Philippine ska band Put3ska made its long-awaited triumphant return to a jam-packed Music Museum Friday, and it seemed like old times with something noticeably different.
The band, which got its humble originals as a British Two-Tone ska influenced outfit in Malabon, didn’t exactly replicate the old hits that spanned two albums in the 1990s. The arrangements spotlighted each musician has gotten much more technically proficient over the years, and that the arrangements were different; more reflective of the changes of their sound and ability.
The band’s original vocalist Skarlet Brown, displayed the depth of her vocal range and it has gotten better and stronger with age. “Bear with me,” she humbly requested if the band sounded rusty.
Far from it. They performed at top speed; like a couple of day’s work outs that drummer Brutus Lacano was drenched in sweat. Second generation even needed a costume change.
While their first big hit, “Manila Girl” that was a re-make of guitarist and band leader Arnold Morales’ old hit with his punk band, Urban Bandits, was one of the final songs performed during the evening, the other treat for the fans was the new song – a counterpoint perhaps to their first hit – titled, “Manila Boy.”
Whimsical-sounding perhaps. But not at all.
It seemed like a new millennium version of the instrumental opener of their debut album, “Bang Tumba Ka,” but as it progressed, there were the spoken word vocals of lead vocalist Skarlet Brown.
And as vocalist Emelee Nicart told the band at a couple of points, the song was from an upcoming and yet untitled third album that had the crowd roaring.
And it seemed that the 700-plus folks who packed the Music Museum roared all night. From opening act Beat Bahnhof from Japan that kicked off what was a show that lasted a little over three hours (an hour from the visiting band and an hour and a half plus from the main act) to Put3ska’s performance that literally had everyone standing, singing along, and dancing along the aisles and the stage.
Pu3ska, featuring members of the band’s various iterations, played a 23-song set list; mostly of their hits, with a few covers that were spread across three vocalists – Skarlet Brown, Emelee Nicart, and Mae Ilagan.
Taking part were two familiar faces from the band’s early history – DJ Shane Cosgrove who managed them for a while and did the opening introduction of the band for the reunion show, and Skataba (aka Daryl Orchard) who danced on stage and sang – like he did before – two Two-Tone classics in “Lip Up Fatty” by Bad Manners and “One Step Beyond” from Madness.
While there were a lot of the older fans in attendance; most were those who caught Put3ska during its 1990s heyday at Club Dredd and Mayrics to name a few gig joints where they routinely played (including the Music Museum which is memorable for them as they played one of their first shows there and won a slew of NU Rock Awards in the same venue), but there the new generations were represented as well.
Also spotted in the audience were members of seminal punk band, Betrayed, the Bembol Rockers, Bulacan ska band Skabeche, hardcore crew Badburn, the Rod Mijares Combo, as well as Club Dredd impresario, Patrick Reidenbach to name but a few.
At the end of the performance, fans climbed up the stage for photos or scampered after set lists as souvenirs.
The band will reconvene soon (which will be the line-up for the next stage of the journey as Lacano has bowed out due to other commitments) where there are plans to not only begin earnest work on the new album, but also a video, and some performances lined up inside and outside the country.
“This isn’t unfinished business,” said Morales after the show. “This is the next chapter.”