NOVEMBER 15, 2019

No place like home


Honne and Joan’s seven-stop Ayala Malls concert tour brought the good times — and the feelings.

I choose Tokyo Tokyo because it’s right across the Activity Center. I’m having dinner alone, taking some time between writing projects after an early morning assignment. I could have gone straight home, but I told my mom as I was leaving this morning that I would be back late.

Honne and Joan were playing at my local mall, and I had a concert to catch.

Arkansas-based band Joan played their catchy dance-pop anthems.

Seeing concerts at the mall is not new to me — I’ve had a lot of experience with it. However, unlike the sparkling days of my teenage years spent belonging in a crowd with any number of good friends, time and change made it so that it’s no longer as easy to find time to be together for moments like this. Joan and Honne don’t exactly dominate my playlists the way previous Ayala performers like The Maine and The 1975 did, but I like their music. There’s nothing better to do, and definitely nowhere better to be. So I take my seat at a table with my bento order, and wait for the show to begin.

The crowd swayed to the duo’s top tracks like “Drive All Night” and “Take Me On.”

Arkansas-based retro dance-pop duo Joan takes the stage first, opening with “Drive All Night” and playing Spotify staples like “Take Me On,” “One More Touch,” and “I Loved You First.” The energy at the mall spikes during their set, sending screams and singalongs like shockwaves through four floors. There’s something about people dancing in plain sight in such a public, otherwise ordinary place that’s become a make-believe music hall for the night. They take fans and new listeners through their best-of with flourish and ease.

London synth and R&B duo Honne take the stage.

London synth-pop band Honne soon follow, treating the crowd to heartfelt and rousing renditions of favorite tracks like “Warm on a Cold Night” and “Location Unknown.” The movements in the audience slow down as waves of emotion and the indescribable sensation of live music that actually means something wash over them. I’ve finished my dinner then, walking out of the restaurant and onto the barricades behind the stage. No one else is here — after all, who would want to watch the band from the back?

But it’s an interesting view, a unique perspective. Like the musicians up onstage, I can watch the crowd and see them express their love and enthusiasm for this band. 

They performed hit songs like “Warm on a Cold Night” and “Crying Over You.”

Not all Ayala Malls concert tours have seven stops. That could just be because there are more malls to stage these shows in compared to before, but it’s just as likely that this duo of duos deserved it. Imagine it: getting to see artists that you love for free, within Metro Manila, seven times in less than a week. It’s almost magic.

Honesty time: I’m only really here for one song, and that’s Honne’s “Crying Over You,” which I played on repeat all summer this year. It’s got a remix with a verse by BTS leader and main rapper RM where he talks about reading the same books all over again, and how they always make him cry by the last page. The live version I get to hear — and feel tears prick my eyes to — doesn’t have this verse, of course, but it deeply matters to me all the same.

I revel in it, breathe in, and I feel brand new all over again.