As I write this, I’m listening to Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. An inappropriate song considering it’s fame when I just watched Stages Session’s Independent show with musicians who are still under the mainstream music radar. But if you’ve seen Almost Famous, you most likely know where this is coming from.

My knowledge about music is actually limited to all of the 213 songs by the Beatles, movie soundtracks, and also a couple from Les Misérables. Sure, I listen to indie music especially during ten-hour road trips when my playlist has been exhausted but other than that, I have zero knowledge about independent musicians. I almost never stray from the kind of music I listen to nor plan on writing about music reviews anytime soon, that is except when I re-watch Almost Famous. I wanted to know what it would feel like to get behind the scenes during performances (or is it technically behind the stage?).

I arrived in Maybank’s Theater Globe Auditorium during the bands’ rehearsals and sound checks. Being there, sitting on an empty row of seats with an almost completely empty stadium save for the crew and performers, I was able to witness the process of last-minute fine-tuning of the program. For the first few minutes, I stayed in my seat and figured out the lineup and tried to identify the people I listened on YouTube prior to arriving at the venue. Gio Levy and the rest of his crew were practicing when I arrived. His cool and charismatic voice was reverberating through the auditorium with pauses in between to set up the acoustics. Around me, the rest of the Stages team were also hustling to prepare for the show.

The next person on the rehearsal was Curtismith. The music coming from his mouth is fast and lyrical, but you can still hear and understand every word in the rap. The crew had to cut Curtismith’s rehearsal short due to some technical problem and then Tom’s Story was up on stage, lost in his own guitar rifts and taking the small audience with him.

I was going around the auditorium by now. Taking photos and observing the dynamics of the band and crew, how they seamlessly work in small auditorium in the dark with minimal noise, in fact, aside from orders in the microphone to adjust the light and sound, you won’t even notice that the performance was only a rehearsal. These people know what they are doing and are in sync with each other that no words need to be exchanged, music was the only constant “noise” in the room.

I sat once again when I heard Bullet Dumas in the microphone. He was serenading the audience-empty hall with his folk song-like music. I noticed his music was something that's new to the ears, something unusual to hear these days but surprisingly familiar and nostalgic. In my years of listening to auto-tuned pop songs, the country-born and bred lass in me was brought out. His music had me longing to go home in the province while I was seated in a dark auditorium in the middle of the city.

I now know Coeli’s voice. It’s not something you would forget easily. Her voice, accompanied by her cello playing is something that haunts you. In a good way of course. Her voice has this hauntingly beautiful quality. Her lyrics are true and raw, and it gives you this unexplainable sadness and sentimental feeling when listened to. Different from Keiko Necesario’s cold and thick voice. Keiko’s voice is something that would perfectly accompany you when it’s raining. Oddly enough, reminding me of Norah Jones.

By the time the rehearsals wrapped up and the musicians getting ready to take the stage, people were filling in for the event. The Manila String Machine and the Ateneo Blue Symphony were opening the show with their instrumental rendition of Rivermaya’s Elesi. I was silently mouthing the lyrics thinking what should I write home about.



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