T he stage was empty save for the long table covered with black velvet cloth. There was no backdrop, no centerpieces, just six water bottles and swivel chairs. Nothing could be more perfect, because the afternoon didn’t need anything else.
The minute Raimund Marasigan, Buddy Zabala, Marcus Adoro and Ely Buendia, collectively known as the Eraserheads, entered the stage, the ABS-CBN Dolphy Theater in Quezon City was filled with excitement and awe. It wasn’t just a press conference for the “Huling El Bimbo” concert. The band’s influence and effect on the people were also inadvertently showcased.
Every gesture and expression on their faces was scrutinized for over an hour. Marasigan, Zabala and Adoro were seated together on one side, while on the other end, Buendia was flanked by WEU Event Management president Francis Lumen and “Huling El Bimbo” director Paolo Valenciano.
Members of the press kept asking what they missed about being E’heads, but in reality, it was the other way around. The audience that day obviously missed seeing the band together. After all, the press were also composed of people, most likely part of the generation that the band helped define.
“I thought I would be sick of the journey by now. But it’s still full of surprises,” Buendia said. “Even when we were a small band from Diliman, we had our punk roots. Our songs are super layered, lots of guitars. We also dabbled in orchestral arrangements. I think this is the first time that we are going to play the song the way it was intended.”
The band met and rehearsed with the orchestra for the first time on the day of the press conference. Zabala experienced goosebumps playing it.
“My favorite song today is literally ‘Lightyears.’ It sounds good, it feels good,” Marasigan said. “Lightyears” is a song from the band’s Christmas album “Fruitcake” (1996). Mel Villena arranged the original and the orchestral version.
“I had to stop playing for a bit and come closer for a bit and listen. Because may magic talaga ang ganung ensemble instrumentation. Hopefully, you’ll get to experience that on Dec. 22,” Zabala said. Adoro had a similar experience. He said that he also stopped playing to listen to the music.
Buendia, on the other hand, said that all their songs are special to him, and they feel different from when they first played them all those years ago. “We have personal favorites from our catalog, sadly some of those hindi pasok sa show. I wish we could play all the songs from the underrated albums. Maybe someday we can do that,” Buendia said.
The orchestra is not the only thing that will make the show special. Lumen promised that the concert will attempt to make history. This includes a performance from deceased rapper Francis Magalona.
“On Dec. 22, we are going to revive him, and you will see him perform through the technology of hologram,” Lumen said.
Magalona passed away on March 6, 2009, a day before the “Final Set” reunion concert of the band that year. He was supposed to appear as a surprise guest.
Magalona collaborated with the band numerous times before. This includes the song “Superproxy 2K6” from the tribute album “Ultraelectromagneticjam!” (2005), wherein the rapper shares credit with Buendia.
The hologram will be the first song on the set list; thus, Lumen discouraged the audience from being late. But that is not the only technology that we will be seeing onstage. Lumen hinted at special effects such as drones and lasers.
It’s about the music
Valenciano said that it has been his dream to mount a show of international standards. “Everyone involved in the production are all E’heads fans. It’s very personal and you will see it in the lighting, visuals, and pigments,” he said.
Valenciano added that they also made sure that despite all the techs and special effects, nothing will distract the fans or divert their attention from what they really came for: the band’s music.
Zabala said that the songs that made it to the set list were discussed by the band.
“We put together a set that was interesting to us, and we thought you would like. Hopefully, you will like it the way we do,” he said.
Marasigan revealed that even two weeks before the concert, the set list was not yet final. The one they have now might even change the week before the show.
“We work a lot on the set that changes every week. It gets better—well, at least for us. Hopefully it will be great for everyone,” Marasigan said. Zabala said that working with their songs reconnected them to how they felt 30 years ago. The band is also reacquainting themselves with the songs intimately.
“I realized that I missed playing the Eraserheads songs,” Zabala said.
‘Do we cry?’
The Eraserheads have a reputation for being irreverent during interviews. But even this has become part of their legend. It’s always best to take their sense of humor for what it is.
When asked if they get sentimental, Buendia responded, “Do we cry? Do we cry?”
But then he continued, “Everyone’s experiences are different. We’re happy for you to find, and glad that you find, our music special. We really appreciate that.”
He added that it’s different for people like him who write and perform the songs. He joked that he cries when food delivery is late, and he cries a lot when that happens. “But for the most part, there are no tears. Only tears of joy because this is such a mind-blowing experience even for old geezers like us who thought we’d seen it all,” Buendia said.
He added that working for this concert felt like they had a genie who granted all the wishes that they had. Buendia said that he pinches himself sometimes to check if this is real. The whole event was a great experience for all of them.
What would their lives have been like if they went on? Buendia joked that Marasigan and Zabala would be a couple by now.
The normally laconic Adoro also had a cheeky answer.
“Kung nagtuloy-tuloy kami, eh di walang reunion,” Adoro said.
If they continued their lives as Eraserheads, Ely said at the press con earlier that Raimund and Buddy will be a couple by now. 🤣— SUPER (@inquirersuper) December 7, 2022
"Huling El Bimbo" con is set on Dec. 22. This might be their last con in PH and possibly, kick off a world tour. #HulingElBimbo2022 pic.twitter.com/b6tmICn6YO
Worth fighting for
The members fought for things that they think will make the concert a better event for the fans. This included more portalets, more places to buy food and drinks.
“Places for seniors, because we have parents going. We also have rooms for children because we have kids, nieces and nephews going. So we fought for things like that,” Marasigan said.
He revealed that they also fought for more tickets, hence ticketing opened after it sold out in the initial selling. The concert will also be streamed, according to Marasigan. The event is touted as the last concert of the band in the Philippines. The reason for this was revealed by Lumen. He said that they are working on a possible world tour and documentary of the behind the scenes of this concert.
When the press conference was over, the Eraserheads approached the press on the side of the stage to give autographs and photos. Media workers also adore them.
We approached Marasigan and asked him if we could shake his hand. “Give me a hug!” he said. After the hug he added, “I appreciate you.”
The producers are clearly collaborating with the Eraserheads to create a great show. But the band itself is working hard for the show to be memorable to the fans who will watch.