A collective aversion to the festival format has developed over the years, thanks to some unfortunate incidents, not to mention the heat. This festival, however, works really hard at eliminatiing such concerns. On its second year, In the Mix, a music festival only on the capacity that it features multiple bands and artists in one show, brings the party to a more millennial audience, consequently making an even greater effort at tightening security and ensuring a degree of wholesomeness — doesn’t mean it ain’t gonna be fun, though.
This year, MMI Live brought Daya, Dua Lipa, DNCE, Two Door Cinema Club, Zara Larsson and 5 Seconds of Summer to the Mall of Asia Arena for about five hours of music. Something for everybody, eh? Admittedly, I wanted to watch only for TDCC (and a bit for DNCE, although I wasn’t sure I could say that out loud; don’t want to be branded as the “Cool Tita” just yet). But guess what? It age really doesn’t matter — a good set will blow you away, even if you have no idea who the band is, or why the hell they don’t like the letter A.
In an interview with Nylon, DNCE guitarist JinJoo Lee, said, “DNCE is dance without an A, which is not a perfect word, but you also don’t have to be a perfect dancer to dance. Life is never perfect, but you can still enjoy it.“ I guess having a South Korean in the band renders it with a vibe that’s almost K-Pop, in that theatrics and animal heads are not out of the question, and production level is through the roof. That’s what we got from DNCE at In the Mix. Being the third act in a music fest is like being the middle child — you gotta be a little bit hungry for attention to get actual attention, and the quality of their set (whether it’s Joe Jonas’ noticeably experienced and refined vocals, bassist Cole Whittle’s on-stage antics, or Jack Lawless’ anchoring performance) definitely got ours. Cole actually dived into the crowd at the end of their hit Cake by the Ocean, which, I imagine, was like their way of saying, “This is our show, *expletives, expletives, expletives*!!!”
HERE’S A CLIP OF COLE WHITTLE JUMPING OFF THE STAGE:
A post shared by Chonx (@chonxtibajia) on Aug 17, 2017 at 10:48am PDT
Two Door Cinema club came after, and performed in the way only a seasoned band would. Among all the artists, theirs, unsurprisingly, was the most refined set, from their performance, to their adlibs, down to their LED backdrops. It was a TDCC concert for all intents and purposes. As out of place as they were in the lineup, they used that to their advantage and gave us Xellennials and Gen-Xers in the audience a show that we liked and understood.
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB SHOWING EVERYONE HOW IT’S DONE:
A post shared by Chonx (@chonxtibajia) on Aug 17, 2017 at 10:13am PDT
Vocalist Alex Trimble told the audience that it was their first time to perform in Manila, which is surprising. They ought to have been included in any of festivals past — they certainly have the vibe, the hits, and the resume for it. But we’re glad they came for In the Mix. It’s a good way to introduce their chill and sophisticated late-2000s music to the young crowd. May I remind you, they were born on the year of Rihanna, Timbaland, and Beyoncé circa Irreplaceable. They were as much a breath of fresh air in 2007 as they are 10 years later, in the midst of a new breed of club anthems and rising young pop stars.
Speaking of young pop stars, at In the Mix, we learned that youth doesn’t elude grace in the performances of Daya (18) and Dua Lipa (21). During these first two acts, a big chunk of the audience were yet to enter the arena (perhaps they were still busy surrendering their bags at the lockers; pro tip: don’t bring a bag to MOA Arena, unless you want to carry your valuables in an unglamorous and completely untoteable plastic Ziplock).
Daya was so cute and gracious. Pardon the ineloquence, but that’s really as accurate as it gets. I love that she’s not trying to act older, there was no overt sexualization of the self — in fact, there was none at all. In her baggy pants and a cropped top, she played the part of a typical young woman, except she’s had hits like Don’t Let Me Down (that was so good, Joy Williams had to cover it). Granted that it’s a collaboration with The Chainsmokers, but honestly, what would the song be without her vocals? I mean, have you tried singing it?
DAYA — DON’T LET ME DOWN
A post shared by GIST (@gistph) on Aug 17, 2017 at 10:18am PDT
Dua Lipa is a different creature. I discovered her otherworldliness only at this concert and I get it. I totally get it. Everything she does seems organic and unrehearsed, and her performance was pristine and chill. And yeah, she can sang. I bet her Instagram following spiked after her set. You just want to be her.
DUA LIPA, SUCH A CLASS ACT:
A post shared by GIST (@gistph) on Aug 17, 2017 at 10:26am PDT
Standing out among the rest of the performances is Swedish singer Zara Larsson. Raw, high-energy and as pop as it gets, she had her backup singers and backup dancers in tow, ready to turn the Arena into one big club. I’ve never seen a louder crowd than during her set; my Xellennial ears had to take a timeout.
ZARA LARSSON — NEVER FORGET YOU
A post shared by GIST (@gistph) on Aug 17, 2017 at 4:49pm PDT
Full disclosure: I missed the headliner! Eager as I was to get to get the full 5 Seconds of Summer experience and see how their songs translate live, I couldn’t sit in one place for five hours. As I’ve never had to get out of the venue mid-concert before, my friend B and I didn’t know that, once you walk out the door, they won’t let you back in! The sign, which should have been facing those who are ABOUT TO EXIT, was on the other side of the door.
Feeling a bit stupid and partly sad, we walked out the venue and saw something even sadder: 5SOS fans, indentifiable by their bunny ears and 5SOS shirts and fan signs, trying to convince security to let them BACK IN. It must have been devastating. My 15-year-old self cried a little for them as I thought, What if this happened to me at a Foo Fighters concert (they’re my 5SOS)? Life would temporarily have zero meaning. I sure hope they let them back in. They looked so harmless, anyway.
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Special thanks to MMI Live! Photos by Mike Rebuyas (@mikeshootsstuff)