Off Bleat #1: Backdraft (Reprise)
Our Bloggist Looks Back at Formative Influences

Yes, the blog received a lot of visits coming off the first post I made about Backdraft. It’ll be stupid (as the ladyfriend would say) for me to not follow that up, so here we go. While I’m at it, may I please invite you, kind reader, to visit my Facebook or my (dormant) Twitter page. Your likes will be highly appreciated. Thanks!

I finally met most of Backdraft last Wednesday during their Radio Republic guesting. It was a preview of sorts for me, having never watched the band live before. I also had my hanger-on hobo moment (thanks to the dude who introduces himself as my future brother-in-law). The first thing that Dick, the vocalist, asked me was, “Are you Japanese?” Luckily, I had a token reply for that, “No, I’m Korean.” Despite the lie (I’m really Laotian), I still managed to get my devil-cassettes signed. I was in disbelief at the band’s disbelief – they were surprised that I had managed to keep my tapes in pristine condition. For myself, I thought, “What’s so weird about that?” Apparently, not all of the band kept decent surviving copies of their own albums – and I was hoping to bum working MP3s from them, too.

Here’s a souvenir shot taken from that event:

Laotian hanger-on hobo, extreme right.

Thank you, guys. I had the sniffles that night, merely coasting on Coke and a Cheese-Top Burger. I’m glad I did not infect you. You didn’t get sick? Well, you’re welcome. High five!

The Radio Republic show was pretty good, by the way. I recommend catching it on replay one of these days. I also heard that it was well received. For me, at least, I thought that the band was only getting their due after all these years. For the longest time, Backdraft would have been considered a cult band – a term that I felt uncomfortable with. A cult band, in my opinion, would be something like the house band for El Shaddai, not Backdraft.

Or this band (who will now sue me for infringement). [thanks, The Cult]

Last week, Backdraft transcended their so-called cult band status. Congratulations, guys… you are now officially seminal – a good word that sounds dirty, although I’m sure it’s something to be proud of all the same (especially because it sounds dirty). It’s such a loaded word… a lot of people do not even get the opportunity to be seminal after puberty, you see.

Come July 14 last week, the seminal metal band and their fans trooped to B-Side for the anticipated reunion. It was heavily promoted:

Success in the 90s meant promoting other bands through t-shirts. [thanks, Backdraft]

Upon my arrival, I immediately secured a shirt and a CD single of the band’s re-recorded “Anak ng Gabi”. There was a whole table of souvenirs made available:

At this point, they’re not a metal band so much as a band of arsonists. [thanks, Backdraft]

I looked around the venue and felt something strangely familiar about the surroundings – I’ve seen most of these people before, haven’t I? I found out later that most of the guests were the band’s friends from college, all being three batches ahead of me in school. It was like the first day of university again for me. It reminded me how much I missed being a freshman – feeling alienated yet secure in the assumption that everyone was my friend even if everyone loathed my very person. Just kidding… I knew even then that I didn’t have friends – ha ha! Good times, those were…

I met the band members soon after. Tyrone (bassist) and Anton (guitarist) introduced me to an upperclassman whom – I was repeatedly told during college – I resembled. I was asked if I was Xavierian, and I said, “No, I’m Korean.” (I lied – I’m secretly Mongolian). They then talked about their kids (because Tyrone’s body clock must have confused the gig for a champagne brunch). For a rock event, it turned out to be a very family-friendly one, and I thought it very welcome since I wasn’t exactly feeling sprightly myself.

I met their drummer, Jigs, by the merchandise table. He offered to get me in for free, which I graciously declined (because I had already gotten in). My false graciousness would cost two beers, I would find out – still, it’s a fundraiser, isn’t it? Dick then asked about the Radio Republic replays, but because I didn’t have a clue, I just gave him my token response, “No, I’m Korean.” (I lied – I’m actually Oriental). Finally, I got to chat up Mirt (or Möt), their guitarist who was absent during the Radio Republic gig. I apologized for his earlier muppetization – I told him that he just had a very friendly name and that I wasn’t really making fun of it…

His evolving nickname mirrored that of the band Mirtorhead (except he misplaced the umlaut). [thanks, Wikipedia]

As a fan, it never really occurred to me that I would get to watch, let alone meet, these guys. I wasn’t slobbering over the experience, mind you, but I found it quite satisfying. It was even humbling, in a way. Nevertheless, somebody needs to remind these guys that they are ‘seminal’ so that they can stop being so nice all the time. Pfft.

And then there was the gig. Despite my fanboy tendencies, I didn’t take note of the setlist, nor did I take photos or videos of the event. I just wanted to enjoy the evening with my few remaining senses, never mind the absence of documentation… I can always just steal pictures from the band, besides (right?). The Backdraft combo band, having together rehearsed their asses off in all of two days (three?), hit their stride right off the bat. This is not to say that they were in perfect sync (no, they weren’t), only that they managed to work the crowd from the get-go. The audience had waited fifteen years for this gig… the band could have played Disney showtunes for all we cared and still have applauded. Even with the tricky indoor acoustics, these arsonists were on fire, and when I suggested before that they would literally be on fire, I didn’t expect for it to be an accurate prediction.

Exhibit A: “Literally”. (Also, a photo referencing the wrong 90s band.) [thanks, Wikimedia]

Excepting any form of self-immolation, the enclosed performance space was crammed with people that it became a veritable sauna. It also didn’t help that it was next to a smoky grill. In that heat, I was half expecting someone to pass out (i.e. myself). Nevertheless, I stood my ground for all of their fifteen-song–set (around one hour and a half). I would later discover the joys of a compressed lower back for this. If anything, though, the night was a testament that music endures. One had to consider how the band members had always had their music as a homebase of sorts despite having been flung into varying places, both geographically and professionally. For all of their short stint at being Backdraft in the 90s, their music has stood on – to be sure, as significant as any accomplishment in business, finance, multimedia, IT, health, and religion.

What about chiropractic accomplishments – you know, for concert-spine? [thanks, Wikimedia]

The band soldiered on through a second set – an open jam among friends, basically. I had left by then, not keen on spending my Sunday in a dehydrated stupor. I know now, at least, to stick to something more age-appropriate, like a Steve O’Neal production, for example. The band was correct, however, when they said the reunion was going to be a party more than a performance. For everyone present, it was as if the 90s did not end.

Can’t wait for season 22! [thanks, 90210]

For one person, anyway, the 90s could very well not have ended. His was the night’s most notable absence, if not its most notable presence. The band dedicated the event to him, after all. For their efforts, they were able to raise close to one hundred thirty thousand pesos to go toward the medical expenses of Ferdie Aquino, their former guitarist. This, by itself, was already a good standard as any to call the reunion a resounding success.

Will we ever see a Backdaft reunion again soon? After last Saturday, why not? Everyone had a great time, didn’t we? Of course, to have something like that happen again would mean another global alignment of circumstances. Another reunion seems highly likely, only that we’ll need to wait it out. It should be safe to say, however, that it will only be a matter of time. And who knows? We may even see a six-man lineup next time around.

Who’s seminal now? Take a bow, boys. [thanks, Backdraft]

Special thanks to Radio Republic and Backdraft for indulging this fanboy.

Categories: [celebrity], [events], [music], [nostalgia]

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