It was quite a busy and musical weekend, this one. Caught the first finals game between ADMU and DLSU’s women volleyball teams in the Araneta Coliseum. Despite Ateneo’s loss, it was a game full of skill and excitement. Hoping that we win this next one.
On the evening of that Saturday, I hitched a cab and headed over to B-Side in The Collective to watch How to Dress Well live. I came a few minutes before the event began, so I killed time exploring some establishments. I dropped by this ukelele shop, whose keeper was friendly and chatty. Sadly, I forgot his name (and the shop’s).
Minutes later, I found myself in this art store. Sculptures, paintings, stickers and replicas were for sale but what got my attention was the vinyl store located further inside. It was literally a nook with low headroom (for a person of my height, at least), in which a crowd of 10 would render it overpopulated. Luckily, there were only four of us there. I wasn’t able to browse through the LP collection as thoroughly as I wished but pop, rock and classical were some of the genres covered. They were fairly cheap, too. Price range: Php 250 - 900. I didn’t buy anything. I’ll be back to grab some LPs.
Opening acts Similar Objects, Eyedress, Yolanda Moon set the tone for the evening with trance-inducing loops, reverb-drenched vocals and white noise. The environment was pleasantly casual as members of the audience dropped in and out of the bar, hardly without a bottle of beer in hand. While all this was happening, Tom Krell - the man behind How to Dress Well - was casually seated on one side, watching and listening.
His rig deserves mentioning. I don’t remember all the individual devices that his live set-up consisted of, but it was definitely enough to earn a Future Music feature. It had some Memory Man, Akai, Apogee and a mixer - not even half of what I saw.
As Tom and his crew were prepping up for his set, he asked that the stage lights be killed as these wouldn’t be necessary. His performance involved abstract visuals from a projector - a hodgepodge of hologram- and kaleidoscope-like elements sublimely duplicating, melding and splintering in languid fluidity.
He used two microphones. One was effected with a deep echo and reverb, while the other was clean. He’d sing on each mic at various moments and would sing into both to highlight ambiguity. Imagine a disembodied voice calling out to you as if it was next to you but at the same time, sounded like it was coming from far away. Tom’s evocative singing is a staple in both his records and was one thing I came to see him for. His mercurial switches between passaggio, head voice and falsetto proved to be impressive and moving, considering that it was live.
The performance eased the intimate crowd into a hedonistic veil of amnesia adorned with emotions simultaneously familiar and unnamed. Premeditated minimalism scored the dancing and murmurs from lips attempting to trail the evanescent poetry. For a moment, the end points of the finite stretched deep and far into the unknown as all were enveloped as one. Before we knew it, the set was over - a snap that stirred us from the drunkest of dreams.
I missed a foam party to be there and I don’t mind that I did. Spending a Saturday night in a different scene for an off-kilter gig has gotten me more enthused about the possibilities of my own musical creativity. Looking forward to How to Dress Well’s next Manila visit. It can’t come too soon.