Wednesday, November 30, 2016

toe Live in Manila

Japanese math rock is something I have had a bit of a hard time really getting into[1]. It might be due to the fact that I was first exposed to math rock some years ago via American bands like Don Caballero, Hella and Polvo whose more aggressive tendencies held a lot more sway to me compared to what their supposedly like-minded peers in Japan were doing which I always found to be a bit too lightweight for my own taste. Case in point: Japanese math rock veterans toe.

I admit to being a bit of a latecomer to toe’s brand of math rock but I really tried my best to appreciate their sound, warts and all. I even dug a heavier song of theirs called “Esoteric” which in my honest opinion should’ve been the direction that the band took after releasing their sophomore album “For Long Tomorrow” where that said song was taken from. Listening to toe’s entire discography felt to me as if I was listening to elevator music; listenable songs for sure but not really standing out in such a way that would make me want to bop my head to their beat. I just can’t help but wonder sometimes then why the hell all these local math rock bands that seem to be trending amongst the younger indie scenester crowd cite toe as a huge influence instead of, say, Chavez or Minus the Bear who sound a bit lighter compared to the three bands I mentioned in the above paragraph and yet have a lot more memorable songs that I honestly think those who are just starting to dig math rock should get into instead of diving straight into Japanese territory.

Still, I really tried to give toe another shot by going to their third visit to the country last Nov 27 over at Samsung Hall located on top of SM Aura in Taguig after having missed out on their previous two[2] hoping that their live show would convert me into a fan of the band’s music. I arrived at SM Aura at around 6pm and ate for a bit while assuming that those who had already seen toe in their previous shows here in the country would’ve instantly given others who had not seen the band just yet the chance to do so, thus making last Sunday night’s turnout supposedly a lot less compared to before with just about enough space for each audience member inside Samsung Hall. Come 7pm sharp, I went to SM Aura’s 6th floor and was more than shocked to see a really long, snake-like queue of people at the back of Samsung Hall who were also there to see toe, something I had never experienced at all when Explosions in the Sky and Metric performed at that very same venue a few years ago[3]. I actually wouldn’t have minded the hour-long wait before getting in at all if not for the other setback that instantly killed part of my good mood that night.

Here’s the thing: I’m quite fond of taking a handful of snaps using a point and shoot digicam which I find to be a lot more convenient especially when zooming in to get that perfect shot instead of having to drag my thumb and index finger while holding my phone camera to do the same. Some people I know do not actually approve of people taking pictures at concerts and do not take pictures themselves at all but let’s all remember here that we are now living in an age of “pics or didn’t happen”. One can claim all he/she wants that he/she went to a certain show but without any personal photographic evidence to prove it, he/she might as well have been telling a tall tale all along is why my own stance on people taking pictures at concerts is rather lenient at best.

Mirrorless, DSLR and action cameras were not allowed last Sunday night as requested by toe’s management[4] which I belatedly found out upon inspection at the door of Samsung Hall itself. I admit to not really having any idea as to just exactly what a mirrorless camera is but to cut the long story short, I was informed during inspection that the usual point and shoot digicam I was supposed to use for taking just a few photos of toe is actually a mirrorless camera. Good thing that despite my utter disbelief over what just happened, it suddenly dawned on me to ask the door guy that night to have my wrist stamped first before leaving my digicam for safekeeping at SM Aura’s customer service located inside its supermarket/grocery which is some seven floors down from where Samsung Hall is[5]. I was then left with no choice but to take these snaps using my phone camera which frankly do not give any sort of justice to the excitement of the crowd at large that night:

All these snaps of toe have been taken reluctantly with phone cam.
I would’ve actually conceded right there and then that I was admittedly at fault for not having checked the official event page on Facebook at least a day before the show itself[6] were it not for a girl just a few inches in front of me and my buddy that night[7] who suddenly whipped out this huge-ass tablet/iPad and then proceeded to take her own snaps which blocked our view of the band onstage. That display of rudeness right there made me seriously question that “no mirrorless/DSLR/action cameras” policy put out by toe’s management since as I said a few paragraphs above this one, I personally find taking snaps via point and shoot to be a lot more convenient than doing the same using smartphone, not to mention that digicams and Gopros are smaller and less distracting compared to smartphones. Why that girl’s iPad actually went past inspection would forever remain a puzzle in my head for years to come. I sure hope that girl slept peacefully with her tablet after last Sunday night’s show.

Would I watch toe again if ever they decided to visit the country again? Nah, not even if I was offered tons of cash just to see them. I should probably have just stayed home and gotten myself some much-needed rest instead of going out on a Sunday.

To conclude this last ever show review for the month, I would like to give last Sunday night’s show over at Samsung Hall a rating of 2/5[8]. I should’ve probably not gone to see toe and stopped at BADBADNOTGOOD instead whose show is a solid 5/5 for me, followed by Lucy Rose with a rating of 4/5 and Delorean scoring a 3/5 in my book.

Now please excuse me while I go back to listening to American math rock...

1 A glaring exception in my case being math-pop band tricot who I’ve seen twice simply because I’m a complete sucker for melody like that and they’ve got some really catchy songs to boot. A Blast from the Past feature on them should be in the works anytime soon.
2 toe’s first show in the country was back in 2012 when they performed at NBC Tent also in Taguig while their second one happened just a year after at Metrotent in Ortigas.
3 Oh dear, those pending Blast from the Past features sure keep on coming...
4 Whoever they may be.
5 Thankfully, the show itself ended just in time to claim my digicam back that same night.
6 Too bad though that I just couldn’t afford the luxury of checking all Facebook event pages in which I responded “Going” as I was terribly busy writing two show reviews which I have since published.
7 Same buddy I went with last Monday night to catch Lucy Rose’s return visit to the country.
8 Or should it be “toe out of five”? Lels.

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