Fête De La Musique Philippines has always been more than an opportunity to discover new music.

Sure, you can easily find new artists that you’ll find yourself becoming a fan of,  but what makes Fête PH such a core and essential experience for anyone interested in the realm of music is that it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the living, breathing elements of the local music scene. 

Whether you find yourself in the packed and sweaty rooms of SaGuijo or the crowded and damp open streets of Poblacion, such environments are true to life and representative of what makes the Fête De La Musique journey so memorable. In every space, stage, and room you would find yourself in, there’s a unique and undeniable charm to every set-up — one that goes beyond the sound and genres you would expect to hear.

Photographed by Mayks Go

This year’s Fête was no different, although the plethora of Pocket Stages available this year easily makes this one of the biggest celebrations of the festival thus far. In the thirty years of the festival’s rich history in the Philippines, the sheer amount of stages and genres featured at Fête De La Musique stands out as an amazing representation of the music we Filipinos resonate with, while also mirroring the evolving trends and genres that have slowly (but surely) found their way to local audiences. 

With music acting as a universal language of sorts, every note, chord, and beat that rang out across the nationwide festival brought forth its own message to anyone in attendance at any of the pocket stages. For no matter the genre –– the message stands clear: music is more than just a set of melodies, but an all-encompassing factor that champions a community of individuals and shared experiences.

For this year’s Fête De La Musique 2024, the Billboard Philippines team shares their individual journeys traveling to and across the various Pocket Stages in Makati City — elaborating on the enthralling nature of the festival, and what such an experience means to each of us. Managing Editor Jason Caballa, Digital Editor Franchesca Basbas, Photographer and Writer Mayks Go, and Writer and Host Gabriel Saulog tell us all about this year’s Fete festival, written in their own words.

“…The experience became a reminder of why I continue to love Filipino music and being a part of its many niches and communities – no matter the genre.”

This year was only my first time experiencing the Pocket Stages of Fête De La Musique in the Philippines.

I’d first heard about this grand annual celebration of music in high school, back when I first started going to gigs. Back then, the concept of Pocket Stages captivated my curiosity the most. The idea of going between multiple venues in one night intrigued me to no end but for some reason — perhaps fate or whatever — it was only this year that I finally got to experience it for myself.

I was determined to make the most out of my first time hopping between the pocket stages. I’d been dreaming of doing this since I was about 17 or 18. So now, being able to finally do so in my mid-twenties, it sure felt like a long time coming. Nevertheless, I could not have picked a more perfect year to finally be able to do so than on Fête PH’s 30th anniversary.

Photographed by Mayks Go

My personal trek started within the hallowed halls of SaGuijo, where the Emo Stage was set to be hosted. At this point, SaGuijo is perhaps the live music venue I’ve been to most. It’s where a lot of memorable moments of mine happened — from bravely moshing to hardcore bands at 2 in the morning to getting to crowdsurf for the very first time, held up by a bunch of fellow sweaty friends and strangers. Needless to say, SaGuijo is definitely made for memories and the Emo Stage at this year’s Fête was no different.

From the dreamy melodies of math rock-infused acts like Amateurish to the vibrant, youthful rage of screamo bands like North Sentinel and Sintasan, SaGuijo became the place to be for all things emo music, perfectly topped off by loud sing-alongs, endless moshing, and crowdsurfers literally reaching for the ceiling. It felt like a celebration of my high school years, back when I first dived into alternative music, and a reminder of my continued love for these genres in the present.

Photographed by Mayks Go

Up next, I headed on over to the Mansion Sports Bar and Lounge for the Final Round Stage. Or should I say, stages. Occupying three of the venue’s rooms, the Final Round Stage personally felt like a mini festival in its own right, showcasing multiple acts from different genres, ranging from acoustic guitar-playing soloists to heavy-hitting hard rock bands. It felt like there was an artist for everyone there that night with me personally getting to watch the sets of funk-infused rock band Mt. Lewis and modern metalcore outfit Fragments — both right up my alley.

Photographed by Mayks Go

Following this, I headed on over to Poblacion for what I intended to be my final stage of the night: the Good Sh*t Stage at Good Sh*t Coffee/Craft. The Makati traffic — further intensified by the concentration of multiple Fête stages in the area — made me arrive a bit later than I’d hoped. However, I did manage to catch the last few songs of alternative rock band SOS, with the opening lines of “Favoritism” literally soundtracking my final few, out-of-breath paces towards the venue. Following their set, there was some down time so I also managed to visit the Progressive/Crossover Rock Stage at the Secreto Rooftop of Cuento just a few hundred meters away, taking a quick listen at one of the guitar virtuoso-driven acts occupying the lineup. Finally, I capped my night off by going back to the Good Sh*t Stage to catch Pedicab delightfully getting the crowd going even past 12 midnight, perfectly closing off the long but musically fulfilling day I just had.

All in all, despite my entire body literally hurting the next day, I’m pretty satisfied with my first time getting to stage-hop for Fête De La Musique. I learned a lot of things, including how to navigate between stages (and the realities of how many you can actually go to). But most of all, thanks to the diversity of acts I got to witness and the scenes I managed to become one within a single night, the experience ultimately became a reminder of why I continue to love Filipino music and being a part of its many niches and communities, no matter the genre. I absolutely can’t wait to do it all over again next year. 

– Mayks Go, Writer/Photographer

“…Fête De La Musique is a music nerd’s pilgrimage that is both satisfying and exciting, especially with its long-lasting impression that continues to linger well beyond the conclusion of the festival.”

I have always been more or less aware of what it means to celebrate Fête De La Musique, yet I don’t think I’ve found myself as immersed in the experience as much as this year.

Over time, I’ve found myself more curious as to how diehard fans and genre aficionados dedicated both the time and the effort that it takes to make the trek across various stages amidst varying distances. From what I heard, it was almost always worth it for the experience — so it became something that I’ve always hoped to try out for myself.  

Having witnessed the diverse lineup of acts from last week’s main stage already stood out as a core musical memory for me this year, yet going through the several pocket stages is what fully embodies the true Fête experience. As I got to host our upcoming episode of Billboard Philippines’ Scenes, it afforded me the opportunity to fully be involved with the festival — interacting with both the festival organizers and artists alike to gain their insight into the preparation for this year’s showcase

I began my journey at the H&J Sports Bar for the Blues Soul Funk Stage, catching the groovy set of Gundam Funk alongside Ben&Ben’s Paolo Benjamin and a high school friend of mine. I got to chat with August Wahh and Janine Teñoso about some of their favorite memories performing Fete over the years — which goes to show the resounding impact and resonance of the festival as time goes by. Their candid insights and cherished memories tell a whole lot about what Fete means to its performers, given that it provides them with a platform to play for such a wide and varied audience.

Following H&J, I, our videographer Kevin, and our producer Anton then made our way to the Bass Stage at Hoesik — which marked quite the difference from the usual set of stages that are often showcased at the festival. As the venue welcomed us in with the vibrant glow of its multicolored neon lights, the heavy percussion sounds coming from the Pioneer DDJ-400 mixer shook the room with a gentle rumble that was paired with the gyrating movements of the crowd present. Pepi and Yumi’s (of SOFT AS SILK B2B YUMU) electric set had everyone in a sort of trance, with everyone moving in unison to the throbbing beats of the music.

It was also here that I got to chat with Camille Banzon, the organizer of the Bass Stage, as we conversed about her opportunity in providing a platform to artists of an often overlooked genre, alongside the rich cultural hold it has held since the 1990s in places like Davao. True to the mission of Fête, it was evident that Camille’s goal to highlight the local underground scene of acid breaks, roots dub, jungle and happy hardcore bass beats.

Given the walking nature of the Fête experience, I would surely — and definitely — not recommend wearing a pair of Doc Martens with a leather jacket. But aside from the scorching heat and humidity, making our way to Kampai for the Disco Stage was well worth the trek, especially with the electric set of tunes that greeted us as we made our way inside. The fresh aroma of a bowl of gyudon paired with the faint whisk of tequila shots was a surprisingly pleasant fragrance, complemented by some ’90s house tunes in the background. We made our way to the incognito smoking section by the balcony for a quick chat with the stage’s organizer, Greg, who shared his thoughts on the ever-evolving nature of the festival as well as some key points of advice for those new to the experience.

Of course, we couldn’t miss Kenaniah’s set at the Good Sh*t stage, wherein we stayed put to witness SOS’ highly-anticipated performance in the same place. With the street packed and overflowing with audiences of all ages and ethnicities, the energy was insane to say the least — especially as it hit the climactic point of the fan-favorite “Favoritism.”

We stepped out a bit for a chat with the members of SOS, talking to Roberto Seña, Anjo Silvoza, and Andrew Ponopio about how they felt regarding the crowd’s enthusiastic response to their set. In what may have been one of the most chaotic (yet utterly delightful) interviews of the night, it was a moment that is sure to stand out as one of my favorite parts of the night. Luckily, we got to stop by for a quick interview with Diego Mapa (Pedicab), wherein he shared insights with us regarding the rich pedigree of performances that he’s been able to do with his bands over the many years of Fête in the Philippines.

As we capped off the night with Pedicab’s fantastic set, everyone’s spirits were at an all-time high —  the crowd was enraptured, and everyone was having a great time. By seeing the look of each and every face in the crowd, it was evident that this year’s Fête was truly an experience for the books. A core memory, as some may even put it. Because aside from the harmonious tunes and plentiful amount of good music spread out across the city (and even beyond), Fête De La Musique is a music nerd’s pilgrimage that is both satisfying and exciting, especially with its long-lasting impression that continues to linger well beyond the conclusion of the festival.

– Gabriel Saulog, Writer/Host

“My biggest takeaway of the night is that there’s truly nothing like music to bring people together.”

This was the first time I was experiencing Fête’s Pocket Stages. It was always something I heard about, from my friends’ personal experiences of hopping from venue to venue to the Billboard Philippines team’s own Fête stories. It almost felt like a rite of passage for any local music fan to experience the Pocket Stages, and finally, it was my turn.

My first stop of the night was the Final Round Stage at The Mansion. Admittedly, I never planned on hitting this stage but since I was having dinner nearby, I figured, why not. The singular stage was in fact, three stages with an array of genres playing in each one. With how the venue was laid out, it felt like a maze of music finding your way around, in the best way possible. Every corner had a new sound and with it, a new crowd of people. I settled on the Party Stage, where I caught sets by Earl Generao and ALYSON. It was the first time I had heard their music but I instantly loved it — there’s truly an unbeatable charm to first discovering music live. 

Photographed by Franchesca Basbas

I then went over to the main heart of the Pocket Stages: Poblacion. I head over to H&J Sports Bar & Restaurant for the Blues Soul Funk Stage. Here, I caught a performance by Kosmikskala and what would be my first August Wahh set of the night. 

Almost as soon as I entered the venue, I was greeted by so many familiar faces, from friends to artists that were simply hopping around themselves. It was the first look into how the rest of my night would go: bumping into friends while walking around Poblacion, watching gigs alongside my favorite artists, and repeat. It was a strange but charming aspect of Fête I really enjoyed. Filipino music has always been a community, and as someone who had not gone to a gig in a while, it was nice to experience that all again. 

Photographed by Franchesca Basbas

The rest of the night had me going in between grabbing food and drinks at spots around Poblacion and watching the Good Sh*t Stage. I caught performances by Kenaniah, SOS, and August Wahh (again), all while saying hi to so many friends in between. 

Photographed by Franchesca Basbas

At Fete’s media launch, before it officially kicked off this year, Martin Macalintal, the Cultural Attaché at the French Embassy to the Philippines, had shared a story about Fête De La Musique in France. He talked about how music filled the streets, where every couple of steps, you were greeted by a new sound. Just imagining it then, it sounded so beautiful. 

Now, getting to experience it through the pocket stages was absolutely remarkable. From following whatever corner of Poblacion the music took you, to hearing bands from other stages spill over to the stage you were in –– there was no doubt that music was really everywhere you went. While I had hoped to catch more performances than I actually did, my biggest takeaway of the night is that there’s truly nothing like music to bring people together.

– Franchesca Judine Basbas, Digital Editor

“A trio of French men in their 20s were singing some of the hooks of our songs long after our set was done, showing that live music is indeed a universal language that knows no barriers.”

As someone who has been involved with Fête (usually as a performer, sometimes as a co-organizer) almost every year since 2004, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve attended or played the festival, but I do remember that the older I got, the prospect of getting to play (or even just watch) at multiple stages became less and less enticing, especially since the locations of the Pocket Stages became farther from each other over the years.

So this year, I decided to just limit myself to two stages — the Indie Stage, and the Good Sh*t Stage. My band was booked to play at the latter, so it was a no-brainer. After all, Fête is really for the younger ones who have a lot of music left to discover.

At around 7:30PM, I arrived at the Indie Stage, located in Sari-Sari along Washington Street, around the corner from Chino Roces Avenue. Besides seeing the featured acts, I was excited to visit the venue for the first time — a cocktail and live music bar hidden in a Thai restaurant and accessible only through a secret door that masqueraded as a beverage cooler. 

Upon entering, I saw the place was packed, with indie rock supergroup Spacedog Spacecat having just started their set. It’s a pity I missed Izzy Mariano and Space Moses, but there were still more bands to come. We Are Imaginary — fronted by Indie Stage co-organizer Ahmad Tanji of Shoplifters United — came next, but I had to step outside because of the crowd. It turns out this was a bad idea, because there was a long line of people outside the venue being barred from entering because Sari Sari was already filled to maximum capacity.

Many were able to enter after Megumi Acorda’s set, as the crowd thinned considerably after their performance. Those who remained were lucky to catch Bacolod bands Dizzyonswings and &ND — who, for me, were that night’s best surprises. I had to leave just as one of my favorite young bands, Cheeky Things, were setting up, and it sucked that I had to miss my old friends Marty McFly (fronted by superstar Marvel Comics artist Leinil Yu) as well.

Photographed by Franchesca Basbas

I made it to the Good Sh*t Stage at a little past 11PM — my band Pedicab’s call time for a supposed midnight set. This particular Pocket Stage was in Poblacion, the area of Makati that always had a nightlife on any given night. A lot of stages were also nearby — the Blues Soul Funk Stage in H&J, the Prog Rock Stage in Cuento, as well as several stages with DJs at Oto, Z Hostel, and more — so I was already expecting the streets to be teeming with gig-goers.

SOS were playing when I arrived at Good Sh*t Coffee/Craft, on a small outdoor stage surrounded by over a hundred people that spilled over into Enriquez Street. When our drummer arrived, he was surprised at the size of the crowd. I told him that the Indie Stage was similarly packed, and people were actually making the effort to move from stage to stage despite the considerable distance between most of them. We performed later that night and the crowd enjoyed it — we were pretty pleased with our set as well.

A trio of French men in their 20s were singing some of the hooks of our songs long after our set was done, showing that live music is indeed a universal language that knows no barriers. Despite being the jaded old fogey that I am, this is the aspect of Fête that still gets me every year, and I’m glad we’re still doing it.

– Jason Caballa, Managing Editor/Lead Guitarist of Pedicab