“Hindi ‘to Eraserheads ha, this night never happened”, Ely jests the fevered crowd, “Pupil kami ha”. Raymund echoes Ely’s warning, as a familiar, LSS-inducing guitar lick comes alive. Again, the audience goes wild. “You didn’t see us”, Raymund reminds the crowd ready to bust into the lyrics any time soon. And then it goes on.
The Eraserheads, aka “Markus Highway, Sandwich, Pupil, and The Dawn” are playing. And they’re playing Magasin.
It feels like a dream to this ballroom of probably a thousand guests, mesmerized by the iconic musicality of undoubtedly, the biggest band this country has ever seen. And to be constantly reminded by Raymund and Ely that “this never happened”, those lucky enough to see them up close are privileged, blessed even, to be in the presence of a band whose fate, after one night, remains to be seen. And while, yes, the whole nation knows how special the Eraserheads are, just to be in that moment, you knew something legendary was about to happen.
As soon as Ely croons into the microphone, camera and smartphone-laden arms shoot up in the air, each goer careful not to miss one second. “Phones!” A pissed off man behind me yells at the video cameras blocking his view. Some are polite to put their arms down, but for the most part, it was a lost cause.
And who could blame them, really? No one knew when Buddy, Marcus, Raymund and Ely would be on the same stage again, making sweet, sweet music like they did for a decade, before their split in 2002. Sure, they had a reunion concert five years ago, but it had to be cut short because of Ely’s health at the time. Recording what could be the band’s last epic performance in a long time wasn’t such a bad idea.
Early in the evening, the room was heavy with hopes and expectations, as whispers throughout the Mayuree Grand Ballroom in Dusit Hotel wondered the one thing on everyone’s mind: were they going to play? After all, three acts had gone up to perform, and the buildup would have been anticlimactic if the Eraserheads weren’t going on stage. Yet, mystery was always part of the band’s brand, and tonight was one of those instances.
As the main event started to kick in, anticipation was in the air with the video of Esquire editor-in-chief Erwin Romulo with the band behind the scenes in Abbey Road. Following that was the launch of the Sabado and 1995 music videos directed by Erik Matti. Then, audiences waited with bated breath as they finally called on the foursome.
Soon, the high-profile guest list dressed to the nines cheered on and moshed like rabid fans, as the first chords of Magasin kicked in. They played only three songs (Magasin, Sembreak, and Alapaap), a brief set really, but it seemed like the Eraserheads set out to give the best 10 minutes to those watching. The atmosphere quickly turned into more of a rock concert with stunts and surprises than that of a magazine issue launch.
Jun Sabayton, and later, Raymund Marasigan riled up the audience as they each did a crowd surf. Their last song, Alapaap, quickly turned into a mega-karaoke fest as different personalities had gone up on stage, taking turns with the lyrics, and the crowd quickly chimed in.
As soon as they struck the last chord, it was over. Chants of an encore resonated throughout, although to be honest, witnessing the magic of these legends on stage was more than enough.
To those wondering, the Eraserheads didn’t play Sabado and 1995 live. While listening to these new songs,you can hear the differences in the music, cumulated from each band member’s growth within the past 12 years. But one thing was undeniable: It still had that same Eraserheads spark.
And perhaps, that spark was never really gone. But like a comet, some legendary things are good for one night, one that was definitely headed for the books. #
Congratulations and thank you, Esquire Philippines, for bringing us this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Makes me much prouder to humble-brag about my summer internship.