Our Biggest Takeaways From the Eraserheads' Huling El Bimbo Reunion Concert
Now how was that for a reunion concert? Last night, the Eraserheads fit three decades worth of music lore into a 31-piece, four-hour setlist for its Huling El Bimbo show at the SMDC Festival Grounds in Parañaque (our feet and eardrums are still recovering, to be honest). With it, we got to see arguably the most influential Filipino band ever reunite in spectacular fashion, supposedly for one last time. And boy, did Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala, and Marcus Adoro give us a show. That photo of all of them together on stage by the end of the night is a moment in itself.
Apart from that, here are some of our other biggest takeaways from the whole shebang.
A 75,000-Strong Showing
Organizers say that there were 75,000 people in attendance last night. That figure apparently doesn't include the number of viewers abroad, too. The show was livestreamed globally, to places like London, Rome, Saudi Arabia, and other cities worldwide, after all. We supposed this illustrates just how important a moment this was for Original Pinoy Music (OPM). Spotted nejoying the show at the venue were old-time fans, some of our own modern Filipino rock stars (Jay Contreras and Yael Yuzon, to name a few), celebrities, and even our parents, among others.
"It's been a long time. We've been to different places, seen different faces, and we're coming back to you," Buendia said a few songs in. The crowd went bonkers, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
The Ever-Evolving Spectacle
The opening billboards themselves, played right before the sets (are they called billboards, trailers, or what?) were arthouse. Each video put together footage from their old gigs, music videos, random shots from their heyday and college years at the University of the Philippines Diliman (we got a glimpse of AS!), as well as the streets in Diliman and the memories that shaped them.
As for the set design, it's hard not to notice that gargantuan glowing inverted E floating over the guys, of course. That was probably the backbone of the whole thing. From the pyrotechnics and displays from old drawings from their old albums to the fireworks and the changing LCD graphics, each portion and song had a dedicated visual to capture the mood of the moment (or the moments that passed us all, if you want to be romantic about it).
Side note: We also got to see the band change outfits a couple of times, complementing the different songs and segments. That was nice.
That Francis Magalona Hologram
This was pretty chilling. Francis Magalona, the master rapper, was sometimes referred to as the fifth Eraserhead in the past by those who know the band personally. For the show's first song, the band played "Superproxy," and to honor their dear friend, the production had a hologram of the rapper play. The late artist's son, Elmo, performed the rap part of the song. Quite the tribute.
Buendia's and Magalona's Sons on Stage
There were plenty of full-circle moments, truth be told. But seeing Buendia's son, Eon, and Francis M.'s other son, Arkin, join the band for "Saturn Return," that was something else. It was pretty cool. It also made us feel pretty damn old.
Mel Villena and the Orchestra
Mel Vilena, a frequent collaborator of the band, played the saxophone for "Ligaya." Zabala credited Villena during "Lightyears," where we heard the 18-piece Asosasyon ng Musikang Pilipino Orchestra. The bassist also noted how influential the maestro was to the band, saying that Villena had been the one who arranged many of their songs. The orchestra came back for "Minsan" later on.
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Featuring Honorary Eraserheads Members
Buendia thanked the "honorary" Eraserheads for the evening. We got to see the likes of Mikey Amistoso of Ciudad, Audrey Dionisio of General Luna, Jazz Nicolas of Itchyworms, and even cast members of Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical. DJ Duo The Diegos also helped throughout the night, giving us a little bit of everything: disco, hip-hop, and rock, among other genres explored. The UP Pep Squad made an appearance, too.
A Mr. Pure Energy Sighting
Having Gary Valenciano perform alongside the Eraserheads was amazing. The artist joined the band to sing "Christmas Party," and, yes, he played drums and bongos because that's what Mr. Pure Energy does. It was an interesting song choice, but fit perfectly well. The songs alternated between chill and smooth and downright explosive anyway during the entire thing. And somewhere in the middle was a shot of Gary V. in the arm. He's a hell of a drug.
A Vintage Performance and That Glorious Setlist (Plus, the Songs That We Missed)
Simply put, that was a tour de force. In the first set, we basically got all of Cutterpillow. As the concert progressed, they played practically everything from "Ligaya," "Sembreak," "Alapaap," and "Sabado" to "Minsan," "Pop Machine," and "Pare Ko." Buendia was classic Buendia, toying with the crowd and doing Ely things. Marasigan was as wacky as always. Adoro gave us one banger of a riff in "Spoliarium," too. Zabala even played one of his songs, "Tama Ka," which he co-wrote with his wife, Earnest Mangulabnan-Zabala. As the concert drew to a close, the band, of course, had to play "Ang Huling El Bimbo." They did so complete with fireworks and all that magic.
Some fans did point out that other favorites were missing from the sets. Among some of the notable hits that they didn't play (and that we would have loved to hear) included "Toyang," "Harana," "Huwag Kang Matakot," "Fruitcake," "Hey Jay," "Shake Yer Head," "Tindahan ni Aling Nena," "Kailan," and "Maskara." They also didn't play anything from Carbon Steroxide. But we're just nitpicking here. We couldn't have asked for a better concert. The Huling El Bimbo show was the stuff of dreams and legends. Much like the band's legacy, may it always be suspended in time.