It’s been roughly two years since I last tried blending in with the hip and trendy crowd (July 2014 to be exact when British indie rock group Bombay Bicycle Club visited the country) mostly to challenge myself to go out of my metal and hardcore/punk comfort zones from time to time but whereas the past few years saw Wanderland Music and Arts Festival as on the verge of becoming an increasingly notable large-scale event catering towards music fans who just aren’t the type to listen to aggressive music in general, bang their heads and/or mosh in Pulp Summer Slam (wasn’t able to go to last year’s installment of the former though as it fell on the very same day as the latter; the choice I made between the two was an absolute no-brainer so to speak), a new music festival catering towards the same crowd had emerged seemingly out of nowhere in the form of GoodVybes Fest. Held last Feb 20 over at the newly built Aseana City Open Grounds in Pasay (near Solaire Resort and City of Dreams), GoodVybes Fest is the first of its kind to feature not just one nor two but THREE separate stages. However, this post-show review will cover only much of the action that happened at the main stage itself as I have yet to come across any completely reliable biohacking technology that would make me split my body and its attached consciousness into three fully functional selves, lol (and also personally not a fan of multiple stage setups as I don’t really like it when my attention gets divided).
Since I admittedly know very little about the hip and trendy crowd of 2016 compared to two years ago, I decided to join a Facebook group made up of Gold ticketholders (Gold being the section nearest the main stage; I deliberately bought myself a ticket to that area because poor eyesight, hahahahuhuhu) as officially sanctioned by Vybe Productions who organized the entire event and hooked myself up with two fellow concertgoers from Quezon City. Met up with them and were then joined by another fellow concertgoer who was driven to Aseana City by his old folks. The four of us waited outside the venue for what seemed to be an hour beyond the advertised gate-opening time but I’ll let it pass for now since every large-scale event surely must have had its share of birthing pains anyway (hoping the waiting time would be significantly reduced or even eliminated come next year).
Once inside, I was honestly kinda surprised that the festival grounds were quite barren and dusty, very much unlike in Circuit Makati where there’s a substantial amount of green grass or over at Amoranto Stadium with its asphalt track and field ground. Can’t help but wonder if those who have a bit of a history with asthma or skin allergy triggered by too much dust and were also there brought with them a surgical filtration mask (actually saw one), possibly a nebulizer that can be snuck inside a pouch bag, or some anti-histamines (technically not illegal substances that every large-scale event lawfully prohibits attendees from bringing). The weather that day was also generally quite windy so all that dust formed some sort of second skin; yep, Aseana City is pretty much a dustbowl that way.
While Silver ticketholders were situated a bit farther away from the main stage, I could safely say that they were more than lucky enough in the sense that all of the festival concessionaires were conveniently situated just behind them that they could very easily move out of their own spots to buy some grub and whatnot unlike those of us in the Gold section who had to move out of our area, relieve ourselves of excess baggage, stack up on food and drinks, and secure that sweet spot for the entire night ahead – in that same exact order. Was actually thinking if the festival organizers could come up with separate concessionaire booths for every section come next year to make the entire experience more completely worth – it if it’s not too much to ask, of course.
Malaysian band Tenderfist opened the entire show proper at around 4:30pm. While those jangly dancepop tunes they played were pretty nice, I honestly felt that the band should’ve been placed at a better timeslot (preferably after a few local bands had performed) so that those who haven’t heard them before could really check them out instead of being mostly ignored as most people were still scanning the festival grounds itself as well as the various concessionaires located at the back of the Silver section. Now there’s another thing Vybe Productions should probably try to work out for next year.
With those concerns out of the way, I could confidently say that Goodvybes Fest shone at its finest come nighttime when a little bit of schedule change forced local rock band Kjwan to move from the main stage itself to the other one (cheekingly called Beat Tent) that stood to the right of the Silver section to accommodate Canadian indie rock group Stars whose set was scheduled at around 6:30pm. The Broken Social Scene offshoot band’s comeback Manila show in support of their most recent album “No One Is Lost” (and three years since their last one over at Metrotent in Ortigas) was quite well-received as Torquil Campbell, Amy Millan and the rest of the band tore the stage down with a mixture of their relatively recent foray into more danceable club-type music and those indiepop songs that they were known for quite some time back in the mid-2000s. Not exactly sure how those newer fans of Stars in the audience that night reacted when the band played some of their older hits from their catalogue but the rest of us old-timers in this whole indie music thing who grew up weaned on the albums “Set Yourself on Fire” and “In Our Bedroom After the War” were more than pleased to hear that the band still knows where their own roots lie. Gotta admit though that those more danceable songs are also quite catchy and got our feet shuffling in no time at all.
Oh Wonder performed next and while still a bit on the fence as to my own impression of their music (some part of me still finds their entire self-titled record a tad too sleepy for my personal taste tbh), can’t really help but admire how their stage setup veers a bit towards non-traditional in the sense that all instruments are placed horizontally – yes, even the drums were pointedly positioned at the extreme stage left instead of its usual place at the back.
The overall chill vibe of Oh Wonder was admittedly a welcome contrast to Stars’ mostly energetic set. A lot of girls in the crowd that night were swooning and wishing that they could sing like Josephine Vander Gucht who I gotta admit looked stunningly gorgeous that I had actually begun having a huge crush on her, lels. Wondering though if she and Anthony West are a real-life couple as I can totally get behind and dig those dual vocal harmonies that blend together very seamlessly, plus they also look good together on stage that they seem to have this sort of chemistry/spark/whatever.
Deliberately missed out on CHVRCHES’ first visit to the country last November 2014 as I usually have second thoughts about bands making it really big just right after the release of their debut record and then falling into that sophomore slump trap (see: Foster the People; ironically enough, Oh Wonder has only one record out as of the moment but I actually had no choice but to check the duo out anyway as part of the festival lineup though if they held a standalone concert, I would’ve also deliberately bailed out on it faster than I could wrap this post up). Good thing then that the Scottish synthpop trio decided to do their comeback show here just a few months after they released their second album “Every Open Eye” which I checked out and coupled with the fact that a few folks from the hardcore punk scene abroad actually dig themselves some CHVRCHES (for some strange reason I have yet to know of other than possibly as a bit of a breather from the usually aggressive music that they play and largely listen to), I knew right there and then that I should not miss out on them anymore. While my spot that night when I saw them was far from ideal (and even less so if I was at the Silver section), finally seeing CHVRCHES perform was already a huge treat in itself. It was as if the band claimed the entire Goodvybes fest as their own by doing almost 90 minutes of high-energy music while the crowd got themselves dancing to the beat like there’s no more tomorrow and vocalist Lauren Mayberry was moving around the stage like some hyperactive kid given the chance to perform in front of thousands. Worth mentioning here as well is the fact that “Lies” is that one CHVRCHES song I like playing on repeat and never get bored of doing so; hearing that song performed live, I knew I had to entirely lose my shit and dance as if no one’s watching. That was how extremely good CHVRCHES was to me that night.
Not really getting though why a lot of indie kids younger than yours truly dig Passion Pit. I dunno, maybe I’m too old to get sucked in by vocalist Michael Angelakos’ annoying falsetto vocals (which makes Lauren Mayberry’s own vocals sound angelic in comparison – and that even with some folks I know who find her singing voice rather grating). I’d rather listen to Bee Gees’ greatest disco hits tbh.
If only Angelakos would just fucking stop hitting those high notes as I gotta admit that he’s doing just fine sans falsetto in around two or three songs he did. No, this is not me hating on everyone who’s a fan of Passion Pit – in fact, I have at least a handful of female friends who are into the said band but I won’t hold that against them at all. This is me simply explaining why I didn’t thoroughly enjoy Passion Pit’s closing set that night that CHVRCHES wrapping things up over at the main stage would have been completely more preferable.
Wasn’t able to check out those French DJs spinning over at the Beat Tent as it was already past 1am and me and my newfound friends were already exhausted after Passion Pit’s set. Still, despite a few setbacks along the way, Goodvybes Fest 2016 proved to be a huge success and here’s to hoping there would be another one next year. It sure is music festival season already as I’ll be going to Wanderland in a few days’ time and DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE doing their own comeback visit here, WOW!!!11