By Susan Claire Agbayani
Under the Glow
of the Satellite
Meralco Ave., Pasig City
<S>ANDWICH — the band — may have entered a bit late into what is perhaps the second golden age in the music scene, but that’s fine, as it may have worked to the band’s advantage. Definitely, the members — Myrene Academia, bass; Mike Dizon, drums; Raimund Marasigan, Diego Castillo and Marc Abaya (who was later replaced by Mong Alcaraz), guitarists — have learned many lessons from their respective bands, both previous and current.
The band’s first big hit was “Butterfly Carnival,” made at that time when Mr. Abaya was still the vocalist. Somewhere along the way, Abaya dropped out and Mr. Marasigan — one of the band’s guitarists, and co-vocalist — stepped up and brought the band to even greater heights with hits like “DVDX,” “Betamax,” and “Sugod” among others.
Long-time friends of the band members as well as its fans highly anticipated the band’s 20th anniversary concert, Under the Glow of the Satellite, at the Metrotent of Metrowalk. One of them was Teeth bassist Pedz Narvaja, who also is a childhood friend of Mr. Dizon.
“I’ve known Mike since we were kids and have been band mates (at Teeth) for more than 20 years. Same goes for Diego and the rest of Sandwich, whom I have known since the 1990s. I have made it a point to see them live from time to time, and I was very excited to see what they had planned for their anniversary concert. I’d been looking forward to it since I heard about its inception,” Mr. Narvaja said via Facebook Messenger.
“I was lucky to have been in a very good spot (center stage, near the front; with this writer) when Sandwich dramatically started the show,” said fashion designer and musician Kate Torralba, who has been based in London as a performer for many years now.
Among those who performed as front acts during the concert were She’s Only Sixteen, Ciudad, and Autotelic.
Stereodeal frontman Adrian Arcega, who is also a music video director (Itchyworms’ “Sisikat Muli Ang Araw”), was at Sandwich’s very first gig at the Gonzaga Auditorium of Ateneo in February 1998, and at the anniversary show.
“From the very beginning, it was a good show, with the lights, with the graphics.” said Mr. Arcega of the anniversary concert. Speaking in a mix of Filipino and English he said: “[It’s as though they were saying] this is Sandwich, it’s gonna be an awesome show. I like the fact there was a dual stage setup. People thought it was just a big stage. It turns out that their encore was at… the stage used by the front acts. The audience was closer to the band. Basically you are going back to your roots. And you’re one with the people now.
“I spoke with Direk Juno (Oebanda) after the show. It turned out that that was the idea. It worked. That was so good. Although it was lounder, the sound was clearer at the main stage, compared with small stage at the back,” Mr. Arcega told BusinessWorld at Route 196, a day after the concert.
Couple Ayer and Jane Arguelles left their two children at home for what to them was an ideal “date.”
“Bawat gig nila — Saguijo man ’yan o UP Fair, o mall show — laging 115% as Raimund puts it (Every gig they do, whether at Saguijo or the UP Fair or a mall show, they always give it 115% as Raimund puts it). And that’s one of the things that I love about them. Laging (it is always) performance level par excellence,” Mr. Arguelles — a poet and a Literature professor at De La Salle University — said at Starbucks Metrowalk after the show. Another couple who had a date at the concert were freelance illustrator/graphic designer Cynthia Bauzon-Arre and her husband Arnold.
“The show took me back to 1998/1999. I loved that they played songs from the first two albums (which aren’t on Spotify yet!). It felt nostalgic hearing them again, singing along, and it’s wonderful to see the new generation of musicians and listeners appreciating their music. They have such a distinct sound which is a sum of their experiences; can’t really find anyone that comes close. They’ve evolved yet they remain fresh and relevant!” Ms. Arre remarked via Facebook Messenger.
“Raims (Marasigan) for me, is ever the seducer: when he sings ‘lahat ng hinahanap nyo, lahat ay nandito,’ (everything you are looking for, everything is here) he’s asking me to let go, let loose, and join them in the music, in their intensity, and, yes, joy. Because I always see it in their performances: their joy in playing their music in the stage, with and for the crowd. And when they work their magic on you, you’ll feel this: ‘unti-unting bumibilis, mga kamay namamawis. Nauubusan ng lakas, paano kaya maliligtas?’ (slowly it is getting faster, hands get sweaty, losing strength, how will he be saved?) But [there is] no saving from falling for their spell. At least for me,” Ms. Arguelles, a senior sales manager at Savoy Hotel Manila, added.
The anniversary concert was quite long. But nobody minded. Mr. Arcega noted the diversity of the song choices, how there was a song from every era of Sandwich.
“Arnold and I had fun singing along to fave songs ‘Procrastinator,’ ‘Sunburn,’ ‘Masilungan’; was nostalgic hearing ‘Sakyan’ and ‘Freestyle Analog” and of course, we enjoyed seeing Raym’s stage dive!,” said Ms. Arre.
“I’m (a) superfan of Sandwich. Sandwich doesn’t disappoint; never disappoints,” Mr. Arguelles said.
Perhaps, there’s nothing like affirmation from fellow musicians, and this is what they had to say:
“I must say that they’ve exceeded all my expectations. What I witnessed last April 13 was one for the books. Looking forward to what <S> will come up with next!” remarked Mr. Narvaja.
“That was definitely a dream concert: for the band, the concert director, and the fans. It was emotional, glorious, euphoric. I felt so lucky to be there. So proud of my talented friends!!!” said Ms. Torralba.
Arcega noted that the band performed the concert continuously, and then “’Nung natapos na. Tapos na. Walang big big goodbye. So everybody was saying, whatttt? Tapos na? Kaya sabi ng iba, bitin, (When it ended, it ended. There was no big big goodbye… It’s over? That is why some said it left them hanging),” a sentiment Ms. Arguelles shares.
“Bitin ako sa concert only because I didn’t realize that two hours had already passed. And that it was already an encore when they moved to the ‘underground’ stage for another set,” said Ms. Arguelles.
“Sayang lang (It’s a pity) Marc didn’t guest. That would have been real fun.”