Only the stage in Teatrino is lit.
Hours before she faced a packed auditorium for the last time, Clara Benin stood comfortably alone with her guitar, hair tied in a messy bun, her small frame relaxed in an oversized Team Jesus shirt and sneakers.
She checked her looper one last time before her last live show, “Coming Home,” produced by Stages Sessions, sending echoes of her captivating, serene voice across the empty hall.
The stage was carpeted, littered with books on every corner and accented with vintage lamps that paint a suburban living room—a simple haven that was home. And on that stage, Clara was home.
She slipped backstage hours before the show, and in Teatrino’s darkness you could hear the production crew whistling to Clara’s “Be My Thrill,” a happy tune so infectious, you’re bound to have last song syndrome.
“I just can’t believe I’m headlining my own show,” Clara told the crowd on July 30, the second night of her sold-out concert—notably Clara’s first and last before she goes on an indefinite live-show hiatus.
“Making music, studying music, and performing music can leave a person burnt out,” Clara wrote on her website.
And with that, Clara plans to leave the spotlight with no further explanation. But her choice of songs, and the undertones of the show’s spoken word pieces, revealed more than she would like to admit.
Before the crowd was an artist who uses her talents to worship the Immanent, but also fears the vanity that comes with fame and glory.
She opened the show with her album’s title track “Human Eyes” followed by her most requested original track, “Smile.” Clara then performed “Closure,” the song that put her name on the internet’s music radar and gained her a following.
“This is the first song I ever wrote and had enough courage to release online. So no matter how many times I sing it, it still means so much to me,” Clara shared.
The first set was capped off with a cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow” and her song “Be My Thrill,” where rapper Mito Fabie or Curtismith dropped some bars.
To the delight of her fans, unreleased songs “Remember You” and “Wine” were first heard live, before Clara sang what she said was her favorite song from her album “Human Eyes.”
“Kingdom Come” was said to have been written “out of pain and struggle and all those times when you just question everything in life.
“But in the process of writing this song, I realized that all the pain and struggle—all of it—is temporary,” revealed Clara, who chose to remain as an independent artist enjoying creative freedom and control by writing her own songs.
The concert had three song sets, with spoken word performances in between by Fiona Rama Comendador, Bob Ecarma and Curtismith.
In the second set, fellow acoustic singer-songwriter Johnoy Danao shared the stage with Clara, and the duo sang a cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.”
After a string of ballads and slow-paced pieces, with a faint smile Clara told the crowd: “I like sad songs.”
She then called to the stage her “favorite person to jam with and play music to,” her father, Side A bassist Joey Benin.
With a smile plastered on his face, he asked the crowd, “Ang galing, ’no?”—a moment that called for a round of applause.
Throughout the set Joey Benin remained in the shadows, a comforting presence as the spotlight continued to focus on Clara as they performed “Momentary,” a recently finished and unreleased song, and their rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”
Here, we saw a father in awe of what his daughter had created, and even more so, what she was capable of becoming.
Clara Benin is a natural performer—both passion and talent are in her veins, in her voice, and in the message of her songs.
In her we see the beauty of an artist, lost in glory, struggling to rekindle her roots and discover the trajectory of her musical journey.
There was no encore, and Clara strummed the last note of “Dust” before her exit.
She then left—quickly, silently —while the spotlight remained focused on an empty stage. TVJ