The Kaktooz in Boracay
For many in Shenzhen, especially in the Shekou area, The Kaktooz was a familiar name. This classic rock band, inspired by a range of influences from the 60′s to the 80′s, was always a joy to watch perform. They played in the area for the past two years, but only recently moved on to the Philippine island paradise of Boracay. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dennis Briones and Sopheia Valdez of The Kaktooz over a round of local Filipino brews to discuss their past, their decision to move, and their future in the Philippines.
All members of the group are originally from the Philippines, though they came from different corners of the country. After having met through mutual friends, they quickly became a solid team of musicians, starting what would become an 11-year-long career that continues to this day. The Kaktooz made their first move to Bahrain for a 4 year stint, moved on to Hong Kong for 2 more years, and then ended up in Shenzhen for a final 2 years. A little apprehensive about moving to China at first, they quickly fell in love with Shenzhen; the opportunities to expand, explore, and make new connections were many. Whereas Hong Kong tended to be a bit stressful with a hectic schedule of nightly performances, Shenzhen quickly came to feel like a new home.
The group played at X-Ta-Sea Sports Bar for a long while before advancing on to Blu Bamboo. They had originally been planning on returning to X-Ta-Sea eventually, which had been under renovation for over a year; Dennis even helped design the new sound system there. However, after much discussion, the group decided it was time to return home to the Philippines. Their last show at Blu Bamboo, just a couple weeks ago, began at 9:30 PM and went on until 7 in the morning, a blowout last performance.
Now living on one of the most gorgeous beaches on the planet, The Kaktooz are home. Just the night before, they entertained the entire beach with a rousing drum circle performance. While in Shenzhen and most other locales they were bound by contract to play specifically at one bar, in Boracay they have the freedom to play at many different venues. Their new home base, a bar called Rock Lobster after the famous The B-52′s song, is situated right on the water, but they also have the freedom to perform at other bars as they please. Dennis reassures me the group plans to return to Shenzhen to visit in the future; without them, the music scene in Shekou wouldn’t be quite the same.