I approached the Eraserheads reunion concert with a sense of disbelief and a fair bit of denial. I kept telling myself this can’t be happening, with the razor-sharp undertone of hopefulness that everyone in denial has.
When they started the countdown, the feeling of surrealism only got worse. It felt like I was dreaming. Could the Eraserheads really be getting on stage together again? In between screams of delirious anticipation, I kept badgering my friends with dire predictions of how this gig would not live up to our expectations – Ely won’t appear until three songs later; they’ll only do 10 songs and come up with an excuse not to do more; they won’t actually all be there ‘coz someone is gonna bail at the last minute … that sort of thing.
But when the opening strains of Alapaap enveloped us, all those apprehensions vanished in one joygasmic moment. SUddenly, I was in the presence of the gods of my youth and everything was right with the world. When they sang Ligaya, I sang every lyric as tho I owned it.
But as the concert wore on, and the nostalgia became less urgent, it quickly became apparent that the boys’ hearts weren’t into it. The singing was live, of course, but they may as well have lip-synched it for all the energy they were investing in the performance. There were times when it even seemed more like an ordinary gig than a concert. Hell, they used to improvise more at plain gigs than they did last night. It was la-de-da play one song then mumble-mumble then play another song; they were just going through the motions. It wasn’t a reunion; it was four guys who just happened to be playing the same songs on the same stage at the same time.
Still, it was a treat. Fans are like that. We forgive our heroes, even when they insult our intelligence sometimes. Ely’s voice – while quavery at times – remained the definitive voice of my hormonal years; and Raymond Marasigan was still my personal deity.
But as it turned out, the joygasm would not last too long. After finishing their first set (yet another indication that this was a tedious chore, not a joyous occasion for the ‘heads) , the e-heads went into the back and never came out as a group again. Instead, Ely Buendia’s sister comes out and tells us how her brother had been ill and under a tremendous amount of stress lately, and how they all hoped we would understand. “We apologize for cutting the concert short.” There were boos, of course, but Ely’s sister rushed to add “My dorther has been rushed to the hospital for medical attention.” All of a sudden, people were saying that Ely had had another heart attack. OMFG!
Looking back on it now, I realize that Filipinos always turn to medical emergencies and personal tragedies to explain a sudden no-show. Apparently, the real reason was that he couldn’t stand the heat in the kitchen.
“He had a slight attack because of stress due to the recent passing of his mother (Lisette Buendia), and their sound check which lasted till 3 a.m. today (Saturday),” said MTV Philippines and Radiohead director for marketing Ronald Esguerra in an interview with INQUIRER.net. “But we have received word that Ely is now in stable condition.”
Oh well. I never expected my heroes to have anything other than clay feet.
Still, even if it was good hearing them singing together again, I hope they don’t do another reunion concert. This one, in fact, is prolly one too many. Somehow, they sound much better in my memories.