ARTICLE

All for the Sake: Plus Minus in Manila

Indie music is all about the æanti-buzzÆ; commercial hype replaced by deeper, more intimate music sensibilities. Fortunately, this is exactly what the Fil-American troubadours +/- had for their captivated audience last Friday; a subtle, but not silenced, musical experience.

A decent crowd flocked to Warehouse 135 for +/-æs first Philippine gig; musicians, artists and film personalities who are all dedicated fans. The night started out with performances by Taken by Cars, Ang Bandang Shirley, and Ciudad, as some +/- members stood among the crowd, admiringly nodding their heads to the post-punk aural trip.

Indie rock band Versus kicked off the event, with frontman Richard BaluyutÆs solo performances of æNot a FoolÆ and æDuring the MutinyÆ. After a duet with Ang Bandang ShirleyÆs Selena Salang, Richard was joined by brother and +/- frontman James, and bandmate Patrick Ramos. VersusÆ alt-rock riffs combined with twee-pop lyrics showed why they are regarded as one of the prime influences behind the early indie music scene of the 90Æs.

Richard then handed the mic to James, and the now complete +/- drew delighted cheers as the haunting synthwork of æTired EyesÆ broke into heavy guitar screams. The crowd was nothing short of enamored with the 10-song set; as some jumped about and cheered the band on, others nodded intently, taking in the music. Punk rock riffs, spastic samples, and effects-laden tones were woven beautifully in tracks like æSnowblindÆ, æSubduedÆ, and the crowd favorite æLeap YearÆ. The members themselves exchanged instrumental duties as James and Patrick alternated on lead mic, smoothing out the jagged guitars and odd-time beats with calming lyrics.

The band members threw in a few Tagalog phrases in between songs for everyoneÆs entertainment, most amusing of which was drummer Chris Deaner cupping his ear and shouting ôAno??ö to answer the crowdÆs clamor. After the inevitable encore performance æIll AdvisedÆ, the band readily mingled with the crowd for pictures, autographs and the occasional kampay from the fans.

Most of the audience promised a return to Mag:net Fort the next day for +/-æs second leg of their tour. Clearly, the æanti-buzzÆ was all the band needed to deliver a memorable and unique musical performance.

- November 2008

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