MANILA -- Equally for star-crossed lovers and the broken-hearted, Karpos Live Mix 7, held last September 12 at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent, featured the tandem of local band Munimuni and English indie act The Japanese House.
With harmonies that seem to meld and rise with each song, Munimuni is one of the fast-rising stars of OPM indie music. It’s a deserving accolade with the once-college band giving a performance that had the crowd cheering and singing along many times in their set.
While I will admit to not understanding the long and puzzling intro full of reverb, it did make for a dramatic entrance as they fully launched into a celebratory bit called "Kulayan Natin," then going straight to "Bakunawa," an upbeat song named for a dragon-like creature swallowing the moon from Filipino folklore. It’s used in this song to denote waning feelings of love.
All quite poetic, which is one of the greatest draws of Munimuni. This poetic bent is beautifully framed in their music, especially with John Owen Castro on flute, most notably in songs like "Simula," "Tahanan," and "Kalachuchi."
There’s something about love songs sung in the vernacular that hit deep, and Munimuni accomplished that with great aplomb. “Ang boses mo’y waring bulong ng puno,” they sang in Solomon.
Then they took it up a notch and brought in Clara Benin, who sang beautifully with the band, especially in the harmonies of the song’s chorus. Their performance of "Sa Hindi Pag-Alala" was also a great example of this, and had the crowd singing along with cathartic gusto.
After thanking new and old fans for being part of their journey, the band prefaced their last song with a touching message on persistence and hope.
“Nais lang namin na may baon kayong pag-asa pag-uwi niyo. Kung ano man ang pinagdadaanan n'yo ngayon, meron kaming paalala — na 'di nauubos ang pag-asa. Di porke’t may malalang problema, di ka na pwedeng ‘mag look-forward’ sa future,” said Adj Jiao, the band's vocalist and guitarist.
Munimuni ended their set with "Marilag," and it was another sing-along song for the crowd.
Together with the rest of the audience, I would have wanted one more song ("Sa ‘yo" perhaps?) from Castro, Jiao, TJ De Ocampo (guitar), Jolo Ferrer (bass), and Josh Tumaliuan (drums), but just like the theme of their songs, sometimes you don’t get what you want, and love fades away, but you thank your lucky stars it still happened.
The Japanese House
If you’d take The Japanese House aka Amber Bain’s word for it, their Karpos Mix Live 7 performance was a grand "crazy" time punctuated with a lot of singing along from a pumped audience, and also surprisingly a lot of waving as well.
“This is going to be fun,” Bain remarked right after "Face Like Thunder," her first song.
It was live dreampop at its finest.
Great effects that created these brooding songs that together with Bain’s buttery voice (that went raspy at times) coupled with lightly psychedelic, very moody lighting made for an experience, especially with songs like "Cool Blue," "Somebody You Found," "Lilo," "Leon," and "Faraway."
After exclaiming how crazy it was to be halfway around the world and their amazement in seeing the crowd sing back their songs to them, Bain asked the crowd if they knew the lyrics to "Saw You In A Dream." The audience answered with a hair-raising scream of "Yes!" A random "mahal kita" was shouted to Bain during that performance too, I doubt Bain understood what it meant, but she definitely could feel the love.
There were more upbeat songs like "We Talk All The Time," "Follow My Girl," "Maybe You’re The Reason," and "You Seemed Happy" that perked up the crowd. The latter song was an especially important moment for the band.
Before their they performed "You Seemed Happy," Bain gave their outgoing tour manager, Caroline, a wonderful tribute and had her perform onstage with the band, playing the tambourine.
“I think you’re the best crowd we’ve ever had,” Bain exclaimed during the show.
Bain ended her set with "Clean" -- all smiles and waving to an equally enamored crowd that smiled and waved right back.
Upcoming band, Ourselves the Elves, were the front act of the night.