Shonen Knife Live in Manila!

Before I write about the gig of the year (for me, anyway), two things. One: this is very, very late, but please welcome me to the already long list of LCD monitor owners, since my LG CRT monitor conked out mid-week, after a pretty dismal 3-4 years. Got myself a Viewsonic VX1932wm-LED the day after. Two: took a 5 hour commute to Tagaytay for my college best friend’s wedding last Saturday, and settled on the idea that I will spend the entire day there, since no one else from our circle of friends could make it. All it took was a cheek-kiss, a congratulations, and a hand-in-hand gesture after the church ceremony saying, “I have to go.”, and I was excused.

See, I had to be at the Shonen Knife concert.

Shonen Knife

I knew about the gig through Facebook, and I instantly concluded, without question, that this was the gig to go to. Not the cancelled Kings of Convenience tour, not even that band with the chick with orange hair who sings.

Late January, I sent an email to the organizers, asking for an opportunity to shoot the concert. This was an unprecedented move on my end, I didn’t even do this for the Nine Inch Nails concert last year (which I missed, since I was in the hospital, but I had sure VIP tickets already from a friend). There was no reply. There was heart-sinking involved, since the minute I realized the gig was on the same date as the aforementioned wedding, I had my mind set to miss it.

However, this is Shonen Knife, a band who hit commercial success back in the 90s, and a band that I remember for two things: Kurt Cobain was a big fan of theirs, and this wonderful Monkees cover:

That is found on this album, which I own on tape:

Happy Hour

Alright, its not Perfume, not Kaela Kimura, current Japanese pop music giants whose songs will probably never leave my mp3 player (see this old entry re my fascination for them). If, by Buddha’s blessings, they’d ever land our shores though, truckloads of blood would easily spill if I didn’t get to see them.

Still, this is Shonen Knife. Its a free gig. The wedding ceremony ended at 5, and I am estimated to arrive at the concert venue at around 7:30, the official start of the gig. One route of the Tagaytay-to-Manila terminal buses can conveniently drop me off at Pasay, and all I need is to ride a jeep to get to the gig venue. This was already a convenient scenario, and the stars did align, since everything I noted in this paragraph did happen.

The gig itself, was another thing. I arrived during Duster’s last song, and walked around the venue, had a feel for things. There were some seats in front of the stage. There were steel railings confining a number of people inside, a standing area. I asked one of the guards at one of the entrances and was told I could get in, if I didn’t have a DSLR camera with me. I told him: What if I give you my camera bateries? I expected the unpleasant answer, and tried to go around again a few times, looking for familiar faces, going through my phonebook, texting people who might be able to get me in.

I failed. I had two choices where to watch the gig: a reasonable distance to watch where I could see all of them, but hardly the distance I’d like for a chance to take photos; and a reasonable distance to grab shots, but I would only clearly see one of them, and no chance of seeing the drummer.

I went for the latter.

Shonen Knife

Severely pissed, hurling silent curses -like, ALL YOUR PHOTOS WILL COME OUT BAD!– at the photographers in the pit. When the band went up stage, I realized I had to calm down. I still had fits though when security or a not-so-interested person inside the stage area blocks my view, or when some hapless person-with-camera with a media pass tries to shoot at an angle which will never get good results.

They didn’t play Daydream Believer. So, to make up for it, I should be able to have a photo of myself with the band, right? So I waited, with a handful of other people beside the stage tent. Hopes were lowered at every passed minute, then I heard somewhere that the band already left, coming out from the other side. Then I saw a small crowd nearby, gig posters in hand, and too huddled up together. There they were, the remaining two thirds of the band, with security guards more than ready to escort them out of the venue.

Quickly now that they were exiting, I took a photo of Ritsuko, the bassist, she who was the star of my shots. Used the built-in camera flash, can’t be bothered for a setup with the external flash now. Chimped on the LCD display, and CRAP, the lens hood made a significant shadow on the photo. The girls were on a brisk walk now, and I didn’t give it a second thought that I must catch up. I must’ve looked already silly -still donning the required silver tie for the wedding, black slacks, new leather shoes- but I ran, found a gap in the security line, and got in front of the girls for a brief second.

Two of Three from Shonen Knife
Ritsuko Taneda (bass, backing vocals) and Etsuko Nakanishi (drums, backing vocals)

To them, I might just be this over-eager person who is in desperate need for a shot. To me, their collective reaction was like a warm, comforting towel at the end of a haircut. The smiles and the hand-waves just made the day.

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