If there’s one thing that will stop a Filipino from going out, it’s definitely traffic. To make matters worse, payday traffic. However, even the never-ending sea of red lights ahead couldn’t stop the public from voyaging north to 70s Bistro on the fateful night of September 29. There are only a few things in a Filipino’s life that are worth going through traffic for, and one of those things is the reunion of Orange & Lemons.

Armageddon Outside 70s Bistro

By time we arrived in 70s Bistro, there were already groups of people trying their luck with entrance. The inside of the venue was packed airtight and letting them all inside would be more of a safety hazard. Like sardines in a can, we squished our way through the crowd in an attempt to find a spot good enough to watch without disturbing anyone else. This proved to be a task as it took us quite a while, with the three opening acts Blind Stereo Moon, Meagan Trees and The Strange Creatures performing one after the other.

As guitars and drums were being tuned, Liam Gallagher’s voice echoed the venue with Oasis music videos playing on the projector. Everyone in the audience began to sing along like your typical drunk uncle at a family reunion. The few minutes of unification was cut short by Jam 88.3 DJ Lambert Cruz; he issued an apology first, but all was forgiven the second he welcomed Clem Castro, JM Del Mundo, and Ace Del Mundo—the new and improved Orange & Lemons—up on stage for the first time in 10 years.

Unlike No Other

Orange & Lemons kicks off the show with “Armageddon Is Coming To Town,” appropriate for the mind-melting two-hour set they were about to pull off. Fans have already gone crazy at this point, but the band keeps the atmosphere light and nostalgic. As they carry on, you notice the major influence the 80s Manchester band The Smiths have on Orange & Lemons, from musical techniques down to the similarities in Clem and Morrissey’s vocals. Orange & Lemons, however, adds a refreshing take on their music, making it entirely their own.

Orange & Lemons performing at 70s Bistro

“This is embarrassing—I was playing guitar of tune.” Clem apologizes by the third song of the night. “Masyadong excited.” he laughs, but truth be told nobody even noticed. That’s when you see the professionalism of bands that have left a legacy; they’re open about mistakes like these. It’s not easy for musicians, seasoned or not, to admit playing out of tune. They only rehearsed thrice since Clem got back from the US, and it’s like they’re starting over again. “It’s like grade 1.”

Anecdotes are slipped between songs, one of them about an affair Clem had with the wife of a drug lord’s son. The story takes a tragic ending with the girl fleeing to Japan in order to avoid trouble for all parties involved. So what does he do? He writes a song that’s so heartfelt, it will make you hurt more than a decade after its original composition. The honesty is well appreciated by the crowd who’s been singing along word for word the whole night.

Orange & Lemons performing at 70s Bistro

The smile on the band’s faces show how much they legitimately love music and performing as Orange & Lemons. As they announce the near end of their show, the audience’s collectively loud “boo!” told the band that no one wants the night to end. They close with “Hanggang Kailan (Umuwi Ka Na Baby)” and a beautifully done outro to round up the evening. Standing ovations from those lucky enough to get a table and rowdy cheers echoes 70s Bistro, living proof that there is still more than enough space for Orange & Lemons in the music scene even after a decade.

For those unable to catch the wonder of Orange & Lemons, they’ll be doing bar tours around Manila this whole month. They’re bringing the Three Imaginary Boys Tour to The Minokaua on October 6, Route 196 on October 11, 19 East on October 19, Craft Rock & Grill on October 21, and Boiler Room Bar on October 25. Don’t sleep on this!