Photos from Magic Liwanag
It was around 7:30 in the evening at the Circuit Makati, and masses of people had just formed in front of the stage, awaiting as Up Dharma Down is about to play their set. Everyone in the crowd could barely breathe from the lack of flowing air, with a downright exhaustion that started building in since the early afternoon. As usual, the band takes their time to get on stage. Everyone is antsy from the waiting. Pushing for a close position and struggling for personal space is rampant. Water is now good as gold, and breathing has become a privilege; everyone is restless.
But as Armi makes her way through for her red piano, flashing that sweet grin – the crowd starts to erupt. As they play their first song “Parks”, everything doesn’t matter. No one cares about having no space, air or water. What matters right now is the blasting keyboard, riffing guitar, and soaring voice filling the field. The only thing that matters right now is the moment, the moment where we all become one. Yes, everyone is now more restless than ever.
This is Wanderland.
Making their blazing debut this 2013, the music and arts festival aptly named “Wanderland” proved to be a huge success and instant classic that is already being awaited for its encore next year. Fans got an experience of a lifetime as they were treated to a diverse lineup of musicians that was headlined by long-awaited indie artists from around the world, alongside amazing acts from homegrown bands.
Wanderland, in all its beauty, is the first music and art festival of its kind in the country. Held on the grassy fields of Circuit Makati, the booths and mats all around, the quirky, soulful fashion of fans frolicking on the grass, one can’t resist basking in the happy aura. Even before the bands came out, crowds were growing, people from all around walking around seeing what else Wanderland had to offer. From food to Raybans, to a giant inflatable slide to a velcro wall, Wanderland was the perfect getaway playground for the restless. But at the strike of 2pm (an hour late but who cares) when the stage boomed with the sound of drums and guitars, everyone knew it was time.
The performances were electric from the beginning as Taken By Cars ignited the festivities, with help from members of Pedicab and Sandwich. They would be followed by indie mainstays and frontrunners Pulso and She’s Only Sixteen, jolting the crowd with their electrifying performances. And delivering their own soulful thunder is Yolanda Moon who gave everyone some much-needed relaxation that brought the crowd into the clouds.
After a paced crew arrangement allowed revelers (what the PA kept calling the people inside Wanderland) to roam around the fields and get a quick bite and sip to reenergize, the first foreign act Colour Coding entered the stage, sending people up on their feet with their hits, and a special cover of The Killers’ “When We Were Young”. The music continued as Avalanche City took the mic next, delivering some folk sound to the crowd who responded with synchronized claps alongside the toe-tapping melodies. Not too long, the sun began to set almost at the same time the banjo had started fading. It would now be Tully on Tully who would kickstart the night, as their lead songstress Natalie Foster amped up the crowd and gave everyone a reason to go bonkers, with her sultry tone and terrific stage presence highlighting the band’s post-rock tone. With their hits “Naked” and “Stay”, Tully on Tully certainly made themselves a talent that leaves the Philippines wanting them back from down under.
A break now from the foreign acts, but no break from the hype, came Up Dharma Down, taking the stage and lifting the crowd with their ever soulful sound. Song after song, UDD knew how to move their audience. Ending their set with their undying hit “Tadhana”, they left the crowd in cheers for an encore. Accepting that they wouldn’t return, the crowd now shifted to anticipation in waiting for the last three acts: Nada Surf, Neon Trees and The Temper Trap; craziness is bound to ensue.
Nada Surf came out with smirks of cheeky intentions. They were very open with the audience through their act, with bassist Daniel Lorca sharing an anecdote of his teenage years in Manila. Not only did the band play their songs such as “Popular” and “Inside of Love”, but also had some extra fun with the crowd between performances with small talk and picture taking. Through the heat and sweat, Nada Surf played on and gave the crowd a taste of music so smooth that it didn’t matter where you were hearing it from; for as long as you could hear it, it all made sense. Nada Surf ended with a thank you and expressed hopes of coming back.
An eerie silence then covered the stage, almost ten minutes of just crew members walking around setting up drums, mic stands. People started to wonder what had happened. Then the mic stand lights up. Shining like a beacon at the center stage, followed by the bursting of guitars. Through the fog, Neon Trees has arrived. Probably the craziest act of the night, the band rocked the stage with their hits “Animal”, “1983” and, of course, “Everybody Talks”. The eccentric performance was punctuated with shoe throwing, sock tossing, crowd surfing goodness. Words lack the capacity of awesomeness to describe what Neon Trees had done to the Wanderland stage. The energy was all out and the crowd sang and screeched every word of every song. Neon Trees definitely gave all the love they could give to Manila. Their performance will never be forgotten.
The screams of a wild crowd transformed to an echoing chant of people in euphoria. Yes, it is the final act; the band that will end it all, The Temper Trap takes us on a flight of emotions that no other band could have created. Each song was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Dougy Mandagi’s voice is like cherubs whispering all the secrets of the world into your ears. It is an experience truly worthy of the name Wanderland; thoughts and emotions wandering about as if independent from your control. Ending their set, ending the festival, with “Sweet Disposition”; how that song just took everyone, timing it perfectly in the end. The crowd became a choir, every one word with all emotion. This was it. Wanderland is over but it has started something that will definitely be coming back.
Wanderland 2013 isn’t perfect, of course, with minor inconveniences to hamper one’s experience. But with all the bands, energy, freebies and all, Wanderland 2013 is an experience of high recommendation. Even now, it is safe to say that people are already anticipating for next year’s festival. As remarkable as it is being the first, it has the potential to be better and surpass the standard it has set.
For more information on the event, kindly visit the following sites:
https://www.facebook.com/wanderlandfest (Wanderland Facebook Page)
Photos by Magic Liwanag at his Facebook page: