Rakistang Aktibista 2: Rise of the Poseurs

Barely a year left before this decade draws to a close, my “old school” rocker status now burdens me with an Amador Daguio “Old Chief” kind of dread.

101_2207Although our Pinoy Rock godfathers and goddessmothers from the 70s and our New Wave/ Pinoi Punk brethren from the 80s do fall under the same general category, “old school” seems to have become a classification that today’s younger set more readily associates with “dekada nobenta” bands, albeit with a quaint naivete.

There are, of course, meatier indicators that can expose a music generation’s (both fans and artists alike) manifest ignorance of and/or contempt for the histories and traditions behind the musics they claim devotion to. While we might all be aware of the saying on how history repeats itself through those who have no appreciation for its lessons, we should be more aware of that implicit possibility embedded in the truism: That ignorants can also end up unfolding an entirely new history replete with epic fails that can surpass even the most idiotic idiocies of screwed-up generations past.

Even as Rock & Roll continues to prove itself the most dynamic and innovative of all musical languages, it also continues to inspire self-delusion in those ill-equipped to deal with its awesomeness. But it’s never too late to shift towards an intelligent “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll” lifestyle (yes, it does exist) for as long as one is inspired enough to dig into history to obtain it.

(WARNING: Clicking on “read more” will activate the “Magical Mirror of Musical Truth and Other Holy Shit” – an “old school” relic that’s been proven deadly hazardous to poseurs.)

😈

THE PAST PROGRESSIVE

ultraelectromagneticpopThe 90s was a watershed era for Pinoy Rock and this is indisputable. When the E-heads started to outsell even the most well-established local pop artists during the first half of that decade, the invasion of industry-marginalized “alternative” rock acts launched a major offensive against conservative mainstream culture.

But the revolution (if one could call it that at all) didn’t last long as the machinery it used to propagate itself and exert dominance over all other musical forms until the closing years of the 90s was none other than the major record label system. Back then, there was hardly any other practical choice: Industry politics, market dynamics, and the absence of affordable and empowering technologies made sure that the only way for any marginalized music artist to reach audiences from archipelagic end-to-end was to get on board the system’s pimped-out ride. And when one consigns one’s artistry to the prostitution industry that is local showbiz, one eventually reaps certain consequences.

Like the ubiquitous shawarma (and later on, the pearl shake), “alternative” musicShawarma was co-opted, packaged, mass-marketed, and commercialized to death by the corporate gods of the music industry. “Alternative” rock quickly devolved into the newest kid on the pop block and ultimately ended up another spent novelty. But in spite of the downturn, an unexpected legacy did manifest itself with a vengeance, more or less.

Commercialization rocked (pun intended) the cultural sensibilities of the Filipino nation and the “new” music’s overwhelming presence firmly established previously unheard of genres and styles as key players within the market. As the unexpected success proved viability, mass acceptance followed shortly afterwards, effectively wiping out almost all traces of cult status for the underground subculture.

Though one could always argue that we sold ourselves out on an epic scale, I say that the resulting Machiavellian gains made the trade-off worth it: All other bands who’ve flourished since in the wake of our inebriated, drug-influenced, demonically-inspired, scatterbrained dog-paddling in that 90s sea of showbiz shit have never had to contend anymore with puzzled audience looks whenever they’d introduce themselves as “alternative” rockers.

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THE PRESENT PERFECT

But where are we headed off to nowadays? “Old School” Pinoy Rock has always had an air of originality whenever it came to matters of style, content, demeanor, and overall cuteness factor. Bands back then may have had the usual (as well as the unusual) variety of foreign influences, but the overwhelming amount of material output still came across as having undeniably distinct Pinoy flavor.

Of course, the local music industry still has the heart of a fickle-minded ravenous pimp and it’s still feeding (and feeding on) the short attention spans of a largely gullible and immature mass consumer base. But it’s not just the business suits responsible for the stagnation and the impending demise of dynamic relevance and groundbreaking originality in local music. Artists also have quite a lot to answer for, especially in the current mess of things where one can almost classify most current bands as either:

  1. souped-up or dumbed-down Eraserheads derivatives, or
  2. hilariously uninspiring vampiric/suicidal strains of EMO or some other foreign “flavor-of-the-month” virus.

If our kind of music is supposed to be aMassProduction language of rebellion and non-conformity, falling into a complacent state of dis-inspiring commercial mass-replication surely makes a joke out of the whole point of calling ourselves original, right? The musical style one decides to commit to, even if patently foreign, would be defensible in the context of Rock. But what would be one’s excuse for content?

(Relevance is a key issue. If you’re new here, you can just click on this later.)

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THE SIMPLE FUTURE

When I posted my picture here with Bobby and Chickoy (“Bokalistang Raktibista, Dekada Sitenta, Otsenta, Nobenta”) on Facebook, one of my network friends immediately commented that even the symbols we brandished with our hands represented the decades associated with our respective bands: Chickoy’s 70s clenched fist, my 90s “evil horns” sign, and Bobby’s…uhm, fingers holding an imaginary 80s roach (which, I guess, just proves that he’s a true vegetarian).

StarbucksI couldn’t help but quip that if the current decade had it’s own representative in the picture, his/her hand would probably look like it’s poised to hold either a gaming pad or a fucking Starbucks mug.

If things remain as they are, then the future of Pinoy Rock might well be headed towards a self-negating path that’ll entrench the wrong kinds of creative traditions for future generations of music artists to emulate. Never mind the peddlers of formulaic pop – we’ll never be rid of them anyway unless mediocrity becomes punishable by death. What needs to be addressed is the irony of having a supposedly vibrant rock music scene that seems so unbelievably starved of relevant, meaningful, and truly innovative artistic output in spite of its being populated by a proud plethora of artists.

Robin Rivera, an Art Studies professor/friend from UP, once remarked in a forum we attended together some years back that the only genre that continues to consistently manifest groundbreaking musical innovations is still rock music. I think I need to ask him if he’s since changed his mind.

\m/ 😈 \m/

Image Credits:

http://www.babaz.ca/

http://www.zimbio.com/

http://sandiego.indymedia.org/

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6 Responses to “Rakistang Aktibista 2: Rise of the Poseurs”

  1. me me only me Says:

    Amen.
    Nung kinagulat ko one time kung me ‘ musikang bato ‘ pa nga ba sa Pinas, THIS is exactly what I had in mind.

    P.S. I know the sort of rockers you’re talking about here, sir. Most of them I wanna punch in the face.

  2. The Notorious S.I.G. Says:

    powteks! mga haydowls!!!!

  3. Zippo Light Says:

    Gang Rapers– Bands Gang Raping the concept of love and drinking… dahil ba wala na bang ibang maisulat (walang talent/kulang sa talent)…oh dahil ito pa rin ang surefire way to sell albums…..sell-out!!!….sell-out!!!….mga sell-out!!!

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