What kind of music festival comes with ambulances, first-aid stations and firetrucks on standby?
Long drawn-out ones, like the “Close Up Summer Solstice 2013” that ran from 4 p.m. of April 27 to 4 a.m. the next day.
Before anyone could set foot on Mall of Asia’s expansive, paved open concert grounds (otherwise a parking lot), he or she would have to pass by a virtual country fair of side attractions: photo booths, inflatable slides, souvenir shops and refilling stations of whatever fluids that would tide one over, through 12 hours of nonstop groove music.
Party time is certainly not wasted on the young. “Summer Solstice 2013” was especially aimed at college students making the most of their summer “vacay.” One could liken it to the much-awaited spring break in the United States; but instead of swimming in pools of water, the youngsters swim in thumping beats, tread in wave after wave of dance melodies, and bask in laser and video spotlights.
And much like spring break, this had a feel of community to it. There were Special VIP tables, each going for P75,000, set up at an elevated portion of the concert grounds. Each table was good for up to 10 persons. Those spots came with couches and two bottles of spirits for each warm body.
Not everyone would go the 12-hour distance, though. There was a continuous stream of people moving in or coming out; some waited for their favorite acts to come up, then moved out for a breather and rejoined the throng later.
There were constants, however—the free-flowing drinks, the dancing (though there was not much room to move in, especially for those positioned nearer the stage) and the eye-candy
giant video walls set up onstage, whose hypnotic effects were magnified once night set in. The brilliant moon, which hovered directly above the venue, seemed part of the light-and-sound production.
The festival got off to a rocking start with homegrown bands Spongecola, Urbandub and Sandwich parting the unexpected dark clouds on a late Saturday afternoon. By sundown, musicians from overseas took over, starting with the four-DJ act from Chicago, the Jump Smokers. Then it was American rapper Dev’s turn. Devin Star Tailes, who sang “Bass Down Low” and “Like a G6,” performed her signature “sing-talk” style of music. Dance-pop band Cobra Starship, from which the popular “Good Girls Gone Bad” came, were up next, sans lead vocalist and band founder Gabe Saporta (concert organizers did announce beforehand that Gabe wouldn’t be able to come to Manila, so a guest DJ was invited to “captain” the group for this set).
From 9 p.m. onwards, it was an all-DJ, all-remix house music set, with Italian Alex Gaudino, Dutchmen Apster and Afrojack, and Miami-based Frenchman Cedric Gervais taking turns on the mixers and turntables, recreating today’s pop and dance music into technotronic beasts.
By the time the “witching hour” came (12 midnight onwards), the alcohol had kicked in for many of the concert goers. Pulses of bass beats and electronic melodies were liberally interpreted by intimate couples with sexually charged dances. Objects big and small were being tossed up and about. Some tipsy teenagers on the elevated section emptied the contents of their water bottles on unsuspecting people below. Strangers inadvertently bumped into one another as they danced or moved about. Couples stared at each other, then stared at other couples doing their thing.
The video wall showed the performers and the rowdy audience in equal measures as it ought to be. This wasn’t really just about the music. “Summer Solstice” was about a whole generation moving to the light and sound of repetitive, looping, pulsing life and love.