Two names sold me to this gig: Jun Lopito, and Cocojam. I haven’t seen either of them, and as a 90s kid, I find it imperative that I take the chance to watch them weave magic on stage.
Thanks again to my Facebook network, I found out about this event. This is an event. I’m not a reggae-head by any stretch, but I don’t see these names come up on gigs often. Moreso, not in today’s de-facto rock club: Saguijo.
Lady I was on first. Halfway through their set, I established this to be one of those rare moments of gig-going where I know nothing of the band in front of me, then I just get floored. The songs were a refreshing take on standard dancehall and reggae, and Lady I (Irene Tengasantos) effortlessly lead this outfit with a voice that didn’t even seem to try. Found somewhere online that photographer Eddie Boy Escudero witnessed her sing the blues, and found a young Janis Joplin in her.
Rock fans of my age would know Jun Lopito as part of that collective legends of pinoy rock. Around the 90s though, he came out with an album that spawned mild radio hits like Rock and Roll ng Bayan, and Pure Soul. Pure Soul was a favorite -the guitars on the track felt like controlled greatness, the vocals from Lopito apt and cool- and was glad to see it played that night. His set was mostly instrumental, he sang only about 2-3 songs, but more than enough to convince this first-time viewer that the talk was true: guitar gods lived among us.
Lady I had another short set for reasons unknown. No complaints here. Reggae Mistress were then up, with the joyous atmosphere all too familiar for those familiar with Tropical Depression, etc. Photo-wise, it was just too damn difficult to find a good angle where all three frontwomen would be on a frame. Anyhow, this was definitely when the Saguijo crowd was dancing, with positive vibes all over.
It was almost 3 in the morning, I think. I was tired, I bet everyone else was, too. Cocojam was setting up, and Lady I herself sparked a conversation with me re where she’d see the photos I was taking. Small talk ensued, and I did exclaim that when the name Cocojam came up on the gig roster, there was no question where I’d be that rather sleepy and wet Tuesday night. There’d be another gig with the same lineup early September, she said. A semi-lament was also stated, pointing out how unbankable these acts are nowadays. I wholeheartedly share the sentiment, hence in my own little way, I try to show up, and I photo-document.
I was right thinking who Rolly, Cocojam himself, was, as there weren’t enough photos of him online to make an impression. He seemed nervous or disoriented though, can’t seem to get the guitar tuned properly, he was singing to a microphone that just wasn’t set up right. The voice I heard back on LA 105, and that what I can hear now from bad tape-to-mp3 conversions weren’t as soaring as our local version of Marley should be, too. This isn’t me whining, though; this is me stating the obvious, but still awed by what I was witnessing. This was Cocojam, man! One and only! Lopito appeared to be the captain of the ship during the set, but all Rolly needed was a warm-up after all, he even did a few guitar solos later in the set. His spirit was more than alive, we can see it now, and he was glowing. They did Ulap, they didn’t do Lakambini. They did Marley, of course.
Next gig, next gig.
View the rest of the photos here.