While it can be a tricky thing to watch a concert of a band you know very little about, it has its merits. Mainly, you’re careful to leave all preconceived notions and doubts home. You feed off the excitement and rush loyal fans exude while anxiously yet giddily waiting in line with smiles on their faces. And, well—you generally pay attention more. Each detail that’s part of the show fuels your curiosity, and the overall energy and vibe are infectious as hell.
That’s exactly how it all went down for me once I found my way inside the Skydome that Sunday night. Considering it was a gloomy afternoon on a peak mall day, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of fans who showed up early, lined up, and excitedly chatted for hours about their favorite songs from the band of the night. They clutched posters and souvenirs while excitedly waiting for the doors to open. And as soon as they did, fans rushed to their preferred spots inside, many going straight to the front barricades and settling in.
As the house lights dimmed, electrified screams and howls filled the venue as AGAINST THE CURRENT exploded on stage and opened with the all-new “good guy.” Though theirs was the simplest of band setups—being a four-piece comprised of vocalist Chrissy Costanza, guitarist Dan Gow, drummer Will Ferri, and touring bassist David Whitmore—the sound was massive. Filipino fans didn’t take long to get the party started in the pit.
Combining high-energy pop-punk with well-placed electronic textures and catchy-as-hell choruses, it was obvious that Against The Current meant business. They proceeded to dish out anthems like the driving sing-along song “Wildfire,” the dark and frantic “again&again,” and the moody rhythm “jump.”
Vocalist Chrissy is a powerhouse of a frontwoman—disarmingly beautiful and dazzling onstage as she headbanged and danced her way throughout the 21-song set. After confirming from fans in the front row that it was Against The Current’s sixth performance in Manila, she ensured the crowd matched every ounce of energy the band brought by promising that all their favorites—old and new—were part of the set.
Many of the “vintage” tunes from the band had an awesomely familiar ’80s pop vibe. 2018’s “Strangers Again” and “Personal” were perfect examples that “pop” doesn’t have to be a bad word, while 2016’s “Running With The Wild Things” was reminiscent of the modern raunchy rock sounds of the era. Soon switching to the steady punchy tracks like “blindfolded” and this year’s “silent stranger,” it was amazing to see the entire audience screaming along to every word.
Halfway through the set, I admittedly was waiting for Chrissy—or any member of the band, actually—to slow things down and take a breather. It was unbelievable that the band could keep up the level of energy or quality of the live performance so high, but it never happened. Drummer Will was pounding away like it was nothing, and Dan and David were having the time of their lives pushing through. Seeing the playful banter between the members onstage, both with the crowd and among themselves, was a nice sight. Even the moodier songs like “lullaby,” “Roses,” and the electronic-fueled “Chasing Ghosts,” “Voices,” and “Almost Forgot” went exceptionally well live. Power-pop melodies like “Another You (Another Way),” “Gravity,” and “Paralyzed” consistently got everyone in the pit moving.
As the set wound down to the last few songs, I remember PULP Live World main man Vernon Go exclaiming, “Man, her voice is still on point!” I couldn’t agree more. Against The Current’s show was no small feat, and even Chrissy’s screams of “Manila!” seemed only to get higher and louder. Truly, it was an evening enjoyed by everyone, and the band proved—in the flesh—that theirs was a tight and well-oiled machine that deserved every ounce of praise and excitement from its legion of fans.
“It’s been five years since we’ve been here,” said Chrissy, “and three of those years, well… it wasn’t our fault. But for the other two, that was our bad,” she joked. Though fans, of course, had no complaints. What mattered was that they made it back and finally reaped the PULP Live World show and experience they deserved.