Performing at Fontana's Bar, Manhattan - 7/17/2009
Sagaran Night: A reminder of the power of a united community (www.examiner.com)
NEW YORK– It was 1:00 AM on Saturday, July 18 2009, yet the crowd inside the Lower East Side rock club Fontana'swasn't showing any sign of decline. On stage was the last band in the lineup, T.4T and they were rampaging through a barrage of "hardcore-ized" versions of pop standards like it was only 9:00 PM. The energy inside the club was nothing short of molten and infectious even though the event, aptly called "Sagaran (Push to the limit) Night," started seven hours earlier on Friday, July 17. It was an energy that never let up from the beginning to end for it was fueled by some of the most amazing music in the Filipino-American scene in New York and New Jersey, and the combustible spirit of a united youth community, to whom the event was offered. Yes, despite the sheer debauchery and reckless abandon of the multitude of Filipino-American music fans and their favorite bands, it was a show to raise funds for theUgnayan delegates of the upcoming youth consultation called Daluyong to be held in Los Angeles this coming weekend– it was the very essence of rocking hard for a good cause.
So to the people whose bodies are still aching from slam dancing, and whose hairs still carry the faint smell of beer, the pain and odor weren't for naught.
The show was opened by a promising up and coming group called The Glass Rats, whose original members Brandon Hoagstad and Melissa Reburiano were joined by a drummer whom they simply call, Carla the Intern. It was the Glass Rats, being the opening band, that started the continuous wave of good energy that lasted until the following morning.
They were followed by a rock group from Queens called Urban Echo. It was Urban Echo's first Poptimes Magazine gig and they truly made a great impression with their tight set of mostly original materials.
In a break from the usual all-rock show, the next performer, Kilusan1898, rapped his way into everyone's souls with gut-wrenching beats and rhymes that tell of the realities of being a Filipino–warts and all. Kilusan 1898 is a master in his chosen genre and he never missed an opportunity to plug in the most important ingredient in his art: truth.
Kilusan1898 was followed by perhaps the fastest-rising female-fronted rock group in the scene, AVE.
Headed by their magnetic singer Ave Dimaculangan, the band gave the crowd a preview of their upcoming debut album, which is destined to be one of the best releases of 2009. AVE is a technically savvy group that combines the big-hard sound of rock and the tender melodies of pop, which makes the band a unique-hybrid sure to win a lot of fans.
In only their second gig since reforming last July 4, Bleud, took the stage right after AVE.
And typical of Bleud sets in the past, it was again the perfect time to get crazy. The band ran through a set-list of old favorites and new songs that were enough excuses for the crowd to simply abandon control.Hatinggabi, Babolgam Music, Swing, and Bye Bye Na, were the songs that started the slam dancing and crowd-surfing that stayed on until closing time. Contrary to some speculations, it is now clear that with the tremendous amount of support and love that the band got from everyone in the crowd, Bleud is definitely back.
While the crowd went absolutely nuts over the Bleud set, there is always room to go over the limit withQwadra. The Queens-based quartet is the quintessential Filipino-American hard rock band. In fact, in the genre that they are in, it is safe to conclude that they are the best–they are simply untouchables. Who can compare to front man Bem's rich, flawless baritone or the rest of band's impeccable musicality? And the fact that this group is an active supporter of very important issues concerning the society and the migrant youth makes them even more inspiring. The scene will never get tired of this band.
Really, what kind of Filipino-American rock gig is any gig with that monicker without The Kuwagos in it? Practically, the band is the symbol of the whole movement. They are perhaps the only group in the NY/NJ scene that sings directly about the experiences of being an immigrant. That is why when they played their signature immigrant anthem Tabo during their set last Friday, everyone was reminded of the show's meaning. The song carries so much weight that it is almost impossible not to sing-along with it while simultaneously affirming our identity and feeling great about who we really are. While everyone else sings about relationships, stories, and ideologies, The Kuwagos sing about you and me living and toiling in a foreign land.
The second to the last act were The Happy Analogues. Donning their trademark colorful-long-sleeved shirts and their matching Rickenbackers, the band played selected songs from their discography: Crazy Girl for You- from their debut album, Lilacs and Politics, Shing-a-Ling and Happening sa Kamuning-from their Bootlegs and Singles album; Bolakbol, Scholar, Tangay ng Anod and Uwian Na! from their latest double CD School Tales. The band also played a rare cover, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by The Beatles. Though the Jersey City quartet are known for their laid-back-cerebral-approach to music and performance, it did not deter the crowd from crowd-surfing and pogo dancing. There was just too much fun going around that it was almost like a sin not to party away.
T.4Ts closing set will be mostly remembered for its drummer's high-octane performance. Ivan Caguiat must have embraced a live electrical wire before sitting on that drum throne. At one point it appeared and sounded like he was playing with six arms. Their set wasn't made up of slow ballads but high-speed hardcore arrangements. The guy had so much fire in him, he even managed to take down his drum gear right after the set. It was a memorable closing set.
The show raised a substantial amount of funds to help the delegates with their expenses. And at the end of it all, everyone was thankful and joyful for yet another moment that would further testify to the truth that a united community can accomplish anything.