Wanderland 2017: A smooth, steady playlist come to life

Homegrown talents Fools & Foes. Below, English duo HONNE kept their lovestruck audience warm on that cold night with their sensual electropop tunes. —PHOTOS BY MAGIC LIWANAG

For its fifth installment, the annual Wanderland Music and Arts Festival adopted a jungle theme with the Filinvest City Event Grounds in Alabang as its new playground. This year’s lineup mostly consisted of buzz-worthy foreign and local indie artists who have earned their fair share of avid followers through streaming media apps, and whose songs have become regular staples on various chillout playlists.

Did they sound as good live as they do on record? Heck, yes. And the visual feast that accompanied them made it even better.

Serving up indie rock beats, this year’s batch of local up-and-comers showed why they all deserved the chance to share the stage with the seasoned pros. Young homegrown talents Tom’s Story, Fools & Foes, Reese Lansangan and Wanderband winners Lola Amour, Banna Harbera and Mickey Sulit did a great job in setting up (and sustaining) a pleasantly smooth and steady vibe throughout the day.

What an honor it was to have both UDD and Gab & John of Urbandub—no less than the best among OPM acts to date—join the lineup. While Armi Millare and Co. debuted their upbeat single “Sigurado” along with crowd favorites like “Oo,” Gabby Alipe and John Dinopol got loyal fans all misty-eyed and waxing nostalgic with powerful acoustic renditions of Urbandub classics like “First of Summer” and “A New Tattoo.”

Foot-stomping fun

With their jangly folk-pop tunes, Aussie trio Woodlock made their Manila debut in a fun, foot-stomping set that perfectly complemented the festival’s jungle theme, with their cover of Rusted Root’s relentlessly cheerful anthem “Send Me On My Way” as the cherry on top.

American trio LANY was arguably the biggest crowd-drawer among millennials, thanks to their ear-candy dreampop ditties that are catchy as hell. Opening with the brand-new dance track “Good Girls” off their hotly anticipated debut album, the boys seamlessly performed massive sing-along hits “ILYSB,” “Walk Away,” “pink skies” and “4EVER!” one after another until they literally left the lovestruck audience begging for more.

The fact that they didn’t play “current location” and “ILYSB (Stripped),” and that they have more new tracks up their sleeves, warrants a second visit and a full-set solo show.

Sultry grooves

Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna easily captivated her audience with her charm and had them singing along to her hit singles like the Usher duet track “Crush.” We’re pretty sure she walked away with more than a few new Filipino admirers that night.

Known among streaming music aficionados for their late-night electropop repertoire, English duo HONNE started off with easy-breezy tracks like “Good Together” and “Someone That Loves You,” then cheekily ended on a sensual note with the soul jam “All in the Value” and the very aptly titled “Warm on a Cold Night.”

Post-rock group Explosions in the Sky provided the perfect respite from all the singing and swaying with their haunting instrumental tunes, while Canadian indietronica act Purity Ring lulled their audience into a blissful trance with hypnotic light patterns and trippy futurepop melodies.

Funk rock

Undoubtedly the most anticipated band among the older audience members, British funk-rock outfit The Ting Tings gave the most energetic set of the night. Infectious singles “Great DJ,” “Shut Up and Let Me Go” and “That’s Not My Name” worked their quirky magic on drooping heads and tired limbs until they bobbed along to the beats.

At around 2 a.m., returning headliners The Temper Trap finally hopped onstage to wrap up a long but fun-filled day, and they wasted no time in expressing their gratitude to the sizable crowd that stayed behind.

“This makes you the most loyal fans ever. If it were me, I would’ve left four hours ago,” frontman Dougy Mandagi commented, drawing cheers from the bleary eyed but eager crowd before unleashing a short and sweet set of searing alt-rock faves, including the ever-reliable nightcap “Sweet Disposition.”

Bigger space

In contrast to Globe Circuit grounds in Makati, where all previous Wanderland iterations were held, the Alabang venue appeared to offer a bigger space to accommodate the growing number of attendees each year. At the same time, it was cozy enough for festival-goers to pick any spot and still be able to enjoy music from any of the three stages. There was also easier access to food and drinks, and the Instagram-friendly LED installments of popular song lyrics were a nice touch.

Because of the generally positive feedback, hardly anyone cared that the sudden downpour the morning of the festival led to unexpected delays in the artist playtime schedules. While latecomers were happy that they were able to catch the early bird bands, staying until 3 a.m. proved a bit difficult for those who had been there as early as noon or who came from the north.

“[The downpour] really blindsided us,” said Karpos Multimedia Inc.’s Stephanie Uy. “The backstage was flooded and some of our equipment got wet. Most of the soundchecks had to be moved because everyone’s safety is one of our main priorities. “We’re doing our best to come up with better solutions for scenarios like this and we appreciate the patience of the community,” added Uy.

In spite of the inclement weather and playtime delays, Year 5 of Wanderland felt like one giant backyard session where you can sit back and enjoy (or discover) half a day’s worth of some of the best curated tunes that current indiepop playlists have to offer. This smooth, steady vibe comes as a welcome departure for many of us who are in the mood for chilling out instead of chasing the usual adrenaline-fueled concert high. We can’t wait to see where this musical wanderlust will take us next year.

Armi Millare of UDD
Gabby Alipe
Malaysian artist Yuna
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