Towards the end, Up Dharma Down vocalist Armi Millare looks at the tech booth and says, “Can you please turn off the lights?” Which is kind of ironic, since this particular concert is called ‘Dharma Lights’. Once it’s done, she turns to the audience. “Do guys have lights? Cellphones or something? Para ma-feel naman natin na concert,” she says, smiling. The room suddenly lights up with the collective screens of everyone inside. After a few moments and a few words with the audience, they start playing again, the lights come back on, and the crowd is as enthusiastic as they were when the show began more than an hour and a half ago.
There’s something about Up Dharma Down.
They rose from relative obscurity several years ago, and while they have built a large loyal following over that time, a lot of people still don’t know them. I ran into an acquaintance at the concert who was surprised that the show sold out – little did he know that not only did the show sell out, but that it did quite quickly.
Like I said, there’s something about Up Dharma Down.
And their music too, of course. Genuine musicians, the lot of them are. They don’t swagger about like most other bands – in fact, most of them seem nice and soft-spoken, awkward even, Millare in particular, especially when they speak. The bluster is in their music. I’m hard-pressed to give you a genre – safe to say it’s a mishmash of a lot things, made into a wonderful techno-pop mix that does OPM proud. In truth — and please note (or forgive) that I am merely a casual fan — I find it hard to understand UDD’s lyrics sometimes. But I think that’s part of the band’s charm. Their latent musicality seems to dominate the way they perform, and you WANT to find out what they’re singing. And when you do, therein lies another pleasant surprise.
Wala na bang makakapantay at di na ba dapat pang maghintay; ako lang ba ang nagkasala? Kumakapit sa natitirang sana. Kung babalik ka pa hanggang kailan kaya? Ako dito mag aabang na magdutong na ang patlang; ang kulang ay mapupunan wala nang makahahadlang, wala na yatang hihigit sa pangungulila ko. Iba na ba’ng nagbibigay ng mga kailangan mo? – Sana (Fragmented, 2006)
Ba’t di pa patulan ang pagsuyong nagkulang; tayong umaasang hilaga’t kanluran, ikaw ang hantungan? At bilang kanlungan mo, ako ang sasagip sa’yo. Tadhana (Capacities, 2012)
That’s gold, right there. And on the night where it was all about them and their music — accompanied by spectacular lighting, t’was a night to remember, to say the least.
On a personal note, I loved being able to shoot a concert again. It’s one of my favorite genres, and that Up Dharma Down plays good music was an awesome, awesome bonus. It’s not always that I get this opportunity, so thank you to Music Museum and VerJube Photographics for not shooing me away.
I’ve been helluva busy these past few days – with the big day drawing near, well, suffice to say that things are becoming much more stressful and my hands are almost perpetually full all the time.
It’s also a bit frustrating that I haven’t been on a landscape safari these past few months, due to either uncooperative weather or just because I simply lack the time. I do plan to post a couple of my landscape shots in the future, so watch out for that.
Anyway, I did get to recently sit down with Joey Generoso, whom I’ve been a fan of since high school. While my other peers were listening to Backstreet Boys and Boyzone, I was either rocking out to Eraserheads and Mr. Big, or listening to Side A – which still remains to be one of my favorite bands of all time.
Through the years, Side A has gone through a lot of changes, lineup included. From the original crew composed of Kelly Badon (lead guitar), Joey Benin (bass guitar), Naldy Gonzales (keyboards), Joey Generoso (vocals, rhythm / acoustic guitar) and Ernie Severino (drums), only Joey G., Naldy, and Ernie remain. And from the bluesy influences that shaped their sound more than a decade ago, they have had to evolve to cater to the mainstream audience now, which has obviously different tastes.
Few bands live as long as Side A, and Joey is grateful that time has been kind to them. And he is always quick to credit their former manager, the late Wyngard Tracy, as a major factor in shaping what the band has become. A lot of good habits they have, Joey recounts, were learned under Tracy’s management. And as Side A continues to grow and develop, playing side by side with newer, fresher talents in the music industry in the Philippines, Joey is confident that they will continue to entertain audiences as well as serve as mentors to the new crop of Pinoy musicians.
Spearheded by OPM greats Ogie Alcasid and Gary Valenciano, BaliKaBayani’s goal was to raise money for the OFW returnee programs of the Overseas Welfare Administration or OWWA, which would particularly benefit Filipinos who lost their jobs in Libya due to the ongoing civil unrest.
Kicking off with some behind the scenes images from the rehearsals:
I’d like to thank Beginnings at Twenty Plus for the the opportunity to shoot and be part of this gathering of the brightest and best musical artists the Philippines has to offer.