If you missed Taken by Cars’ Los Angeles performance, here’s a nice 11 minute video of their set. Yes, I shot this and was that guy with the camera, behind the stage, on the floor and standing on the risers. I apologize to anyone at the show I accidently bumped or stepped on.
Taken by Cars performed “Unidentified”,”A Weeknight Memoir” and one of my favorite’s “Uh Oh” seamlessly blending each song into one another.
I was able to capture certain audience members yelling out disco calls with lead singer Sarah and folks taking notice of Bryan’s cowbell work. Major TbC fans indeed.
The sound man at Mr. T’s Bowl is always on point. The band sounded great and the audio in the video is nice and clear.
Last Saturday, we flew up to San Francisco and watched Taken by Cars’ first state-side performance. Man, they sounded good. I could hear the hours they put into rehearsing their set. I even spotted folks, who have never heard them before, dancing to “December 2 Chapter VII”. Check out video from the show.
After the show we chatted with Sarah Marco lead singer of Taken by Cars for a quick interview.
Awesome show Sarah. How does it feel to be touring state-side?
Being here…really makes us feel super happy and grateful.
We’ve brought a lot of heart into this tour.
We’re grateful that we did it by our own efforts and it really took a lot out of us, each of us…particularly to be able to sacrifice our time…rehearsing, practicing for San Francisco, South by Southwest and LA…
And it’s a privilege to travel, to be with each other, to appreciate each other’s friendship, to be in another country basically.
We treat this tour like a serious vacation.
NOTE TO READER: Currently Taken by Cars is not signed to any major label. They put out their records independently and they paid their own way to make the tour happen. Peep their fund raising efforts here. Props to them.
How does it feel to be the first Filipino band to play SXSW?
We’re really, really proud.
It’s a happy blessing. I believe there are no accidents. Everything happens for a purpose.
We emailed our album (to SXSW) not expecting a response. So it’s really a huge thing for us (to play the festival).
We’ll do our best to represent ourselves.
Anything to say to your fans in LA?
Taken by Cars will be playing at Mr.T’s Bowl in Highland Park. (Friday 3/16 9:30 PM)
Come see our show. We worked hard to put on a good show for you guys.
Rock n Roll Research
One of the most rewarding aspects of writing a book on popular music is that checking out gigs becomes a form of field research. And while I’ve enjoyed every moment of “research” that’s brought me to the far-flung sides of Makati (Saguijo, B-Side), Kati Ave. (Route 169), and even up the mountains into Baguio (R.I.P. Ayuyang Bar), it’s been even more exciting to be able to help bring a little bit of the Manila indie rock scene’s energy back home to the U.S., to share with stateside friends, musicians, and audiences.
TAKEN BY CARS at SXSW
Next week, the electro-pop quintet Taken by Cars will be the first-ever band from the Philippines to play on the stages of South by Southwest, a festival of incomparable indie gold status. Not since The Eraserheads’ 1999 win of an MTV Moon Man has such an air of pride and prestige swept over the world of Philippine indie rock. Responding to recent declarations that the archipelagic capital city’s indie music scene is “dead,” I tend to differ that perhaps, in growing older, the scene and its bands are also growing out, setting sights on bigger stages, and moving towards an afterlife beyond solely their hometown breeding grounds.
Beyond TFC and Eat Bulaga
Unlike other Asian counterparts such as J-Pop or K-Pop, Pinoy/OPM indie rock has yet to see a surging and successful crossover into U.S. pop culture. You can blame it on a number of factors—American ignorance and amnesia about its former colony, Filipino invisibility and low production value—but, in our many conversations on music & culture during long drives, the husband and I always return to the lack of knowledge (and, therefore, sharing) by Filipino Americans of what’s really going down in modern-day Philippine culture (outside of TFC and “Eat Bulaga”).
TAKEN BY CARS in L.A 3/16.
Therefore, in its ongoing effort to a) further a project of “knowing history, knowing self” for Filipinos in the U.S. and
b) share the latest & greatest of Philippine contemporary culture with the world, Super Astig Productions (in conjunction with Party Bear Productions) brings to you the L.A. edition of TAKEN BY CARS.
Join us Friday, March 16th at Mr. T’s Bowl (Highland Park, CA) for a special one-night only event with all proceeds benefiting the band’s costs in traveling to SXSW.
$10 (admission + TbC CD)
$30 (admission + TbC CD and limited edition t-shirt).
My wife turned me onto this Filipino brother straight out of Chino Hills, CA. His name is Vex Ruffin. I recently checked out a live performance at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles.
On stage Vex Ruffin’s band consists of drums, bass, percussion and Vex on guitar. At times during the set, the line-up would switch to Vex singing and the percussionist rocking a sampler. Vex’s music has a post-punk influenced feel with a well crafted lo-fi sound. The music is dope.
Something about the music connects with me. Possibly the simplicity and sincerity of the sound…or the sonic dirtiness…or maybe watching his band play triggers memories of adolescent south Jersey basement jam sessions with my cousins…recording these unpolished three note (not chords) songs about wrestlers, pythons and skateboarding. All captured on a tape cassette boom box. Damn, I just dated myself.
When I was a kid I thought the coolest Filipino dude I knew from 70s was Uncle Ramon. He worked on a battleship, drove a baby blue BMW 320i, had a stack of Playboys and numerous girlfriends or “Aunties” as I was told to call them.
But on 06/23/11 at the Bayanihan Community Center in downtown San Francisco I had the pleasure to meet legendary Latin-soul artist Joe Bataan. Sorry Uncle Ramon, I going to have to share your title with Joe Bataan.
At this informal talk-story/meet-and-greet Joe Bataan shared some inspirational tales on making music, finding spirituality and understanding culture. Check out the video clips below.
Joe Bataan Talking Story Part 1 “I’m culturally deprived but that’s not gonna stop at my age me to know about my culture”
“I recorded Afro-Filipino in 1976 why has it took so long for Filipinos to note that I exist?”
Joe Bataan Talking Story Part 2 “This big explosion…doing Latin music in English in’65 which became the Boogaloo”
Joe Bataan Talking Story Part 3 “At that time when I took off (from playing music)…I was raising a family…We got into Martial Arts”
“Did I tell you about the rap song?” (Rap-O-Clap-O)
Joe Bataan Talking Story Part 4 “…We’re sitting on our rights…”
I wonder if Uncle Ramon had Joe Bataan’s records back in the 70s.
The West Fjords is a peninsula in Iceland that is a highly mountainous area with many indentations of fjords that make the region difficult to access. While the West Fjords are sparsely inhabited, the many fjords in the area are also natural harbors that are vital for the local fishing economy. The album Telescope by a group named the West Fjords provides a unique auditory landscape that harbors music rich with an emotionally provocative subtly. Upon listening to the music of the West Fjords, one can imagine retreating to the Icelandic peninsula in an attempt to heal their soul.
Crash Landing starts the album off with a driving rhythm layered with acoustic guitar, sprinkled with synth chords and arpeggiator, blended with convincingly delivered vocals. As the track builds and pulsates, vocalist Micah croons “Countless hours pass me by, growing old before my time, I will perish in the everglades.” It is not just one element that stands out about this song, but all parts combined; the song simply connects with the very feeling of heart break: the beat races like irrational emotions running rampant while at the same time, as the pain marinates, time could not pass more slowly.
Floating House is a song that feels like a sunrise after the pain subsides. West Fjords creator, Christian Marquez produces and arranges a nicely woven combination of electronic and acoustic instruments, along with smartly written poetic lyrics. Vocalist Lynsey Vandenburg’s beautiful voice hints a melancholy optimism as she sings: “Drifting above the clouds, counting the stars out loud, climbing a sleeping air, sitting on empty stairs, shuttle me up somewhere, I know that you’ll be there, travel and close your eyes, dreaming the evening sky.”
Debt of Lovers
There are many memorable songs on Telescope, but the arguable single would have to be Debts of Lovers. No highfalutin description for this song, it is just good. Good lyrics, good melody, and feels good. Debts of Lovers is the type of song that you would hear on the radio, in the shopping mall, on VH1, and you should really get sick of hearing it, but don’t.
Adrift at Twilight
Adrift at Twilight is a haunting song with a beautiful voice and somber melody that is eerily catchy. The song begins with a guitar, and Lynsey’s simply hypnotic vocals. As the song progresses, Christian joins harmonizing: “look into the horizons, twilight is here to stay, watching the passing moments, throwing the past away..” The track builds to a climatic instrumental, then, breaks back down to the harmonizing vocals to end the song. Adrift at Twilight has a mysteriously sticky melody and strikes an emotional chord as well.
Photo: 2011 Tom Takigayama
While the West Fjords may not yet be a household name, Telescope certainly is an album that proves to be a secret “fishing hole” (for now), of music created with genuine expression and talent. The production, arrangement and lyrics of West Fjords Christian Marquez throughout Telescope is uncontrived and never over-produced. The music of the West Fjords is appealing without the intent to gain mass appeal, how refreshing.
Telescope is picturesque: simply emotionally vivid music.
Telescope was recorded & produced by Eric Bennett and Mastered by 2-time Grammy Award Winning Sound Engineer Tom Ruff at Asbury Media. Telescope, is available on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.com.