The Fête experience according to a Fête virgin

July 01, 2019 – Diane Gundaya

When I first heard Fete de la Musique, what came into my mind was classical music. I immediately imagined fancy gatherings with Debussy in the background or some La Vie en Rose rendition, having small talks with people while they serve hors d’oeuvres and of course – champagne (I know, it’s weird).

However, it turns out Fete is a music festival that has been celebrated annually here in the Philippines for a long time (I must have been sleeping in my cave for not knowing that this music festival even existed). Thousands of artists (both local and foreign) play their music on different stages around Makati. They have even expanded the celebration throughout some cities in Luzon. Each stage has a specific genre, which gives festival-goers the freedom to choose the music they can immerse themselves in. But you can also visit other stages as well since the admission for the whole festival is free! (Yes, you don’t need to pay a lot of money just to listen to good music).

I was overwhelmed when I first saw the lineup for this year’s festival. It still amazes me how they were able to gather such a huge number of artists to perform simultaneously on different pocket stages.

Since I’m not the type of person to have an itinerary, I just literally roamed around Makati with a digital map and lineup in my hand. I arrived around 6 in the evening at my first pocket stage. It was the Post Rock/Math Rock stage which was located at Acceler8 Makati. 

To be honest, I had no idea about what the place looked like. I just chose that stage because it was the closest to Glorietta (which is probably the only place that I’m very much familiar of around Makati)

What’s funny is that upon arriving, I was not quite sure where it was. I was looking outside, standing in the middle of Tim Hortons and a nameless building, looking for an entrance. Thankfully, I saw a group of people unloading some instruments from the car. I immediately assumed that they are one of the performers so I just followed them and eventually found my way into the venue! (Phew!)

The venue was packed but there was still enough space for people to move around. There was a small stage in front, and a monitor on the left where they showed some Fete promotional materials. Towards the back, there was a certain space where you can buy several food and alcohol beverages. 

The mood was nice–it was new to me but I enjoyed it. I’m not really familiar with the Post Rock/Math Rock genre. It turns out that the genre is a form of experimental rock that is often instrumental and has complex rhythmic structures. Lyrics are not really essential, but a couple of words are put into the mix sometimes. My favorite set was Fools and Foes! They were great even if one of their members was sick.

The second stop of the night was located along Poblacion. When we arrived, there was already a swarm of people strolling around the streets. It was drizzling, but nobody cared about it. People were coming in and out of different alleys and pubs, cars parked along the narrow streets, reunited friends laughing from here and there under the dark skies while we were standing outside, checking out our phones, trying to look for The Apartment, which is where the Open Format Stage was located.  

There were so many stages around Poblacion. We had a hard time looking for The Apartment, which is why we first went to a different stage located at The Ruins. We heard a band playing from there so we assumed that it was the right place. 

Situated at The Ruins was the OC Records stage. Some of the performers were Arthur Nery and Bita & The Botflies. We were literally rubbing shoulders and elbows with everyone. The space was really cramped with so many people. The lights were beaming and the place was not air conditioned—which is why you can really feel the intense humidity in the crowd. But what I love about this place was how enthusiastic everyone was. They were all cheering, singing along, and hyping people up (they were even raising their drinks up).

After a couple of minutes, we decided to look for The Apartment again. We ended up in front of a small entrance, a couple blocks away from The Ruins (it looked like an entry to a magical kingdom because there were vines and plants surrounding it). The guard led us to that place and said that the Fete stage was located behind the red door on the 5th floor. Climbing up the flight of stairs felt like it took forever.

The Apartment looked very chill. There were sofas everywhere, a bar on the right where you can get your drinks, a small platform in front, enclosed by a brick wall that looked like it was punched by Hulk several times, leaving a few remnants, enough to frame the small performance area. 

The lights were dim and it felt like it was a private house party. Everyone was dancing and drinking, talking to random people, and gathering in front of the stage while the artists play some good music. 

I personally loved Earl of Manila’s set. I remember seeing him perform at different event once and I immediately fell in love with his music. We were just there sitting there, with drinks in our hands, trying to sing along and enjoy the chill, good vibes of the place.

The people around Makati kept on doubling as the night grew deeper. You would literally see different people around. There were biker dudes with their big motorcycles lining up outside a pub, college kids who were ready to party, titas and titos looking like they just got out from their work or meetings, and many more! 

Overall, it was such a fun night for me. It was a night full of non-stop walks, spur-of-the-moment decisions, staring outside the venues, discovering new music and artists, Family Mart hotdogs, ticking some things off the bucket list, and more. 

Fete de la Musique is something that one should look forward to every year. If there is one thing that I realized after attending this year’s Fete, it would probably be just to have fun and not let fear get to you—whether you’re afraid of getting lost, joining a sea of people, or the traffic. Honestly, we got lost and it was probably the funniest thing that happened that night.

Yes, the Fete is a celebration of music, highlighting Filipino artists and performers, but at the same time, Fete is also the time for you to just relax, enjoy the company of others, discover new stuff, and even make new friends! Just like what Redmerski wrote, “I guess sometimes the greatest memories are made in the most unlikely of places.” 

I got one from Fete de la Musique, so far.