I said this back in 2005:
Up Dharma Down’s current single [Maybe] is good, and frantic with energy. The rest of their stuff sadly doesn’t deliver as much.
Then when Fragmented came out, I was abroad as an OFW, so I settled for one of those mp3 copies you can find over the interwebs. I proved myself wrong about my previous proclamation, forced the officemates to listen to ‘Oo‘ (which they dismissed, but got into when they became aware it was popular back home), and have made it a point to watch the band when I get back home, and yes, get a copy of their cd.
Despite their current mass appeal, I still don’t think Up Dharma Down’s music can really be that much of a major draw in the local music industry. When I got to hear their newer songs live, I honestly believed the next album would be a stretch for your casual OPM fan. I loved where they were going, with the swirly shoegazing, and post-rock power, underlined with sort of drum programming that recalls recent Radiohead. It was clearly undeniable that this was a music collective that may be too massive, too complex, not enough pop to it. I didn’t factor in Armi Millare‘s singing in, because that’s one factor a listener can’t help but be in awe of; even if pogi-rock followers say her singing’s just too odd.
Ean of Up Dharma Down
Last Friday, at the launching of their second album, Bipolar, I was again proved horribly wrong. The odd choice of a venue (Hexagon Lounge, RCBC Plaza, Makati City) appeared to be the size of a normal rock club. I was lucky I belonged to the first 20 or so attendees, because less than an hour after the start of the performance, the room was packed, which was confirmed later by the band. A friend texted me saying that the line was way too long, and this was probably halfway through the gig already. They had to stop people from coming in, and that’s when I also noticed the venue’s air-conditioning probably gave up.
The performance was mesmerizing. It also helped that Armi came out stunning that night, which I believe was the collective sentiment of everyone else who watched as well.
It has been a long time since I took gig photos from a place I’ve never been in. I was instantly dismayed by a stage that stretched too wide, where it will be difficult to take layered images of the performers (unless you can move around liberally). I didn’t have high hopes for the lights as well, and I was right: the reason my photos are in black and white would be for consistency, since the colored lights washed the band with unflattering colors.
Anyway, it was a night that satisfied. I can’t stop listening to the album.
My seven photos of the gig can be found here.