Updated 19:08 PM PHT Mon, March 6, 2017
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — The morning of Wanderland began with every outdoor music festival’s biggest nightmare: rain. At 8 a.m. on a Saturday, rain drenched the metal linings of the three stages, the tent tops of the booths that were just beginning to be set up, and the grounds of Filinvest City. Some of the local bands have already arrived for their soundcheck, and walking on mud, they struggled for cover.
By noon, it had stopped raining, and a line of people had started to snake outside the entrance of the event grounds. But they couldn’t get in yet, because the soundchecks were still starting. Among the bands who arrived early was UDD.
“Usually the equipment … masyadong magulo, so we need to [be there early],” says Paul Yap, UDD’s bassist. “Soundcheck is a must,” adds guitarist Carlos Tanada. They patiently waited for their turn to put their equipment on the main stage, as the sound crew of The Ting Tings did their mic tests amid the backing track of “Great DJ.”
On the Globe stage at the left, the first band to soundcheck was math rock trio Tom’s Story. Their red-faced frontman, Gabba Santiago, played his guitar lines effortlessly, as he would for their actual performance. He had been drinking beer all morning, his bandmates say, to ease the nerves. It’s part of their pre-show rituals. As for the rest of the members, the band’s bassist and an engineering graduate, Tom Naval, says in Filipino: “Gabba drinks, Degs [their drummer] plays with his phone, I study [for the boards].”
For a big festival like Wanderland, how does a band prepare for their show? With relaxation and alcohol, it seems.
“Silence is a pre-show ritual,” says UDD’s frontwoman, Armi Millare. When asked if she does vocal warm-ups, she says, “Not really, but I try to wake up a little earlier so that my voice adjusts, so it opens up before I get to the show.” Millare’s voice was cracking that morning, but nevertheless, her vocal runs were flawless on “Sigurado,” among the new songs they played for the crowd later that day.
Like UDD, Gab of Urbandub also values peace and quiet before a set. His band’s pre-show activities are simple: “We review the set, we drink a couple of beers, and that’s it.”
The folk rock band Fools and Foes’ frontwoman on bass and vocals, Isa Romualdez, does her own vocal exercises. “We were also speaking in a British accent,” she says. “Para pampatanggal ng kaba, we were just being silly.” She shares a jug of whiskey with her bandmate, guitarist Ralph Gonzales, and asks singer-songwriter Reese Lansangan, “Anong ginagawa mo pang-vocalize?” Lansangan answers, “Wala. Dapat ba?”
What Lansangan prepares is her setlist, the order of the songs. That day, she ended her set with a folk anthem called “St. Petersburg.” Her band played for 20 minutes instead of the original 30 — her set was cut, she says, due to the program delays the rain had caused.
But music fans are tireless and patient. “You are officially our biggest fans in the world,” The Temper Trap, the last band for the night, exclaims to the crowd, who waited until 2 a.m. to watch them play.
As people in the crowd sat on picnic blankets under umbrellas to shield themselves from the scorching heat of the post-rain sun, others merely stood all day while waiting for the mud to dry underneath their shoes, and some even trod the mud, running from stage to stage, all after braving the traffic and the rain, all for their favorite bands.