Sunday, 0120. I can tell you this: it was intense. From the moment it was announced, the Eraserheads reunion concert was attended by high drama. The original sponsor of the concert, a cigarette manufacturer, required registration on its website for free tickets. The cigarette company was found to have violated the ban on tobacco advertising, and the show was cancelled on August 23. The show was back on the following day; a different promoter had stepped in, and tickets would be sold via Ticketworld. On August 28, Eheads frontman Ely Buendia’s mom died following an illness. It had been raining all week, and the concert was to be held in a field at Fort Bonifacio. Would the reunion concert go on as scheduled?
It did, and it didn’t. I’ve never seen so many people at Fort Bonifacio. Thousands of peopleâ€”do we have crowd estimates?â€”descended on the field on the one clear, rainless day of the week to see the biggest, most important Filipino band of the 90s. As far as I know there were no TV or newspaper ads for the gig, just radio stations playing Eheads songs and fans blogging, texting, emailing the news to each other. It was one of those things that You Just Knew. The band took the stage at 2020 to a delirious ovation. They had not played together in many years, but by their mere presence they reversed time. They could’ve just stood there, and it wouldn’t have mattered: the audience was singing their songs to them. From the opening strains of Alapaap, it was 1995 all over again.
Fourteen songs* later, at around half-past nine, there was a 20-minute intermission. It felt longer. Then Raimund Marasigan, Marcus Adoro, and Buddy Zabala returned to the stage with Ely’s sister, Lally. She read a statement thanking the audience for their support, then breaking the news that Ely had to be rushed to the hospital. The gig was off. Ten years ago, that news would’ve been greeted with boos, mineral water bottles would’ve been launched (they were not allowed into the venue), and good luck getting out of there. But the news was received with a shocked silence: it is widely known that Ely had a heart attack last year and underwent angioplasty. There was a minute of silence for his speedy recovery. Then the thousands quietly filed out of the venue. It was eerie, walking out of there in near-silence when your systems were still adrenalized.
Ely is now in stable condition. According to family members, he had passed out from fatigue, stress, and lack of sleep following his mom’s death. He is resting and will be fine. Meanwhile we’re going to have to deal with our own Ang Huling El Bimbo/Magasin/Pare Ko deprivation.
It just started raining.
*1. Alapaap 2. Ligaya 3. Sembreak 4. Hey Jay 5. Harana 6. Fruitcake 7. Toyang 8. Kama Supra 9. Kailan 10. Wag Kang Matakot 11. Kaliwete 12. With A Smile 13. Shake Yer Head 14. Huwag Mo Nang Itanong Sa Akin Â Â