Five month baby Manu in hand, we walked into the small venue. I forgot how loud gigs were. Flashes of him crying and wailing disturbing the performers and the audience lurked into mind. This was going to be a mistake.

It was a quiet Saturday, one of those rare weekends with nothing to do. No sense wasting a perfectly good day at home. We’ve decided to be one of those parents that bring their kids anywhere we can, even if it’s difficult at times. As far as I’m concerned, the more he sees the better he is for it. That’s when the idea of bringing him to the gig came to mind.

Cattski invited me to check out a 22 Tango Records event in Degree 9. Perfect opportunity to bring him to his first gig I thought. It’s a coffee shop so we did away with the drunken environment normally characteristic of gigs. What could go wrong?

When we first walked in, I was nervous.

The café was packed with people. I didn’t think we could get a seat. Thankfully Cattski was gracious enough to offer us a chair right in front of the performers. It made me even more nervous. We sat right next to a tarp that said #shhhhpolicy – meaning the audience was encouraged to keep quiet and listen to the music.

As I read the tarp, I was well aware that we were holding a ticking crying and screaming time bomb in the form of the kiddo. To top it all off, we were right in front of the performers. All these horrible thoughts came into my head, I was imagining him bawling and us apologizing to the crowd and the performers all while slowly walking towards the exit.

As soon as we sat down, an amazing thing happened. Kiddo was happily seated on his mother’s lap with razor sharp focus. It was the most behaved I had ever seen him. He was intently watching Vincent Eco with quiet admiration. The only time he turned his head was when the crowd clapped their hands after each song as if to say, “What is this noise coming from the other side of the room?” Then the next song played and he would happily sit transfixed again.

I write this because I forget the effect music can have on us. The physical effect it had on our little five month old was amazing. He sat their quiet for ninety solid minutes. Not a word. Not a peep. Not a cry was heard. Imagine the effect music can have on us if we only stopped what we were doing and listened. Truly listened. Fortunately, our little kiddo has that down pat.

22 Tango Records created a truly memorable experience by cultivating their audience and allowing for the #shhhhpolicy.

In years past, Cebu has gotten a bad rap. Famously difficult to please, Cebuano audiences were known for not clapping, silently judging and plain ignoring a performer. Part of me thinks that we as an audience didn’t get it. A musical performance isn’t a monologue. It’s a dialogue that requires participation. The entire experience is made better when the audience participates and shows appreciation.

During the performance of Lourdes Maglinte, the crowd at Degree 9 gave her just that. As she was singing her song, Empty Sheets, the moment was made magical when she asked the crowd to sing along. It was a remarkable minute of everyone in the café soberly united in song. As an audience member, this moment made intimate gigs like these unforgettable.

The 22 Tango Records group have something special.

Hoping to see more soon.

PS – Manu can’t wait to go to the next one.

PPS – You should listen to these musicians. My personal fave is Vincent Eco.  

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