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Thursday, April 04, 2024

The Gigs: Where To Catch Your Favorite OPM Bands (v. 2024, Part 2 of 2)

03/30/2024 04:15:43 PM

I first wrote The Gigs as part of the music issue of the Philippine Panorama (Yes, the Sunday magazine of Manila Bulletin) back in February 2018, wherein I featured some of the places which houses live music scene. Add to that is how and why online is also the place to be if one looks for sources of new music.

Fast-forward to 2024: It has been two years since the time the Manila gig scene resurfaced for good. The months of February and March were the times when music events had its full-blown resurrection for good after being halted by another wave of community quarantine at the start of the year 2022. Some of us have to understand that this was an era of a convergence of the new normal and returning norms as some of our beloved venues closed, a bunch of personalities we know passed away (be it due to COVID or not), and everything noisy has mostly been made virtually. As we know it, the shutdown has put us in uncertainty; but eventually, we found our way back to hum tunes with our voices and instruments. 

In 2022, we may have been walloping over the closure of Upperhouse, Conspiracy Garden Cafe and Route 196 (along with other shops and restaurants in various business fields that we didn't have chances to bade farewell), but new houses emerged to serve live music and all the merrymaking we barely missed that two-year stretch, and that was something we discussed a while ago.

For more of The Gigs, we shed the spotlight on the other names which probably rang the bell, also made their respective returns – although, in different locations. Add to that are the reopening of the venues that remained alive and kicking up to this day.


One of the known music houses since the 2000s, saGuijo was just another apartment unit in San Antonio, Makati City which eventually become a staple name for live entertainment, not just outside the usual nightlife-busy district of Poblacion, but in the country. Legendary names once played there as part of their dreams as a bunch of aspiring artists; and younger and up-and-comers would always dream to BE IN their stage, no matter how woody, crampy, and hot-as-hell it may look like. It's like today's generation of Mayric's or Club Dredd due to legacy related reasons.

There are countless nights – be it memorable or otherwise – that I happened to be in this venue. Amidst the noise complaints (oh screw those newbie realtors) recently, saGuijo made sure with all the compliance and stamped their mark that today's fans will guarantee to enjoy music there with their offering of drinks (including their signature cocktail Isa Pa!) and a selection of food like their beef salpicao. Although I wish they could have some items back in their menu like those barbecues and tapsilog.


Some of the great things happened at the basement of this Kowloon House branch in Quezon City. Yep, since 2015. 

Mow's has transformed itself from being just another underground jazzy-vibe bar into an event space catering to mostly hippies and preppy ones. Some of the known local acts and visiting international guests perform here. Aside from that, Mow's would regularly house those open mic for stand-up comedy nights (Open Shomaic), as well as regular shows from the like of Furiosa, Paniki Nights, Sleeping Boy Collective, among others.

It helps that Mow's is placed just below the known dimsum food chain, too, because a cheap priced beer would serve as its compliment for those gigantic shomais. But not gonna lie: I kinda wish their sisig with egg were still part of their menu because it was their best staple pulutan dish.

123 Block

Pre-pandemic, there was once a 123 Block situated in Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City, just nearby the office of National Book Store there. It was in this year, however, when they moved to a more accessible Mandala Park in Shaw Boulevard across the city.

While the previous location appeared to be a warehouse, their new location tells otherwise. It was placed at an open park which have fitness aficionados run the mill every morning; and run the gigs at the nighttime. Hell, sometimes, big shows (those usually ran by either Minsan Studios, Gabi Na Naman Productions or Sleepy Boy Collective) take place as early as Saturday afternoon here. 

On the outside, 123 Block is probably the closest you can have to B-Side, from the atmosphere to their food choices – just minus the filthy CR. However, you can't go wrong by having gigs placed inside, too, as it was spacious enough to have like 30-50 people standing there with adequate lights and sounds. Plus, the effort in printing announcement for whatever event that is staging there per night.


Just outside the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Compound along Mother Ignacia Avenue, you'll find a bunch of bars that appeared like they're converted straight out of their homes. One of them is named Motorista Bar.

Perhaps, the rider-like of them all, the crampy yet colorful Motorista serves as a hangout place that can be an alternate from all the other bars that spawning loud music straight out of their speakers during band-less nights, and a steamy hot one come gig nights. Forget their average level of sound system quality; Motorista is probably the place to be for some random rock music weekend shows that are different from the typical ones. 

They have good pancit canton there, too, which blends well with a Pale Pilsen. 

Skinny Mike's

Yes, there's live music happening in BGC (gagi), too. You probably forgot the area being one of the go-to open fields for music festivals and massive concerts like those MTV specials and the first Eraserheads reunion concert, no?

Sure, BGC (gagi, again) has been transformed into a 1st world wannabe urban jungle unlike it used to some two decades ago. But it also means that the same BGC (gagi, okay I'm gonna stop that right there) has built a whole lot of nightlife entertainment hubs more than just being situated in that block called The Fort. Take Skinny Mike's for example.

Yes, the Sports Bar located at 32rd Street – just beside that MC Home Depot branch has a separate events place at the third floor which lets music productions and artists hold their special events, something that SMOL Productions are quite known for. 

While their lighting system is a hard one to bear while taking photographs, their plethora of food items in the menu are worth the taste buds. Take their plates of dynamite and dinakdakan for example. 

12 Monkeys

Perhaps the most premium of them all, 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub gained notoriety through staging some of the biggest music bar shows in the past decade in its first location at Century City Mall in Makati City. 

Old photo of 12 Monkeys at El Pueblo in 2020.

A few years later, 12 Monkeys moved to the heart of Ortigas Center – the El Pueblo opposite The Podium and suddenly, the metro central gained a spot to hang around to watch live bands night in and night out. This was where I would usually watch Truefaith shows live (aside from 19 East) because they have the biggest stage and probably one of the biggest spaces that go along with their roadhouse and cabaret-like aesthetics.

While it was a sudden sad news in August 2020 when 12 Monkeys had its silent exit (and eventually the demolition of the entire El Pueblo), fans rejoiced as the beloved music hall and pub moved to the more sophisticated location – just inside Estancia Mall in Capitol Commons. Definitely a win move since Capitol Commons are more accessible via Shaw Boulevard and Meralco Avenue.

Social House

Another mall-based pub in the Metro today, Social House has been an events place and nightly-operated restaurant since 2017. They have hosted a lot of events since then; from single/music video/album launches, milestone anniversary events, charity gigs, to even mini-concerts featuring international artists like Beach Fossils in 2018. Hey, they even housed a pocket stage for Fete de la Musique almost every year.

Social House also became one of the first to reopen its doors when the authorities allowed live entertainment gatherings (although in a very limited capacity) in late 2021. The venue also entertained being the backdrop for virtual events at the time being, too, due to its very spacious area. 

The Circuit Makati-based music hall would probably remind people of those dark-yet-laid back bars one would confine themselves into for the night. But they also have average-tasting food and pricey beers, too. If that wouldn't hinder your experience there, then it's good.

Matchbox Yard

Up the Northernmost part of Commonwealth Avenue lies the Matchbox Yard. At the second floor of this food court-slash-car wash lies the entertainment and function hall that houses live music of various means. Although mostly, the shows here would feature underground metal and hip-hop acts, so expect probably a similar vibe from Ruins – a hot and wild night (and I don't mean the TMI kind of 'wild' there, by the way) but in a dark-dominated walls.

I once visited Matchbox Yard and I would probably say in terms of the 'vibe,' this would come close to the once famous B-Side. This is where the noisiest of the north play. Just bring an extra clothing with you, hope you're not too nitpicky, and brace yourself for the troubles of late-night commuting from there.

Tago Jazz

For a few times, I experienced going there when it was still a house that may be too hot to stay and everyone does stay. It was a good night for jamming if you wanna hear you musician friends jam with each other. Yes, even in a one-floor only very crampy space. I can say this was Cubao's best kept secret for a reason, but more so when they years gone by. 

Before the pandemic, I also managed to see the renovated place. What was once a woody old house turned into a more modernized and sophisticated looking jazz place to hear all that jazz (no pun intended). It had the adequate ventilation and lighting, plus a veranda upstairs to accommodate more people, while retaining the old woods which signifies this jazz and blues cafe as a whole.

One can say, their mystique of being 'the most intimate venue' has blossomed even further, especially with people on their 'revenge hanging out' mode a couple of years ago, along with some of the renowned artists performing here night in and night out.

19 East

If 12 Monkeys was the most premium of them all, I'll say 19 East as the grandest of them all. Imagine an average-sized house and converting them into a mini-concert venue, with adequate soundproofing installed from walls to ceiling, the classy-elite house-looking interior design, an expanded seating capacity and none other than having the best lights and sounds system for a music bar in the metro (I mean the 2D LED walls serving as the stage backdrop alone says it all). 

From being just a restaurant 20 years ago, 19 East quickly emerged as the Metro South's premier live music hall when Wowee Posadas added live entertainment shows as its main feature. And it shows, since big bands like Side A, Freestyle, MYMP, are holding shows there every week. That's just aside from having some monthly regulars; from artists like Basti Artadi, Paolo Santos, Truefaith, AMP Big Band, Black Cows (A Steely Dan tribute band), to prods like Yellow Room, Terno Recordings, and Soupstar Music, to name a few.

However, with the grandest place comes also with the grandest prices from their beers and food menu. I'll tell you what, though: most of them are worth the spending and they had the most extensive choices for the local beers (hell, where else can you find Manila Beer and Beer na Beer variants if you want alternative from the usual San Miguels?). That's just aside from their wide floor spacing due to its al fresco dining outdoors.

Jess & Pat's

What started as a rooftop cafe back in Marikina became more popular as an late afternoon-to-early evening cafe in Maginhawa. 

Sure, it may not be that 'rooftop cafe' anymore, but Jess & Pat's still marches on to deliver the most wholesome form of live music entertainment of them all (no 'too loud' music and alcoholic drinks here). They occasionally would hold two shows at a random Saturday of the month: a Tanghalian Gig and a Hapunan Gig featuring some of the hottest pop and indie bands in the metropolitan like Sud, Autotelic, The Ridleys, Munimuni, Over October, Leanne and Naara, and Ang Bandang Shirley, to name a few.

Aside from that, the artsy Jess & Pat's cafe would also stage their open mic nights (Kahit Sino Pwede) and any specialized cover nights. That's just aside from accomodating shows from certain production outfits, too.


Ideally, I shouldn't be counting The Last Home since I haven't been into a gig here yet. But then, I realized The Last Home may have rarely hold shows unlike the others; instead, it's strength lies at the wee hours, or those beyond post-gig shenanigans, if I may say. If you're an artist. If you don't wanna call it a night yet, you could probably find some of your friends and idols jamming with one another. And it's fun, I guarantee you that, especially with a bottle of pale as they randomly play tunes in such neighborly and friendly fashions. 

I'll say The Last Home may be on the same level of being the 'best kept secret' as Tago Jazz Cafe. 

The 70's Bistro

Last, but definitely the one of the best of them all – and not to mention, the longest standing music bar in the Metropolitan, and we mean that since the early 90s. 

Oh, you don't believe? Wanna bet? They even have their woodstock-like fest that happened on December 17, 1993 at the legendary Amoranto Stadium.

Over the years, this Anonas-based bar became a prime venue for entertainment. I once saw a live show of Parokya Ni Edgar here in 2017 and I'll tell you what: the place is fully packed to the point that I have to sit on the floor while taking photographs on the stage. Aside from that, you know that one scene from the movie Four Sisters and A Wedding, right?

History aside, The 70's Bistro is the place-to-be for musicians or fans alike. This large-sized bistro had plenty of features that fans can enjoy visiting around like the balcony-chillax vibe, two video displays, the numerous seating capacity, and a wide selection of their menu (although pricey choices). 

The 70's Bistro is the probably the only bar in the metro that offers live music for six days a week. Productions like Giglab, Twice2Beat, Final Round Promotions, Chocolatey, and F&D would hold some of their shows here; as well as other regular artists like Franco, Razorback, Orange & Lemons, Joey Ayala, Tanya Markova, Dong Abay, and Brownman Revival.

Summing it all up, this is where you want to be if you're a music lover by all means necessary.

Well, generally, I would say the same to all the other venues I've mentioned here, as well as to those I personally have yet to visit. So that being said, what in God's green earth are you waiting for? Pasko? (Christmas?) Enge kasama? (Need companion/s?)

If I were you, just go to the bars and watch a show. Everything will just follow. Wink, wink! 

Author: slickmaster | © 2024 The SlickMaster's Files

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