The thing about chronicling your life online is you’ve got timestamps for just about anything. I know when I started listening to a certain band or when I got to see an artist live for the first time—at least since 1997. So when I tell you that on July 22, 2003, I used “If we don’t have to, we’re not going to” as a subject on one of my Livejournal entries, you’ll have to believe me. I can tell you that I’ve listened to their songs 3,289 times since 2006 (according to Last.fm, at least). And that years later, their words still define important moments in my life.
In 2003, when I was a junior in college, bands like Dashboard Confessional, Jimmy Eat World, Further Seems Forever were on constant repeat on my Winamp (I’m so old). My music was largely influenced by my brothers and my internet friends. I can’t quite recall how I discovered MAE, but I do remember obsessing over their lyrics, putting them on rotation in my ICQ info and eventually as my YM status. I would usually find music on people’s LJ entries (“Now playing:”) and download them on Napster/Kazaa/Audiogalaxy to find out if I liked it. And then I’d incorporate them into layouts back when I redesigned my website every month or so.
In 2008, I put up a shortlist of acts I wanted to see live. (Funnily enough, I didn’t care to watch U2 even if I had extreme FOMO with friends flying out to see them. And I didn’t watch Madonna either. I guess you can not watch them after all.) One of the bands on that list was MAE. I was surprised when they were announced as one of the front acts for the Katy Perry concert that turned into a benefit show for Ondoy. My friends and I had already bought tickets for the show not knowing this (they had no clue who this band was, hehe). To me, it felt like a gift from the Universe (the concert was scheduled 5 days after my 27th birthday. I remember being so excited even if they were only going to play 5 songs. And then of course, my nightmare happened. I missed all but 1 and a half songs from their set. I recall locking myself in my room and cried because I thought I would never get to watch them again. It was such a wasted opportunity. To this day, the friends I watched the Katy Perry concert with still remember how my face fell as we slowly inched our way to the concert grounds and I heard the familiar sound of their music. They didn’t know what to do. Haha, of course we just laugh about it now.
Eventually, I moved on and forgot about it. Until 4 years later, a friend who worked at a music publication told me that they were bringing in MAE’s vocalist Dave Elkins for a small show in Manila. I didn’t know anyone I could ask to watch with me (why am I not friends with more MAE fans?!), so I bought a ticket fully committed to seeing the show by myself. I found Frances at the venue and she let me sit with her and her friend. This time around, it was a week after I turned 31 that I got to listen and sing along to my favorite songs with fellow MAE fans in Hard Rock Cafe. I got into a cab at 2 in the morning scared to death but so happy that I got to watch the show. It was easily one of my favorite shows I’ve ever seen. I felt like I would’ve belonged anyway even if I was alone.
Fast forward to last September, when another friend tagged me on the announcement for a MAE show happening in December. Not even a day later, my brother messages me to say that he got me tickets to the show. I couldn’t believe my luck. And as you may already know from my obsessive posts, he also got me a slot for the meet and greet the night before the show. My friend Hanna who was originally my plus one (we have a history of fangirling over so many people and things, so naturally, she was the obvious choice) suddenly couldn’t make it because of a prior commitment. I even asked a couple of the only MAE fans I knew if they wanted to watch with me, but they understandably already had other plans. So I posted on Instagram to ask who had plans to watch them. At the end of the day, I figured, maybe I can just watch the show alone. Then, Pinky replied to ask what was happening that weekend. Long story short, internet friends are the best and we ended up fangirling over MAE this entire weekend.
It didn’t really sink in until me and my sweaty bangs were inside a dark Route 196 on a Friday evening with fellow fans and they were right in front of us. Right before they arrived, the people from Red Ninja Production (who were responsible for bringing them to Manila in the first place) asked us to write our song requests on pieces of paper that the band would pick out from a hat. My only choice was “Tisbury Lane,” of course and I wrote “Suspension,” too because that was Pinky’s choice. At the first strains of the guitar, we let out a tiny “yay” as they started to play the intro to my favorite song. After a few songs, we lined up to get our posters signed and have a few minutes to talk to the band. I had saved a few photos on my phone that I wanted to show them. A screenshot of a Words With Friends game with the band’s drummer Jacob from 10 years ago where I won by 30 points, lol. They had a laugh about that and Dave even commented that I probably had a triple letter-triple word score. I proceeded to tell them how I was there at the Katy Perry show only to miss more than half of their set. I shared how I cried because I had waited so long to hear them sing their songs live. And that I had the chance to redeem myself when I saw Dave’s show in Hard Rock. As I scrolled through my pictures with Jacob and then Dave, I said, “I’m hoping that tonight, I’ll finally get a photo with all three of you.” “We can definitely do that,” they said.
Here are a few faves from the meet and greet and show that I managed to take videos of. <3
When they came back to the stage at 123 Block for their encore, Dave said, “Thank you so much from the bottom of our MAE hearts. We will never forget this night, I promise you, and I really hope we don’t have to wait 10 years to come back.” All I have to say is, “same.”