the day as well as technicality issues, we suggest, do away with the befuddled new technology and stick with a system that we are best familiar with – credit or cash.

Special Thanks to our friends from: 
Karpos Multimedia Cebu Pacific Air
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