As a reggae fan I was excited about coming to the Philippines as I expected it to be a bastion of the reggae vibe. I had traveled through the Philippines before and seen the ubiquitous red, gold and green, the Bob Marley wall hangings and a surprising number of locals sporting dreads. So it was with much surprise that I didn’t really find much of what I was looking for. Sure there are bands all over playing Marley covers and you do here the syncopated rhythm here and there, but there was no real scene. Me being an “internet guy” I turned to the net to figure out what was going on. I figured there should at least be some Reggae in Manila. Again I was disappointed. Do a search for “Reggae in the Philippines” and see what comes up. Let me tell you, not much. So after years of searching I kind of gave up.
Then about a month ago a group called Dubplate/Red-I Sound System (really not sure on the name) made a stop here in Boracay playing for two nights. I was told that it’s more the electronic/dub side of reggae and not the roots that I normally search out, but oh well, bring it on.
The first night went down at Jungle bar, Boracay’s true island style nightlife venue. I gotta say, these guys really rocked the house. DJ after DJ came on with really interesting sets. It was reggae, but certainly not like I had heard it before. Interestingly, you can hear old school beats and tracks being mixed into the dub. Everyone was getting into it and enjoying themselves. My friends and I left at about 4am feeling that we had finally found some cool reggae in the Philippines.
The second night was held at Exit bar on the white beach front. It was another great show with a great crowd. You know, there’s really not much original music going on in Boracay. Because it’s a tourist destination you tend to get lots of cover songs and lots of DJ’s playing the same songs over and over. Having these guys playing here was awesome. And you could tell that the people walking down the beach path knew something cool was going on. A lot of people just stopped to watch and listed as the tracks were laid down. The show wound down a bit early due to noise but was great nonetheless.
Well, my friends and I were so impressed with what we heard that we decided to go to Manila the next weekend to see these guys put on their weekly Sunday show at B-Side in Makati. Wow. If we thought the Boracay reggae show was good this was off the chart. There were two live bands, a mobile reggae DJ van, and a nice selection of MC’s rapping out all kinds of reggae rhymes. And here’s one of the best parts, there was a great crowd. Even on a Sunday night the turnout was impressive. Not just impressive in terms of numbers but impressive in that they were so into the music and the scene. Lots of smiles, dancing, jamming. What a great time.
So we salute you Red-I Sound System. Thanks for finally giving me some great reggae in the Philippines. We look forward to more good times at B-Side.
See more photos of what’s going on at B-Side here http://www.facebook.com/media/albums/?id=252630244525