By Zola Gonzalez-Macarambon

Popular Filipino rock band Kamikazee came out of their 2015 hiatus with Tagpuan 2018. The band kicked off a series of scheduled performances with a memorable set of hits to a packed audience at Collingwood Town Hall, Melbourne on 9 November 2018.  

Filipino bands in Melbourne, the front acts Sushi, Marcvs, Cinco Tempo, Zandata, and Blind Curve also heightened the anticipation with crowd pleasers, covers of popular pop, rock, alternative, and reggae hits such as the darkly comic ‘Good Boy’ by Blakdyak, and youthful anthems, the alternative classics ‘Prinsesa’ by Teeth, and ‘Lakas Tama’ by Siakol.  At the back of the town hall, sponsoring company, Ria Cuisine has set up a turo-turo style buffet with Filipino rice-viand combos, drinks, and desserts for the audience. For a night, the venue throbbed with the familiar smells, sounds (volume!), and energy of a music event in the Philippines. 

Moments later, Kamikazee opened with the fast-paced ‘Unang Tikim’. Lead guitarist Jose Ma. Luis Linao speed-played through the introduction while Jay Contreras, the irreverent rock star sashayed and gyrated to the edge of the stage, worked the crowd who from then on scream-sang back every lyric to every song including the famous hits – ‘Halik’, ‘Tsinelas’, ‘Hanggang Tingin’, ‘Tagpuan’, ‘Martyr Nyebera’, ‘Lucky’, and ‘Doo Bidoo’. The band pounded through high-energy performances of over a dozen songs all the while maintaining a ceaseless rapport with the audience. T-shirts, water bottles, jokes, and holler-backs flew to and from the band and their audience, who at some point in the mutual eagerness to connect as Pinoys in international space, became more classmates at a grand reunion than entertainers and paying customers. 

When the band first stepped on stage at the beginning of the concert, all of them looked a little older than they were when I first saw them over ten years ago at a mall parking lot. In Collingwood, they dressed more like call centre agents than young post-punks playing to collegiate crowds from another time.  But all my own expectations of a tamer, mellowed down show, to my welcome surprise, broke away as Kamikazee proved the nearly three-year break gave them more fire power, and if possible, more speed and steam than ever before.

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