Last December 25, 2022 (Christmas Day), Sound Experience Manila (SX Manila) and the National Parks Development Committee organized the holiday concert, “Jingle Bell Rockin’!”, to cap the day of Christmas off. The event was attended by thousands of people, as the audience and fans filled the seats and crowded the Rizal Open-Air Auditorium with enthusiasm and passion for the artists’ performances. The lineup for the concert was comprised of artists and bands from different genres of music, sporting the talents of Blaster Silonga and the Celestial Klowns, Mojofly, Pseudo Red, Wolf Gypsies, Pseudo Red, Hazel with the Brothers De Leon, Chilla Manila, and Gin Rum and Truth.
The crowd, even prior to the start of the event, was already filling the seats of the auditorium. The preparatory sound check sessions of the bands and artists drew the passersby of the park into the venue, sparking interest among and across the would-be audience members. The well-placed production equipment, such as the positioning of the lights and the placement of large LED wall screens on the stage and outside the auditorium, was used to generate interest and foot traffic. The collaborative forces of SX Manila and the NPDC in creating and arranging the production of the concert proved effective in building an engaged and spreading buzz throughout the entirety of Rizal Park on the day itself.
Hosts Ms. Mary Grace Atienza and DJ Braggy from 90.7 Home Radio welcomed the Luneta crowd to the program. They channeled vibrant energy, matching that of the ambience of the season, in connecting with the crowd. As seen, the crowd sang the Philippine National Anthem wholly and together, and that started the event off with a notable synergy between performer and audience.
The band to spur the start of the artist performances was Gin Rum and Truth (GRT). GRT kicked the event off with their signature hard-hitting and intense style of music. Flavored with the riffs and runs of rock and grunge, GRT instantly roused the crowd with a groovy combination of both covers and originals. The band held a firm command of the audience, and their performance reared cheers throughout the entire open-air auditorium. They set the tone for the rest of the event.
Chilla Manila followed, playing a calm and tranquil melody of acoustic versions of OPM classics like Manila and Panalangin. They also peppered in their original songs, to which the crowd swayed to the melodies of. To finish their set, Chilla Manila lead Sam Grajo called on GRT’s Yok to sing the well-known Christmas staple, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Next came Hazel with the Brothers De Leon, who then performed the classic Filipino Christmas song, Pasko Na Naman. The crowd enjoyed their covers, as they sang along to the songs and responded positively to the music. But where Hazel shined most was when she performed her wholehearted and ardent original song dedicated to her mother entitled ‘Ma’. Her emotions translated to the crowd, carried by her voice and lyrics. And the audience felt it, and many of them were moved, some even to tears.
Black Wolf Gypsies (BWG) injected their high-level energy into the stage, crowd, and their music. The band brought with them a chaotic vibe that the audience rode, as BWG performed their original songs, as well as the Christmas classic Jingle Bell Rock. Treating the stage as a canvas, BWG lifted the loudness and the intensity of their performance more and more as their set brought to a close. In ending, BWG’s drummer, Jun Divinagracia, carried his cymbals to the center of the stage as all members of the band pounded and hammered onto the drums and the guitars.
One of the awaited performers of the night, Mojofly was cheered on even before starting their set —even before taking on the stage. They sang and performed well-known Christmas songs like Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Please Come Home for Christmas. The crowd sang along as they covered popular songs from iconic OPM bands like the Eraserheads and Rivermaya. To the excitement and the fervor of the audience, the people climbed and crowded the stage during Mojofly’s performance of Mayonnaise’s Jopay. The crowd was noticeably enjoying their time, as a large part of them danced and sang and jived with the band.
The penultimate performers, Pseudo Red opened strong with the performances of their songs. They imbued the stage with their alternative rock sounds, maintaining the energy of the previous performers and bringing more intensity into their own performance. Pseudo Red brought their identity to the Rizal Park stage and crowd with an audibly unique tone and hue.
Lastly, the long-awaited performance of Blaster Silonga and the Celestial Klowns created a space like and celestial atmosphere through their sound and tonal vibe. Drawing from Blaster’s latest album, My Kosmik Island Disk, Blaster and the Celestial Klowns brings forth a multitude of different originals like O Kay Ganda, Nararararamdaman, and Sa Huli ang Pagsisisi among others, that rock and move the crowd. The audience was on its feet throughout the entirety of the performance, always ready to clap, cheer, and capture the moment. To the adulation of the crowd, Blaster and the Celestial Klowns also covered a couple of IV of Spades sons, Come Inside of My Heart and Dulo ng Hangganan. With their performance, the Christmas day of music and enjoyment ended solidly, as even if the day waned into the night, the crowd never stopped clamoring for more and more.
With Jingle Bell Rockin’!, SX Manila and the National Parks Development Committee delivered a fun, enjoyable, and an all-around captivating event for the Filipino people during one of the most celebrated events and seasons in the Philippines, Christmas. The combination of high-profile artists, compelling Filipino performers, and a mesmerized crowd culminated in one of the most entertaining concerts held in Luneta since the onset of the pandemic. True to its name, Jingle Bell Rockin’! rocked Rizal Park, turning the historical landmark into a melting pot where the collective spirit of Christmas of the attendees, organizers, and performers alike melded and thundered in a firework of sound and good music.
Written by: Tristan Dyln Tano
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