For 2012 is the “Japan” Year: TOE Live in Manila

Setting aside Design for a while, I think I started this year blogging about the play Batallia Royale, a loose adaptation of Koshun Takami’s Novel Battle Royale. Then earlier this year, I took advantage of this offer from Ensogo and my weekend afternoons are blocked for Nihongo Lessons. Not to mention the following: my recent obsession with Japanese Mayonnaise as I attempt to utilize the unused Nori Paper left by my balikbayan relatives, trying good but relatively inexpensive stuff from Muji and Saizen.  And then there are the concerts from 2 Japanese Bands that I’ll get to experience days from now and I have experienced almost a month back. With all these Japanese things dotting my everyday existence, my life as a Japan-o-phile just upped a notch in a way.

And so, I dub this year 2012 as the Japan Year. But I digress.

It might be useless to write an entry from a concert that happened almost a month back, yet I’m still writing one, just to document the experiences I’ve been through, especially a concert as surreal and awesome as this.  I first heard TOE from one of my Graphic Design Idols, posting the Helvetica soundtrack on Facebook. It was an interesting listen, all instrumental but not of the orchestral type, just like a bunch of friends jamming with acoustic guitars and drums in tow. Except that the drumming was so irregular but still made sense, and it was really pleasant to the ears, like its getting a massage but not in a meditation-esque way. But afterwards, I left it at that – and never bothered to look it up – thinking that it was just another side project of some band from Europe.

And then someone actually brought them to Manila. Apparently someone liked them enough to bring them to Manila, knowing that majority of concert goers are not really up to listening to something as different as they were. But then it was a sizeable crowd, tickets even got sold out that the organizers had to move venues to accommodate more people.(Thank God they did, or else I wouldn’t have gotten to see them). This fact piqued my curiosity, they actually had other songs? They’re actually Japanese?? I stupidly thought.

TOE in Manila 2012

And then I start looking them up in youtube, and what I saw were videos of their past performances from different places. All with the same stripped-down setup, a bare dark room or venue, the lights shining upon the band in the center, the crowd surrounding them and very intent on watching their performance, reminiscent of Fight Club except that you’re watching people slugging it with their instruments – and man, they do it with such passion that people just watch in awe. As for me who’s watching it thru youtube, it doesn’t really translate, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the music.

Which brings me to their concert. This time I could say that the passion translated, you can see it in how intense they played, and it certainly didn’t look like they weren’t holding anything back. And quoting another blogger, you wouldn’t know whether to watch them and see them perform, or close your eyes and just listen to the music. I totally agree. That amazing (not awkward) moment of closing your eyes and just listening – gets you transported to another place and when the song winds down, you open them and a feeling of relief and calmness then say, ah yes, you’re still in NBC tent, in Manila, surrounded by people, watching them. And then the crowd cheers wildly by the end of the song.

TOE Live in Manila (The Five Six Seven Tour)
March 18, 2012 Wednesday
Presented by INTASTELLA BURST HK, Terno Recordings & White Noise Records
Setlist here. Personal Favorites: Goodbye, Two Moons (they didn’t play this at the concert though)

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