Red Ninja’s Year Ender was the perfect festival to cap off the year

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Rock band Better Days performing at the Red Ninja event on Dec. 8, 2018. Photo from BETTER DAYS/FACEBOOK

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — I spent a huge chunk of my adolescence attending concerts. I was young, impressionable, and quite frankly, drunk with the glamour and hysteria that came with bands performing live. These shows did not just exist in a day — there was the preparation before, and the grueling post-concert depression after. For me, concerts offered an alternative getaway where things I revere most are all in the same space.

As I grew older, concerts didn’t feel as frantic, but were often just as good. Local gigs gave way to a looser and more inclusive concert-going experience, where there is room to move around and explore, leading you to discover new artists as you listen to the old ones. That’s exactly how Red Ninja Production’s Annual Year Ender Festival went — their impressive lineup of 22 bands required for 10 hours of live music, fulfilling a concert-goer’s festival needs.

The afternoon started with veterans Orange & Lemons, followed by The Ransom Collective, Assembly Generals, Sandwich, Better Days, Leanne & Naara and Area25. The stage was split into two, enabling a more efficient transition between sets. The crowd gathered, parted, and jumped as bands came and went. There were groups of people lounging outside too, where food and drinks were available for consumption. The unconfined sensibility of the venue allowed people to let loose and enjoy their drinks.

Then there is the beer, of course. One quintessential phenomenon that changed how I experience concerts is the freedom to listen to live music with a good drink in hand. In this case, it was San Miguel’s Pale Pilsen — a classic beer that has been a staple drink for decades, reminiscent of all the good times of kinship and togetherness.

picture2.png Groups of people waiting for the event proper and lounging outside, where food and drinks were available for consumption.

picture3.jpg Supporters of the the OPM bands had their phones ready as soon as their favorite acts went up on stage.   

I had the beer with me the rest of the night, and like the first half of the festival, the second half did not disappoint. St. Wolf, She’s Only Sixteen, Nathan & Mercury, One Click Straight, BP Valenzuela, The F16S, and Giniling Festival managed to keep the energy and get the crowd going. From my side of the stage, it seemed like it was a lot of fun for them too.

The latter part of the night showcased dynamic sets started by Munimuni, who had the crowd in a sing-along. Oh, Flamingo!, Tanya Markova, Nar Cabico, Miles Experience, and Lions & Acrobats followed, as Over October had the last set to finish the night off.

picture4.png In the second half of the performances, singer-songwriter BP Valenzuela charmed the crowd with her set.  

picture5.jpg St. Wolf rocking the stage at Red Ninja. Photo from ST. WOLF/FACEBOOK

Each set brought a different kind of magic to the stage, and it led me to witness OPM in different hues imaginable — some were dark and gloomy, leaning to classic rock and roll. Others were light and chrome, bringing Filipino pop in an effervescent glow. All were there to create a better landscape for the local music scene.

I used to go to concerts charged with intensity, and it has now fizzled into an earnest curiosity. Red Ninja’s Year Ender brought a lot of that wonder of life, especially with the year coming to an end. You go to shows looking for a good time, but sometimes you also leave with unexpected surprises — whether that be a fresh artist to include on your playlist, a newfound friend or a gentle reminder that these spaces exist within the city, and you get to enjoy it with the best music, with the best beer in hand.

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