Accidentally found myself at the fair last Thursday. I was going straight home after class, but my classmates went so I tagged along. I didn’t even know which bands were playing until Guerrero and I were at the gates. After I saw Kitchie Nadal’s name in the lineup, I jokingly said that my mission that night was to heckle her if ever she played her Eraserheads cover. Little did I know that heckling was going to be the order of the night.
There still weren’t that many people at 8pm, but Kjwan gathered a bigger crowd near the stage. After a few songs, another band started setting up onstage. While doing mic tests, this guy displayed an amazing familiarity with cuss words and basically started shooting down UP. “All the poor people out there have nothing to eat, but here we are, enjoying ourselves at the fair.” Some other guy sat there onstage, ate his meal from a Kenny Rogers box. Badmouth Guy then started hurling food at the crowd. The crowd booed back at them.
We don’t know whether they were booted out or his diatribe was already done and they got off the stage. A buzz started among the people at the fair: Who the hell was that guy and why was he ruining our night?
The hosts, a couple of cutesy sorority girls, went back on the stage and did the weirdest thing: they apologized for the band, that they didn’t know the guys would do such a thing, etc. I don’t know which was worse: the shock of being insulted by some guy from the school down the road or for the organizers to make such a big fuss over it. Some people tried to find a trace of humor in the bashing, others argued that there shouldn’t even be a slight confusion about what happened—it was just plain bad manners.
Most of the bands who went onstage after The Brockas, whose website bills it as 'unquestionably the best and most important band in rock history', appealed to the crowd’s sense of tribe loyalty. Kiko Machine worked the crowd with their Unibersidad chant and Sugarfree did a few stanzas of UP Naming Mahal.
By the time Kitchie Nadal finally played after two thousand years of setting up—it must have been equipment trouble since she sang a few octaves higher than the rest—the crowd had sort of forgotten about the incident. They pressed forward, but they were just quietly standing and listening. At one point she even asked the crowd to get in the groove of things—they were too much in a daze. Even when she finally sang about not being a maniac like the others, I didn’t even want to heckle anymore. Cel and I just walked back to our spot on the grass, sat back and shrugged.
Then Gwen showed up and we joined the crowd when Barbie Almalbis belted out this cover of “High,” then “Just a Smile.” In fairness, the girl knew how to work the crowd. People regained their enthusiasm: they started bobbing their heads to the music, waving their hands, singing along. She announced that her first solo album was coming out in a couple of weeks. When she played her last song, the crowd was reluctant to let her go.
Something always happens at the fair. When Tamadita attended the fair in our freshman year, somebody got stabbed and the attacker ran right in front of them. This year, a boy got ran over by a really huge vehicle and died.
As for me, my last clear memory of a UP fair was some years back, when a rather hefty girl was finding it difficult to climb up one of those PowerUp walls. She was rather determined, but then Radioactive Sago came on with “Ayoko ng Baboy.” The crowd spotted the hefty girl on the wall, with her confusion of ropes, and alternately cheered and jeered her. The band thought it was for them and sang with even more enthusiasm. I remember thinking that at that very moment, I was so glad I wasn’t that girl on the wall.