Don't be…mad at me for not being very familiar with Queso, the pioneering rap metal band set for a reunion gig on Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City.
It was only at the 2006 MYX Awards that I first saw Queso vocalist Ian Tayao with Parokya ni Edgar and Kamikazee.
Why didn't Queso float to my consciousness earlier? See, being a documentary photographer, I follow one band around for lengthy periods and develop tunnel vision. After Rivermaya, I had been documenting The Dawn at around that time Queso exploded.
The first time I saw Queso in 2006, I also happened to shoot what's become one of my favorite photos: that of Tayao doing a back flip. After that, I never got to see any of the band's gigs until the group became inactive and Tayao went on to front WilabaliW.
In October, the band had a surprise reunion at a Barangay Tibay gig in Freedom Bar in Quezon City, which I missed as well. So when talks of a reunion began circulating, I made sure I was going to be present in at least one of the rehearsals. Thankfully, guitarist Ocho Toleran got me in for a preview.
Queso began in 1994 as Cheese. Like most bands, they started out as an after-school hobby. In 1997, they released the two-song demo "Fine" and "The Way" which was brought to Francis Brew's old NU 107 show "In The Raw." The songs exploded, sparking the interest of major labels.
In a small rehearsal studio in Cubao a month ago, Queso was still relearning all the songs they haven't played in a while. The band was concentrating so much on perfecting their parts, there wasn't any of the expected high energy coming from Tayao, Toleran, Enzo Ruidera, Tuts Calinawan, Biboy Garcia and Robert Dela Cruz, the current lineup. They got into "Tiamat," "Insekta," and "Mottaka," among others.
Yet outside of the slightly pale vibe in the rehearsal space, fans were beside themselves. There was a rage of online chatter about the band and a recent Queso interview got 10,000 views.
Reunion may signal more changes
What's it like for a band this big to reunite? After the Eraserheads got together again for one-off gigs in 2008 and 2009, local producers seemed to realize if that they could pack large venues, they could mount large scale concerts for both local and international acts.
In the case of the Queso reunion, it could spark two big changes: getting the heavy rock scene to the forefront again and having independent rock bands mount and self-produce their own concerts. This could change, however slightly, the overload of international acts that have poured into the country in the last few years.
But that's just because fan reaction has been so rabid. I can only speculate that because fans actually spent their hard-earned money buying Queso cassette tapes, the band and the music created a deep nostalgic imprint. It could also be a kind of brotherhood that links the artist and the audience, creating a respect that perhaps surpasses the music.
That being the case, I expect Queso's reunion gig to be one of the most important concerts of the year. Greyhoundz, Stickfiggas, Radioactive Sago Project and Kamikazee open for Queso on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 at the Amoranto Stadium. To date, general admission tickets have been sold out. Only a few P1000 VIP tickets are available. But, tickets WILL NOT be sold at the gate so head to Stonefish and Queso Facebook pages for ticket info.
Niña Sandejas is an award-winning music photographer whose work has appeared here and abroad. She was included in Preview magazine's 2011 Creative It List and was named in early 2012 as one of 14 Women Who Rock by Rogue magazine . Visit her blog, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram @rosarioko.
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