The 1990s is arguably one of the most prolific eras for contemporary music here and abroad.
Records were selling like pan de sal and gig venues like Clubb Dredd and ’70s Bistro were overflowing with patrons. Rock music was mainstream and rockstars were the new idols. And then there was the NU Rock Awards, which recognized outstanding artists.
The first ever winner of the NU 107 Artist of the Year award in 1994 was AfterImage, while Yano won as Best New Artist and the winner for Best Live Act was The Dawn. Incidentally, the vocalists of these three bands will be joining members of other prominent bands in “The 90s Live!” a concert that reunites some of the most respected figures of the decade at The Theatre at Solaire.
Former AfterImage frontman Wency Cornejo thought of having the show in the first place, as a special way of celebrating his 50th birthday.
Best known for the hits “Next In Line,” “Habang May Buhay” and “Tag-Ulan,” AfterImage was one of the bands that pushed the envelope to usher in the OPM (Original Pilipino Music) band craze that occurred in the ’90s. It was the first band from Club Dredd that broke into mainstream and was signed to a major record label.
AfterImage was being pitted against Introvoys, whose songs “Line To Heaven” “Will I Survive” and “Di Na Ako Aasa Pa” crossed over to dominate the pop charts and made Paco Arespacochaga one of the poster boy drummers at the time.
Yano’s music is distinctly Filipino, lyrics and music wise. The band became the vessel for Dong Abay’s stirring songwriting, spewing unforgettable songs like “Banal Na Aso, Santong Kabayo,” “Esem” and “Senti.”
The Dawn is one of the longest-standing bands in the local music scene. Although it was formed in the late 1980s, its influence spilled to the following decade and its legacy lives to this day. “Salamat” is a song that is part of the Filipino consciousness. The Dawn remains active and with Jett Pangan as the frontman.
Yet another band that continues to play in the gig circuit nowadays is Color It Red. While vocalist Cooky Chua has since engaged in other projects, such as last year’s “Awitin Mo, Isasayaw Ko” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, she continues to wow audiences with her sultry voice through songs like “Paglisan,” “Na Naman” and “I Need You Here.” Chua is also one-third of Tres Marias with Lolita Carbon and Bayang Barrios.
True Faith, the band that made listeners swoon with hits like “Perfect” and “Huwag Na Lang Kaya” has not stopped recording music and currently has a distribution deal with Star Records. Frontman Medwin Marfil has also extended his expertise through commissioned projects or by writing for and working with other artists.
Prettier Than Pink was an all-girl pop rock group that emerged in the ’90s with the hit “Cool Ka Lang.” Founding member Lei Bautista, who penned the song, migrated to the United States and soon reincarnated the band with a new set of members. She is currently based in the Philippines and will be one of the performers for “The 90s Live!”
Orient Pearl‘s “Pagsubok,” a song that promotes resilience and determination in the face of misfortune, is also one of the most recognized jukebox-turned- karaoke hits from the ’90s. Hearing Naldy Padilla sing it live again should definitely be better than hearing it on karaoke.
Perf de Castro was one of the original members of Rivermaya and founder of the band TriAxis. He is easily regarded as one of the best Filipino guitarists that ever lived. Now based in the United States, De Castro has made a name and a career for himself using his musical talent. “The 90s Live!” is an opportunity to witness his fine guitar work.
At a presscon for the upcoming show, Cornejo spoke fondly of the decade, saying, “The ’90s was really one of the most important eras in terms of the OPM scene … We had more songs, more bands, more artists and more variety … So I think the golden age of Philippine—for lack of a better term— alternative music really was the ’90s.”
Medwin Marfil of True Faith adds, “The ’90s was a great, great era for music. The best part of the ’90s local bands and local artists is that we had individuality. Color It Red sounded like Color It Red. Introvoys sounded like Introvoys. AfterImage sounded as they are.”
He further explained that young people, especially aspiring musicians, should watch their show to see and hear for themselves how individuality affects one’s output. “There are a lot of great young artists ngayon, but there’s this trap because of technology. They use these, mga gamit, these boxes and offered na dun yung tunog, and they might sound alike eventually.”
“We want to show that the best part of being a musician is to show that you have your own individual style,” Marfil added.
Despite the individuality and distinct sound of each band and the pressure of outdoing their last record, however, the bands shared a sense of camaraderie which they treasure up to this day. This is one aspect that Color It Red’s Cooky Chua wants to share through their performance.
“Gusto ko ring maramdaman nila yung community. Sobrang bukod kasi sa music, grabe yung samahan nung scene. Sana pag nanonood sila, maramdaman din nila yun. Isa talagang community, yung eksena. Isa siyang unit. So mararamdaman nila yun kaming mag-perform together. Hopefully mag-reflect sa stage.”
Session players will be backing them throughout the concert. They will of course play favorite songs from their own records, as well as songs by other ’90s artists.
“The 90s Live!” is a show that should be a nostalgic trip down memory lane and an entertaining music appreciation lesson to the younger generation. OPM in the ’90s was gold and anyone, regardless of age or current musical preference, should be allowed to experience it live
at least once.
Catch the “The 90s Live!” at The Theatre at Solaire on July 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available via TicketWorld. Call 8919999.