A taste of Eraserheads heaven

Let me acknowledge first that my topic for this post has nothing to do with technology. It will be all about a local rock band whose musical genius continues to cast its spell on mesmerized fans like myself.

Let me acknowledge first that my topic for this post has nothing to do with technology. It will be all about a local rock band whose musical genius continues to cast its spell on mesmerized fans like myself.

I've actually discussed this topic--yes, it's again about the Eraserheads--in a blog post several weeks back. In that entry, I spun a technology angle on the topic by writing about how a covert online marketing campaign had stirred up the public interest in the band's upcoming reunion concert.

It's an understatement to say that a lot has happened since news broke that the band was indeed getting back together for a gig. Not a single day has gone by that a news story or an e-mail update is not circulated in blogs and mailing lists concerning the band's anticipated reunion.

The ruckus actually started when it was revealed that Philip Morris, maker of the cigarette brand Marlboro, was organizing the concert. Under a new law, cigarette companies are not allowed to sponsor public events of this kind. It didn't take long before political bloggers and anti-tobacco advocates, as well as the Department of Health, pounced on Philip Morris to withdraw or face the threat of a legal action.

With mounting pressure, the cigarette firm eventually capitulated--but with only more than week left before the concert date. Fans, who had to undergo a complicated online registration process to obtain free access, were relieved to know that the show would go on but also wondered if the new organizers can still it pull off.

Things indeed came to a head during the few days leading up to the concert. Anxious fans waited for the availability of the tickets, which didn't come until three days before the big night. As expected, the online site of the ticketing agent instantly went down after too many users tried to access the site.

Luckily, my girlfriend's office supervisor was able to book two slots for us in the VIP section, or at least, that's what I thought. However, I also had to scamper to a mall to buy two patron tickets, worth 1,370 pesos each, for my girlfriend's brother, who was also bringing along his girlfriend.

But after getting the tickets, I got a text message from Jing Garcia, my co-creator of the book on the E-heads called "Tikman ang Langit", which read that lead singer Ely Buendia's mother had died few hours earlier.

At that moment, I was bracing for the possibility that the long-awaited concert wouldn't be transpiring after all. It seems as if nature was intervening against the collective will of the band and its fans.

Despite the tragic news, the new concert organizers announced that the show will go on as planned.

When the day of the concert came, I couldn't hide my excitement--something that I haven't felt for a long time, except perhaps during my college days when the same band played to a mammoth crowd in a university where I was then studying.

To get ourselves into the mood, we drove to the venue playing the band's hit songs. We were fortunate to find a parking slot from a mall nearby and hurriedly strode like giggling teenagers to the concert we've all been waiting for.

My girlfriend and I queued separately to get our VIP passes. But while she was able to get her pass without a hitch, I almost suffered a mental breakdown when the guy at the counter told me that my name was not on the list. No amount of explanation, including telling him that I wrote a book on the E-heads, could convince him that I should be allowed to get in.

Sensing my dream concert was slowly slipping away, I approached a guy holding a guest list at the back of the registration table and told him that my name might be hidden somewhere in the list. He took a second a look at the file but did not see my name on it. However, he asked if I knew someone from the company which booked our slots. I gave out a name and, perhaps seeing my desperation, he relented and gave me a pass. Thankfully!

The countdown that preceded the concert worked up the humongous throng--estimates range from 20,000 to 60,000-- which eventually erupted in a mass hysteria when the four band members appeared for the first time on stage after seven long years. It had, arguably, the best opening act of any Filipino music artist in history.

Every person present hummed along with every song that the quartet sang, with some emotionally shedding tears. Most of the audience, like myself, felt like we were being transported back in time when Eraserheads was dishing hit after hit during the Nineties.

The euphoric feeling among the fans lasted for more than one hour, after which the band took a rest after completing its first set of 15 songs. The break was supposed to last only for 20 minutes, but a surprising announcement made that permanent. Lally Buendia, sister of the band's frontman Ely, came up to the stage with the rest of the band members and stated that the concert was being cut short because her brother had just been taken to the hospital due to "emotional and physical stress".

The shocked audience was then asked to say a short prayer for Ely Buendia, who had a heart attack last year during an out-of-town gig. The faithful horde was expecting a chartbuster second set but we dutifully filed out of the exit, knowing Buendia was emotionally and physically exhausted. Two days after the event, he would undergo his third angioplasty operation.

The abrupt ending notwithstanding, I honestly felt the band did enough to make me fall in love with it again. That is even if I lost my wallet, with money and IDs inside, as I walked away from the venue with a smile on my face.


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