VolumED: An Advocacy Concert for Public Education, otherwise known as the annual Xavier Fair, is one of the most anticipated events on a lot of people’s calendars. The main reason for that is because of the concert’s annually-loaded list of bands. Last year, the concert was headlined by Hale and Bamboo, with a not-yet-overly-popular Urbandub, Kjwan, Dicta License, and Orange and Lemons all performing. Not a bad cast. This year, the list of performers was composed of fan-favorites such as Rivermaya, Sandwich, FrancisM, and Kamikazee, mainstream bands like Sponge Cola, Callalily, and Imago, edgier fare such as Kjwan, Chicosci, and Dicta License and critical darlings Urbandub and Itchyworms. On paper, the show was set to be amazing.
I arrived just in time to get some seats to watch the action. Surprisingly, Imago opened up the show at dusk, I was shocked not only because of the band that opened the concert but also the time because the concert started early this year. They performed three songs, including their singles Sundo and Taralets from their latest album Blush. They were not bad by any means, but I was disappointed that they didn’t perform any songs from their more critically-acclaimed albums PNBMD and Take 2. I was really looking forward to Akap too. Oh well. One thing that struck me though, was that the crowd wasn’t really that enthusiastic, a large contrast to the howling mob at the concert last year. Of course, it was just the opening act and the people still had a chance to redeem themselves.
Callalily and Chicosci followed Imago with some forgettable sets. I am certainly not a fan of Callalily, so I was not really into their performance. Let’s leave it at that. Chicosci performed just like an emo band is supposed to, and that included the emo-trademark s of unintelligible vocals and ear-piercing screams. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you. The crowd was still unable to get into the performance from where I was standing, even with the decidedly-mainstream Callalily performing, so I started to feel uncomfortable with the direction of the concert.
I was starting to feel uncomfortable physically as well, the effect of daily performances of high school musicals (pun intended). I wasn’t in the best of shape, but I was still looking forward to Kjwan, a band that really impressed me at the last concert. For those who didn’t attend last year, Kjwan performed a really tight and intense set. Lead singer Marc Abaya came in full force, best exemplified when he unleashed a terrifying scream that exuded the darkness and swagger that signifies their music. Needless to say, they were great. This year, I came in expecting a repeat performance. No dice. Not to say that they mailed in their performance this year, but they just didn’t seem as intense as last year. Perhaps the ill effects of being a MTV DJ are getting to their lead vocalist, because he seemed all nice and polite on stage, something you don’t want from such a dark band like Kjwan. He even gave out posters in the middle of their performance, showing the increased commercialism of the band. They weren’t bad though, just extremely disappointing. They didn’t even perform Twilight, which would have redeemed them, even just a little bit (for me, at least).
Dicta License performed next. They performed most of their singles from their album with the exception of Complex. They were good, but they were drowned in the apathy of the crowd, their effort wasn’t going to result in much. Their set was tight, though.
I was shocked to see Kamikazee go up on stage next, I’d expected them to be one of the main events, if only because of their on-stage antics. They performed songs from Maharot, finishing with that Darna song. If I was feeling bad before then, I was definitely out of it during their performance, so I can’t really pass much judgment. Their performance was one of the sets where the crowd showed signs of life though, so that must count for something.
I’ll talk about the other half of the bands during part two.