'90s bands alive and kicking for 25th anniversary of 'Alert Level'

Rick Olivares

Posted at Aug 28 2017 07:11 PM

Tropical Depression performs at the “Alert Level: Silver Edition" party at the Roadhouse Manila Bay. Photo provided by author

MANILA -- For a couple of hours last Saturday, it looked like there was a time warp. 

Three of the original members of Color It Red were on stage at one point when Mike Villegas joined Cooky Chua and Barbi Cristi-Paraguya on stage for “Paglisan.” 

Former Betrayed frontman Eddie Siojo was on stage performing “Never Meant to Be This Way” with the Rizal Underground who covered the song on an album. 

Famed music photographer Eddie Boy Escudero was there -- of course with his camera. Producer and manager Jing Garcia was there. The Breed’s Johnny Besa was in the house to lend support in the absence of his bandmates. And some of the early members of Tropical Depression were on stage to close out the night.

Last Saturday, August 26, the alternative nation of the 1990s came together for the “Alert Level: Silver Edition: The Digital Release Party” at the Roadhouse Manila Bay, much to the delight of fans who packed the venue. 

"Alert Level" was a seminal compilation album that came out in 1993 that featured Color It Red, The Breed, Rizal Underground, and Tropical Depression. The album was a hit and all four bands were signed to record deals and went on to score some huge hits in the aftermath.

Rizal Underground performs at the “Alert Level: Silver Edition" party at the Roadhouse Manila Bay. Photo provided by author

“For a moment there, it was like we were back in time,” underscored Rizal Underground singer and Alert Level producer Stephen Lu who also celebrated his birthday on the same day. “But more than celebrating, we also remember those band members who aren’t with us anymore such as Dominic Gamboa (Tropical Depression frontman) and Manny Amador (guitarist for the Breed). They both contributed heavily to make the music scene what it is today.”

Of the four bands that appeared on the album, only Color It Red and Tropical Depression still perform with vastly different line-ups.

“The significance of the album,” thought Chua when asked of its impact, “siguro tignan natin 'yung musika sa independent at underground scene. Diyan naman nangagaling lahat. At mahalin natin ang sariling atin.”

Color It Red performs at the “Alert Level: Silver Edition" party at the Roadhouse Manila Bay. Photo provided by author

In an interview with Besa prior to the show, the bassist who still performs with the Blue Rats to this day, talked about the reception of the public and music fans to "Alert Level." “The reception of the album back then was overwhelming. Respectively, all of the bands on it were already popular in our respective geographical areas and word spread fast back then even without Facebook. All our media partners in radio and television were quite cooperative contributing to the spread of the album’s popularity.”

Aside from the anniversary show and the digital release on Spotify and iTunes, the re-mastered album will be available on compact disc this coming October, according to Lu who has worked on the project since late last 2016. 

“This will be a good opportunity for music fans to avail of the album that is rare right now,” noted Lu. “We will make the proper announcement when it’s ready for release.”

During the show, Eddie Boy Escudero who captured the excitement of the alternative years of the 1990s through his camera, told us: “These bands never get old. They are like wine, they get better and sound better with age.”