Off Bleat #2: Wilson Phillips (Reprise)
Our Bloggist Looks Back at Formative Influences

Well, we’ve already established that I love Wilson Phillips on a level that could be a bit unhealthy for a grown heterosexual male. What next? We refer to recent events, of course…

Finding out that Wilson Phillips were coming to Manila felt to me like discovering money in an old pair of baggy jeans, except with a bit more schoolgirl giddiness. I didn’t expect it, but that wouldn’t stop me from getting excited.

At the same time, I felt confused. Have I just become a prime demographic for nostalgia promoters? Am I that old? Surely not! Weren’t the 90s only ten years ago? What? This couldn’t be happening…


I shall cope by doing a 90210 marathon. [thanks, 90210]

Nevertheless, I finally had the opportunity to set into motion a twenty-year-old plan. The first step of Plan 72-C involved transitioning from hopeless fanboy to stalker… something made easier by the fact that the girls would be holding a signing session. With my luck, it turned out to be the day of the UAAP championship. Never mind that – missing Ateneo secure the five-peat meant driving through EDSA breezily. School spirit? Not that day, sorry.


One Big Fight! For one stack of signed CDs!

The line at the Wilson Phillips signing was not as crazy as I expected (well, most of the folks I knew who wanted to go were watching the game). Each person was given a few minutes to go up the stage, chat with the girls, and – of course – have stuff signed.


Since this took place in Manila, everybody also made sure to take photos, and shamelessly.

Incidentally, after this photo was taken, a dude spoke over the PA to remind everyone that the event was for autographs and NOT photo-ops. Oops. For what it was worth, the announcement probably stopped the next three people in line before everyone else whipped out cameras again. Mabuhey, Philippines!

Proclaiming oneself a fan is like setting a Facebook status to ‘It’s Complicated’. Fans love as much as they hate, and it’s rarely just about one single aspect. The keenness for the music is obvious, but as a Wilson Phillips fanboy, it’s never really been just about the music for me. Having the girls in my immediate atmosphere, my mind wanted to go in a dozen different directions. Do I tell them that I love their music? And that they sang really well together? Should I mention that their albums helped me convince girls that I was ‘sensitive’? Do I tell them that I worship their parents? Or that they were hawt? It’s confusing.


“Oh, you girls! I’m totally gay for you!”

Round One. I knew I had to make an impression. I handed Wendy the CDs along with my name on a Post-It. She said, “I like your name. Ronan. That’s a good name.” My uterus just about tilted. Can you say my name again, please? Since I couldn’t take compliments very well (it’s genetic), I tried to hack out a reply with false modesty, “Thanks. I don’t know how my parents came up with it.” (I lied – it’s the first syllables of my parents’ names combined, taxi-style). I was going to marry you, Miss Wendy, I thought, regressing into my twelve-year-old self. I continued, “It’s an Irish name. Thank you. But I’m not Irish. Ha!” Is this a near-death experience?

Round Two. Chynna, who was seated at the other end of the table, then told me, “Can I just say that I love your glasses?” But really? Dammit – I got menstrual cramps. Please don’t compliment me again, Miss Chynna, or I’m going to need hormonal supplements. I gathered my remaining senses, along with some more false modesty, and wittily replied, “Ooooh, they’re fake! Ha ha!” (I lied – but I wasn’t going to explain the intricacies of the grey market to her). Please stop looking at me like that, Miss Chynna. “Err. They are good glasses, aren’t they? Thanks! I love this pair. I’ll be blind without them.” If there’s any justice in the world, a sixteen-ton weight will now crush my idiot carcass.

Round Three. Carnie, in the middle seat, then noticed that I had a copy of The Wilsons’ 1997 CD. It was labeled ‘Advance Music’. I knew it was rare, but I didn’t realize that it was exclusive to music industry types – it was an advance copy (and all that time, I thought the title was ‘Advance Music’). She said, “I love this album.” I replied, “I stole it!” (I lied – I bought it from an exclusive record company sale). Help me and my false modesty. She then handed it to Chynna, who stared at it for a few seconds, shrugged, and signed it. Oh God, no. I didn’t mean to have her sign something that she didn’t have anything to do with, let alone a memento of their late 90s split. It would have been the perfect opportunity to lie and tell her that I ‘forgot her solo album’, but my lying skills failed me right then – shame on me. For this faux pas, I pledged to steal a copy of that album for real (it’s not too shabby). Thank you, Miss Chynna.

So far, so good… I unleashed mental farts onto my idols/crushes, fulfilling my quota of one apiece. Excuse me, let’s use the less offensive term ‘verbal diarrhea’… the gist being, everything I said made me sound like an ass. Then again, at least an ass implied but one sphincter – I was scattering brain byproduct from all possible orifices.


Image Withheld – Editor

Finally, Carnie asked me whether I was going to next evening’s concert. Bonus Round! She probably liked that I stole her album. I said, “Yes, even if it means missing my parents’ anniversary!” (I lied – I didn’t have tickets yet, exactly because of that occasion). The three of them put on uneasy smiles before Carnie chirpily said, “Well, tell your parents that we wish them a happy anniversary!” Mercy Round! How sweet. Anyway, it’s not a round number. Nobody celebrates thirty seven years… what’s that, anyway? Their body temperature anniversary? In Celsius? . I couldn’t help but follow up with a snappy retort, “Even better! I’m going to bring them to the concert tomorrow!” You guessed it – I lied.


“Is that weird bearded dude taking pictures? Don’t look. Thumbs up if ‘yes’.”

Major fanboy fail. At least I made an impression, I thought, although they’d probably remember me as the weird dude with the scraggly beard…


Aww, she’s not THAT scraggly!

With a family dinner poised to prevent me from watching the concert, I knew that I needed to convince my folks to go to the show in lieu of dinner. I asked my mom…

“Mom? Err. Mommy? I need to tell you something.”

“Don’t worry, son. I’ve been expecting this.”

My face lit up. “Really?”

“Yes. I’ve had an inkling or two, but I wanted to hear from you.”

“Wait… what is this about?”

“Nothing, son. Your dad and I are proud of you. We want you to be happy. Just know that we love you as you are.”

“Have you rehearsed that speech for when I’d come out?”

“Aren’t you A GAY?”

“Not that I know, no. How could you even think that? Haven’t you met Joanne?”


Oh, for crying out loud…

“I thought she was just being – you know – modern. Well, thanks for wasting my time and empathy, son. What do you want?”

“Well, it’s about Wilson Phillips…”

“What? Are you A GAY?”

“No, I’m not gay! I just want to invite you to a concert…”

“Is he any good?”

“Not ‘he’, mom… ‘they’. Wilson Phillips are three lovely ladies who sing in harmony. I also find them attractive, because – you know – I’m not gay. Two of them are the daughters of Brian Wilson from The Beach Boys, and the other one is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips from The Mamas & The Papas.”

“Oh, but do they sing any of their parents’ songs?”

“Yes. In fact, you and dad would know a lot of the songs on their latest CD. ‘Dedicated’ is all covers – I mean ‘revivals’ – of Beach Boys and Mamas & Papas songs. It’s obvious, really. Their parents wrote songs drenched in harmonies, so the album explores those with purely female voices. The tracks are also a mix of hits and catalog nuggets. You have to hear it… I have a copy.”


Signed, too.

“Sounds interesting… but I bet the concert will only have youngsters like you watching.”

“I’m thirty-three, mom. I’m not a ‘youngster’. Besides, Wilson Phillips have always sort of championed ‘old music’… the sort of stuff that you and dad would be used to – 60s, 70s pop, daddy rock classics, that sort of thing. Their last couple of cover albums indicate so, too.”

“I don’t know. They seem hip to the jive. Do they sing modern songs?”

“Yes, and they were modern hits in the modern world of twenty years ago. I think even their original material kind of drew from classic influences. They didn’t really have much choice, though, because these influences came firsthand. It’s just osmosis. I mean, they were barely into their twenties, but their songs charted in Adult Contemporary. I normally dread that classification, too, but they’re actually pretty good. I mean, it is such a tentative term. It’s only called ‘adult’ because baby boomers –”

“Why are you being such a geek, son?”

“Watch the concert with me tomorrow, please? Mommy? Tell Daddy.”

Mmm mmm.

“What’s that sound?”

Mmm mmm. Mmm?

“That’s just some non-committal mumbling.”

Mmm?

“I met Wilson Phillips earlier. They said to wish you happy anniversary.”


I lied to them, Mom.

Mmm? How nice of them! It’s not a big date, though. Thirty seven years? What’s that, anyway? Our body temperature anniversary? In Celsius? Half-diamond? Why don’t you take Joanne?”


Seriously, stop it…

“Joanne has work. And I want to celebrate with you and Dad. I’ll skip the concert if there’s a family dinner – that’s a no-brainer.”

Mmm? Is that why you want us to go? So you can watch and not feel guilty?”

“Yeah, it’s like two birds and one stone, you know? I’m efficient.”

“In that case, let’s just call off dinner. We didn’t make plans, anyway. I’d rather luxuriate at home. When you’ve been married for thirty seven years, you’ll understand.”

“So, you’re ok with me watching?”

“Yeah, go to your shindig. Leave us old people in our misery. You youngsters and your modern values…”


And thus youngsters came in droves to the shindig…

On the day of the concert, I went through the usual suspects in the hope of securing a ticket. Worst case would be buying off a scalper, I figured. I got lucky by late afternoon when a friend told me that she had an extra Lower Box ticket. On the drive to the Mall of Asia Arena, however, she called to say that she gave those tickets away…


Because she found us Patron seats instead.

With the lucky turn of events, I felt extra crappy that my girl-beard and my parents couldn’t come. Not that I had much time to ponder over my guilt, anyway. I had a show to watch. Wilson Phillips took the stage to “It’s Only Life” – a non-single (which, in hindsight, should have been one). They were quick to follow that up with “You’re In Love”, recalling many a videoke night for the audience.


The crowd only managed a “92 – You are very good singer!”

The songs that followed were a good mix, although the set list understandably favored the first album and the latest one. Pretty much all the hits were there except “Give It Up”. Its absence could have been for the best, though, because I would have regressed into puberty, as when Wendy later took to “Impulsive”.


And I hemorrhaged. Wendy, I never thought a guy could cry…

The girls performed “California Dreamin’” and “Dedicated to the One I Love”, two classics from The Mamas & The Papas which they covered on their new album. Wilson Phillips had always been profiled as the offspring of The Beach Boys and The Mamas & The Papas, except I don’t think anybody in Manila cared much about the connection. I did, however, and when Wendy asked the arena whether anybody knew about ‘a little album called ‘Pet Sounds’’, I took it as a cue to scream my panties off – except hardly anyone else reacted in such an underwear-peeling fashion (pardon the fanboy moment). Off that album (and ‘Dedicated’), the girls would do “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “God Only Knows”.

When the girls began to introduce their ‘favorite Elton John song’ early in the show, a girl behind me shouted “Tiny Dancer”. This forced my eyes to roll so hard that daggers broke through the back of my head. I mean, come on! The girls did “Daniel” (obviously), but to such problematic monitors that Carnie had to give the others earplugs. They continued to talk about their influences growing up, and for a few seconds, when the familiar riff was played, I thought they would do “Barracuda”. I would have imploded (especially over the fact that they would be doing a song by another set of awesome Wilson sisters – geek!).

The crowd reactions were strongest on the 90s hits, of course. The numbers that I appreciated the most, however, turned out to be the quiet ones. “You Won’t See Me Cry”, “In My Room” (a Beach Boys encore bit), plus parts of “Release Me”, showed just how my girls could weaponize tunes with just three voices.


They were – err – the bomb.

According to Carnie, they added three numbers to their set list just for the Manila gig. I noted two. One of them was “Eyes Like Twins” from their debut. The other was “Kokomo” – a choice appropriate to a tropical country, but also the most (if not the only) vilified Beach Boys song in their fifty-year career. Strange choice, I thought. The relevance struck me mid-song: “Kokomo” not only was a hit for the Boys, but was also co-written by Chynna’s dad. The performance was OK, only I kind of wished they did another song in its place. Nevertheless, it was a special number for us Filipino fans, and tools like me should just shut up and be thankful.

And then there was the Abba medley. I was afraid that I really gave off wrong impressions during the previous day’s signing, you see, because I was clearly not the target demographic of “Dancing Queen”. That song, Dayanara Torres memories notwithstanding, had always been painful. Wilson Phillips performing “Dancing Queen” felt to me like nibbling fine chocolates with chewy centers of aluminum foil. Don’t get me wrong – I love my Abba – but my gay wasn’t boundless. Case in point: I liked how the song transitioned into “Does Your Mother Know?”, with Carnie’s husband (on guitar), Rob, taking over the male parts. That song title, by the way, is what we call a rhetorical question. When one listens to Abba, the only answer to “Does your mother know?” is “Yes, she knows because you listen to Abba.”

For what it was, however, that Abba medley got the crowd going, and the girls clearly fed off the energy (one should not underestimate the power of the disco break). Chynna, easily the best dancer among them, could barely be contained. She’d always been a joy to watch in her graceful frenzy, hopped up on oxygen and losing herself to the music like a dervish in silver heels.


I mean, all my solo shots of her were blurred.

Carnie, likewise, seemed to be on a performance high. She dished out most of the stage banter, addressing the audience like we were girlfriends – why was she not a gay icon, exactly? Didn’t she do a convincing enough Cher? It’s a shame, I realized, that Wilson Phillips weren’t huge gay icons, especially after that Abba medley. During the big chorus break of “Hold On”, their closer, Carnie paused mid-performance near where I stood and waved at me. My colostomy bag broke. I guess I did make enough of an impression to get recognized. She gestured for me to sing along, so I did what naturally came to me – I mouthed the words. I lied (but not really, because they were the proper mouth shapes). I was so caught in my fanboy moment that I wanted to tell her that I tried my best to bring my parents and that I was sorry for making her believe that I stole her album…


I did steal her shoes, however.

It was a satisfying night’s entertainment for this bloggist, to be sure. Wilson Phillips was a delightful surprise. It took them over two decades to find our chunk of planet, although I have a feeling that fans won’t have to wait as long for their next visit. As far as we fans are concerned, really, the girls are always welcome – but I’m sure they already know that.


“Weirdo alert, girls. You remember that bearded dude from yesterday who can’t lie for shit? Two O’Clock. Don’t look.”

Thanks (and apologies) to Wilson Phillips, Ivory/Sony Records, Random Minds Production, and AJ for the assist.


“Ack! You looked, didn’t you? Great going. Next thing you know he’s going to write about this on his scabby excuse for a ‘blog’…”

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

[1] Comment

1 Comment »

  • JoQ says:
    November 26, 2012 A.D. at 8:46 PM

    You are A FAIL as a fanboy, ahihi. Glad you had fun Ro. Next time, Imma come with you. I can probably lie better than you :p

    [Reply]

 

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