On one of the hottest summer weekends in the country, Clark Global City in Pampanga turned into an epic venue for the year’s biggest Filipino music festival, which was evocative of the US’ Coachella. The Clark Aurora Music Festival, held April 6 and 7, saw droves of giddy OPM fans from all over the country trek to the massive open grounds — from Boomers to Millennials to Gen Zs —for a two-day celebration of the best of the best in local music. 

Not even the scorching heat stopped a huge throng who came from near and far, some from Baguio, Bataan, and Davao, and arrived as early as four in the morning for the 6:00 p.m. main event.

Clark Aurora Music Festival 2024 stage

Photographed by Stephanie Mayo.

The long and wide stretch of Clark Global City’s open grounds was perfect for the big outdoor fest. An impressive, gigantic single stage was mounted against a burning sunset that bled into the cool night. Two massive LED walls flanked the stage with the performers in the center, who played before an LED screen-stage backdrop, which generated a kaleidoscope of vibrant images that matched the lyrics, the energy, and the beats of the night’s anthems.

Before the headlined artists prowled the stage, a selection of DJs entertained the early birds. KATDJ officially got the “party” started, blasting techno beats and setting the tone for the evening’s OPM celebration.

Aurora’s Biggest Yet

Clark Aurora Festival 2024

Photographed by Stephanie Mayo.

The Clark Aurora Music Festival was launched in 2022 after a delay due to the pandemic. It also toured Cebu and Davao in the previous years. But this year feels like its biggest yet. This third edition was produced by Epic Events, EggStop, Mr. Macchiato—and the fest’s new partner: FWD Insurance. 

Prior to this year’s edition, Epic Events CEO Louie Alcantara already announced plans to elevate the 2024 experience through its partnership with FWD Life Insurance. The Pan-Asian insurer is also celebrating its 10th anniversary this year; hence, Aurora’s third year was kicked up a notch and intensified times ten.

A pre-festival celebration was even mounted at the Greenfield District Central Park where singer-songwriter Rob Deniel serenaded the crowd with his original songs, including “Ulap” and “Ang Pag-ibig,” and his latest hit, “Miss Miss.” 

This year’s edition also introduced FWD’s “The One For Music Lovers” coverage plan. Designed for musicians, music lovers, and gamers, the plan includes coverage for loss of hearing or speech, paralysis, and motor neuron disease.

Indeed the vibe was different this time. This year, the festival grounds—designed with comfort in mind—had free water stations and a wider selection of food concessionaires compared to the fest’s previous years.

The sea of people danced and sang along, their cellphones lit under the chilly Pampanga night. The sky blinked with stars and painted with the colors of stage lanterns and strobe lights, like fiery aurora borealis. If the famed Coachella features art installations and sculptures, Aurora has its own unique feature—a hot air balloon display. This year also saw a bigger number of balloons bobbing in the air like humongous animated children’s toys. 

Aurora 2024 truly sealed its reputation as the country’s iconic OPM music festival.

OPM Knows No Generations

The fest’s two-day format coalesced multiple generations to celebrate our very own music— songs that speak our language and performed by the greats of today and yesterday.

Day 1’s lineup featured artists who rose in the digital age: Cup of Joe, Adie, Juan Karlos, Moira dela Torre, December Avenue, and the evening’s highly anticipated headliners — SB19. The opening day alone attracted over 70,000 concertgoers, a big chunk of them to see the P-pop Kings perform the hits that secured them an unspoken spot in TikTok’s top of the charts.

They opened their set with “Gento”, turning the crowd wild— before belting out “Mapa,” the entranced fans singing their hearts out. Then the group upped the energy once again with “Crimzone” and the concert grounds thundered with incessant screams.

SB19 performing at the Clark Aurora Music Festival 2024.

SB19 courtesy of @SB19Official.

Day 2 featured legends that drove the attendees into a frenzy of nostalgia from sundown to midnight. Some of the biggest names from the ‘90s proved their eternal relevance Sunday night with their timeless hits— Orange and Lemons, Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Itchyworms, Andrew E., with main headliner Rico Blanco closing the night with an unforgettable show, complete with nifty guitar solos, riffs and licks, right before glittering confetti and fireworks showered down the satisfied crowd.

It was a communal experience, proving that live performances still trump virtual ones and that great music shatters generational barriers. A 15-year-old Parokya ni Edgar fan, with his older sister, was invited to the stage by a gamely Chito Miranda for an energetic performance of “Bagsakan” as requested by the siblings. 

Parokya ni Edgar performing at the Clark Aurora Music Festival 2024

Parokya ni Edgar photographed by Stephanie Mayo.

Concertgoers in their 40s and 50s, on Day One, swooned to Juan Karlos, who heated up the stage with his raw and impassioned “Buwan” and recent hit “Ere,” and who also screamed along with the legions of youthful A’TIN when SB19 hit the stage.

There was no dead air. The concert was preceded by contests and fun banter between the hosts. In between performers, there were riotous kiss cams, audience interviews, and backstage interviews with the artists shown on the screens.

Clark Aurora Music Festival Kisscam

Photographed by Stephanie Mayo.

Hugot Themes

From the hosts to the artists, the running theme of Aurora 2024 was undeniably love. The two nights echoed with dedications and declarations of romance and heartbreak.

Sure, Chito Miranda peppered his set with extensive gags and fan interaction, and rock band Kamikazee laced their intense repertoire with humor (the highlight of which was Jay Contreras’ crude yet hilarious rock-metal scream about the Philippine heat). But most of the performers preceded their songs with messages that capitalize on romance and packed with comedy and hugot — an appeal to the universal emotions of romantic love (or lack of it) — before belting out relatable lyrics that hurt, thrill, or reflect the secrets of the heart.

Kamikazee performing at the Clark Aurora Music Festival 2024.

Kamikazee courtesy of @KamikazeeOfficial.

Aurora 2024 was more than a showcase of the world-class talent of the Filipino musical artist, it created a space for our collective — spanning all backgrounds and ages — to unite through music of our own.

There was no signal in the venue, which some might find inconvenient but definitely helped the festival-goers to take a break from their small screens and become part of the immersive, multi-sensory experience of a music festival dedicated in bolstering Pinoy music. For that weekend, despite all the chaos that lied outside these grounds, it was just generations of fans and music. Two days seem not enough. At least there’s still next year to look forward to.

Moira performing at The Clark Aurora Music Festival 2024

Moira courtesy of @moiradelatorre.