Keeping the Spirit Alive in the Music Gigs.
by Ken Jenie
The roots of sidestream music in Jakarta can be traced back to the 80s when bands like Roxx, Rotor and Suckerhead started their career by playing thrash metal covers in gigs around the southern part of the city. Their movement developed into a kind of sleeper-hit with the rise of the rock and metal scenes in the area. The visit from two metal superheroes, Sepultura and Metallica in the early 90’s triggered the spread of rock and metal into a wider reach. Local radios started playing alternative and metal music for their listeners.
The trend didn’t stop there. Among those metal heads, the first punk-kids of Jakarta began to appear. Together, these punk-kids built their own colony and initiated their own movement. The lack of music venues in the city made them invade the city’s cafes and pubs to play their music. Moving their shows from one cafe to another, they finally settled on a place called Poster Café. In this place, the punk-rockers held regular gigs and soon Poster Cafe has its own scene. Not long after that, the Britpop invasion finally reached the capital city. The scene of Poster Café was also affected by this trend, gradually some of the punk bands that played in the cafe began playing Britpop/rock songs. Which lead into the emergence of the “indie” bands in the city. Bands like Rumahsakit, Planetbumi, to Naif are the product of this scene. During this phenomenon, the regular gigs of Poster Cafe were always packed up with kids from a lot of different scenes, where punk kids, metalheads, and indie-scenesters are hanging around together.
After Poster cafe closed due to a riot in 1999, the scene spread into several places around the city. Including BB’s Bar, IKJ with their “Bakar-Bakaran” event to Parc Cafe. This was the moment when the development of indie bands really bloomed. A lot of new interesting local bands offered a fresh approach to the people with names like The Upstairs, White Shoes and The Couples Company, The Brandals to Goodnight Electric becoming new favorites in the independent music scene, not only in Jakarta, but also nationwide.
About fifteen years later, the shape of Jakarta music scene is quite different. Now, the city filled with independent musicians playing their own music. But, the memory of that era stays in the mind of most people who experienced those historical pubs. One of these people is Jimi Multhazam, the front man and vocalist of The Upstairs and MORFEM: “Those moments mean a lot to me. I grew up in that 90’s era, from being a poseur to become the player on the gigs. It was always a hell of a night on every gig, even during BB’s era. But after 2010, the atmosphere turned into something different. Maybe it’s the end of an era. Some of the gig organizer moved on to become real businessmen. But we have to understand there’s some kind of transformation on the way people act in music gigs. Now, they tend to be a distant observer. They prefer to look for their existence on social media. Before this internet thing, we built our existence by being crazy at the gigs” Jimi said.
The thought of the essence of having real fun in music gig came back to Jimi’s head when he had a tour on the eastern Indonesia. There, he saw that people enjoying themselves in the gigs like the way he used to in the 90’s. That moment, he felt that he needed to do something to bring back the real feeling of music gigs. With help from his friends, he initiated a showcase with the idea of bringing back the pure joy of music concerts – Thursday Noise was born.
“I want to make a gig that’s built specifically for indie-rock music. As far as I know, we don’t have such gigs here yet, there are a lot of hardcore/punk/metal gigs, but there are none for this indie rock genre. And, of course, Thursday Noise will play the subgenres of indie-rock as well. So, there will be bands that play shoegaze, grunge to post-punk.” Jimi said.
Until this day, Thursday Noise has become an important music event for one that seeks a fun indie-rock gig that grew its own loyal audience. Held semi-regularly from the year 2013, the gig has patented itself as the quarters of Indonesian indie rock music with Jimi himself picking the bands that he wants to see on the gig. And the good thing is, Jimi allows the public to submit their music to him if they want to perform on Thursday Noise. Making a wider network for Thursday Noise where bands from Yogyakarta and Surabaya are also welcomed to play.
Since the fourth event, Thursday Noise has become even more interesting with its contests. Collaborating with the Go Ahead People movement, Jimi initiated some contest to make the gig more and more engaging to the public. Now, the event has poster competitions, mural contests, and photography tournaments on every show. The event invites people to join Go Ahead People community where they can upload their artwork and photos there and then, Jimi as one of the judge will choose the winner, “My main intention for Thursday Noise is making a gig where everyone can contribute. If you can’t play music, you can draw the poster for us, or if you can do mural, you can paint us the backdrop, if you can photograph the gig you can help us document the event. Thursday Noise belongs to everyone.” Jimi said.
This collaboration brings Thursday Noise into a new extent. Seeking great potential on the poster competition submissions, Jimi thinks that it’s viable to make an exhibition of it. On February 2015, he held the first Thursday Noise Exhibition on Glitch Imaginarium by displaying selected poster submission as well as making a limited book that compiles the picked artworks. The exhibition also marked the opening of the second event of Go Ahead Challenge. This year, Go Ahead Challenge will pick 4 winners of 4 different categories: visual art, photography, music, and style, and the winner will visit art festivals in Melbourne. This opportunity is for members of the Go Ahead People community to join the challenge by submitting their works on the platform with the theme: “Change the Ordinary.”
After the 6th episode on April 2015, Jimi thinks that there will be a lot more to come from Thursday Noise in the future, including the plan to make a special Thursday Noise music compilation. But the most important thing for him is that for now, he sees that his vision to bring back the pure joy in music gig is already shown in Thursday Noise. That his own mission to “change the ordinary” is on the right path, “Our audience finally realize the main idea of enjoying a music event, looking at that, I can say that I’m quite happy to finally have the chance to bring back the pure joy of a music gig”, Jimi closes with a smile.
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