The 17th NU Rock Awards, held last October 29 at the NBC Tent in Taguig City, turned out to be an event where everyone connected with the local rock scene took time out to appreciate—more than the trophies and individual honors—the significance of the moment.
The Rock Awards format this year has been reported by various blog sites to be overhauled by radio station NU 107 in favor of a mainstream image.
"Actually it's a redirection," station manager Cris Hermosisima told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) minutes before the awarding ceremony. "There's no confirmation coming from us, so wait for an official word from us.
REPLAY. NU 107 was founded in 1987 by radio veteran Mike Pedero and banker-businessman Atom Henares, who is also known as the ex-husband of popular cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo and the father of director Quark Henares and Belo Essentials executive Cristalle Henares.
The station positioned itself as an alternative venue catering to young listeners during the height of the so-called new wave music boom. Although the station's niche was considered small at the time, compared to its competitors, NU 107 developed a growing fan base over time.
The strong commercial resurgence of rock music in the early '90s gave NU 107 a big advantage over other stations, inspiring management to stage an annual awarding ceremony to honor local bands and artists who made an impact every year.
Mainstream and underground bands found expression in the station's format, which became a springboard for their music to be heard on the airwaves.
FRANCO WINS BIG. This year's theme tried to strike the right balance between pushing nostalgia buttons without too much drama and celebrating modern rock music as we know it.
Pre-awarding ceremony performers Peryodiko, up and coming shock rock group Tanya Markova, Quark Henares and Mich Dulce's Us-2 Evil-0, and all-girl band General Luna entertained the swelling young crowd.
Kevin Roy of the legendary blues rock band Razorback formally opened the event by singing the "Lupang Hinirang." The veteran rocker—who is the brother of another icon, Karl Roy—delivered the national anthem in his signature raspy voice, drawing applause and screams from the audience who were stunned at first to see Kevin trade his trademark T-shirt and jeans getup for a nice suit.
Although Jet Pangan and The Dawn reached their peak years before the first Rock Awards in 1994, the well-respected band has always been a regular fixture in the annual event. The signature guitar lick of "Iisang Bangka" was more than enough to jumpstart the evening.
Actress Iza Calzado hosted the event with the tandem of Arvin "Tado" Jimenez and Angel "Erning" Rivero of the defunct but seminal situational comedy show, Strangebrew.
Emerging rock band Franco cornered three of the major awards given out that evening. The quintet of Franco Reyes, Gabby Alipe, Paolo Toleran, Buwi Meneses, and JanJan Mendoza won Song of the Year for "This Gathering," Album of the Year for the band's self-titled debut record, and Artist of the Year.
Franco bested several good bands in some of the categories, including the late Francis Magalona's posthumous collaboration album with Ely Buendia, In Love and War, and single "Higante."
Another big winner that night was Tanya Markova. The makeup- wearing novelty band took home the trophy for Best New Artist and Video of the Year for the song "Disney."
The presentation of the nominees for each category included a short interview clip of some artists who won the same award in previous years.
This year's recipient of the Hall-of-Fame award is studio wizard and record producer Angee Rozul.
Angee, who worked with perhaps all the local bands both in the underground scene and mainstream, was cited for "setting the standards" in studio recording.
Some of the past winners of the NU Rock Awards were Joey "Pepe" Smith (1995), Mike Hanopol (1996), Wally Gonzales (2001), Eraserheads (2003), The Jerks (2004), the Espana-based rock joint Mayrics (2005), and Mike and Angelo Villegas (2007), and Francis Magalona (2009).
ROCK THE NIGHT. But other than the trophies and winners, the Rock Awards is always known for presenting great live music courtesy of some of the best local bands in town.
Legendary '90s punk trio The Youth made its return to the event and immediately dished out its old mainstream hit "Multo Sa Paningin (Multong Bakla)." Lead singer Dodong Cruz, who was referred to by comedienne Tuesday Vargas as "Jesus Christ" during the introduction, looked distracted while performing on stage and left much of the vocal chores to his co-guitarist.
Ely Buendia—who, along with his former band the Eraserheads, dominated the Rock Awards in the early to mid-90s—performed together with his current band, Pupil. Wearing a pair of dark shades and looking gaunter than before, Ely punished his guitar at the end of the band's performance of "Distortion."
Hard-rock bands Greyhoundz and Slapshock reminded everyone inside the venue how they pummeled the speakers of the Rock Awards at the start of this millennium. Both bands heightened all the reminiscing as they played past (and perhaps the biggest) hits of their careers, "Pigface" and "Agent Orange"—turning the entire air-conditioned venue into a giant mosh pit.
Rivermaya's performance of an old hit "Awit ng Kabataan" featured the radio jocks and staff of NU 107 playing along with the band, armed with their instrument of choice. Despite the confrontational nature of the material, the performance became an emotional moment for the station's personnel to let loose and bond perhaps for the last time.
Other performing bands that evening were Sugarfree, Up Dhrama Down, Itchyworms, Urbandub, and Kamikazee.
Celebrity presentors also graced the event—Heart Evangelista, Daniel Matsunaga, Tuesday Vargas, Hayden Kho (who gave out, ironically, the Best Video award), Anne Curtis, and KC Concepcion.
CURTAIN CALL. The announcement coming from the public address system throughout the evening repeatedly mentioned the 17th Rock Awards as "the last," which directly confirmed the news going around on cyberspace.
Former The Dawn guitarist and station musical director Francis Reyes proudly commended the staff, saying that everyone displayed "passion" during their stay but that sometimes even "love" for work is not enough to sustain a good thing.
Peryodiko guitarist and vocalist Vin Dancel said that the rock industry is saddened by the station's impeding reformat, but that they are also looking for ways to make sure that the scene will continue to thrive even without the presence of a rock station.
"But it's going to be much harder now to put your music out there," Dancel sadly admitted.
Imago drummer Zach Lucero, on the other hand, is confident that the rock scene will survive despite this latest blow, although he couldn't help but mutter, "It's the end of an era," then adding, "I guess good things have to end."
Here is the complete list of winners in the 2010 NU Rock Awards:
Album of the Year - Franco Franco
Song of the Year - "This Gathering" Franco
Vocalist of the Year - Gabby Alipe of Urbandub
Guitarist of the Year - Peavy "Sideshow" Nicolas and Fran Lorenzo of Sleepwalk Circus
Bassist of the Year - Lalay Lim of Urbandub
Drummer of the Year - Otep Concepcion - "Ozawa" / In Love and War
Best New Artist - Tanya Markova
Best Music Video - "Disney" Tanya Markova
Best Album Packaging - "Great Secret Show" Sleepwalk Circus
Producer of the Year - Ely Buendia and Francis Magalona
Listeners' Choice Award - Franco
Hall of Fame - Angelo "Angie" Rozul
Best Live Act - Tanya Markova
In The Raw Award - The Flying Ipis