As a celebration of music across all styles, genres, and forms of expression, Fête De La Musique occupies a unique space among music festivals in the country, with its dozens of stages showcasing hundreds of artists simultaneously in a single day.

In the Philippines, it has since expanded nationwide in the last few years, with many major cities and destinations all over the archipelago holding their own Fête-adjacent events that showcase their own live music scenes. Thus, with Fête De La Musique marking three decades in the country this month, countless Filipino musicians have been involved with it in one way or another, either as performers or as part of the production team of one or several of its many stages.

In anticipation of this year’s Fête PH — which celebrates its 30th anniversaryBillboard Philippines asked singer/songwriter Rice Lucido and musicians Eco Del Rio (bird., Chicosci, Jejaview), Ean Aguila (Ang Bandang Shirley), Megumi Acorda (Megumi Acorda), Evee Simon (July XIV, Megumi Acorda, spacedog spacecat, Eggboy), Zach Lopez (10 a.m. Departure), and Japo Anareta (Tanya Markova, Jetcoaster) to share their favorite Fête memories, and why the festival still matters to many Filipino music enthusiasts year after year.

Their Fête De La Musique debut:

Rice Lucido: My first ever Fête performance was back in 2016, [at the] World Music Stage. I remember being surrounded by dreadlocked women, barefoot chanters with tunnels in their ears, [and] men wearing elephant pants with hand-painted didgeridoos — and [there I was] with my jumbo dreadnought guitar, trying to blend in. I was only 18 then! (Laughs) I didn’t even have my own songs yet, and was relying on my high-pitched squeaky voice to belt out old OPM folk songs. It felt surreal to find a community that welcomed me and gave me a space where I could explore and find my sound. The venue was packed with locals and foreigners. It felt like the real deal.

Ean Aguila: The first time was at El Pueblo in Ortigas in 2005. My crush finally talked to me — after months of ignoring me because she realized that I liked her — when she found out that I had a new girlfriend. The stages were outdoor and walkable. It was the first time I watched Cueshe. They were supposed to play after us but they had another show later that night, so they asked if they could go first.

Zach Lopez: The first Fête I ever played was in 2018 at the Baguio Main Stage with 10 a.m. Departure. It was really fun but pretty nerve-racking. We had to drink a few cans of beer before our 5:00 set to be loose on stage.

Evee Simon: The first was 2015 at the Acoustic Stage (just as myself). It was pretty nerve-racking for me — it was relatively a quieter and brighter stage, as opposed to dark, loud, and crowded bar gigs I often was at. It had one of the bigger audiences I had ever played to; most of them sat on the venue floor and went quiet as soon as each act began, so you knew that they were there to really listen. Additionally, just before my set, I found out they were going to live record some of the songs of each act, so that made me even a bit more conscious and jittery. Despite the nerves, I was really happy to have been given a chance to play and share some of my songs before an audience, especially when I never had personal recordings of them uploaded anywhere.

Japo Anareta (far right) performing with Tanya Markova, photographed by Fatti Abi

What keeps them attending Fête every year:

Eco Del Rio: I personally look forward to the showcase of new music. it’s usually in these events where you find a new artist to follow, or see which ones have that ‘it’ factor.

Megumi Acorda: As a fan, the most appealing aspect of Fête is that it’s free! You can see most of your faves without spending anything, as all the stages are close to each other. The lineup is extensive too, with around 15 artists or bands per stage. That’s why I enjoy playing Fête gigs, even though we don’t receive compensation. It allows me to connect with the music community, especially with people I rarely get to see.

Ean Aguila: I look forward to Fête Baguio because we get to go out of town and eat delicious food. I think people want to be part of Fête because it is such a huge event and they want to be part of something that celebrates all forms of music.

Zach Lopez: I attend every year mainly because Fête was the first gig I’ve ever been to. My parents brought me to Fête 2009 in Metrowalk and it opened my eyes to how live music should be experienced.

Japo Anareta: The thing that I look forward to during Fête is the fact that we’re having a huge local music festival that caters to all types of audiences in one night. You can pick your poison during that night, which rarely happens in our regular gig circuit.

Evee Simon: Just like any other year, I still look forward to watching both new and familiar acts, and being in the company of friends and fans who share that deep appreciation for music.

Evee Simon (far left) and Megumi Acorda (center) performing with Megumi Acorda, photographed by JLE Music

Favorite Fête memory:

Zach Lopez: It would probably be the Fête 25th anniversary 25-minute medley [on the Main Stage in 2019]. The entire production with a super band and an all-star lineup playing OPM classics was a spectacle. I won’t forget how everyone danced to [Sampaguita’s] “Bonggahan” to end the medley.

Rice Lucido: [The] Baguio Stage in 2022 [was] my first out-of-town Fête where I played on Session Road. They closed the whole stretch and the street was packed. It started to drizzle midway through, but the crowd remained in their places and started raising their umbrellas. It was magical; it made my heart swell.

Eco Del Rio: My favorite would probably be [the Rock Stage] in 2016, with Jejaview. It was so cool playing [in] a venue (The Eye in Green Sun Hotel, Makati City) with 360-degree visuals! That was trippy. Plus, totally unrelated, but I remember repping my then-favorite NBA team’s jersey that night, cause I knew they’d bounce back from a 3-1 deficit against the Warriors… [and] they did! They made history, and I felt like I was part of it.

Megumi Acorda: The Dream Pop/Shoegaze Stage in 2019 stands out as the most memorable for me. It was a period in my life when I was still uncertain about the direction I wanted our songs to take. Watching the bands gave me a fresh perspective on music and life. [It’s] funny how all my bandmates played two sets that year on the same stage — one for Megumi Acorda and another for their other band. Seeing them perform validated my decision to choose them as my bandmates.

Evee Simon: So far it might be Fête 2023, the year I intended to play with just one band, at one stage, and enjoy the rest of the day as an audience member. But as it turned out, all of [my] four bands ended up playing in four different venues. That was crazy tiring! But it was fun because the production groups and organizers involved, along with my bandmates and friends, were supportive, accommodating, and very helpful. That kind of thing would only be possible because of excellent coordination and planning by the organizers, and support and generosity of good friends and bandmates — all of which, to me, highlighted the spirit of Fête, which is in the communities that participate in it.

Eco Del Rio performing with bird., photograph courtesy of Locked Down Entertanment

Why Fête De La Musique still matters on its 30th year in the Philippines:

Rice Lucido: The thrill of finding new and eccentric local acts, plus hearing genres I am not familiar with, and the feeling you get when you hear and watch them live — I guess that’s what hooked me to commit to this annual event despite the heat and sweat. I will always endure this stanky adventure as long as I get to find new treasures. I remember dreaming of being a part of the artist lineup one day and it happened in 2016! Since then, I always get invited yearly to perform. I am blessed.

Japo Anareta: I think both performers and fans still anticipate this event because it is one of those times that you can catch a glimpse of artists that [you] rarely [see] perform, as well as experience a wide variety of genres at different Pocket Stages.

Zach Lopez: I always look forward to the diversity of stages during Fête. The entire experience of plotting the set times of artists you want to see in different stages and figuring out how to get to each one shows how eventful the festival is. I think that’s also the reason why people are always looking forward to Fête’s stages and lineups. It’s really a celebration of music.

Evee Simon: Overall, I think Fête is a way of both celebrating and showcasing such a wide variety of acts but particularly with this communal energy to it. There’s something special about knowing that there are all sorts of scenes or smaller communities everywhere, which — on a more universal level — enjoy, appreciate, and participate in the same thing (music), and Fête is a manifestation of that. I speak mostly from my experiences with Pocket Stages, where the difference between fan and musician is blurred, because everyone is a music fan.

On June 28, catch Rice Lucido at the Acoustic Stage (which Ean is handling) in Coda Wet Bar at the Coro Hotel roofdeck, and at the Final Round Stage at the Mansion Sports Bar & Lounge. Megumi and Evee will perform with Megumi Acorda (along with spacedog spacecat) at the Indie Stage in Sari Sari. Zach will play with 10 a.m. Departure at the Rock Stage in Alibi Music Lounge, and you can listen to their latest single, “Meet Me,” here.