Thursday, May 29, 2008

So Radioactive Sago is No More


          YEAH, THEY OFFICIALLY BROKE UP TONIGHT, during their tenth anniversary celebration over at Saguijo in Makati. I was at Green Papaya in Quezon City when I found out, and while it was kinda surprising, I didn't really make much of it.

That was probably because I just came from (or was leaving) a very heavy discussion of Joel Toledo's take on poetry and poetics, which, while interesting, was getting a tad too hum-drum for my layman's ears. Here I was, surrounded by a bunch of award-winning writers and people who actually had an idea of what artistic writing was, and all I could think of the entire time was which mattered more to Joel; the enjoyment gleaned from a piece, or what the reader understood.

Which was, in every aspect, a very utilitarian view. But hey, I like to live a very cosmopolitan lifestyle, so I guess that was where that came from.

Back to Sago. While I don't personally know the folks from Sago, I do know the band's frontman somewhat. Lourd de Veyra was a mentor of the TWG and the UST-CCWS, was one of the other folks responsible for my measly honorable mention at the USTetika way back, and much to my surprise, was a friend of my eldest sister. This was possibly the bridge I used to, well, bridge the gap between my froshiness and his seniority, so to speak, and found a way to gab with the man during the few times I ran into him. The most poignant conversation I had with him was at the doorstep of ABS-CBN, where we shot the breeze over a couple of cigarettes (I was still smoking at the time). We got into discussing Jorge Luis Borges, and one way or the other, we got into a discussion of writing passionately, wherein he delivered one of the most memorable lines I have probably ever heard: writing was just a job. Which, if you remove all of the drama and hardships encountered when coming up with a written piece, was pretty much fact.

If you'll notice, from talking about Radioactive Sago Project, I went to a direct tangent from the band to the frontman. Which doesn't say much, to the common reader, because hey, the vocalist was usually the dude who drew the people in, and it was no different with Radioactive Sago. Which (I seem to use the word which a lot these days) is kinda sad, from a musical perspective, since I tend to listen to the gestalt of a band's performance, whether digital or live. While a singular element of a musical piece might be impressive, it's the entirety of the song, the cohesiveness of each instrument and the planning that goes into each phrase that makes a song what musicians call "legendary."

Now, back to my focus on Lourd when discussing Sago. Sago was a very very good band, no doubt about it; it's rare to find a somewhat commercially successful jazz act in contemporary Pinoy culture, but Sago was able to hit it, ever since the single "(Gusto ko ng) Baboy" hit the airwaves. But see, the song relied mostly on its comedic element, which was provided for by Lourd through his masterfully crafted lyrics. So in a way, when you talk about Sago, you talk about Lourd.

This explains my pretty lackadaisical reaction to Sago's break-up. After all, I went around social circles that often crossed paths with Lourd, so I hadn't lost anything; I could always hear him perform in the future, or read his newer works. In other words, it won't be Radioactive Sago that I'll be looking for when I look for Radioactive Sago; it'd be Lourd, and since Lourd was still pretty much active - well, you get the picture.