As it turns out, nowhere.
On an otherwise regular Friday night this single girl would find herself in a non-descript bar on the Fort Strip – the most recent incarnation of which has less of the sosy clubbing crowd, thank goodness. The years might have taught me of the need to dress appropriately for certain spaces, but adulthood has made me more stubborn about being myself too, especially for a night when all I need is a round or two of drinks, thank you very much.
As it turns out, it would be difficult not to feel like myself, and it won’t just be because of the lovin’ from new friends, and the bottles of ice cold San Mig Light that would find its way into my hands. It won’t just be the fact that Craft Rock & Grill probably serves the best food to go with that beer.
It would be because Friday night is glam rock night at Craft. And because there is Trinidad.
Welcome your old self.
There is nothing – I say nothing – that will remind you of self like glam rock does. And when I say glam rock, I mean Journey and Van Halen, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, and damn it throw some Guns ‘N’ Roses and Mr. Big my way whydoncha. But what became clear on that first Friday at Craft is that glam rock’s not so much a reminder of self, as it almost is like muscle memory.
You know to sing these songs, you in fact (surprisingly) know them by heart, stray lyrics here and there notwithstanding. And you go from “Livin’ on the Edge” to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with ease, you traverse “Just Take My Heart” and “Always” and survive its sadnesses, you let it all go as you scream with “Paradise City” and “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
But this muscle memory isn’t just about lyrics that you didn’t even know were still in the back of your head. This muscle memory brings with it that self that knows you do not – cannot – take rock ‘n’ roll sitting down. You get up, stand by the bar, befriend the bartender. You dance, a beer bottle in hand, and you sing. You scream.
Everything is new.
This is muscle memory that doesn’t even happen with videoke, doesn’t quite work with just listening to those songs downloaded off of endangered torrent sites. This moment that finds you with new friends who live elsewhere in the world, or a niece 10 years younger than you, screaming the same song with you? This moment is one that can only happen here, in the middle of crowded Craft, with Trinidad giving you this set of songs.
On that first Friday night of course it barely mattered who this band was. In a land where many can carry a tune, where someone like Arnel Pineda exists, Trinidad’s lead singer JJ Lacson is not surprising. But with a couple more Fridays tucked under my non-existent belt, it does become clear where the extraordinary here lies: this is not just about doing covers and making sure it’s plakado. It is about Lacson doing these songs, reaching those high notes – for all intents and purposes taking the house down song after song after song – but equally and in the same breath being self-deprecating about requests that have yet to be rehearsed, or songs that as yet are too difficult. It is about Lacson doing the sign of the cross in the middle of the harder songs, like a mannerism for good luck more than anything else.
It is about the rest of that band, rocking it like kids out to have some rakenrol fun, with skills that can put many a Pinoy musician their age to shame. Here is some good Pinoy rakenrol, some fantastic Pinoy musicianship. To question that fact that Trinidad does covers would be to miss the point entirely.
The point is simple.
The extraordinary here is that Trinidad will let you reimagine Friday nights to be about glam rock. The special is in the fact that every Friday night at Craft just feels different: all it takes is a song they’ve never played before, or the one you missed because you were too drunk to notice it. All it takes is that random guy by the bar who will dare ask about the tattoo on your arm, who will get on stage and play some guitar for you on that night when it is exactly what you need.
All it takes is you in fact, being reminded of how the sappiest of lyrics can hold true and how the glam in the rock is so not dead.
And as you find yourself in Craft on the Friday before yet another Valentine’s you dread, you are reminded of a self that was always happy enough to have a rum coke in one hand, rakenrol on the other. Where dancing is always in order, and every song becomes possibility. Right here, where you sing about holding on to what you’ve got, you are also reminded of that moment when you know you’ll be alright. And you are told that there was a time, when you thought life – and music –was simple enough.
See, on these Friday nights, as you get up on your feet, scream those lyrics, and raise your drink to the universe, Trinidad reminds you how glam rock can have all the answers. And you don’t even have to ask questions. All you’ve got to do is put your glam rock on.
Because in fact it never leaves you.
Trinidad is composed of JJ Lacson (Vocals), Marc Mondragon (Lead Guitars), Shock Lozada (Lead Guitars), Alvin Lacerna (Bass), Wilf Trinidad (Drums) and Kim Lopez (Honorary Keyboardist).
Note: this was previously published in the now dead Pulse.ph around this time in 2012.