There are few better feelings than walking into a bar when the band is in the middle of their set. The guitarist screeching out a solo and the frontman singing like it’s his last time. The crowd up on their feet and dancing along.
It’s the same feeling you get when you watch the band at The Terrace. It’s a group of musicians that are very much a family, and this month the family just welcomed three exciting new members. Shenzhen Party went along one night to say hello to singers Monica Cuenco and Kris Astor, and drummer Mark Jasper.
That night, the first musician to take the stage is drummer, Mark Jasper. He’s arrived early to check the instruments and to talk with the technicians. It’s clear he’s the kind of meticulous musician who wants everything in its right place.
Considering his background, his attention to detail is no surprise. He later explains. “I started out as a drummer in the Philippines back in 2004. I’ve recorded and played for recording artists like Zelle, Gloc-9, Ney, Jay-R, and international artists like Taylor Dayne.”
Taylor Dayne was a pop superstar from the eighties with classics such as Tell It To My Heart, while rapper Gloc-9 and R&B artist Jay-R are award winning, platinum certified stars in the Philippines.
The set begins without their new female singers, but the band here are a versatile family of musicians. They ease into the evening with a funk laden cover of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You. Guitarist, Douglas, then turns singer for a cover of Cake By The Ocean, and although there may not be any cake on hand, the crowd are already having a great time at Seaworld. The band throws in some crowd favorites from Bruno Mars’ covers to a raucous rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit.
The one constant through all the wild improvisations and guitar solos is Jasper on drums. Like all the great drummers, he keeps them all in line and ties it altogether. Just like his idol, Vinnie Colaiuta, the legendary session drummer who worked across heavy metal, jazz, and country, with artists such as Frank Zappa, Sting, and Joni Mitchell.
Yet Jasper still wants to grow more as a musician. It was one of the reasons that brought him to The Terrace. “When I saw some videos of their bands performing here, I knew that I would learn and grow a lot as a musician from being under the supervision of the musical director, Leon.”
They say good things come to those who wait, and half way through the first set Monica and Kris are brought up and welcomed to the family. Kris bursts into a belter of a rendition of Sia’s Cheap Thrills, and Monica swoons on backing vocals.
As Kris struts around the stage with a wide smile and singing, “Baby, I don’t need dollar bills to have fun tonight”, you better believe she means it. As she says later, “I am more into R&B and soul, but when it comes to party then it’s all about rock! Expect that I will be giving my best every night!”
It’s an attitude that she’s carried with her ever since she started out as a singer. “I joined singing competitions as a training ground. That brought me to become a finalist of Pinoy Pop Superstar, a singing competition on GMA 7. They signed me as an artist and I became a part of a concert TV show every Sunday. I sang with famous singers like Jaya, Ogie, Alcasid, Janno, and Kyla.”
The highlight of her career was the chance to perform with her hero. “My proudest moment was singing on stage with my idol, Ms. Regine Velasquez. She has been my inspiration since I was kid. So performing with her is like a dream come true for me.”
Regine Velasquez would no doubt approve if she could see Kris now as she gets the crowd bouncing along to her electrifying cover of Nena’s 99 Luftballoons.
Next, it’s Monica’s time to step up, but the singer is no stranger to the spotlight. She may still be young, but she has already grabbed headlines and won competitions across Asia.
In 2011, she was a runner up on Star Power, the search for the next female pop star, on Philippines channel ABS CBN. From there she landed a role as Dorina Pineda in a theater adaptation of the show Bituing Walang Ningning and starred in the South Korean reality program K-Pop Star. Her performances have seen her win Best New Female Artist award at the ALIW awards in 2016 and Best Pop Recording and Best Song Arrangement at this year’s AWIT awards.
Monica lists Beyonce as one of her idols, and when she moves across the stage during a cover of Starving with all eyes in the bar on her, it’s impossible to deny she does not have the same gravitational pull as the former Destiny Child’s singer. When she sings the chorus, “I didn’t know that I was starving till I tasted you”, the crowd sing along in agreement.
Her biggest role model comes from her home of the Philippines. “The artist that influenced me a lot is Lea Salonga, a theatre actress. She’s really good when it comes to vocal techniques.”
The band finishes their set, but come back for a second later. They play some classic hard rock along with modern EDM and everything in between, leaving the band and the crowd breathless at the end. As the band hug and leave the stage to a cheering crowd, it’s clear to see that Monica, Kris and Jasper are already part of the family at The Terrace.
Address: Seaworld Square, Shekou (Above Starbucks) / 深圳市南山区蛇口海上世界广场(星巴克二楼)
Tel: (0755) 2682-9105