We're With The Band: What Went Down At Wander Battle
Meet the artists ready to make a splash at Wanderland Pixels next year!
If there’s one key takeaway from looking at the current state of OPM, it’s that you can count on the newest crop of homegrown bands to revitalize the industry. Still, up-and-comers with skill, talent and the rare ability to command the attention of an audience so early on are difficult to come by. Lucky for us, we found five of them under one roof at Wander Battle.
On November 24, Karpos Multimedia hosted its annual search for a musical act to complete their stellar lineup and artists to showcase their work at Wanderland Music & Arts Festival. Wander Battle was held this time around at STKD Zeppelin in Brixton, Kapitolyo, a quirky co-working and event space that was transformed into an intimate nook for creatives just for the evening. In one corner, Wanderartist finalists Sam Bumanlag, Christian “Cholo” Cardenas, JP Pining, Aldwin Zapanta, Humbly, Rai Hamid put paintbrush to canvas and got to work on their pixel-inspired entries. In another, the Wanderband finalists took the spotlight one by one.
Sam, Rai, Humbly, Cholo, JP and Aldwin. Photo: Floyd Jhocson / Globe
The sold-out event was hosted by 99.5 Play FM’s Katz Salao who walked eventgoers through a fun-filled evening of great music, art appreciation, games and free beer (thanks to Globe Prepaid) with raffles and surprises in between.
Setting the tone for the evening was Rob & The Hitmen, the four-man band that soulfully and masterfully injected Funk and R&B into their already distinct pop sound. One Click Straight, meanwhile, gave us a rock rendition of Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” that we never knew we needed (that cover, by the way, was smoother than butter. And if the boys ever record a studio version, we’ll probably have that on repeat for weeks). The third band in the lineup called Devices won us over with their warm-up opening line: asking the audience if they like tita songs and then performing a flawless cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”. The fourth band, Basically Saturday Night, basically dominated the night and even came with a fan club (their friends who came to show support took up practically half the space at STKD Zeppelin). With their incredible stage presence, Migie Croon's distinct vocals and projection, the energy of the bandmates and their chemistry with the audience, it was easy to just assume they had been doing this for years. Finally, upbeat alternative and indie band Carousel Casualties capped the competition off with a memorable Khalid medley, getting the entire room to sing along to “Location” and “Young Dumb and Broke”.
Inciting a bit of nostalgia were guest performances by previous Wanderbattle winners, musical groups who are now enjoying the spoils of their hard work and relishing their continuous rise since winning a spot as performers at Wanderland. Giving the finalists a preview of what’s to come were: last year’s winner Lola Amour, dynamic duo Leanne & Naara and the first ever Wanderband winner, The Ransom Collective.
Lola Amour. Photo: Floyd Jhocson / Globe
Leanne & Naara. Photo: Floyd Jhocson / Globe
The Ransom Collective. Photo: Floyd Jhocson / Globe
It was a night that left everyone on a high. With the roster of talents that showed up that evening, it was tempting to petition to hail all finalists as winners. But alas, there could only be six Wanderartists and one Wanderband.
Here, the winning pieces by the second batch of Wanderartists: Christian “Cholo” Cardenas, Sam Bumanlag, JP Pining and Humbly!
Christian “Cholo” Cardenas. Photo: Floyd Jhocson
Humbly. Photo: Floyd Jhocson
Sam Bumanlag. Photo: Floyd Jhocson
JP Pining. Photo: Floyd Jhocson
And remember the name, ladies and gents. They’re about the make it big time: Basically Saturday Night is this year’s Wanderband!
We got to catch up with the band members for a quick chat following their awarding. When asked if they felt at any point this was a sure win, they all laughed in unison. “Uh, no. No, ” guitarist Junoy Manalo said firmly. “My amp was unplugged for a portion of [our set], I had some technical difficulties and I had to work on damage control. I felt terrible after. I was apologizing to everyone. So, it definitely wasn’t a moment where we went: ‘Oh, it’s in the bag.’” Vocalist Migie Croon added: “Especially since we were going up against big bands, I didn’t think it was ever going to be a sure win. These guys have been doing this for a long time and we just started. We haven’t been together that long as a group; we started in February.”
Anyone at STKD Zeppelin that evening wouldn’t have guessed that there was anything for the band to troubleshoot though. There was no indication of distress on the stage…just their high-energy performance that left the audience transfixed. In part, the infectious energy of BSN’s friends in the crowd played a crucial role. “Our friends actually were half this show,” shared drummer Faisal Tabusalla. “The crazy part is we’re in Pasig, but our friends came all the way from the South for this. And we never asked them to do that.”
The band went on about how indebted they were to their friends who they say pushed them to send an entry in for Wanderbattle. The idea to join Wanderland’s battle of the bands, however, had been a standing joke among the band members. “When they moved Wanderland to Filinvest earlier this year, we all attended. The winner of Wanderbattle at that time was Lola Amour, friends of ours from the south. We even played side-by-side with them at the Takipsilim Bazaar And Music Festival last July,” said Faisal. “And Migie and I were like: ‘Imagine if we got to play here next year.’”
Basically Saturday Night's Jairus Paul, Arvin Dale, Faisal Tabusalla, Junoy Manalo and Migie Croon. Photo: Floyd Jhocson
Catch Basically Saturday Night and runner-up Carousel Casualties as they take the stage at Wanderland Music & Arts Festival 2018: Wanderland Pixels next year on March 10 at the Filinvest City Event Grounds. They’ll be joining IV of Spades, Lauv and FKJ with more acts to be announced soon!