Words by Meg Abuan
On November 25, for the first time after years of anticipation, Smart Music Live and MCA Music Inc. brought together artists from the Nu Rock Years for one epic and nostalgic night: GETMUSIC Nu Rock Years.
Itchyworms started the night by playing their hits songs “Gusto ko Lamang Sa Buhay”, “Ayokong Tumanda”, “Beer”, “Akin Ka Nalang”, “Penge Naman Ako Nyan” and many more from their first album. It absolutely wasn’t a surprise that the Smart Araneta Coliseum was filled with fans who sang their hearts out, the band’s branding having stuck with them throughout the years.
It was also this night when Barbie Almalbis recalled her NU Rock Year moments. She shared with the audience that “Deep”, her band’s first single, was first played at Nu Rock 107.5 in 1997. She started her set by playing “Money for the Food”, followed by “Just a Smile”, “Deep”, “Tabing-ilog”, Firewoman”, “Ambon”, “Liman dipang Tao” and ended it with the song “Torpe”. Almalbis captivated the audience once again through her music, characterized by rather quirky but endearing vocals, and her authentic guitar work.
Thereafter, Rivermaya captured everyone’s hearts by playing their hit songs from 1998 up until today. Remaininh to be one of the most sought-after bands throughout the years, they opened their set by playing the song “Elisi,” followed by “Faithless,” “You’ll Be Safe Here,” “Manila,” and “Liwanag Sa Dilim.” During “Hinahanap-hanap Kita,” frontman Mike Elgar went down the stage to join the crowd. After that, “Awit ng Kabataan” was played, and that’s when Mark Escueta showcased his talent with percussion. They ended the set with “Kisapmata”.
Ebe Dancel’s stage was one of the highlights of the night. He started his set with “Kwarto,” “Prom,” and “Mariposa”. The crowd became emotional as he sang “Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak”. It was a beautiful set and the feelings were magnified because the stage was set to almost a perfection — Dancel singing the songs with a starry night background. He reminded everyone to savor every moment of that night, and that he usually doesn’t encourage using a phone or taking photos during his gigs but this night was an exemption. He also shared how 1999, Nu Rock Years, was special for him. It’s when he recorded their Sugarfree songs using his lifetime savings and these were first played on Nu Rock 107.5. The audience sang all the lyrics to “Hari ng Sablay”. Dancel managed to deal with a technical difficulty during the song “Tulog Na” and made it more personal when he came near the audience and sat on the stage as if he were singing lullabies to everyone. He ended his set with the song “Burn Out.”
The night came to a close with Ely Buendia, who came on the stage with his colorful eyeglasses and his full band. He played hit songs like “Alapaap,” “Spoliarium,” “Super Proxy,” “Ligaya,” “Ang Huling El Bimbo,” “Pare ko,” “Magasin,” and many more. It was a night of no fillers, just a smack of hit-after-hits classic and throwback music and it felt like we were listening to NU Rock 107.5 all over again.
It has been argued on and claimed that the ’90s and the early years of the millennium was the period where the term “Pinoy Rock” was perfected and was brought to our home through the help of NU Rock 107.5 radio station. These artists reshaped the genre and paved its way to the limelight, solidifying itself in the awareness of Filipinos of all ages and backgrounds.
The night was far from simply being a nostalgic trip. The event consisted of an impressive lineup, not just because they were hits during the NU Rock years but because these artists are legends who are not only relevant but are also still at it — changing the face and the sound of the local music scene. It wasn’t just a night of reunion. It was a night of celebration as we witnessed how alive OPM still is.
As Itchyworms said during one of their press conferences for this event, “we are coming home.” Indeed, we were home. NU Rock 107.5 has left a legacy that will continue to live throughout the years.