June 23 marked the concluding leg of Cynthia Alexander’s send-off series. Held at the Conspiracy Cafe along Visayas Ave., in Quezon City, this usually spacious venue was filled with people, all hoping to catch the singer-songwriter before finally flying off and residing in Seattle sometime this week. The gig was slated at 10pm but since it was the final opportunity to watch her live, people started to flock even as early as 7pm.
Normally, gigs are presented inside, but because of the unusual volume of crowd that had filled the bars where the send-off series were previously held, it had been decided that night’s gig would be staged in the garden area to accommodate a larger number of people. This, however, barely had any effect as the entire place – from the gate until even the indoor venue – was completely crammed with eager and patient fans. And I, together with a couple of friends, was one of them.
The gig was opened earlier than the set schedule by Inky de Dios of Brigada, who performed “Everybody Here Wants You” by Jeff Buckley, and an amusing cover of Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack,” to name just a few. Alden Copuyoc followed shortly and performed some original material, as well as his cover of “Big Yellow Taxi.” It took about half an hour before Cynthia finally went on stage, and she brought along Mlou Matute, Charanjit Singh Wasu, Jonathan Urbano, Brigada, Mark Escueta, et. al. to complete the ensemble.
Performed that night were:
Walk Down the Road
Owner of the Sky
U & I
Knowing There Is Only Now
I Don’t Mind
Blackbird (Beatles Cover)
One Hundred Eight Eyes
Across The Universe (Beatles Cover)
Comfort In Your Strangeness
I am glad she performed (relatively) more songs from the Comet’s Tail album; I was able to hear the song of the same title, live finally! The keyboards made up for the absence of a string section that night. The song flowed as lovely as it was in the album, nonetheless. I also particularly loved the performance of “Kawikaan.” The beats made the whole place bounce with life. The clapping, the rhythm and the vibrant energy reverberated against the walls. The song almost made me want to dance the jig!
Honestly, I consider that gig as one of the most inconvenient gigs I have ever been to – thick crowds blocked our view and prevented us from moving. Every time a person passed, we were squished. Countless backs, arms, butts, chests, and god- knows-what-other-body-parts bumped and brushed against us. I could neither remember how many people had stepped on my feet nor the number of “excuse me’s” and “I’m sorry’s” I heard; despite this, we remained. It was only after the people had dispersed that my friends and I were able to take a seat after five hours of standing up, as well as, take in much-needed oxygen of which we were deprived the whole time.
The number of people that night shows how many people support Cynthia; unfortunately, it is not enough, as evident in the decision of Cynthia to leave the country to seek greener pastures elsewhere. I remember what Joey Ayala said in a send-off gig the week prior: if the audience had paid P1,500 per Cynthia gig as entrance fees, then maybe she would not have to leave the country anymore. He said it jokingly, but we all know that jokes are always half-meant.
As the gig drew to a close, I was reminded of a lyric from a song by Cynthia Alexander herself:
“What is happening, happens for the best / What will happen, happens for the best
We have come empty handed, we will go empty handed / Empty handed”
Amidst her departure from the local music scene, and the implication it might have on the state of OPM nowadays, I can only hope that whatever that’s happening right now is really for the best.
Good luck, Cynthia! See you soon.