Christine Bacareza Balance

Christine Bacareza Balance is Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies at UC Irvine. Her writing has appeared in Women & Performance, the Journal of Asian American Studies (JAAS), and the Journal of Popular Music Studies (JPMS). A member of the band The Jack Lords Orchestra, she is currently writing a book on popular music and performance in post-World War II Filipino America.



"Pinoise Rock"

In 1998, the first annual piNoise pop (pNp) music festival took place in San Francisco, California. Produced by immigrant Filipino musicians Jesse and Ogie Gonzales, the all-ages festival gathered diverse acts under the banner of OPAM (“original Pilipino alternatib music”), later expanding its scope to include indie Asian American musicians. Through the form of the festival—an ephemeral yet symbolically enduring event—piNoise pop made audible and visible a musical generation. Former members of a Manila punk underground, the Gonzales brothers were inspired to recreate this scene’s communal feeling after witnessing throngs of young fans during the U.S. tour of highly acclaimed Philippine indie rockers, the Eraserheads.

Indicative of late 20th-century Asian American creative class’ energies to produce and distribute music independently, pNp was equally informed by Manila-based musical histories—punk/hardcore music scenes that emerged under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial regime (1972-1984) and the mid-1990s resurgence of OPM (original Pilipino music) indie rock. In each of these instances, improvised and often contraband musical exchanges happened in ways familiar (radio shows, record stores, mixtapes, film/video) though sometimes unexpected (airline stewardesses and military bases).

Mobilizing the concept of translocal scenes, my presentation focuses on pNp as a place-specific musical event informed by cultural exchanges between particular metropoles’ musicians and audiences. This focus on the trans-Pacific cultural traffic between the port cities of Manila, San Francisco, and New York de-centers the nation-state not only to work against previous models of cultural imperialism but, more so, to imagine a geo-poetics generated by Pinoy indie rock.