Urbandub is arguably one of the most popular alternative bands in the country today. A few months ago, an enthusiastic audience waited eagerly until 3 o’clock in the morning for the band to play at this gig in Louie’s THX (yes, the cinema) and still had the energy to get up on its feet and mosh. Someone made the wise decision to make Urbandub the finale act.

A few weeks ago, again an enthusiastic crowd trooped to Makati, this time in a much smaller venue that is Saguijo, but the audience was no less enthusiastic. The gig became a standing room affair; you can almost taste the energy emanating from a jampacked room of sweaty kids singing (or wailing) “I’ll breathe for you, like a new tattoo” in unison.

What this points to is the fact that Urbandub has built for itself a loyal cult of dubistas since the band burst from out of Cebu City with their debut album Birth, followed three years later by Influence, which went on to earn Album of the Year honors from NU107, thus cementing their status in the local rock scene.

After two indie-produced albums (by Cebu-based Lighter Records), the band recently put out its third record Embrace, its first major label outing. Those mindful of Urbandub losing their indie cred should be pleased to know that the band isn’t at all raring to appear in any noontime variety show soon.

Gab, vocalist and principal songwriter, does find the prospect of singing duets with showbiz denizens a little bit uncomfortable. Maybe because he finds his songs too personal, which is how he describes the latest album. After the more rocking debut single “Alert the Armory”, the follow-up single “First of Summer” evokes the love-song-trapped-in-a-rock song vibe, reminiscent of past songs especially “Come”.

So what’s with the one-word album titles? While it’s readily available to chronological innuendos (So after “influencing” listeners, does this mean the band’s yearning to be “embraced”?), Gab says this is not in anyway intentional on their part. For avid Urbandub listeners, something to look out for in the third album are some songs (most notably, “A City of Sleeping Hearts”) that are products of the band’s collaboration with a couple of local electronica artists.

What isn’t lacking is the amount of emotion each song in the new album carries although Gab himself describes the songs in Embrace as darker than those he’s written before. Which could mean he’s churning out lengthier lyrics this time. Although they readily fit the “emo” tag, Urbandub’s previous songs carry lyrics that are pretty much straightforward (read: short). None of the high school cafeteria anecdotes or sleepless nights banter. And yes, their rendition of Sade’s No Ordinary Love (which was included in a compilation CD released by EMI) pretty much defines how Urbandub can transform a song from another genre and put their own signature sound into it.

Last September, Urbandub headlined a four-stop concert tour titled “Plan B: The Sound of the Giant South” featuring bands from Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Iligan and Davao. “There are a lot of great bands in the South like Cebu and Davao. Unfortunately, there are not that many gigs there. But the bands are really diverse,” he says, when I rounded him up and his band mates in a street corner outside of Saguijo before their gig.
Gab and Lalay, the band’s shy yet pretty bassist, raved about bands like Faspitch, Point Click Kill and The Ambassadors, which shared the bill during the Saguijo gig (and gave an emo spin to Stephen Bishop’s “It Might Be You”). From indie to mainstream, Urbandub has definitely come a long way. But in their own words, theirs is but one voice among many that echoes the sound of the rockin’ South.

Urbandub is composed of Gab Alipe (vocalist/guitar), John Dinopol (guitar), Lalay Lim (bass) and Jan Mendoza (drums). The band’s third album Embrace is currently out. For more Urbandub, log on to http://www.urban-dub.tk/

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