Music Review: Rico Blanco, #YourAlternativeValentine

Rico Blanco

This guy’s performances have always been hair-raising, awesome, and explosive. I never regret one bit the decision to attend last night’s “Your Alternative Valentine” concert at the Music Museum, if only to see this legend sing live.

If there’s one thing that I admire RB for, it is his longevity and the ability to stay relevant in a fickle industry that spew talents after talent. Maybe because he has been in the industry too long, his music ventures out of the safe and commercial, to try the sounds of the ethnic and the earthly. He’s the one who mixes the sounds of the xylophone and the whistle, and incorporates it into a performance that sings the words of the contemporaries but invokes the music of the old.

RB, as he call himself, has been one heck of a performer on stage. His is a performance that gets lost in the beats of his music, leaving behind inhibitions. In his music, we groove and we rock.

The lyrics of his songs have always been simple and straight-forward. Yet in its simplicity, it appeals to a broad range of listeners. He goes out of his way to go beyond the limitations of the stage, going toward his audience, running towards us. He gives the illusion of talking to us, as if the crowd are nothing but his tropa. And for a few hours at least, we are his tropa.

It is just really amusing to see him gleefully tap his (apparently) classmate and bandmate Ira Cruz upon seeing an old classmate in the audience. And do it again a second time (and a third), because apparently he’s very happy to recognize an old soul.

Yet when this guy does his music, the gleeful boy disappears, leaving behind a man fully invested in his music.  He delivers music that satisfies the inner rakistas in us. This guy, who has been strumming his guitar maybe even before I am born, is an icon, indeed. Saludo kay sir RB!, that’s what my awestruck mind always says.

Never the Strangers

Never the Strangers has served as the opening act of RB’s concert.

The band has a youthful and experimental sound, since all of them are in their twenties. I always regard their sound and music as ethereal, transcendental even.

Yet maybe because they are young, or their music is unreachable to the masa, or sige na nga since they give off the conyo vibe, Never the Strangers ‘ music has been one of those that I put in the pedestal. But the downside of being put in the pedestal is being up there. Hence, it might have the inability to truly connect to people, to the masa, to us.

Someday though, as they continue doing their music, they will be a legend, too.

Legends happen when artists never give up, and continue on.

Meg Fernandez

For a while, I thought “Tadhana” is really Meg Fernandez’ original song. Then, I realize it is Up Dharma Down. Yet, her rendition of the song is powerful, soulful, strong. I almost mistake her for the original singer.

Just like Never the Strangers, hers is a voice to watch out for.

Your Alternative Valentine

Last night’s concert in Music Museum is too real, too raw, too close. Those are the reasons why the concert, or attending a live performance, has always been awesome.

The venue is small and the performers are almost within our reach. In these kinds of performances, it seems like I can extend my hand and touch the music, touch the performer.

But, of course, that closeness is an illusion. In the sea of people and the blinding brightness of the stage (and maybe the euphoria of adrenaline and red horse), the performer can never really remember the faces of the people they see. And we too, we never really stay in that euphoric illusion. Most of us go back to our world, back to deadlines, quotas, and bills to pay.

And yet, nothing really has been wasted.

Our life is a series of random moments. If it is, at least make it a series of precious random moments.

Credits: Videos are from Youtube.

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