Diary of a roadie: On the road to the First Five

Only 5 percent of a rock band’s time is actually spent on stage; 95% of it is spent waiting. Waiting for a tour bus or a plane to arrive. Waiting for sound check. Waiting for one’s turn to play. And on this particular day, the date of the Tanduay First Five TV Shoot, it’s waiting for… parking.

With five of the country’s top bands—Tanduay fondly refers to them as “The Mythical Five”—with entourages of up to 15 persons each, the street has become so jammed with triple-parked cars, filled to the gills with guitars and amps, that it has attracted the police’s tender attentions.

I swear quietly under my breath and decide to take the cars one by one to a nearby strip mall for refuge.

VJ Iya takes to the pole

Last year's Tanduay production team had craftily set up an assembly line of camera set-ups. One band was busy doing an “outdoor” scene—in reality, it’s a burnt-out New York-style alley, authentic down to the glistening asphalt, recreated in a huge soundstage.

The next group was doing an interior shot in a gritty Yakuza bar, while leather-clad VJ Iya was warming-up around a pole.  Yet a third was in front of the lenses of Pulp magazine. (The results wound up in a big poster pull-out of all the bands.)

Others were doing interviews or recording sound bites for the Tanduay “Sin City” campaign. Voila! Waiting time is cut to nothing at all.

Theme based on ‘Game of Thrones’

This year, the official theme is "Rock Royalty," a sort of take on the popular TV series "Game of Thrones," which in a way also aptly describes the process of selection of how Tanduay anoints and crowns the five “kings” of Philippine rock.

There’s a glassed-in room that looks out on the frenetic activity, filled with open laptops, wide-screen plasma TVs (for the instant playbacks), a buffet groaning with all kinds of food, and a couple of rockers in very dark glasses slumped on the sofa yawning. It’s 11 a.m. and everyone has been at it since dawn.

The assistant director, armed with a bullhorn, provides regular comedy designed to wake up the crew. By the way, the crew includes a Japanese lightsman, wearing a paper breathing mask, who commands the cinematography.

Things are going so briskly that when a faux oil drum accidentally bursts into flames, the crew makes a joke of it by spraying it daintily with a tiny water bottle.

The rock circus comes to town

“We have the whole process down to a science,” smiles Gladys Basinillo, chief architect of the Tanduay First Five, and the upcoming 22-city tour. It’s Year IV, for the country’s biggest spectacle. Yes! The rock circus has come to town, and it’s probably going to be near you, whether you’re in Baliwag or Catbalogan, the Philippines’ every nook and cranny is just about covered.

“The challenge for Team Tanduay right now,” explains Gladys, “is how to make the First Five Tour bigger, badder, and louder than the last year.”

What’s not to like? This year’s roster is made up of Pambansang Banda ng Pilipinas, Parokya ni Edgar (authors of monster hits such as “Mr. Suave” and “This Guy’s In Love With You, Pare”);  the madcap Kamikazee; Rico Blanco; Urbandub; and iconic metal band Wolfgang. (Frontman Basti Artadi has credited Tanduay for moving him back to Manila for good.)

Now, the real waiting begins—as the tour blazes off every weekend this summer. Next stops: Dumaguete, April 20th; Bataan, April 27th; and Bulacan, April 28th. #

Lizza Guerrero Nakpil is the manager of Wolfgang. Her posts appear regularly on Yahoo! Philippines OMG!

Read Lizza’s previous posts: How not to be starstruck even if you’re a fangirl (or boy), Rock star tattoos

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