March 7, 2009. That was the last time the Philippines saw Ely Buendia, Buddy Zabala, Marcus Adoro, and Raimund Marasigan perform altogether as the Eraserheads for a big-time concert. Ten years have passed and we still feel the chills from that concert attended by over 100,000 people.
If there was any band that redefined Filipino music, especially rock music, it was the Eraserheads. The alternative-rock band from the University of the Philippines symbolized an era for OPM in the 1990s, dishing out tunes that still have us singing during parties, karaoke sessions, car rides, and what have you.
After the original reunion concert in August 2008 was cut short due to Ely having issues with his heart and breathing, Filipinos music lovers wondered if there was still a chance to see arguably the country’s best-ever band to perform once again. And on that March night at the Mall of Asia Concert grounds, their questions were answered. Let’s throw back to some of the best moments from Eraserheads’ The Final Set:
Kicking it off with “Magasin”
The very first song Eraserheads sang for The Final Set was the karaoke favorite “Magasin” from their second album Circus. From a quiet atmosphere the stage lit up to the iconic “oooohh” of “Magasin” (which they weren’t able to play during the August concert) – it was a sign that Eraserheads had come to give one heck of a show.
Lead singer Ely played around during the concert, changing the lyrics for the amusement of the crowd. One of the funnier changes came in “Magasin” when he sang “Medyo pangit ka pa noon HANGGANG ngayon” rather than “NGUNIT ngayon” – he gave the crowd a chance to sing the chorus towards the end of the song, so all is forgiven.
Marcus and Raimund take the vocals
Most of the songs they performed during the first set were from earlier albums, to really amplify the nostalgia. But everyone was surprised when Marcus, who fans say is the quietest Eraserhead, led the vocals for a reggae version of “Huwag Mo Nang Itanong”.
Raimund took over the vocals for “Slo Mo”, “Alkohol”, and “Insomnya”, even if it meant not being by his drum set and sticks. The bandmates took turns so that Ely would not be worn out and be fatigued like the previous concert; but Ely did come back to sing “Torpedo” to wrap up the first set.
Going acoustic, “Julie Tearjerky”, “Pare Ko”, etc.
Everyone can always count on Eraserheads if they’re looking for a quick jam, but for the second set they took a step back to play acoustic versions of their songs; most memorable perhaps among these was “Julie Tearjerky” as Ely played his guitar on a couch.
Even with the mood slowed down, everyone’s ears perked up as Ely said “Let’s go back in time once again…” and began strumming “Pare Ko” (can you even imagine that song having an acoustic version?); through the warm Manila air one could hear the crowd cursing along with the band. They closed the second with “Overdrive” and departed the stage.
Tribute to Francis Magalona, “Superproxy” and “Kaleidoscope World”
Of course the crowds wanted more, and more they got. The Eraserheads came out again to perform an encore, and it was quite emotional as they dedicated “Superproxy” to their good friend Francis Magalona who had just died many hours ago. Magalona did the rap part of the song in the original 1995 Cutterpillow version, while he sang as Ely rapped in the 2005 tribute album; Ely sang and rapped for The Final Set.
The band even took the the time to perform the chorus Magalona’s “Kaleidoscope World”, with Marcus holding up a “Man from Manila” placard for the great Filipino rapper. Another outtake from the encore was the band playing a different arrangement for another crowd favorite “Alapaap”, again to not fatigue Ely but still hype up the crowd.
Emotional Ely for “Minsan” and “Ang Huling El Bimbo”
Ely had kept a stoic face for most of the concert, but toward the tail-end of the night, you could somehow feel the emotions building inside him as he sang “Minsan”; through the verses, memories of the band’s college days, and of every person in the crowd flushed in. The emotions only built higher as Eraserheads played “Ang Huling El Bimbo”, arguably their most popular song even until today.
As the confetti and fireworks decorate the sky to Ely’s “Lumipas ang maraming taon, di na tayo nagkita…”, it seemed like the perfect comeback and farewell. As the music died down, Ely fueled everyone’s eyes as he set the stage piano on fire and stomped on it (you may recognize the piano from their 1997 album Sticker Happy), hopefully gaining closure to what separated the Eraserheads.
It’s not over yet, “Ligaya” and “Sembreak”
But even as Eraserheads left the stage and the tech team were dismantling the equipment, everyone was not content and shouted for more. Raimund came out, urged the crowd to call the rest of the band, and thus began a discussion of what to sing next.
They gave in to the people’s desires as Ely ditched his guitar and said “Three for the road”, and performed two crowd favorites, “Ligaya” and “Sembreak”, even sitting on the stage and rallied everyone to sing with him – especially when he changed the famous lyrics “Gagawin ko lahat pati ang THESIS mo” to “MISIS mo” of the former, and misjudged the ending of the latter.
Ending the night with the crowd, “Toyang”
In the end – and we mean the very end – this night was for all the Eraserheads fans who never stopped supporting the band. So for their final song “Toyang”, Ely went down from the stage to let the people in front sing their heart out like they’ve never done before (you may also remember Tim Yap not knowing the lyrics when Ely pointed the mic at him).
As the band said their goodbyes, at least Ely did, it was a farewell from him, Marcus, Buddy, Raimond, and their guest member Jazz Nicolas of Itchyworms. Ely shouted “We are the Eraserheads!” before belting out the final line “Toyang” – “We were not too young at all!” – and it’s true, be it the Eraserheads or their songs, they will forever be timeless and remembered in the hearts of every Filipino.