DUMAGUETE City—The laid-back, seaside stretch of Rizal Boulevard in this quaint, rustic city transformed into an open party place when Radio Republic—an all-Filipino content online site—gathered some of the country’s exciting acts for the debut of the Dagsa Music Festival recently.
From sunset till past midnight, revelers raised their fists and danced as the music blared with bass lines shaking the ground.
First on the bill was reggae act I-Dren Artstrong, who toasted to DJs Soulflower and Red-I’s hip hop-flavored mixes. Regulars at B-Side, a venue for alternative musicians in Makati City, both DJs set the tone for the festivities.
Next was Tropical Depression which played a stimulating dose of Pinoy reggae. Frontman Papadom put the crowd in a jovial mood with “Bagyo, Bagyo” and “Kapayapaan.”
Amid a fireworks display, Jose Villanueva III, more popularly known as Quest, took the stage and dished out “Sige Lang” and “Tao Lang”—tunes that meshed inspirational lyrics with R&B, pop and urban sounds.
Jay Durias joined Pedicab, whose repertoire consisted of danceable and quirky punk-rock ditties like “Ang Pusa Ko.”
Sandwich opened with “Ang Pagbabalik,” which they followed with crowd pleasers “Betamax,” “Sunburn” and “Sugod.” After introducing a new single, “Mayday,” frontman Raimund Marasigan delighted Eraserheads fans when he dabbled with verses of “Alkohol.”
A cover of The Teeth’s “Laklak” led to a big, head-banging sing-along.
Rico Blanco marched onstage in full “Galactik Fiestamatik” gear. He kicked things off with “Burado,” which saw him playing the melodica on the intro.
Although a big chunk of his set consisted of previous singles (“Antukin,” “Yugto” and “Posible”) and a mash up of old Rivermaya hits “Liwanag sa Dilim,” “Awit ng Kabataan” and “Hinahanap-Hanap Kita,” Blanco gave the songs a thumping, synth-heavy, electro-rock spin, which defines his new sound.
More than the music, Blanco treated the crowd to a visual spectacle. As he growled and danced to robot-inspired choreography, the manic flashing of stage lights bounced off on his metallic tribal headgear and costume, creating a trippy, prismatic effect.
At his back, a three-man drumline moved in unison as they fiercely pounded away on percussion, giving every number a festive feel.
The intensity took a dip after Blanco got off the stage. Some people left, thinking that the show was over.
But DJ Elmer Dado and Gruppo Tribale weren’t about to let them get away. They stoked the crowd’s energy once more with stirring beats. Before long, the street had turned into a big dance floor.
Talent gold mine
Radio Republic’s (www.radiorepublic.ph) Ron Titular said he envisioned Dagsa as a future venue for new musicians, especially those from other regions, to showcase their work.
“The Philippines is a gold mine of talent. It’s sad because there are not enough platforms here in the provinces,” Titular told the Inquirer. “Sometimes we can be so Manila-centric that we forget there are many great things outside the capital that shouldn’t be neglected.”
He added that Dumaguete was an ideal place to hold the music fest “because it’s centrally located. It’s more convenient for music lovers from smaller cities in the Visayas and Mindanao to come here than to Manila.”
Meanwhile, composer Ryan Cayabyab echoed Titular’s sentiments, saying that people should be aware of the prevailing musical styles in the provinces. “Who knows? This or that specific region might have the type of music that would appeal to the global market,” he told the Inquirer.
New music hub
With the presence of various learning institutions in Dumaguete such as Silliman University, Cayabyab believes that the city has the potential to be developed into a new music hub. “This is a university town, and there are a lot of eager and open-minded young artists,” he said.
“Dumaguete has an atmosphere conducive to cultivating talent or a musical movement,” said Cayabyab who, together with Durias, brought their Radio Republic program, “Muchikahan,” to St. Paul University the previous night. In the show, Cayabyab and Durias interacted with students and performed their respective hits.
As for what to expect from Dagsa in the future, Titular said they were preparing to turn the music fest into something bigger. If everything went according to plan, he said, next year could be a three-day celebration.
He added: “We want it to become something that music lovers all over the country will look forward to every year, something that tourists would want to experience.”