An Indelible Open Air Festival
Rrrecfest #4: In the Valley
The tale of how the land of Indonesia having alluring terrain, beautiful landscapes and dazzling sceneries is a well-known fact. Such abundance of nature is certainly not something that we usually see in everyday life, especially to one who spend their days in the city where all we can see is housings, shops, and bright lights. It is comforting to know there are still a lot of Indonesia that lives up to that narrative.
It is about time that festivals started to invite music enthusiast to take a vacation and visit the charm of Indonesia’s topography. After Bromo’s “Jazz Gunung”, and “Float 2 Nature”, Ruang Rupa followed the direction by having their fourth instalment of Rrrec Fest in an open air valley. Its humble beginning as a sub-event in the “Decompression #10” (a part of ruangrupa’s 10th anniversary), “Rrrecfest” gained the credibility as a sturdy music festival with their compelling selection of artist and musician from various genres. Also, they have a refreshing pick of the venues to host the events, they once held event on 5 different set of locations in Cikini and one of them was a fully functioning legendary bakery.
This year, Rrrecfest is back with an appealing choice of venue. This time the setting is Tanakita, an opulent campsite in the valley of Sukabumi, a city in West Java province, about a 4 hour drive from Jakarta. The event was held from 31 October to 2 November 2014. Just like other Ruang Rupa events, this year’s Rrrec Fest is not your typical music festival.
While the idea of making a music festival in the valley is not entirely new (Float2Nature held their second event on Tanakita as well on 2013), Ruang Rupa’s sensible sense of spirit raised the event to a certain level of buoyancy. Not only was the event capable of making a great music show, it also came to an extent where few days after the event pass by, people still looking back and talking about the event.
Rrrec Fest #4 started on Friday, 31st October 2014. After 4 hours’ drive to Sukabumi, people were greeted by mild rain on a dark climb. Some few step up on the rocky pathway, the smell of wet grass and warm food were embraced by smiles on people’s faces. Even though it’s still too dark to see the surroundings, the vibe is already felt by that time. And that positive ambience lingers on the first program: a movie screening. Gundala pictures and Bangkutaman was the highlight of the night with the premiere screening of their mini documentary titled “Iblis Jalanan”. The music video-slash documentary portrays the life of people who live on the street circus. Platoon’s “Generasi Indomie” was also memorable with its gritty documentary of 90’s subculture in Indonesia.
On second day, the festival started with talkshows from Kontras (The Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence), PSHK (Center for Law and Policy Study) and online radio workshop by oomleo. Whilst the talkshow from Kontras and PSHK seemed too tedious to be part of this event, it turned out that the enthusiasm from the people were quite good, with many eager to be part of the dialogue, resulting pretty good talk show. The music started afterwards, Tetangga Pak Gesang, an acoustic ukulele duo from Bandung, incited the atmosphere with their happy-go-lucky ballads right in the lunch area.
The main stages for Rrrecfest held in the valley of Tanakita. They built two separated stages, one on every corner of the hill. Both of them crafted exquisitely by Tanakita team utilizing trees already growing on the land and decorated with freshly cut bamboos. The first stage on the left of the hill assembled for bands with the minimum set and the second stage for bands with maxi equipment. With their Garfunkel-y (or Franky and Jane, if you will) performance, Ari Reda handled stage 1 at its best, playing right at dusk with musicalization of poems by Sapardi Djoko Damono’s and others, their set perfectly seizing the moment.
Rain came and went throughout the performances, and despite the fact that some set has to be cut short due to the heavy rain, at some point that rain also brought people together. When the time Pure Saturday performed their set, heavy rain came in all of a sudden. Iyo, Pure Saturday vocalist invited people to take shelter on the stage while Pure Saturday were still playing. Not so long after that, with the rain getting harder, the electricity was shut down, forcing Pure Saturday’s set to get cut off. Owing a performance to the people on the stage, Arief and Iyo played some songs acoustically and all the people on the stage sang along in total darkness. Ending the night as an intimate Saturday with Pure Saturday.
On the last day, Sunday, 2 November, the festival started with a poster workshop by Marishka Soekarana, Cut and Rescue and Oomleo as well as talk shows from “Art Matters” by Koalisi Seni Indonesia (Indonesian Art Coalition) and “South East Asian Independent Music” with The Weeknd (Malaysian webzine), Bani Haykal (Singaporean artist and musician) and Eric Wirjanata from deathrocktar.info. Both of the talks went favourably. In “Art Matters” Ika Vantiani and Ricky Virgana shared their experience on making art as a way of living and how they survive in their careers. The discussion also heated up on the “South East Asian Independent Music”, where the audience eagerly stated their perspective on how the development of local music nowadays.
Consisting of two of the most notorious name of Yogyakarta’s contemporary music scene, Rully Shabara (Zoo, Senyawa) and Sony Irawan (Seek Sick Six), “Seroja” delivered exactly what the audience expected with their otherworldly performance. Combining Malayan chanting with tambourines and noisy guitar, Seroja kick-started the last day of the festival admirably. And that merit endures to the end of the show. Playing right after White Shoes and the Couples Company, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, an experimental musician from Japan closed the show with searing sonic sounds from his unprecedented instruments. And with that, Rrrec Fest #4 was concluded.
Despite of the fact that most of the festival attendance came home with tired legs and bodies, Rrrec Fest #4 was not a festival they will forget. The friendly atmosphere, the clean fresh air, the view, and good music made this festival one of the noteworthy events of the year. And with that, we look forward to what Rrrec Fest will propose in the future to match this standard.