Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Called New Wave

Makati Avenue, the bands were "Sake" (the japanese wine) and "Charlotte Russe" (the cake). The frontman for Sake is someone who is now popular in the Philippine variety show circuit, he is the disc jockey MOD, Noel Makanaya (or at hink that’s who he is). Sake played the Red Rocker’s "China" and Charlotte Russe covered the Boomtown Rats’ "I Don’t Like Mondays"

The era, of course, was new wave…if this is the music you grew up to as did I, you will never understand pop and rnb, you would probably dig grunge and alternative rock, and you might develop a healthy appetite for classic rock (jimi hendrix, jim morrisson, led zeppelin and the who)…but boy will you love Bob Marley. New wave used to be the hippest sub-culture in Manila. It has limited access so not a lot of people know about it and those who do are quite possessive and selfish, not wanting to share it and not wanting for it to go mainstream. Its like an elite club for high school and college kids from Manila's private school system, otherwise known as the paying class or the paying audience. I bet no one designed it that way, its just the way it is. There was one and only one radio station that catered to this market, its fully self-sustained so no major advertisers and no tie-ups with local recording outfits. Their records (at that time, it was all vinyl) are all imported from the UK and occasionally from Canada and Australia. The radio station is called WXB 102, their tag-line is "The Station That Dares to Be Different".

In the surface there are acts that have gone mainstream, like Duran Duran, Tears for Fears, The Cure and U2. Notice that these are all British acts and they have all been given adequate air play in most all radio stations then but new wavers never thwarted their music (save maybe for Boys Dont Cry, which really made it big in the mainstream). But then there is the deep end of new wave, which never saw the light in all the other local rado stations. 

There was a healthy pool of local new wave acts that do mostly covers of their British idols, with the signature outrageous names like, Violent Playground, Identity Crisis, Silo, The Dawn, Deans December, Advent Call. These bands would cover the hits of The Clash, U2, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Bolshoi, The Alarm, Kraftwerk, Soft Cell, Madness, Orange Juice, The The, The Joy Division and a lot more. 

Even the parties-cum-concerts have catchy titles like Sneak Attack, Requiem, Nightmare at Insomnia Theater, Portable Playground, etc. The crowd was a mix of post-punk to progressive rock, with new wave in the middle of course. So its not uncommon to see custom-made safety shoes and leather ala Sid Vicious and black satin costumes ala Siouxie Sioux. The dominant color was black and spikes tall and short is the hair style. It takes a while to achieve this look really (how long did you think Siouxie achieved hers?), you need a teasing comb and tons of hair spray to keep it high and hard enough to withstand the elements. Black eyeliner and lipstick is a staple for male and female both and the bling consist of chains and crosses, throw in the silver cravat in the collar and the brooch that hangs by the neck. 

I'm pretty glad to live in this era, not because of the parties or the concerts or the fashion but because of the music. I have never been a fan of pop even then, my sisters got me started on jazz and its all I really know till I went to high school. I never liked those cheesy dance songs dished out by Debbie Gibson. Nor did I enjoy the rap of Run DMC. It was love at first hear for me the moment I listened to The Smiths.

Author: Monie Maunay
email: buddygallagher@gmail.com

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