click here to view posted photos at Kahayag Cafe site
The other guys do a sound check at Kahayag late in the afternoon. I had promised I'd try to catch up immediately after I got off from work. By the time I get to the venue, I'm told they had already finished and had all left to get ready for the night.
I'm with Yani. I had decided I was going straight to the venue from work to wait it out there. With the horrendous rush-hour traffic, I'd barely have enough time to drive home and back. Besides, I found a nice parking spot just to the periphery of the place's parking zone that I didn't want to give up.
I check out our band exhibit, which was basically just a wall tacked full with newspaper clippings and old photos. Ian and the rest of the guys did a nice job. It's an amusing montage of how stupid and horribly dressed we looked in the years past. Someone commented wryly we all looked kinda young in the old photos - and dumb. The cebuano term he used was 'danghag'. Yeah, those were the days. We felt so sure of ourselves and believed deep down inside we were the hottest thing since Velcro was invented.
Eight years in the circuit dump you with hard lessons. We got older and wiser.
The place fills rather quickly past 9:00 pm, the scheduled start. The show though, still doesn't begin. It couldn’t be helped. The band scheduled to play first, Robotballoons are not complete yet. We decide to start the show anyway with Love Satellites but only after a long enough wait.
The Luvsats got the ball rolling and set the tone for the night's show with a taste of things to come. Things really heated up though when the Robotballoons took the floor. Xiomara sat in the middle of the cramped stage on a high chair crooning long lost songs from their, sadly, unreleased and unnamed album. Playing their usual brilliant set albeit short, The Robotballoons are a hit. Tonight, they had Thad, Xiomara's hubby play the drums, which makes their performance all the more impressive since they never rehearsed with him at all. Xiomara had decided to invite Thad to do the drum duties just that morning. That says a lot about Thad's talent on the skins as well as the solid chemistry the balloons have managed to maintain in spite of the years of absence from the circuit.
And then our turn comes.
Tastefully decorated and a comfy hangout for many, Kahayag Café is not really a huge place. Even though they recently expanded (again) the spatial dimensions by eating into the adjacent building space, the place could seat comfortably about a hundred people. Tonight, as I’m getting ready to do my opening spiel, I look around to a full-packed house.
The piped-in music is stopped and the lights are turned on. Warm applause and cheers immediately greet us as I thank everyone for showing up. I must admit it is pretty inspiring to start a show this way.
And we played. And we had fun. Boy, did we have fun.
Every number we did told stories we, as a band had always wanted to tell. It was as if all the eight years we had gone through was being replayed as a movie and we we’re playing the accompanying soundtrack.
All our bitterness and all our pain collided with all our dreams and all our hopes in a powerful vortex. I was exacting my revenge on pent up frustrations and tonight I was not performing, I was communicating. I believe that’s why we connected with the audience. There was honesty behind our songs.
Tonight we were finally playing what we wanted. Not what we guessed the crowd wanted. And in doing so, the audience got more than just a band playing for them; they heard a band playing for themselves. Tonight was not business. Tonight was personal. And nothing is more moving in live music than a performance with soul. Without it, it is all show. With it, it is art.
Tonight, we weren’t a band. Tonight we were artists.