Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back on the gigging trail?

So I finally got to sing in a company event as an employee.

I say ‘as an employee’ because a few years ago, my band was actually booked to play in their Christmas party.

Anyways, our team of about 400 people celebrated our Christmas party at the Manila Peninsula a couple of weeks ago. The event organizers wanted the party to have an MTV awards theme and wanted some live music so they got some folks together to play as a band. Our makeshift band was supposed to (1) play a 10-minute long opening medley, (2) prepare a birthday song to perform live while the names of the December birthday celebrators were being called, (3) play some appropriate background music while the special awards were being given out, and (4) perform three full songs at the end of the event that would then lead into party music.

It took a really long time for us to figure out what we would do, since coming up with a playlist was a bit difficult. I had a list of songs I knew I wanted to perform myself at the end of the show, but selecting songs for the opening medley was quite challenging since about half the songs in the medley needed to be upbeat Christmas songs. Then we had to match the songs with the different vocalists (there were 6 of us) and then arrange the music such that we could play the best parts of six songs all in ten minutes with fairly decent transitions from one song to the next.

The other bit of a challenge for me was the outfit. The dress code was semi-formal, so my regular gig outfits of short-sleeved shirts would’ve left me feeling severely underdressed. With the help of a few teammates, I decided to go for a Justin Timberlake look – jeans, white long sleeved shirt, vest, skinny tie, fedora hat, and white sneakers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a vest, a skinny tie, a fedora hat, and white sneakers (or at least I didn't have cool looking ones lol). So I decided to buy all the articles of clothing I didn't have to complete my outfit (yeah, crazy...). When I finally got my look together, I felt it was worth it. Or well at least I thought so hahaha! Here’s a photo of me taken during the event:

We managed to sort everything out, and during the event, I ended up singing a portion of ‘This Christmas’ (Elliott Yamin version of course), a portion of ‘The birthday song’ by the Beatles, ‘Friday I’m in love’ by The Cure, and I closed out the event with ‘Beautiful day’ by U2. All in all, a pretty fun debut performance. And my outfit made it a bit more memorable, too. :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

More on Elliott's Ayala Malls tour: Market! Market! and ATC

(Well as you can probably guess from the lack of new posts, things have gotten quite busy for me these last several weeks. Anyways, with the long weekend I’m hoping to catch up with my blogging. Let me start by completing my stories about Elliott’s Ayala Malls tour in the Philippines last September.)

Market! Market!

On to Elliott’s third show in Manila – Market! Market! He had a great show in Trinoma and an even more amazing show in Glorietta the last two days, and by now we all knew that Elliott had a huge following in Manila and we were used to being amidst fanatical audiences who knew his music and his back-story. That Sunday morning, I fell in line outside Market! Market! at 930 (it opens at 10) with a few other Yaminoys. However, the line didn’t seem to grow much longer than that, and by 1030, there was no more queue at the ticket booth. We left Market! Market! at around 11, knowing that there were about 300 tickets left to be distributed.

When we got back there in the afternoon, not all the ticket stubs had been distributed and we knew that this show wasn’t going to have the same crowd support that the last two shows had. I guess it was coz the throngs of people that go to Market! Market! aren’t exactly Elliott’s target market. It was also a Sunday, which is normally rest day and family day for Pinoys. Finally, most of the Yaminoys had already seen him on Friday or Saturday (or both) and were most likely using Sunday to regain all the energy they lost from Elliott’s previous two shows.

As expected, the crowd wasn’t as loud or rowdy compared to Glorietta or Trinoma. Despite that, Elliott was still amazing. I managed to get another front-row seat with help from the other Yaminoys who managed to get better seats than me that morning and so I got to take videos of practically all of Elliott’s performances. I just missed out on the first one, Find a way, because so many people were coming in at the time and they all blocked my camera while finding their seats. Anyway, here’s a video I took of Elliott singing "Train Wreck", one of the songs from his album. If you took a poll of his fans and asked them which of Elliott's songs was his best, this would most likely win. Elliott himself says it's his favorite song from the CD. So I figured it would be cool to share this song, especially to people who might not have heard it yet.

The main thing I was looking forward to that evening, though, was the meet-and-greet. I was lucky enough to be given a meet-and-greet pass because of my affiliation with the E-train station. I head to the side of the stage, along with the four other Yaminoys who had M&G passes that night. I started rehearsing my line: “Elliott, it’s my birthday tomorrow and you coming to the Philippines is the best birthday gift I could have gotten” and I started thinking of possibly extending the conversation by mentioning that I was the one who requested for ‘A whiter shade of pale’ the previous night in Glorietta. It was finally my turn to have my photo taken with Elliott. I came up and was all smiles and he greeted me with a wide grin himself. We even half-hugged, although I actually forgot about it until I saw the photos later on. The excitement had apparently gotten to me, because when I started to talk to Elliott, all I could say was “Elliott, thanks for coming to the Philippines” hahaha. He responded with a very gracious “Thank you for having me!” So much for all that practice LOL.

Anyways, I had my photo taken with Elliott (you’ve seen it) and I left the stage incredibly thrilled! A year ago, I was wondering if Elliott would ever come out with a CD and if I would ever get to see him perform live and here I am, shaking his hand. Pretty cool, don’t you think?

Alabang Town Center (ATC)

This was the last hurrah. No more shows in Manila, at least this time around, after tonight. And the Yaminoys all knew this, so despite the fact that it was in far-away Alabang (faraway to most of us, at least), we all decided to leave work earlier (some Yaminoys even took a day off!) to make sure we made it to the show. And with knowledge that the audience reception in Market! Market! wasn’t as good as it had been in previous shows, we were hell-bent on making sure Elliott left the Philippines with a bang.

And that’s exactly how it turned out. The dozens of people in I<3ey shirts were buzzing with excitement in their seats, waiting excitedly for the show to begin. And when it did, the support from the crowd was unmistakable. The band stepped out on stage first, and when they did, they kept looking at each other with these “whoa!” looks on their faces, almost like they couldn’t believe how intense the audience reaction to them was. And when Elliott got on stage to begin his concert, the crowd erupted in unbridled joy.

The exhilaration never really waned throughout the entire show. The fans raised their arms, cheered him wildly, sung along to Elliott’s songs, and made sure he know how much he was appreciated in this part of the world. You could tell Elliott felt it – his big smile never left his face throughout the entire show and of all shows he had in the Philippines, he was most animated and energetic in ATC.

I was lucky enough to get one more meet-and-greet pass with Elliott. This time, there were seven Yaminoys who came up on stage at the same time. Then the organizers decided to let practically every Yaminoy go up on stage at the same time to have our photo taken with Elliott. It was unfortunate though that not everyone was able to go up (some folks got stuck minding our stuff) but the key thing is that in the course of Elliott’s mall tour, all the Yaminoys managed to get to meet Elliott. (photo taken from my friend Meg's camera)

There was one last thing that the Yaminoys did that night. We all waited around the stage exit for Elliott and his gang to leave. The plan was for us to sing ‘You are the One’, one of the songs from his album that he wrote but he never performed during his mall tour here. We were in fact thrown off by security – we thought he was coming out in one side of the stage and we were all staked out there, but we realized that Elliott and his gang exited from the other side. There was a mad scramble from people to catch up to Elliott, and we did as he was on his way out. There was still enough time for us to sing the chorus of ‘You are the One’. He actually didn’t see us anymore, but our voices were so loud that we were certain he still heard us. We actually confirmed that he did hear us, and according to his road manager, he was actually bummed that he wasn’t able to take a video of us singing it.

So that pretty much sums up my experience during Elliott’s Ayala mall tour in the Philippines. That his first international show, or series of shows, was set in the Philippines was such a blessing to his multitude of fans here. And the amazing reception Elliott got here proved that he made the right choice. :)