+/- in Manila 2009 (Or, How To Be Remembered By Your Favorite Band)

I ran into Chris Deaner (drummer, +/-) at the merchandise booth at Encore, an hour before the show. I tend to get really shy around people I admire, but I figured, well, it’s now or never.

Me: “Hi, Chris? I’m Luna. I met you last year. You probably don’t remember me.”
Chris: (shaking my hand) “I remember you.”
Me: (joking) “No, you don’t!”
Chris: “Yes, I do! You were taking pictures last year, and you snuck in a picture of me.

(He meant this picture:

Me and Chris Deaner

Ooooooh fuck.)

Me: “Yeeeeah, that was me. Can I take a real picture of you now?”
Chris: “Sure!”

Me and Chris Deaner

Whew! Of course, after I did that, I might as well go all out – I reintroduced myself to James Baluyut (vocals/guitars/keyboards/everything, +/-) as well, and got this picture:

Me and James Baluyut

Of course, it took me five songs of Sandwich to get the guts to approach him at all 😛


All my experiences with +/- are about seizing the moment. Being there in the front row, hearing them do all my favorites live, and dancing with reckless abandon – it’s really the only way to watch a gig. I had to force myself to stop taking videos just so I could pay attention, which was great because they did “Steal the Blueprints”, “Trapped Under Ice Floes”, and “Snowblind” afterwards all in one block! And as I watched my friends (Selena, Mikey, Ean, and Justin) take the stage to sub for different parts, I realized with minimal jealousy that 1) I wasn’t in the band scene anymore, but 2) I was actually much happier being right there in the front row. (I was also insanely proud to know them – great job, everybody!)

Ean Selena James and Mikey James and Justin

I can’t readily explain why +/- is my favorite band to watch. It’s not just the skill – it was Dante’s first time to watch them, for example, and he was blown away by their technical proficiency. It’s true; they play an incredibly tight set. But so does Death Cab For Cutie, and it doesn’t feel the same. There’s something about +/- and how they are better experienced live, and how we fans knew the lyrics to all the songs, and did the obligatory strange hand gestures (see “Steal the Blueprints”, 1:35), and you felt the guitar effects and you felt the drum machine and before you know it you’re on stage with friends dancing to “Queen of Detroit”. Again.

James Chris Deaner The clappers

Some of us fans (Jovan, Kathy, and I) agreed that there was less magic this year, probably because we’ve seen them before. But we were still all ridiculously happy. I think my heaven has them playing 24/7. (Of course, that might be their hell.)

If you can come back every year, +/-, we will gladly accept you! (In other words, come baaaaaaaack!)

Here are the videos I took – see how happy we are! (You need to log in to Facebook to view them.)

  • “Fadeout” – No heaaaaartache!
  • “Thrown Into The Fire” – Blasting from suburban basements!
  • “Marina” – One foot in the sand, the other in the sea…
  • “One Day You’ll Be There” – You wish that this was your call, but it don’t matter at all…
  • “She’s Got Your Eyes” – (Okay, this is really just Chris Deaner drumming.)
  • “Queen of Detroit” – (I’m dancing at the very back. See that arm? That’s mine.)
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