Switch on the “rise” button

22 May 2007 at 2.32 pm 6 comments

Drip's Callpih8 does some turntable duties on the xFM launch party. Well, because I'm a fussy cropper I had to cut him - but don't worry. Photo taken from Drip's Multiply site.

Let’s get the celebrity spottings out of the way first. Yesterday at the NBC Tent, we spotted Rico Blanco, Chiqui Roa and Mike Grape (of Kala). Admittedly, for one person who’s more than surprised to actually get invites to the xFM launch party, it’s a starstruck event.

But let me clarify – I wasn’t there for the celebrity spottings. Sure, it was a media launch, and I managed to get a pair of invites courtesy of Loi Landicho. It felt weird, actually, when I finally got my invites and saw the label. Niko Batallones. Blogger. Just to add to the sense of surprise, the reception desk asked me about my company affiliation. “I just wrote a blog entry about the station,” I said. They did let me in.

Appropriately, the party was called Rise. If you’ve been tuned in for most of xFM’s month and a half, you’ve probably gotten used to hearing the liner “a culture on the rise” play in between the songs. True enough, my access card had a moon in front. But for one person who’s basically never been in a party all his life, and is even more surprised to realize he deserves this invite, it’s about the radio station more than anything.

A culture still rising

Station manager Al Torres was hard to spot. I did see him talk to the guests at the start of the program proper, which was at a little past nine (the invites listen 19.00 as the start time, which involves dinner and cocktails), but until midnight I never got to talk to him. It could’ve been a coup – well, sort of.

And yet in the short time he spoke (as well as another guy whose name I didn’t catch, since the sound system was a little blasted and the red wine didn’t kick in), it was enough to show that xFM – which, as it stands right now, is sounding very good – is still to sound better. The station is in the middle of acquiring syndicated radio shows – already we should be expecting programs like Ministry of Sound Radio and Cafe Del Mar. Even more, xFM is the first radio station in the world to snap up and broadcast the popular podcast Radio 360.

All of this, while still keeping tabs on what the listeners want. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this before, but the rumors that 923 Joey would relaunch as an 80s station still stands true – only it’s been warped into a different time zone, but essentially to the same crowd, with a similarly discriminating taste for music. I did bring my friend (and undeclared long-time Shale contributor of sorts) Ella Ferrer to the event, and she agreed. Maybe you could judge it by the way she felt when she got there – a mix of extreme utter happiness and confusion. The station, on the other hand, still pulls the occasional surprise, and deservingly so. It just sounds better now.

Local support

electronica group Local E, with Kala's Mike Grape fronting for this one. Pedicab's Mike Dizon also contributed to affairs for the set. Photo taken from Drip's Multiply site.
already another absolute favorite Drip. Vocalist Beng Calma never fails. Absolutely. Photo taken from Drip's Multiply site.
Nyco Maca, accompanied by Playground. It seems she didn't have to win Star In A Million after all. Photo taken from Drip's Multiply site.
Tribo Manila sends some international flavor to xFM's launch party. And trumpets! I love the horn section. Photo taken from Drip's Multiply site.

And along with xFM’s launch came, for once, unequivocal support for the growing electronica scene in the country. A personal observation, first: who would’ve thought I’d appreciate this genre? I’m not exactly going to blame xFM for this, but suddenly it just jives with my playlist. And it’s also been pointed out, that downtempo music has been around for around three decades now, so it isn’t exactly a new thing.

As such, there have been a lot of contributions from local artists. Enthusiastic reception, perhaps. Performing that night were Local E, Drip, Nyco Maca (along with Playground), and Tribo Manila. I don’t know, but something sure did happen when these guys finally started performing – for a moment xFM flipped from lounge to house, especially when everybody finished and things went a little ballistic on the sound system. Even I found myself taping a finger on red wine – something I didn’t expect to do.

But I came there to watch Drip (because I didn’t know who else performed until the afternoon before I left). It was the first time I stood in the front row for something – and there they were. If you’d just give me a second – golly, Beng Calma is not my ultimate favorite musician crush! Well, there’s definitely something about her magnetism coupled with the efforts of Malek, Ian and Calliph8. For a moment, I left the NBC Tent happy to have had some envelope signed by all four members as they packed up for home.

How do they do it? “I guess we just… jam,” Beng said. Oh yes, I am still starstruck sorts.

The actual feeling of hobnobbing

Being the socialite clueless, I basically just walked around, red wine in hand (for the first hour at least, before Drip finished) and did stuff. Aside from talking to the folks at the second stage, and most of the time with Ella, I also got to talk to Adfarm’s Gerry Magnaye, better known as 99.5 RT’s Jeremiah Junior. I got to shake hands with him, and most of out conversation was inaudible (as Tribo Manila was already bowing trumpets and I was falling in love all over).

By then my head was all over the station’s possibilities. Although I’m still not sure as to how the listeners are able to shape xFM’s programming – it’s all about us, apparently – it sure is coming out strong. And personally, I’m excited for what else is to come. I don’t care whether time proves that xFM would cave in to the niche market it seems to serve – it doesn’t actually, and it’s all based on experience – but they’re sure cooking up something good.

So maybe not talking to Al Torres isn’t a downer for me after all. I mean, I got the message. And I shook hands with Beng Calma. Now, if only I could just move on from it, and use the karaoke gift certificates I won, even though I don’t really sing…

The photos from this entry are taken from Shale’s (suddenly good) friends from Drip. Check out their Multiply site for more photos – more than what I actually saw – and, in a fit of shameless plugging, watch out for their sophomore album, which is coming out within this year.

Entry filed under: Music, Radio, Snippets.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. xFM  |  23 May 2007 at 9.13 am

    Glad to have had you there, Niko…always good to have our audience joining us at these events…oh, that guy whose name you forgot was me…

    That’s cool. The intros were intended to be fairly inaudible…wasn’t about us…was about xFM…

  • 2. ella  |  23 May 2007 at 1.10 pm

    i soooo love the party. thanks a bunch, bunso.

    Sir XFM, youre station rocks big time. :D
    we had a really really good time. :D

  • 3. xFM  |  23 May 2007 at 6.19 pm

    very welcome you both…wish I was introduced to you guys…no worries…more to come

  • 4. Arthur Nurikane  |  16 June 2007 at 1.32 pm

    I’ve been listening to xFM for a few months now. Too bad I missed the launching! Boo-hoo-hoo!

  • 5. The Pageman  |  11 September 2007 at 3.08 pm

    Thanks for the generous review! I actually took the photos :) and I usually put my pictures under a

    This work is licensed under a
    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License license! :)

  • […] by Nyko Maca + Playground | Almost seven years ago, because of my incessant radio blogging, I got an invite to the launch of xFM, the unfortunately short-lived chillout-and-then-some station that, for a few months at least, made […]


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