A Tita’s Candid Thoughts on Wavy Baby’s Rough Ride

It’s been almost a week since the Sinulog weekend and it was interesting, to say the least. 

Everything that happened left a trail of crumbs, and it seems necessary that we pair it with tea.

So grab your snacks ‘cause your Tita Mary Tess is going to take you on a trip that’s Wavy Baby.

Riding the Wavy Baby

With an exciting lineup that included Cebuano bands, artists from the Careless Music roster, and crowd-drawing international acts, Wavy Baby was set to be one of the most highly anticipated events for Sinulog 2023. However, the name Wavy Baby might have been a premonition of how much the event crashed.

Days before the event, your Tita Mary Tess was not feeling it. The weather was harsh, and based on the viral video of the festival’s frontrunner walking around the venue, it didn’t look like anything was ready. But having been stuck at home for three years, I continued to hope that I could party my heart out and enjoy Sinulog—and Wavy Baby was the ultimate head start.

Social media channels had previously said that Day 1 would start at 3:00 PM, but as we got closer to the event, several announcements were made to show changes—people who purchased tickets get an extra pass for free, then General Admission for Day 1 was now free for all. The biggest shock was that Day 1 was going to start at 7:00 PM. The Cebuano bands were slated to perform at 3:00 PM—so what happened?

According to one of Tita’s trustworthy pag-umangkons, the local bands hadn’t even been informed that their set time was cut. As an event where we had hoped to celebrate local music, it was a disappointing turn of events. 

Despite everything, I went to Day 1 with enthusiasm. Of course, there were some things that caused dismay—it took a while to get through, even in the VIP express lane; the grounds were so muddy from the days of rain, which then made it extra inconvenient to head to the concessionaires’ area. Plus, because the event was now free, sponsor Johnnie Walker couldn’t even sell their whisky coolers. Not really a good start.

But when Ben & Ben started the festival off with their song Araw Araw, everyone definitely cheered up. Artists like December Avenue, Denise Julia and The Rose melted hearts with their sweet tunes, then local band Mandaue Nights rocked the stage. The crowd went wild when one of the most awaited acts Sunmi took the stage and performed her latest hit Heart Burn.

The performances were riddled with some technical issues—at one point, The Rose had to pause and skip one of the songs on their setlist because of some problems with audio quality. Still, live performances were back on large scale, and your Tita was more than a little happy about it.

But as the night got deeper, we were faced with another announcement—the event had to shut down early. No worries, though—James Reid assured a better, wilder Day 2, which will start at 3:00 PM.

Wave After Wave

Day 2 wasn’t promising to be any better, with social media pages sharing that gates will open at 5:00 PM. Once again, the set times were changed, and another set of acts had been cut off. 

As a result, several Cebuano performers had started posting apologies, sharing that they will not be able to perform due to “unforeseen circumstances.” According to the chasms, some of the local acts were promised to be rescheduled at a later time.

This was something that really rubbed your Tita—and many other Cebuano music fans—the wrong way. As a festival that was going to represent our local music scene alongside these international acts, we were hoping to celebrate the Cebuano talent at the festival. Instead, they were the ones pushed to the side. How long will Cebuano artists be considered a novelty act, easily pushed aside when things get inconvenient?

That’s not to say, of course, that the rest of the festival wasn’t any fun. There were rocking performances from SOS, Urbandub and Franco. Cebuano rapper Cookie$ had the crowd going wild with his tracks Bogo and Sabak Daddy Bi. Manila Grey, the Dil-Canadian duo, hyped everyone up with their hiphop and R&B sonics. Another much anticipated act, Bambam had everyone cheering as he did his iconic “shot puno” moment on stage, where he chugged a cup of Red Horse. One of my favorite performances came from PinkSweat$, who brought the Feel Good vibes despite the rain, as he serenaded the crowd with his R&B ballads and shared positive affirmations. The night ended with performances from the Careless Music label—James, Issa, Jolianne, August Wahh Messiah, and “Tomboy” American singer Destiny Rogers.

The second day was definitely a big step up from Day 1’s events. There was freshly placed gravel over the muddy grounds, so attendees could walk around better. It also helped that it had finally stopped raining on that day, so there were less logistical and technical difficulties. All in all, everything was running a lot smoother.

Another Wave Coming?

Undoubtedly an ambitious festival, we were hoping that people’s interest in Wavy Baby was the beginning of more large-scale musical events in Cebu—but the mismanagement of the festival and the backlash that followed shows that it might be back to the drawing board for music festivals in Cebu.

In all fairness, it seemed like a continuous string of bad luck for Wavy Baby, from the never-ending rain beforehand to the permit issues with the local government. 

We know it’s not easy to mount a concert, much less something as big as this one. But we had hoped that the organizers had some sort of contingency plan for when the weather got bad, or at least were more transparent with the ticket buyers. 

On Cebu’s end, maybe it’s time to create better venues for events—those that won’t get affected by bad weather, or where we’re actually free to play music until later in the night. By having that, we’d have more successful music festivals here, and be able to create more platforms for audiences to discover our local bands.

Maybe we’re not there yet, but your Tita hopes that we will be in the near future. And for future event organizers—we expect you to do better, for Cebuano artists and audiences!

Photos courtesy of Wavy Baby Music Festival

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