Whenever I talk about Owl City or write about him, I always end up delaying everything because the moment I think about him – the music – the band and the people – a wave of memories haunt me and begs me to be written. So two weeks after May 8, my thoughts are finally ready to be shared.
I remember my last Owl City concert last August 2013 – me and my friend Reine went all the way to Hong Kong just to watch Owl City live. I vividly recall the energy of the band that night and how every song reverberated through my deepest emotions. Every time I watch Owl City live, I always end up overwhelmed and awestruck at how amazing the band delivers on stage. It was truly magical and memorable. However, as much as I had a good time, I knew it would never be the same without my fellow Filipino fans. No offense to my friends in Hong Kong because the people were really ecstatic that night but it’s just that it feels different when I’m not with my fellow Pinoy fans.
After that 2013 concert and the last album, The Midsummer Station – Owl City has become quiet. Adam himself confirmed that he has been busy making music. Late 2014, Owl City released an EP entitled Ultraviolet headlined by the single, Beautiful Times. The whole fandom was in a frenzy and I loved how everything became so alive again. I admit that I was one of those people who truly felt devastated when Owl City missed to tour the Philippines last 2012 for the Midsummer Station tour. I know, I am such a bad example but as much as I want to be that exemplary leader of a fan base, I felt bad not being included in the tour. But we had to look at the brighter side of things, we had to work our way harder, resounding that noise that will bring Owl City back in Manila.
This 2015, Owl City Philippines (OCPH) celebrates its 5th anniversary as the first and only Owl City community in the Philippines. Through the years, I’ve seen how the community has grown and is home to the fans of Owl City in the Philippines. I always stress out how unique I think the fandom is. From what I see, the defining character of an Owl City fan is dedicated, patient and resilient.
Last February 2015 – I was on my way to Cagayan de Oro waiting at NAIA 3 – 7:00am that day, checking out my Facebook feed and reading this uncanny post from fellow Owl City fan turned friend, Minell “OWL CITY IS COMING BACK TO MANILA.” I could not bring myself to believe that it was legit – it was not everyday that you see such news about a concert when no tour was currently present for the band. I double checked- triple checked and quadruple checked Owl City’s Facebook page and to my shocked surprise, it was real. After 4 long years, Owl City is coming back to Manila and it’s for Free!
I panicked and called each of my friends to deliver and herald the good news. I called Colwin – no answer, still sleeping I guess. I called up Lg- no answer, probably asleep too. I called Dowe – was at work and can’t take calls. I called up Mommy Rae – just got out of the shower (oops) so there was no outlet but a Facebook post and a chat to Minell that basically consisted of “OMG OMG OMG? OMG LIKE OMG?!!” I remember meeting my manager at my current work in the airport that day and fan-girling to her. In that moment, I had to run her through my alternate life as an Owl City fan for her to understand why I was acting hysterical and hyper. I even asked her on that day if I can file a personal leave on May 8 for the show. (She said YES by the way!)
It was really exciting to see the whole fan community up and about. It was very heartwarming to see the Filipino concert/music/hootowl community all giddy with excitement for May 8. Everyone was anticipating the show, inviting everyone to go. Articles were up early, just after the week the announcement was made.
As OCPH, we held usual Sunday meetings where we would talk and plan about our gimmicks for the concert. Originally we planned to do a beach ball party during Good Time but due to venue set-up it was understandable that we weren’t allowed to do so. We opted to do our traditional light sticks giveaway. We had to raise enough money to fund 250 lightsticks for the concert-goers and at the same time distribute fan signs for the band to see. It was really rewarding to see the people happy whenever we approached them and gave out these little tokens because in mind, our goal was really to make this 2015 concert a truly memorable one for the band and for the fans.
Aside from that – the community exhausted several efforts in different media. Our most successful campaign was the one we did over at Twitter spearheaded by Colwin. We were able to acquire an organic reach of 1.1k retweets and almost 3k favorites (keyword is ORGANIC.) Not bad for something not paid and an account with only 4k followers, right? We also did several campaigns at Facebook headed by Trish and Jhon. Overall, it was really amazing to see the whole staff team work harmoniously towards one goal. The staff team for the year is a blend of old and new and it just proves that no matter what era of an Owl City fan you belong to, as long as you love Owl City, you will always end up as good friends.
Prior to the concert, me and Colwin spent late nights preparing the light sticks and other miscellaneous sneaky things. What I love most about meeting with the OCPH Staff is how efficient we are in dividing our time- our planning usually go on for 20 minutes but our random discussion/gushing about Owl City go on for about 2 hours. As much as we try to be truly professional working staff people, we always go back to our roots of being the crazy fans that we are.
Concert day and we arrived early at the venue. I was with Hana, Colwin and Lg that day and as soon as the car hit the Bonifacio Global City road, I felt my chest expanding. I told myself to be perfectly calm because this is my 4th time to catch Owl City in concert – at least that’s what I thought I would feel. A barrage of emotions hit me hard in the face when I finally realized that I will never feel used to this band. Every time and every chance I get to spend with Owl City will always be an enchanting experience – it will always feel magical and surreal. I was a mess, a good mess melting inside composed of a very happy and giddy face greeting the familiar faces at Bonifacio High Street.
One thing I sort of owe to Owl City is the mini success and (fame HAHAHAHAHAHA) I’ve experienced for being known as Ms. Owl City to the professionals and mother owl to the community. I feel like a politician running for candidacy waving left and right – or I may be exaggerating. HAHAHA But seriously, only the community treats me like this and it honestly it does feel a little awesome to be acknowledged for what you do.
Hours before the concert, we were given the chance to meet Adam as Owl City Ph. I will forever be thankful for the very appreciative, supportive and trusting Owl City Management for their great love for the whole community. My heart is overflowing with so much gratefulness and admiration. I’m not going to elaborately explain how we met Adam but I just call us very lucky and I guess, well well appreciated. It truly makes me happy.
To give a little insider on what happened during the time we met Adam – I told everyone to stay quiet, composed and calm. Let’s all act like professionals, I said. We were ushered to a small room and caught off guard when Adam came out to meet us in less than 10 seconds after we entered. No prelude or anything – he just came out and adorned that charming smile we all longed to see in real life. Since we were instructed (by myself) to not squeal or anything, all of us just went “Hiiiii” and I am telling you that was the most awkward Hi in the history of Hi’s ever. Basically, the whole session with Adam was short notice so we did not prepare anything.
When the tour coordinator introduced us to Adam, there was dead air. We were all too starstrucked to say anything so being the mother owl that I am, I had to talk and deliver an impromptu 1 minute- straight English – no uhm’s and likes-speech. I too myself was surprised that I was able to say such message without any practice or anything. Everything I told Adam came from the random thoughts of my mind and heart and I was pretty sure he was listening intently.
I thanked him for being the inspiration behind our hard work and I also mentioned the recent 5th year anniversary of the whole community. I also mentioned how thankful we all are for him going back to the Philippines. I also gave a brief rundown on what are our collective efforts as a fan community. Adam in return gave out his message to the community and to the whole Filipino fan community. He was very happy to finally return and he is greatly thankful for what the Filpino fans are doing. He even asked us who handles our Twitter account! Grabe, nakakataba ng puso.
We had to say good bye because Adam had to prepare for sound-check and the show. We walked off the area with silly faces and kilig na kilig smiles. It was truly what you call “achieve na achieve!”
What I noticed about this 2015 meet and greet from the 2011 and 2013 meet and greet was the fact that Adam now is more serious and keen but all the while retaining that shy and soft-spoken attitude that we have all come to love since day 1. I once read this article from GMA News that says:
When I met Young, he was soft-spoken and meek; I got the impression of someone who’s still very much appreciative, maybe even disbelieving, of all the successes he’s notched over the last few years. Here’s hoping he never loses that charm, sense of wonder, and yeah, whimsy, in the years to come. — BM, GMA News
I could not agree more. This 2015 Adam Young version is definitely still that humble 2010 version and definitely better! (*I was so touched by this precious moment of Adam leaving the amphitheater – bringing his own bag, shoes and water bottles. So so so so humble!)
After that meet and greet session -we saw the band busy preparing during sound-checked and tried to call their attention but I blame the heat, the noise and the crazy energy because they did not notice us then. It was okay though, it was enough to see Breanne, Jasper, Gabe and Rob excited for the show.
OCPH funded and distributed free lightsticks for the first 250 people whom we saw while waiting. We also gave out fan sign that say “MANILA <3’s you.” Along with that, OCPH also gave out instructions to concert-goers how to rock it out when Good time is played. Everyone was all smiles and thankful for these little freebies and it warms our heart to see our fellow fans happy and appreciative.
Hours before they let the audience in the ticketed area, I was able to catch up and meet old and new faces from the community. Meeting up all the amazing people that day made me realize that this community is my anchor. The happiness that I feel whenever surrounded by them clearly makes me feel aflutter and really thankful.
We were seated at the front and were patiently waiting for the concert to start. I was like a giddy little kid- internally screaming-when I saw how huge the crowd was for that night. I know, the concert is for FREE but the special seats which required a 2k purchase at any BHS store also sold-out fast. According to Bonifacio High Street and their awesome aerial shot of the concert, there was an estimated number of 5,000 attendees. That crowd is as big as the capacity of an 80% filled Smart Araneta Coliseum!
The show was opened by a local DJ who dropped some beats. While raving to the Dj, Krispy Kreme and Jamba Juice also gave out complimentary donuts and drinks for all the ticket holders. Hooray to Bonifacio High Street and MMI Live, Awesome show and awesome sponsors!
And then the show started with the band members coming out one by one. When Adam finally came out, the amphitheater was filled with howls, cheers and an excited noise of anticipation.
With 22 tracks on the set paired with the infectious energy of the band, everybody was all screams and lyric shouting. As much as the crowd was very loud, the collective singing was also very harmonious. It’s so breathtaking to hear your fellow Pinoy fans sing that non-single-mainstream Owl City track by heart. Gets me and tears me up every time.
The year is 2015, Owl City is so back. Wake me if you’re out there!
Some highlights of the night during the set were:
- The way the band opened the show with this song called Panoramic from the movie Book of Eli, masterfully remixed by Adam Young.
- The way Adam formally started the set with a heart seizure inducing “WAKE ME IF YOU’RE OUT THERE.” Ahh what a classic opener!
- The way Breanne was all smiles and giddy by looking at how awesome the crowd was that night. Breanne is such a darling – I can’t imagine watching an Owl City concert without her graceful presence.
- Jasper killing those guitar leads with his snazzy style. I swear, Jasper is a legend! I’ve observed that he is really careful, precise and perfect on stage!
- Of course there’s Gabe Hagen (whom I was able to meet last 2013) still rocking the drums
- There’s Rob Morgan, the new touring band member whom everybody loved! (And also v.v.v cute!)
- Adam sang Kamikaze – which was a personal “rak na itu” favorite of me and LG
- When Adam sang Beautiful times and during the second verse of the song, not so many were familiar with the lyrics but I was so I had to scream and mouth it out loud and I think Adam noticed me so he pointed is mic at me and asked me to sing. Yes, I am so claiming it because I stood up and sang the part “A dead fire rose and rose higher, like a vampire, up from the graveyard!” Check the video cut here.
- When Adam and I had like 10x eye contact during that night? Thank you first-row powers!
- When most of the audience sang “Take me above your light” too early during the Heallo Seattle bridge. This already happened last 2011 and once more this 2015. You are a very sneaky crowd, Manila!
- When everybody danced off in their seats, waved and flailed and were all literally at the edge of our seats because we were not allowed to stand.
- When Sky Diver was being sung and I did not know the exact lyrics of the song but Adam was looking at me — I had to pretend cough and look down just to save myself HAHAHAHA
- When everybody just fell silent during Adam’s solo cover of the mash up of 99 red balloons.
- And of course when finally we were allowed to stand, rave and party to the closing song Good Time.
So that is sort of a summary of what happened during the show. Words are not enough to describe how amazing the set was but we were all left literally and metaphorically breathless. The show wrapped up with a resonating noise of cheers and a reassurance to Owl City that he is really well loved and received in our country, by his “craziest fans” as he once said. It was what I would a call a great come back.
Minutes after the concert, Owl City did a meet and greet session with some lucky fans who won through an Instagram contest hosted by BGC and BHS. My friend and fellow staff member Denn Levy is evidently and ridiculously happy.
One big group hug for the group and the night was perfect. Indeed, good job not to us but to the whole community of fans who flocked and supported the show. As what they often say, the best surprises always come unexpected.
The next morning, I woke up with a very strong case of PCD, sore-throat and a bad punch of body bruises. It was all still worth it – especially waking up to the news that Owl City #finally tweeted @owlcityph. I only had 4 hours of sleep that night but I have never been so awake in forever. My heart was pounding fast and my head was spinning. THIS IS TOO MUCH. My heart and soul was not ready for this but alas, maybe we deserved this -okay take out the maybe and modesty aside please- we deserve this.
But of course, the unexpected surprises did not end there. There were also a couple of appreciation tweets and posts from Owl City and the touring band about the show.
And some of those appreciation tweets, replies and comments were also personally directed to me. I could not believe how everything went into full throttle domino effect. I was so so so so lucky and so so so quotang-quota!
When I read my post entitled Beautiful from the 2011 concert and my other post for the 2013 concert at Hong Kong, I have come to realize also some changes in the way I looked at things back then and now. I’d like to compare this parallel to how Owl City also transformed from 2010 all the way to the present- when you ask the fans and spectators, you usually receive a mixed feedback on how they receive the gradual changes in Adam’s music. But my personal opinion on this is always – to keep up, we must move forward. If we hear the same things all over again, if we experience the same events all over again – where’s the sense of growth in that? From being that fan who stalked Owl City at New World Hotel in his first concert in Manila in 2010 to being that fan who respectfully sat down the whole concert for the love of being a responsible fan leader- indeed I can say that wisdom and maturity are players of the game. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice other opportunities to make way for greater things. I don’t think I would be where I am right now if I pursued that attitude of a fan who stalked and stalked and just waited for a miracle. However choosing to be that fan to actually work hard for something gave me so many wonderful things and little did I know that it was just the beginning (this isn’t the end *ba dum tss*)
There’s just so much to be thankful for. I feel fortunate to be able to form friendships and good relationships with the OC community in and out of the country. Through this, I have met so many people along the way who are personally influential and inspiring to my growth as a person. My love for Owl City is always parallel for my love for OCPH. Years from now, I can imagine myself telling my kids (wow mommy na mommy owl) about how wonderful life was because of Owl City. Think it’s too much? I think it’s not because when I look back and assess what has happened over the past 5 years – I smile with a big heart knowing that so many good things has already been shared to us and our community. We’ve had our fair share of bad times too – some even very crazy but we got through it knowing that greater things are coming ahead. Amazing how this whole Owl City life of mine has become a mantra for my own life.
I will also like to add this portion where I’d like to thank the wonderful people who has been so instrumental in my life as an Owl City fan – Colwin, for always being the number 1 go to person of OwlCityPH. He is the brainchild of all things marketing and he is also the bestest and most supportive Owl City friend you’ll ever have. LG also for being my most favorite person in forever, period. And then our awesome staff team who has been working so hard – Hana, Trish, Jhon, Ajay, Minell, David, Roselle, Denn, Maria and Dowe. These people are seriously the most fun and humble people in forever.
Also you never forget the people who bridged you in your success story – from the people of MCA (old and new) and the very generous team of MMI.
My sincerest appreciation goes out to the most wonderful management of Owl City. MY LOVE FOR YOU GUYS IS THIS BIG.
Then to the resounding cheers of all Owl City fans in the Philippines. Many say thank you to Owl City PH for being the nest but really where would OCPH be without you? Your messages and great support is really appreciated. Rest-assured that our team is constantly working and coming up with awesome activities for everyone to enjoy. We hope that you continue supporting Owl City as an artist in and out of the country’s success.
And lastly of course to my number 1 inspiration, motivation and love of my life- Adam Young. I may not say this often –wait I actually do– THANK YOU SO MUCH. All that I have written in this seemingly long post is all about how you inspired me to be my best self. From the 2010 stalker fan to the 2015 very responsible-non-stalker-I-swear-fan self, I LOVE YOU.
Oh, these are beautiful times indeed. Looking forward to our next adventure!
P.s. LG also caught Good Time using my camera and there’s a surprise at 0:26. Bless your soul!