May 10, 2010
When Clementine broke the news that he & Perz Baltazar of Cebu-based Modern Rock Bureau were liaising with Johan Angergård to discuss the possibility of Club 8 doing a couple of shows in the Philippines, I was just floored. I didn’t think it possible, but the moment I got dibs on their exchanges over e-mail (proof!), I had to ask someone to stop me from pinching myself silly.
If by some chance you had read my last entry about the Kings of Convenience gig here in Manila held at the NBC Tent last March 31, then you might remember that I mentioned Club 8 there too. What did I tell you about the water they’ve been drinking in Europe…? That the excellent duo that is the subject of this piece hails from that fair part of the world called Sweden, is again, no great surprise anymore. Club 8, who are Karolina Komstedt and Johan Angergård, began their career in 1995 and have not stopped making their signature brilliant music since. Each of the seven albums they have released is testimony to Karolina and Johan’s mastery of their talent, the band’s evolution and the refinement of their sound. They make for an interesting study in the life of the pop sensation that they have become.
Most people will agree with me that Club 8’s music is very ear-friendly. If you are inclined to music that’s passed off as ‘easy listening,’ I guarantee that you can take almost any Club 8 song, fit it into this category, and exert no effort in liking it for certain. But if there is anything that I find striking about their music, I’d say it would have to be [for lack of another term] their “diplomacy” in songwriting. Take the song “Those Charming Men,” from their debut album, Nouvelle (1996), for instance:
If you’re like me who’s not very keen on lyrics the first time around, would you have guessed that this song is about feeling naïve and longing or waiting in vain even after some thinking… (because that’s what “Those Charming Men” is about)? I was humming to this song with my invented lyrics for too long already before I thought of looking up its real lyrics on a random day, only to discover that the song wasn’t at all as happy as its melody had suggested:
Those Charming Men
Those charming men won’t look at me
I’m not blond enough and I still believe in love
How could I be so wrong it wasn’t my turn
To be fooled by him
Loved and left alone
I was the one who always
Waited for something
And just some loving in the morning
To make my world seem alright
Here I am
And I don’t think you were right the time
You were my friend and you told me to
Wrap my arms around him
I’ve thought of this song differently ever since I learned the correct lyrics to it, but even with knowing, its melody still makes waiting in vain sound like it’s the best feeling in the world. Now if THAT isn’t diplomacy, then I wouldn’t know what is.
I am of the opinion that Club 8’s music is easy to embrace. The few and far in between write-ups and reviews I’ve read of the band and their music often have the writer characterizing their sound as warm and fuzzy or hazy and they always seem to be related to perfect summers (or something just as pleasant) for some reason. So here I go again, saying I don’t recall having ever come across a negative commentary about them. Either that or my bias is blocking any negativity that exists about them.
Last May 01, Lilystars gathered six fantastic bands to play at The POP Shoppe! in Club Dredd at Gweilos in Eastwood to pay tribute to Club 8 and their music.
I came in rather late, together with Tonet and our good friend, Val, but just in time to catch The Gentle Isolation who opened the gig, already mid-set. Apart from their own songs, we also caught their renditions of “Heaven” and “Everlasting Love” from Club 8’s album, The Friend I Once Had (1998).
The Gentle Isolation absolutely prepped the listening set for more Club 8 covers that were anticipated that night. The brother-sister act of Mike and Micaela Benedicto, known as Outerhope, came on next and suddenly, the room stood still—Micaela’s steady, soothing voice put everyone under a spell. Their Club 8 covers of “This Is The Morning” (from Strangely Beautiful (2003)) and “Before I Came,” left almost nothing to be desired. I personally would have asked them to do ten more songs, but then remembered that they were only the second of six artists playing that night.
Your Imaginary Friends, as with those who played before them, felt generous and also indulged the crowd with two covers: “I Guess I Was Wrong” and “Look Out!,” both from Nouvelle.
Turbo Goth gave the crowd “Missing You” (The Friend I Once Had (1998)), a cover especially requested by Clem for Turbo Goth to do that night, and which quite suited them. Sorry, we didn’t get to take videos of Turbo Goth’s [and The Camerawalls'] Club 8 covers because Clem’s Flip decided to… well… flip.
And just because we wanted to sustain the energy that Turbo Goth infused into the room, we lined up Us-2 Evil-0 immediately after them. Mich and Quark’s antics never fail to leave any crowd in stitches or maybe gasping for breath (they put Tigger to shame with all the bouncing around onstage). Their cover of “My Heart Won’t Break” was both fun and funny after Quark thwarted his own attempt at the keyboard accompaniment. Very Us-2 Evil-0
The Camerawalls closed the gig with everyone bopping their heads to the song from which the tribute night took its title, “Saturday Night Engine” (Strangely Beautiful).
Arigato, Hato! would have joined in the fun, unfortunately, they couldn’t make it at the last minute. Being one band short was probably a good thing since it was already well past 2 in the morning when the house lights went on and the good-sized crowd began filing out of the second floor. I think it safe to say that the tribute night did its job of whetting everyone’s appetites for the real big gig on May 14 and 15. I may be mistaken, but considering only me, I can hardly wait.
If I were put in charge of Club 8’s set list for the May 14 concert in Manila, what people would hear are these: “Spring Came, Rain Fell,” (from Spring Came, Rain Fell, (2002)), “You & Me,” “What Shall We Do Next” from 2003’s Strangely Beautiful, “The Friend I Once Had,” “Whatever You Want” from The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming released in 2007, and their entire self-titled album, released in 2001. Actually, if I really did have my way, I’d have them play all the music they’ve made spanning the entire 15 years they’ve been making it! But then even I think that that would just be too much.
I am not one for being so easily star-stricken, but the mere thought of seeing Club 8 in the flesh already has me dazed and somewhat tongue-tied. I’m afraid to imagine how I might act if I may be so lucky to experience the pleasure of shaking hands with either Karolina or Johan. My hands would be cold and clammy in the least for sure. In my wilder dreams, I’d probably have enough guts to ask to have a photo taken with them… and in my wildest dreams, I’d probably get a hug from them both * swoon * I love this band so much, I’d never live it down if anything embarrassing happened to me while they’re around… never mind that I’ve been drawing sticks on my whiteboard to count down the days until May 14 comes, that’s something they won’t see—pardon the girl who just couldn’t stop dreaming.
With the concert days just a few winks away, I foresee Lilystars Records and everyone concerned to be a giant bundle of nerves. We are very excited to welcome Club 8 to the Philippines for the first time. To be sure, this is one pop event that many of us will remember for years to come. And while we must continue to embrace homegrown music, it is also high time that we open our arms to music from foreign shores, and in this instance [and for those who are yet to], Club 8 is surely a good start.
Their latest release, The People’s Record, carrying the single “Western Hospitality” [now getting airtime on the radio], is out in stores now, courtesy of Universal Records. Grab a copy and see what all this fuss is about.
See you on May 14 and 15!
MORE THOUGHTS ON CLUB 8:
Thanks to Denise Roco for this post!
Dated interview by Indonesian music webzine, Deathrockstar: