It is uncomfortably close to 10 pm and the Jack Daniel’s Future Legends Class Act production team are still putting the finishing touches in and out of Club 2020 in LaFuerza compound. The team could not set up earlier as the compound has offices that are still in business hours. The pace is quick enough to guarantee that the event will happen on time, but there is a slight air of tension.

Having just finished her soundcheck, Reese Lansangan props herself on a bench; to her left, Conscious and The Goodness keyboardist Jesser Sison unpacks his synthesiser. Around them, fans and fellow musicians chit-chat casually, waiting for the event to officially start, and some quietly sampling variants of the Jack Daniel’s Whisky family. The crew is still scurrying about, finalising production details.

Reese Lansangan and Jesser Sison moments before the jam

Sison, tentatively at first, plays a few chords and finally settles in with the intro to Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You.” Lansangan sans mic starts singing the opening line: “Some people live for the fortune…

By the first chorus, everyone around was singing gently along.

“Warm and fuzzy” is not exactly a term you can normally apply to a whisky-sponsored music event— a whisky brand historically associated with rock&roll, no less— but that is exactly how The Future Legends Class Act Series One began: jamming with a beloved song that may or may not have influenced the music of the artists themselves but is obviously close to the collective heart of everyone who joined in the chorus. During these divisive times, it is a profoundly touching and organic around-the-campfire moment.

For the main event, Reese Lansangan, the Sunmanager, and Conscious and the Goodness each played 40 minute sets that featured a segment called Interpret My Song where they reworked one of each other’s originals. Conscious’ vocalist Mike Constantino would end up looking for April Hernandez (AKA The sunmanager) prior to his set, quipping, “Kailangan ko i-explain sa kanya how we interpreted ‘In Darkness.’ Baka magalit…” There is no outright competitiveness in the air as with Jack Daniel’s events over the past few years.

Reese Lansangan covered Conscious And The Goodness’ “Pero”
…Conscious and The Goodness covered “In Darkness” by the Sunmanager…
…and The Sunmanager covered Reese’s “St. Petersburg”

2015 JDOS Finalists Flying Ipis, Autotelic, and JD Chosen One Farewell Fairweather also played, their respective styles raising the decibel levels— sometimes intense and fuzzed-out you could say— inside the club compared to the relative calm of the Class Act batch.

Mic-Mic Manalo of 2015 JD Chosen One Farewell Fairweather

Not that differences really mattered; it was a community gathering to celebrate each other’s music and friendships first, and truthfully, the brand second.

The Jack Daniel’s Future Legends Class Act Series Two is scheduled for January 2018. Check out photos from Series One Below: