MANILA -- Not even the rains could drive away the Sunday night crowd at Mow’s.
After all, Seattle-based hardcore band Odd Man Out was in town. Typhoon or not, the Filipino fans came out.
This is a band whose brand of straight edge hardcore and incendiary live shows have seen them tour around the world because of word of mouth. On the strength of one video on YouTube, one Filipino fan ditched a birthday party of a close relative for the Odd Man Out show at Mow’s.
“My relative will have many more birthday parties for me to attend,” reasoned out the fan who refused to give his name lest his wife takes him to task for it. “Odd Man Out? Who knows if they will ever come back to Manila?”
This is a band that has an even larger fan base outside its native Washington state -- a fact that is not lost on the band. What makes the band’s popularity all the more incredible is they have largely eschewed social media. They don’t even have a Facebook or Twitter account.
“I haven’t really been into Facebook,” explained vocalist Jeff Caffey. “I used it for a college project but I have not been on it since. But just for this Southeast Asian tour, we put up an Instagram account so the fans have get some information but that’s about it.”
In town to promote their new album, "New Voice" (on Pop Wig Records), that is barely three weeks out, the five-piece band -- Caffey on vocals, Griffin Kelly and Steven Serna on guitars, Casey Shaw on bass, and Robin Zeijlon on drums -- came, battered, and conquered Manila in a blistering set that consumed roughly 35 minutes.
“Never let it be said that we are a band that lives in excess,” said Caffey after the show that left fans happy, a bit drained, but definitely wanting more.
Odd Man Out’s brand of straight edge hardcore (where adherents refrain from alcohol, drugs, tobacco while others extend their beliefs to refraining from promiscuous sex or following a vegan lifestyle) has '80s New York hardcore stamped all over it. There’s a militant feel to their music despite urging the listener to stick to one’s principles in the face of change today.
“You can see how the world has changed today with forms of prejudice, racism, and war mongering all over,” pointed out Caffey prior to their 11 p.m. set. “There have been calls to resist and fight. But in musical terms, it is staying the path. When it comes to contemporary music, straight edge isn’t really that popular. But it has had punctuated explosions throughout music history. Some of my friends were straight edge but not anymore. Personally, I feel there is still a responsibility to cling on to beliefs. It isn’t for convenience or pride. It is a way of life.”
This 2019 actually is the first year of the band’s second decade. Although formed in 2008, they didn’t commit to wax until 2014. Nevertheless, the band, as Caffey said, have stayed on that path.
And this particular one has led them to Southeast Asia and the Philippines. “We’ve toured Mexico and Latin America many times. We’ve toured Canada and Europe but this is our first time in Asia. Since I was a little kid, it was on my bucket list to come out here. I have a musician friend who has been out here and he talked about the passion and energy of the fans. Experiencing it first hand, it is all that and more.
The band touched down in Malaysia after which they performed three shows in Indonesia followed by one in Singapore. The next country on their itinerary was Thailand followed by the Philippines. Except the show in Bangkok didn’t push through, leaving the band in a lurch as the local promoter was supposed to take care of their airfare to Manila.
“It’s totally understandable that sometimes you cannot do a gig. But we were in a bind,” said Caffey. "Luckily, our friend, Dean in Malaysia helped us get another gig over there that helped us continue our journey. That is so much more than anyone would have done for us in the States. We are simply awed and grateful for our fans in Asia.”
The Manila promoter, Sleeping Boy Collective, ensured the transition to local shores would be smooth.
“We’re named Odd Man Out but over here in Asia, it is nice to be one of the guys and to mix with folks like who we have in Manila. I wish we could be here longer and see the country. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be back soon.”