Sampung Taon: The Kjwan Experience

One of my resolutions for this year is to explore musical styles, learn about music, and most especially, to support local bands. I can pretty much say that I’ve been keeping up with the first two, by taking a class on Rock Music History and being open to suggestions on what to listen to. However, local bands are out of my radar most of the time. There are only two bands that are new to me that I really liked so far: She’s Only Sixteen and Progeny (check them out if you haven’t yet!), both discovered on music events I went to.

First Encounters

My college friends have supported Kjwan since I can’t remember when. They’ve been going to gigs at Handlebar and Saguijo even during the time that we were doing our thesis. I know that band is good, and I know a few songs but I was too far from being a fan.

But this is about to change on the fateful night of August 9, 2013.

Itching For A Break

I’ve been working the night shift for the past two years and I just wanted a Friday night out, so when I saw the poster for Kjwan’s 10th anniversary, I already knew where I’m headed. I asked my friends if they are going and some of them are. I don’t have a phone right now, so we just arranged to meet at Handlebar.

Pretty obvious, innit?
Pretty obvious, innit?

Things didn’t go out as planned, however, because they became sick later that day. They contacted me on Twitter but I didn’t get the message on time, and I can’t be reached through phone because I haven’t got one.

So I stood outside for a bit, but when I realized that they won’t be coming I just found myself entering the bar, clutching the CD and posters I bought while waiting.


When the set started I knew that it was gonna be awesome. Marc Abaya, the vocalist, picked up a megaphone to sing through the verse and I never saw anyone do that before (do people really do it? I don’t think so). The sound produced was reminiscent of a Strokes song from the “Is this It” record (or any Strokes song, actually).

EDIT: I started listening to Stone Temple Pilots and watching their concerts, I found out that it the megaphone is also a Scott Weiland thing to do. Oh the things you find out when you explore music! 🙂
Never saw anyone make better use of a megaphone.
Never saw anyone make better use of a megaphone.

“The boy who made Kjwan whole again”

At this moment let me just insert my favorite part of the night and of the band. They’ve got a new drummer, and a hot one at that (teehee). Eo Marcos is previously with Salamin, the band fronted by Paolo Valenciano, and is now with Kjwan after “a long courtship” as Marc would put it. He’s a hottie cutie patootie (yup I also didn’t know it was possible to be both) who just smiles and looks around and/or wiping off sweat in between songs, but he’s so intense behind the kit. You can actually see his facial expression change the longer he gets into a song.

Of course he's intense! He posted this photo on Instagram after the gig.
Of course he’s intense! He posted this photo on Instagram after the gig.

It’s not like seeing Mick Jagger, but…

A great surprise for Philippine Rock and Roll fans and for all the people in general, is when Marc told the crowd how big an influence Juan dela Cruz Band is to them, and went on to introduce Joey Pepe Smith to sing a few songs! I was so starstruck when I saw him that I just said “Oh my God” while getting goosebumps all over my body. It was a fangirl moment I didn’t really expect. I didn’t even know that I was a fan until that moment. Classic.

Realization: you can be a fan of Pepe Smith and not know it. This hug is just a wonderful moment.
Realization: you can be a fan of Pepe Smith and not know it. This hug is just a wonderful moment.

“All you motherf*ckers better be drinking tonight!”

Marc would talk to the crowd in between songs, asking for a smoke or another glass of scotch, acknowledging friends who came, and bantering with the band. Many a time he got his bandmates (particularly Boogie the guitarist and Inky on keys) to drink alcohol while the people cheered for them. I also can’t remember how many times he thanked the crowd for coming.

I know now why my friends love this band. They’ve got charisma, they act on stage like how they would off it, and they knew they’d be nothing without the people. Playing a 22-song gig for free is enough proof for that.

Instant convert

Towards the end of the set I am an instant convert to this band. I stood there, still holding the posters and the first volume of their fourth album, quite thankful that I didn’t have a phone on that day. Had I known that my friends aren’t coming, I wouldn’t have too–and heaven knows what I would’ve missed.

I somehow felt guilty that I haven’t supported this band early on, when I used to see them on MTV Pilipinas. However, I know that this band isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Like what Marc Abaya said over and over in that anniversary gig, the most annoying thing you can ever ask a band member is “May banda pa ba kayo?” (“Is your band still together?”) because a band is supposed to just keep going. For Kjwan, the past ten years is just the start.

They capped off their set with the song, “One Look”. This is the only Kjwan song I can sing along to, and it’s the song they hate (probably even to the hate levels of Radiohead towards “Creep” or Led Zeppelin towards “Stairway to Heaven”). But heck, I don’t care. I still sang as Marc gave the anthemic chorus for the crowd to sing, already looking forward to the night that I’ll see this band again.

For the meantime I'll just have this poster on my wall.
For the meantime I’ll just have this poster on my wall.

***photos from Kjwan’s Facebook page, Eo Marcos’s Instagram, and mine.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. kulintronica says:

    Great review! Wish I was there!

    1. KC says:

      Thank you! It was really an awesome experience. Hope to see you on some other Kjwan gig soon! 🙂

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