‘Tangina,’ Eraserheads, what a concert!

After 20 years, the band’s appeal continues to grow.

By Kata Rojas

The Jersey City Armory was Pinoy Party Central Saturday night on October 20 when the Eraserheads came to town. For almost two hours, hundreds rocked, danced, head-banged, jumped, waved, screamed and sang along as Ely Buendia, Raimund Marasigan, Marcus Adoro and Buddy Zabala performed their biggest hits.

I’ve a confession: I was a little worried the crowd wouldn’t get into it when the show started. The concert began almost an hour late, and during that time we were serenaded by the smooth jazz sounds of Kenny G. Not exactly a rousing warm-up for a rock concert.

But as soon as the band went on stage, the standing-room-only crowd went wild and surged forward. Well, those outside the enclosure for those with VIP tickets anyway. The guys kicked off with “Walang Nagbago” — and I have to say, the phrase fits the Eheads to a T. The band members looked almost exactly like they did when I last saw them more than 20 years ago. “Wow, ang payat ni Ely” was something I heard throughout the night.

Whether they sounded the same, I couldn’t really tell. The audio system at the Armory was horrible. I thought the band was still doing a sound check because all I could hear was this sort of scratchy feedback. I’m still waiting to regain full hearing in my left ear.

The audio improved a little by the time the band segued to that ode to drunken rants “Pare Ko,” arguably the band’s most popular song. Concert-goers seemed to relish singing — or shouting — the obscenity-laden chorus. I know I did.

As the band performed its biggest hits — “Minsan,” “Magasin,” “Kama Supra,” “Super Proxy,” “Huling El Bimbo” among them — most of the crowd enthusiastically sang along — an impressive feat of remembrance, considering some of these songs debuted almost two decades ago. Then again, not everybody learned these songs when they first came out. An informal survey (meaning I asked the people around me) showed a good number were relatively new fans who’d heard of the band through family in the Philippines, through their appearances on TV or videos on YouTube. No doubt about it, the Eraserheads’ appeal continues to grow.

Crowd goes wild.

A ‘bibingka’ bar. Photos by Kata Rojas and Eraserheads/YouTube

Now, this is one of the more unusual concerts I’ve ever been to. Normally, there is a bar at a concert venue. Occasionally, there is a concession stand selling popcorn or nachos. But this is a Filipino concert, a Filipino party. And so you have bibingkas, lumpiang Shanghai, pancit, lechon kawali and rice in small plastic containers. And if you’re looking for something more unusual, there were sticks of chicken feet (adidas) and some tripe.

I wish there was a little bit more interaction between the band and the crowd beyond the “Hello, Jersey!” greeting. According to Buendia, this was the band’s first visit to Jersey City. I would have liked to have known what they thought of the city, home to one of the biggest Filipino populations in the Northeast. Did they get a chance to see any of it? Did they go to Jollibee as hundreds of concert-goers apparently did for a meal (OK, I’m kidding about that)? But I guess the horrible audio precluded chatting.

By the way, if you missed the Jersey concert — or the ones in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto, for that matter — don’t worry. You can see, and hear, parts of it on YouTube. Just do a search for Eraserheads. Seriously, when did videorecording become a huge part of concert-going? I spent half of the night trying to dodge the cameraphones above me and in front of me to get a better view. Adoro nodded at the raised phones and noted that while videorecording was still legal in the United States, it could be considered “libel” in the Philippines — a reference to the controversial RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Time flies quickly when you’re having so much fun, and Saturday night was no exception. All of a sudden, the guys were thanking the crowd and saying goodbye. But a lot of us are veterans of Filipino concerts. We knew there was going to be an encore. Plus, they haven’t even played “Toyang,” “Ligaya” or “Alapaap,” the latter being the song that got our favorite band in trouble in the mid-’90s with Sen. Vicente Sotto. He said the song was about getting high. They said it was about freedom. Listen closely to the lyrics and tell me it’s not about the freedom to get high.

The guys did come back and sing a few more songs, including the three I mentioned above. And then they said their goodbyes for the last time. Just like that, the night of nostalgia was over.

Kata Rojas is a journalist in New York. She spends her nights untangling sentences and polishing headlines for the various publications and platforms of a media company. Her days are spent cooking and blogging about food, cheering the New York Yankees and devouring books.


  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    As a music lover to the bones, I enjoyed read about the recent concert at The Armory featuring Eraserheads..

  2. Jen J Cruz wrote:

    I had an amazing time at the Eraserheads’ North American Tour 2012 in Jersey City. It was such an Epic Night that I will never forget cuz I was one of many who had their phones in the air recording hehehe but its legal. anyways I had such an awesome night that I even blogged about it in my blog site check it out at http://www.jjcruz.com . ERASERHEADS R AWESOME!!!

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