Sandwich marks 25 years of groove, intensity at Eastside

Rick Olivares

Posted at Feb 27 2023 07:54 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2023 08:07 PM

 Sandwich at Eastside by Sandugo Music 
Sandwich at Eastside by Sandugo Music 

The opening riffs of “Cheese Factor Set to 9” started a frenzy inside Eastside by Sandugo Music along Sumulong Highway. Guitarist Diego Castillo hunched over his guitar and in his trademark animated Energizer bunny manner, began to pogo away as Sandwich launched into the opening track of their landmark “Grip Stand Throw” debut album.

Suddenly, it felt like 1999 all over again when “Cheese Factor Set to 9” and “Butterfly Carnival” could be heard on the radio, Discmans, jeepney stereos, noontime shows, and rock clubs across the country.

"Grip Stand Throw" romped through that year’s NU Rock Awards winning Best New Artist, Song of the Year for “Butterfly Carnival,” and Album of the Year (which they shared with Wolfgang for its "Serve in Silence" album).

And Sandwich, with an alternative rock edge and hip hop groove, established themselves as one of Pinoy rock’s exciting new acts.

Why not? It was an all-star crew – Marc Abaya of Kjwan on lead vocals and guitar, Raimund Marasigan of the Eraserheads on guitar and keyboards, Myrene Academia of Imago on bass, Castillo of the Aga Mulach Experience on guitars, and Mike Dizon of Teeth on drums.

There was a swagger about them. An air of fresh creativity as well given their attention to packaging and merchandise. And they drew critics and haters too.

But who knew that 25 years later, not only is Sandwich still around, but they aren’t any two-trick pony. 

They remain strong and vital to this day. A top draw if you will. They have put out eight albums, a smattering of singles and an EP, and still creating awesome new songs. And Sandwich, has become an important band. 

Perhaps like one of their influences, Foo Fighters, have shown that the second act of their lives, is just as if not more vital. 

And for one night, the old album, "Grip Stand Throw," took on center stage.

If Sandwich’s 20th anniversary – dubbed “Under the Glow of the Satellite” -- was more high profile with an incredible show at the Metro Tent, for the band’s 25th anniversary, they returned to their club roots with a show at Eastside by Sandugo Music. The crowd of about 200 was no less raucous and sang along to every song, pogoed and headbanged to the beat.

Of course, Abaya has since long departed leaving Marasigan to assume lead vocal duties, while Mong Alcaraz from Chicosci brought his dexterity on guitars with him to Sandwich.

But the Five on the Floor remain tighter and wiser, but no less energetic and perhaps, even more fun.

Sandwich went through the entire track list of "Grip Stand Throw" – in album order – and right up to “Pachyderm 5” that was the final track, produced enough energy to light up a fricking barangay with no electricity. And even 24 years after the album’s release in 1999, it has aged quite well. 

And even as they went to a second but short set that was a jam with different drummers and older songs, you can see how extensive their body of work is. How with every album, they produced classic songs from “Sugod” to “Betamax” to “Procastinator” to “Manila” and much more. 

Between the two sets at Eastside by Sandugo Music, the fan serenaded Sandwich with “Happy Birthday.”

A quarter of a century. Remarkable.

And they aren’t even done. Marasigan says they are working on some songs, but there is no talk of an album yet. It has been eight years since their eighth album, "Debris," hit the shelves. We can enjoy "Grip Stand Throw" in its magnificence today. Tomorrow though, sounds just as exciting.

Happy 25th anniversary, Sandwich.