The first thing I looked out for when I got there was security. With random attacks taking place around Indonesia the last few years, this festival featuring over 1000 artists would surely be a prime target for any terrorist organization looking for attention. I assumed the security would be ruffling through backpacks so I managed to store a few hip flasks away in the pockets of my bag and hope for the best. However, the security was dismal and although they searched my belongings on the first day, I passed through the security check post without even being stopped on the following 2 days. Even this drug detecting canine seemed to be bored out of his wits.
The festival was situated at the Balai Sidang Jakarta Convention Center. The main door opens into a large lobby where I counted 3 sound stages. There was constant live music being played in this area and most of the space was utilized by sponsor’s booths. They were all very attractive and the SPG’s (Sales Promotion Girls) were even more stunning.
DJARUM went all out with their promotions employing these painted men to move silently around the hall and others adopted similar tactics as well. Many visitors took the opportunity to pose for pictures with these amusing characters. I for one was not about to be left out no matter how silly I come off.
There were about 8 halls that were set up for concerts and from 4pm to 2am there were always some good bands to listen to. I spent hours moving from room to room soaking up the sounds and opening my self up to new bands and music. There were some amazing local performers as well as talented international players who really blew me away. The most noteworthy performance in my opinion was by Tortured Souls. I will have to write a separate post about them. They were mind-blowing.
One of the rooms had a small stage set up where bands rotated playing mellow sets. The walls of this room were lined with a dark velvet cloth and studded with tiny lights giving a starry night effect. This room also housed a small bar with tables and chairs set up like an outdoor café. With mixers, cups, and ice available, this immediately became base camp. The drinks were not cheap but I did not expect them to be. It was here that I ran into Shan’s cousin Rahul from the band ‘One Buck Short’. He and his mate Jimmy had flown down to Jakarta from KL just for the Jazz Festival. They are currently recording an album so keep an eye out. You should have been here Shan!
On the first day they were full of energy looking forward to the 3 days of music. I bumped into Rahul again last night and the guy looked drained. He did not have that hop in his step that he had when I first met him but that just goes to show he had a great time. He did complain a bit about the delayed performances and sound problems that some of main concerts had but overall they thought the trip was well worth it. I experienced a delay last night for the ‘Kool and the Gang’ concert that was supposed to kick off at 9.45 and did not end up starting until 12.30! It was frustrating but they made up for it by playing their hearts out. I will also put up a separate post for that.
As some of you know, I play the DJIMBE and I have about 3 original drums from Ghana here with me. I haven’t jammed with anyone in a long time and I always enjoy watching and listening to a good session. Last night I heard tribal beat going off and I went over to check it out. I saw this group of kids playing and they were so good. They ranged from about 7 years old to 13 and I tell you, these kids were in their element. They kept eye contact with one another keeping the same rhythm and passed solos around one by one. They only played for 15 minutes which can be exhausting for kids but it was a perfect showcase. The crowd loved it and it was not a main event but just one of those random performances you should be lucky to stumble upon.
I bumped into the kids again later on and we got to talking. Their drum group is based in Bandung and they jam once or twice a week. When I told them I had some drums from Ghana at home, the kid in the middle got so excited he was hopping from foot to foot. He begged and made me promise that I would visit them and that I would also give him one of my drums! I can always get another one and this boy was so damn passionate that I could never say no. If it was an old dude I would have told him to keep dreaming but I can’t say no to damn kids. Now I have to get off my ass and go to Bandung as well. So the next time one of you bastards comes my way from Accra, you know what I need. And don’t be cheap; I want a solid teak piece with a kente bag!
There is still a lot more to post about the concerts and the festival but I actually have some work to do today so it will have to wait.