“Im back, baby!” a Filipiniana clad beabadoobee shouts as she enters the New Frontier Theatre stage last September 16, Friday. After days of watching beabadoobee rediscover the Philippines through her Insta and Twitter, fans were finally able to see their kababayan in the flesh.
Arriving a couple of days before her concert, the Filipina-British artist took her fans along for the ride as she visited Greenhills, explored EDSA, and even had a photoshoot in a jeepney parking lot. “i’m home ” she declared on her post.
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In an intimate press conference before the show, beabadoobee confesses that one of the first things she did when she landed in the Philippines was request to eat sinigang (Tamarind soup base). “As soon as I came, I was really ill from the flight,” she explains “and I was like, I need sinigang right now.” She also shares that she is dreaming to have some champorado paired with daing before she leaves.
Born in the Philippines and raised in London, beabadoobee describes her homecoming as a mixture of pleasant, sad, and nostalgic. “It’s also made me realize,” she adds “how much I’ve grown up and how much everything has changed.” Born in Iloilo, Bea explained that she found it interesting to explore Manila since she has never actually been here before.
Due to her jam-packed schedule, she unfortunately didn’t have the time to go back to Iloilo, but she hopes to get the chance to visit her Lola in Iloilo next year. “It’s just really strange that I’m coming back, and I can’t hang out with my family as much as I could,” she said, “but it’s cool and I’m really excited to meet the fans and talk to new people, it’s just different.”
With both of her parents’ sides flying in from Iloilo to watch the show, Bea shares that despite growing up in London, her parents kept her home very Filipino. According to Bea, her parents were able to keep the Filipino culture alive through cooking and religion. Bea also recalls watching No Other Woman staring Derek Ramsey and It’s Showtime where she fawned over Anne Curtis.
In terms of music, she also mentioned that she grew up listening to her mom play OPM bands like APO Hiking Society and the Eraserheads – who she notes are big inspirations for her own music. Itchyworms’ Jugs Jugueta was actually in the audience for her concert that night. Bea said that she was a fan of the Itchyworms ever since she was a kid. She also mentioned that Jugs even gifted her with a vintage Martin Guitar.
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As much as she would love to collaborate with APO Hiking Society, beabadoobee is also open to meeting more current local musicians.
Growing up as a young Filipina in London, it was tough for Bea being one of the few Asians in her predominantly white school. “If I hang out with the Asians, I’d be too different,” she explained “and if I hang out with the white kids, I’d be too different.” Though she also shared that she was able to find “an amazing group of girlfriends” who she remains best friends with to this day.
To help her cope with the different traumas of her childhood, beabadoobee turned to music. With her dad buying her first guitar, she describes music as “a form of therapy”, explaining that “it started off with me almost like writing diary entries.”
Since she started making music, beabadoobee has often been labelled as a type of 90’s revivalist who creates really nostalgic music, but Bea explains that “I listen to a lot of 90’s music but I’m not trying to be from the 90’s […] I’m just super inspired by those bands.” She even named some of her icons. Sonically, she draws inspiration from The Cardigans and how you can “hear their growth through every album,” she adds that it’s “insane how much surer they sound in each record they make.” Bea also mentions Harriet Wheeler, lead singer of The Sundays, as her vocal inspiration. A voice she once listened to for an entire day during lockdown. For her lyrical inspiration, beabadoobee names Kimya Dawson and Daniel Johnston for their simple and innocent lyrics that can still pack a punch.
Not wanting to be constricted by genres, Bea states that “I just wanted to sound like me.” And that’s exactly what she did with her 2nd album Beatopia. While her 1st album Fake It Flowers was, as Bea describes it, “tangled in my own trauma” Beatopia serves as “growing up and maturing”. Bea realizes that “hey, this is not as bad as I remembered.” With Beatopia, beabadoobee wanted to show kindness to herself and prove that “I’m going to grow from this.”
A rock song sprinkled here, a bossa nova song there, Beatopia transcends the boxes of genres and presents beabadoobee as she grows more comfortable in her own skin and surer of the musical choices she makes.
For her concert later that night, Bea wanted fans to expect “a lot of energy”. She herself was curious to see how the crowds of the Philippines moves – “if they move or if they mosh, I don’t know if they do that around here.” She described how she sometimes tells the crowd to sit down and jump at the same time, occasionally splitting them and telling the crowd to run into each other. Although she confesses that she is feeling a bit reluctant to do that in this show. Bottomline is that for beabadoobee’s Beatopia concert, Bea was excited “to just be energetic.”
And oh boy, was she.
“A lot of energy” was just what we got. Fans were energetic with anticipation, even cheering for different crew members who would come out to do final checks on the instruments and sound.
But those cheers were nothing compared to the noise that erupted from the crowd when the Beatopia Cultsong began to play and we heard “Is it me, or recently time is moving slowly” continue on repeat
“Mabuhay Manila! Ako si beabadoobee!” she introduces herself, later adding “pasensiya na, konti lang Tagalog ko. But it’s good to be back.” This combined with her soft accent was more than enough to make the crowd fall in love with her even more. The high energy opening song Worth It sealed the deal. The audience was in for a wild ride.
Fans were treated to more than just tracks from Beatopia as beabadoobee performed songs from her first album Fake It Flowers and EP’s Our Extended Play and Space Cadet. Fans danced to favorites like Together, He Gets Me So High, and She Plays Bass.
With a mixture of red, white, blue, pink, and purple lights—the New Frontier Theatre was transformed into the world of Beatopia which is a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. From the Beatopia album, fans jumped and sang (more like screamed) along to See you Soon, the perfect pair, Talk, and 10:36.
As she mentioned during the press conference, Bea told the whole theatre to “sit f*cking down” and commanded everyone to jump on her cue. The energy level was so high that at one-point beabadoobee took a seat while singing the perfect pair, also declaring “ang init!”
As the night dwindled down, beabadoobee teased the crowd by saying “This is our last song… charot!” Her announcement made it feel like time was not moving slowly and in fact it was moving quicker than usual. After her performance of Last Day On Earth beabadoobee left the stage leaving the crowd craving for more.
The crowd demanded “isa pa!” and after some time pleading, beabadoobee came back on stage to grace us with her presence once more. For her encore she performed one of the most famous songs she’s known for, Coffee. And it didn’t slip past fans when she changed the lyric “the green in your eyes” to “the blue in your eyes” Bea laughed at the intrigued sounds coming from the audience when they noticed it. After closing with her last song of the night, Cologne, Bea declared her love for her fans saying “Mahal na mahal ko kayo!”
When asked before the show what the highlight of her career is so far is, Bea unhesitatingly said that it’s coming to Manila and “playing in the Philippines”. The show has definitely also become the highlight of the lives of many fans. More than just being touched by her live performance, Bea inspires many Filipinos worldwide to make their own musical marks on the world.
According to Bea, the best compliment that she has gotten is whenever a Filipina comes up to her saying that they’ve never seen someone with an electric guitar that looks like her, and that she inspired them to pick one up themselves. Bea is awestruck when she gets “comments about me being able to inspire girls that look like me.”
“It’s really nice knowing that I can be that person for at least one girl,” she says. Especially considering that when she was young in a predominantly white school, she was also listening to rock music where she was only able to see female fronting Asian musicians when she was already older and making her own music.
For those who are going through a difficult time in their life or experienced a difficult childhood like her, beabadoobee’s advice is to “use it as your drive, use it as inspiration, because that makes you different from everyone else.” She believes that you shouldn’t “use your difficult childhood or what you’ve been through to hold you down from something that you love.” For Bea, what she has been through is what makes her beabadoobee, it’s what makes her unique and motivates her to create the music that she does. If she could say anything to her 7-year-old self that dreamt up Beatopia, all she would say is that “everything’s going to be just fine.”
And now at 22 years old, beabadoobee shows us just how fine things are for her with so many plans down the line. She hints at a love song that she wrote in Tagalog and expresses her wish to work on it with the members of APO Hiking Society. She also expressed a lot of interest in coming back to the Philippines and hopefully be able to stop by Iloilo and even Boracay.
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After the show, Bea thanked her fans online saying that “I almost forgot how much time I spent in my childhood in the Philippines,” adding that “coming back to sing for you guys was a strange and beautiful experience.” She also let her fans know that “I love you guys and I can’t wait to come back home again.” Ending with her hope of coming to “Iloilo next time 💕🤞🏽”. Let’s hope her wishes come true and we see more of beabadoobee back home in 2023. Mabuhay beabadoobee!
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