Wanderland returns to indie roots in 9th music fest 2
Wanderland Music and Arts Festival returns o the Filinvest City Event Grounds in Alabang last March 9-10.

Wanderland returns to indie roots in 9th music fest

Wanderland 2024 felt almost like a reset of sorts, like the festival was remembering its roots by going back to indie, less mainstream-oriented or more ‘niche’ artists.
Joko Magalong-De Veyra | Mar 18 2024

It’s been a week since Wanderland Music and Arts Festival successfully held its ninth iteration at the Filinvest City Event Grounds in Alabang. Having been there at this festival’s debut, this author decided to write an indulgent mini retrospective of the festival bundled up with the recap of what happened last March 9 to 10. 

Weather is always a concern in any festival and most of the time, it’s been scorching hot. The first Wanderland was held in May, so March makes more sense. We did get some occasional showers this last one, but mostly, the weather cooperated and matched the wonderfully chill lineup of local and foreign acts. There was temperature perfect weather (especially during the first day) that made going around the grounds a delight — whether you were lining up for merch, water, or food, checking out bags or getting your face painted at the Wanderland Market, trying to score freebies like whisky cocktails, free beer, merch, or ice cream in their sponsors’ booth, or wanted to take your picture amidst the many art installations this year that included a giant head and mini houses (a nod to their Neighborhood theme this year). Of course, all while listening to great live music. 

Photos by Jeeves de Veyra

One of the best things about Wanderland is the existence of the VIP ticket. The perks remain epic and worth the money, especially to older festival-goers like me. I still loved the bleachers and must commend that the VIP area placement this year vis-à-vis angled to the two stages has been the best it’s ever been. Please do keep it in this location next year. 

Jack Johnson with Parcels and Jose Miguel
Jack Johnson with Parcels and Jose Miguel

What about the music? This felt almost like a reset of sorts, like the festival was remembering its roots by going back to indie, less mainstream-oriented or more ‘niche’ artists. Perhaps in preparation for what will surely be an unbelievably mind-blowing 10th year? 

That said though, this year’s lineup more than gave their all, and we were treated to wonderful interactions not only between the Wanderland crowd and the artists (more on that in the gallery below), but also stage collaborations between artists — most notable of which of course was Jack Johnson with the Parcels, as well as Jose Miguel.


You might ask, “indie?” but what about Hwasa? The K-pop songstress has always been amazingly and proudly atypical to Korean idol standards. ‘Indie’ is all about individuality and carving your own path, so the shoe fits here. To add, Korean artists from rappers, bands to idol soloists have all appeared or were slated to appear in the festival’s lineup throughout the years, and I do feel it enriches the experience. Variety is the spice of life – and I support the there’s-something-for-everyone mindset that I think this festival has in its core, which they have to balance out with many things from music trends, budgets, and even the inclusion of allowing children in the festival.

Children attending a music festival with their parents seems like a potential happy core-memory making event, so I’m all for it. Jack Johnson even gave a shoutout to a kid who was watching him from the crowd on their guardian’s shoulders. How this will affect the lineup of the coming years will be interesting to see. Maybe more child-friendly acts in the afternoon? Who knows? 

Now we go to some things that I miss from previous festivals. First off, the WanderBand competition. Did you know that Lola Amour won Wanderband in 2017? Some of my favorite acts/bands in the previous Wanderland festivals came from this contest. The last one happened pre-pandemic and I’m hoping that the next one will have this contest again.

Another thing I hope to have next year is the re-inclusion of a “legacy” or an “older” OPM act /band’s full set. This was the norm the past few years of the festival, and this author missed it. Although, I did love how Jeff Bernat went down memory lane and performed snippets of his favorite OPM songs. It did happily scratch that itch for me. 

Wanderland through the years
Wanderland through the years

Truth is, while many festivals have come and gone, Wanderland remains a staple in many a young (or older) music lover’s gig calendar— not just for the obvious draws of the music and the acts in the lineup but with the whole way it just makes sense in terms of organization and ease. (Shout out to the water stations and scan-to-order feature of the food booths!) 

Each year feels better experience-wise in Wanderland, and as I still have a long list of bands and acts that I want to watch (Is there a way to suggest? Weezer), there’s always new excitement for the next one (especially so as it’s their 10th year). I can’t wait to see those confetti canons fire again, heralding a night well-spent. - By Joko De Veyra


1. BIRD.

It's always tough to open a festival when people are still coming in. But at Wanderland, a lot of new bands have been discovered in this now-coveted slot. Local indie band bird. was this year's chosen band to open the Wanderland 2024 festival and they treated early comers to their own brand of surfer rock. And with the afternoon sun on full blast but with refreshing winds blowing through the Filinvest Festival Grounds, the band's music made it easy for us to imagine that we were sitting on a beach somewhere listening to their songs "weekend", "san juan", and "ride". To quote one of their song titles, these definitely weren't "TT (terrible things)". – By Ida Torres


In keeping with the beach by the festival grounds feel, Busan-based South Korean indie rock band Bosudongcooler kept the vibe going. Despite some technical difficulties (that seem to be part of the going early experience), the crowd dug their lo-fi but energetic music. It was the first time for band members Minji Kim, Seulhan Goo, Sangwon Lee, and Woongyu choi to play in the Philippines but given how most Korean acts who play in Wanderland go on to greater things, this most likely won't be their last. They even played a song called "Sitting On A Chair" from their upcoming new album for the first time ever. – By Ida Torres


Filipino-Japanese singer-songwriter Ena Mori has been amassing a small but dedicated following in the local indie scene. And these fans came out to support her first Wanderland performance and even first-time listeners like this writer were utterly bowled over by her pop-synth sound and her kick-ass performance. You can easily imagine her performing as an opening act for major international performers as her music can definitely live up to that. Performing crowd-favorites like "Vivid," "SOS," "White Room," and "King of the Night," she even gave a bonus song, playing "Heartache Generation," her latest and then-unreleased song (it's now on Spotify!). – By Ida Torres



This writer distinctly remembers discovering three-piece instrumental rock trio Tom's Story back in 2016. For this year's Wanderland, one-third of that band (which have now gone their separate ways), Gabba Santiago took over the Karpos stage this time as a solo artist, accompanied by his equally amazing session band. For those that are experiencing instrumental rock for the first time, this performance was a revelation. Those who have been enjoying Gabba's music were vibing along to music that also brings some sitting by the beach vibes. – By Ida Torres



If we're not mistaken, this is probably the first time that Wanderland had a big band gracing their main stage with jazz singer Jose Miguel serenading the crowd. If you had your eyes closed, you would think it was your uncle or grandfather crooning on stage. But this young singer has made it his musical mission to bring this kind of music to a whole new generation and based on the crowd's reaction, most probably hearing it for the first time, his mission was accomplished. And later that night, Wanderland headliner Jack Johnson even invited him on stage to sing "Banana Pancakes" with him, which thrilled Wanderland goers. – By Ida Torres



Each Wanderland has seen some Korean hip-hop acts bring their own brand of rap and swagger to Filipino audiences. This year, it was Lim Sung-bin's turn, more popularly known as Beenzino (whose name was derived from Boston rapper Benzino and Sung-bin's name combined). While it's hard to sing along to the beats (well, unless you're a rapper and fluent in Korean), he got the crowd grooving along to songs like "Aqua Man," "Dali," "Van," and "Picasso," and "Boogie On & On." There were even some die-hard fans in the crowd who had their albums signed in the middle of his performance. – By Ida Torres



Who among us haven't heard of Lola Amour's "Raining in Manila," whether on TikTok, Reels, or because of their Coldplay concert appearance? Because of their current popularity, they got the much-coveted sunset set at this year's Wanderland. And just like previous local acts who performed at this time and at this stage, they did not disappoint. Aside from the ubiquitous "Raining in Manila" song, they performed some of their most popular hits like "Fallen," "Pwede Ba," and "Maybe Maybe." But of course people were waiting for that keyboard intro signaling a sing-along party to "Raining in Manila." I'm not blaming them for the drizzle that soon followed but even the heavens can't resist to making the song come true right? – By Ida Torres



A Wanderland festival will not be complete without a dance party later in the evening. And while most of the earlier acts were of the beach vibe, Australian electronic music artists Cosmo's Midnight got the Karpos stage grooving and bopping to their own brand of funky music that can be at home both in the 70s dance halls and in concert festivals. They even brought their signature vibraslap percussion instrument to get everybody dancing to songs like "Fantasy" and "Down For You." They also brought on fellow Aussie artist Asta to sing and dance with them on stage. – By Ida Torres



Beautiful harmonies with catchy electropop. Everyone in the group plays an instrument, can sing, and even better—sing together so beautifully. With a set that flitted from funky ("Tieduprightnow," "Closetowhy") to dancey/disco tunes ("Overnight," "Lightenup") to even at one point a percussion party, the Wanderland crowd lapped the Parcels all up from start to finish! - By Joko De Veyra



One of the slated acts of the pandemic-affected Wanderland of yesteryear, Novo Amor finally performed in the Philippines. Novo Amor means "new love" in Portuguese and festival attendees were more than loved up as he performed his heart-rending/touching songs like "Anchor," "From Gold," "Colourway," and "No Love," among others. - By Joko De Veyra



“I wanted to come here for years and years,” said Johnson at the start of his set. With songs long been the anthem of many a beach-trip in our islands, Johnson was the much-awaited headliner for Day 1. “It’s not often they ask for more accordion,” quipped Johnson, which shows just how much the crowd fed off the energy onstage. Johnson played his songs like "Breakdown," "Mudfootball," "Upside Down," "Flake," and "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing," among others, and also treated the audience with a segment where he played shouted requests. Then the night turned into a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience as Johnson invited the Parcels back onstage to sing a heavenly mash-up of "Breakdown" and "Free" (a song by the Parcels). Afterwards, to make it even sweeter, everyone lived vicariously through jazz crooner "Jose Miguel," as he was welcomed back onstage to sing "Banana Pancakes" with Johnson. Ending his set with the anthemic "Better Together," Johnson closed Day 1 amidst cheers and happy vibes. - By Joko De Veyra

DAY 2 


Day 2 kicked off with a magical set by Bicol-based singer-songwriter DWTA who had the unenviable (or enviable, depending on how you look at it) task of opening the second day of a major music festival. It may also be the first time that a performer sang several songs in her native Bikolano, to the delight of her fans and also some fellow Bikolanos who were in the audience. By the time she belted out her viral hit "Santigwar," she had the small crowd entranced with her music and gained new fans as well. – By Ida Torres


It wouldn't be a Wanderland if we didn't have some of the "veterans" in the music scene gracing the stage and giving the younger acts a run for their money. That task was given this year to Party Pace, an experimental rock band made up of Sandwich frontman Raymund Marasigan, Chicosci bassist Eco del Rio, IV of Spades drummer Badjao de Castro, and seasoned session guitarist John Apura. It was a different kind of music for some of the festival-goers but that didn't stop them from grooving along to the music. – By Ida Torres 



For casual listeners, Paolo Sandejas is most known for his song "Sorry" which went viral when BTS superstar V sang it during one of his live sessions. But for fans, they know he is more than just this one song and he proved himself during his Wanderland set with hits like "Liquid Courage," "BLOOM," and "Different Shade of Blue." Even those sitting in the shades (it was really a hot afternoon) couldn't help but sing along or at least bob their heads to his hits. – By Ida Torres



Taiwanese musician Cloudriver had his baptism of fire in the Philippines at the Wanderland festival with songs like "Sunny Afternoon" and "Shore." Most festival-goers encountered his kind of music for the first time but they were very much interested given how many people parked themselves in front of the Karpos stage and appreciated his brand of cool electro-pop. – By Ida Torres



A lot of the Gen Z festival-goers said they were looking forward to the set of Fil-Aussie singer songwriter grentperez who is making his homecoming performance on the Wanderland stage. Aside from having songs that were easy to dance and sing along to, he really knew how to work the crowd by getting both fans and new listeners to have some audience participation as he sang along to "Cherry Wine," "Clementine," "Silver Lining,"and "Old With You." Even when he was still setting up, he was already interacting with his fans and he carried it over to his energetic performance. – By Ida Torres


The American retro indie rock bad, the Walters, brought wanderers back to the '70s with their groovy music with songs like "Sweet Marie," "Cottage Roads," "Goodbye Baby," among others. The highlight was Olson telling the story of how the band broke up for several years and got back together again, thanks to their viral hit, "I Love You So" before ending their set with the same song. – By Jeeves De Veyra



Hwasa wowed the Wanderland crowd with her live vocals and dance moves. Aided by an interpreter, what magic it was that she somehow made that giant field feel intimate especially between songs, as she talked about her last visit in the Philippines (with Mamamoo) and how Filipino fans were special to her. It was a treat to watch her perform "Chili," "I Love My Body," "Physical," "Don’t,: and personally, it gave this author chills to see the choreography of her breakout hit "Maria" live. Effortlessly oozing cool and sexy, Hwasa had a short but punchy set that left the crowd wanting more. - By Joko De Veyra


Filipino-American Jeff Bernat performed for the first time in the Philippines, and his set included songs like "Wrong About Forever," "Casual," and "Call You Mine" among others, perfectly suited the chill evening and had the audience swaying along happily. This author loved how he leaned into celebrating his homecoming by singing snippets of his favorite songs growing up, because besides being some of mine too, also made me realize how many amazing OPM bands/acts I do want to hear live again. An added plus hearing them all sung in Bernat’s deliciously smooth voice. 



This year, Wanderland Day 2 had not one but two Grammy winners on its roster. Five-time Grammy winner PJ Morton had the Wanderland crowd jiving to EVERYTHING. His set included songs imbued with his trademark soul and funk like "Good Morning," "Go Thru Your Phone," and "Beautiful Day." While the crowd sang along with gusto when he played his cover of ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, the festival-goers absolutely went to church as PJ Morton sang reprise after reprise of ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ with the biggest smile on his face, ending his set on an unbelievably joyous high note. - By Joko De Veyra



Two amazing DJs synergized to make the windy Wanderland night even cooler. Frequent collaborators, the duo’s set flowed so seamlessly one song after another and made everyone vibe and dance with their remixes (Daft Punk, Lizzo, Jamiroquai, Donna Summer) and original songs ("Baby I’m Yours," "One Out of Two"). I remember less than a handful of DJs gracing the Wanderland stages throughout the years, and Breakbot & Irfane’s set was easily one of my favorites — dancey without being too rave-y, it suited the easy-going vibe of the night. - By Joko De Veyra



Day 2’s headliner Thundercat came on stage with an arsenal of good vibes, virtuoso-level bass playing skills, and a sense of purpose – as the artist dedicated his set to the recently departed Akira Toriyama (creator of Dragonball). “Anime is my life… Sing it so loud that Akira can hear it,” he asked the festival attendees before launching into his song, "Dragonball Durag." With a performance that spanned from instrumental forays into psychedelia to more funky-lyric driven tracts like "Them Changes," "Funny Things," and "Overseas," among others, Thundercat’s almost effortless brilliance was the perfect ending to the largely easy and chill Wanderland weekend 2024.