Why the Eraserheads’ Reunion Concert Sucks

By Carlos H. Conde – Like millions of Filipinos, I am an Eraserheads fanatic. No other Filipino band had such a musical impact on me. I still think “Ang Huling El Bimbo” is the greatest Filipino song ever written. So when news broke that the Eheads are having a reunion concert, I was ecstatic. “Sa wakas, aaahhh aay…,” a line in “Sa Wakas” in the album Circus, played in my head.

But I won’t line up to watch this concert. In fact, I will declare here that, perhaps for the first time, the Eheads, in agreeing to do this reunion concert, did something really stupid, if not downright unethical. Their breakup, I totally get. But this… this just sucks.

Assuming that all that has been written about this supposed concert is true — that the main sponsor is Marlboro, that all four of them will be there, that they will perform for 45 minutes, and that each of them will get millions – I think the Eraserheads are doing a great disservice not just to the generation of Filipinos who were weaned on their music but also to the younger ones who are bound, I am certain, to love their songs.

Let me explain.

Reunion concerts, as a concept, are nice. They’re like a long-delayed encore. Unlike the usual concerts, reunion concerts tend to be a more intimate, more profound experience between the band and their followers. It cements this communion between the band and those who adore them. As if to say, “We had such a great time, let’s do it again. Isa pa nga.”

To be sure, reunion concerts are conceptualized so that some people will make money. Nothing wrong with that. Ely Buendia and the others, I think, deserve the reported 10 million pesos that they would receive from Marlboro. Heck, I think they probably deserve more.

But my beef against their supposed Aug. 30 concert, however, is that it smacks of shrewd, even manipulative marketing, by Philip Morris, the makers of Marlboro. The Internet is awash in stuff about this event. Not a few hinted that this is viral marketing at work. In fact, the buzz is so loud that Marlboro has earned so much marketing points already. It can actually cancel the event and still walk away happy.

My suspicion is that Marlboro is doing this because beginning this month, cigarette companies are no longer allowed to have advertisements in print, radio and television. And without advertisements, products like cigarettes would be nearly impossible to sell.

Although the new law explicitly prohibits cigarette companies from sponsoring events such as concerts, they can, however, still be part of the event. And this being the Philippines, it’s not so hard to imagine the many ways Marlboro can insinuate itself into events like this.

Indeed, I’m fairly sure that the buzz this concert has been getting on the Internet is part of Marlboro’s strategy. It’s actually simple: they first spread this as rumor that was easily spread by the gazillion of Eheads fans out there. Soon after, the rumor took a life on its own, with the mainstream media picking it up as a legitimate news item. Soon, according to many accounts, Marlboro came out and confirmed the rumor as fact.

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