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Rock against Youth Apathy

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The RAYA finals was a blast!

The Rock against Youth Apathy (RAYA) band competition started on time, there were no major delays, the organizers were nice and accommodating, and most importantly, the finalists were all potentially good.

During the eliminations held at the Pantawan, I was personally rooting for Boy Losers because I saw the spunk, attitude, and command that a great band should possess, plus they mentioned Bita and the Botflies as their influence — which made me very excited.

On finals night, however, Boy Losers started strong, but unfortunately, was not able to sustain the energy. My impression was that they lacked preparation (the vox had to pull out his phone to read the lyrics), and the choice of song was not consistent with their style. I believe Boy Losers could really make it big if they focus more on being true to their style. I look forward to seeing them in maybe Purok Gahi events.

Abo, on the other hand, sounded the most solid that evening. And you’d know the members are individually- skilled. The arrangements of the songs were technically clean, and choosing Chelsea Dawn’s song Mulat was clever as it connects strongly to the theme of the competition.

In fact, all the songs they performed were the most relevant to the theme. (Unfortunately, the criteria did not place as much emphasis on the theme). However, I can sense that Abo is still trying to find their sound and their style.

It’s one thing to be skilled, it’s another thing to have a strong personality on stage.

I could see that the front person, no matter how skilled, did not seem exactly comfortable with what was going on. He started losing his command, drowning in panic, and losing all the lyrics.

It’s important that the front person has a strong level of connection with the music so that he can improvise, no matter what happens.

Projecto demonstrated the highest energy. They gave me goosebumps from the very beginning. You know that the musicians are being true to their genre and style. You know the instrumentalists are passionate about their music.

However, a big letdown was the unpreparedness of their front man, which was quite frustrating because he was actually potentially good. He had strong stage presence, and is vocally-skilled. But he didn’t know his lyrics (another musician to pull out a phone to read the lyrics), and didn’t seem to be cohesive with the rest of the band.

I felt that he was aware that he wasn’t prepared, so he over-compensated with extra and out-of-control energy on stage, leading him to literally fall. Had that energy been well utilized, it could have been a great show. They could have actually won.

Chilled Pandesal, the eventual winner, probably had the most timid energy. You know most of the members are still a bit shy on stage, thereby making less movements, and demonstrating less showmanship. Their sound was also more quiet, compared with the other bands.

In competitions it’s always more difficult for ‘quieter’ bands to compete with the louder bands because of crowd reaction and interaction.

However, if there’s one thing that Chilled Pandesal managed to do that led them to victory was consistency. From their first song to the last, they were unwavering in their style and commitment to the performance.

For me, Chilled Pandesal happened to get the most difficult song to cover, Ang Pipit by Pilita Corales, and yet, they managed to “own” the song, and give it a twist consistent with their style. (My other favorite was Projecto’s rock version of Estambay — had they been able to perform a clean version.)

That’s when you know how musicians and artists are being true to what they want to achieve, and what they know they are capable of. Regardless of the “timid” energy, the performance by Chilled Pandesal wasn’t sloppy, and the lead vocalist carried a consistent level of energy from start to finish.

In short, I felt joy watching potentially-great bands; I felt  a little disappointment with the unpreparedness of some of the artists; but generally thankful to see the caliber of the next generation of artists. The future is bright for Dumaguete.

SUPASA, a new producer and songwriter group at Silliman, is also a great initiative, with very talented members. The RAYA finals, however, seemed like a missed opportunity for SUPASA to showcase their songwriting skills as most of competing bands sang covers, except for Kalamay Papi and his band, which I am now a fan of.

I hope my feedback don’t offend anyone; it’s just me and my honest opinion, coming from a place of love for the local music scene, and a place of hope for a stronger music industry in the future.

Looking forward to seeing the local bands improve, and become the new leaders in the scene. Kudos, RAYA 10. Special shoutout to Indievided founder Cole Leo Vincoy Geconcillo.

The Rock against Youth Apathy (RAYA) band competition was started 10 years ago in 2013 by a group of local music artists in Dumaguete called Indievided. It has become a part of the annual tradition of the Hibalag Festival organized by the SU Student Government.

Earnest Hope Tinambacan

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