This is a re-post of something I put on my Facebook notes page a few months ago. Since I now have this proper blog, I might as well put it here, too. I’ll probably do more stuff like this in the future, if I can be bothered. Carry on!
When you’ve been to quite a few concerts, maybe at some point later on you’ll end up thinking, “I wish I could relive that moment.” It’s certainly happened to me, especially since my line of work requires me to pay attention and report on what happened during shows. But as someone who enjoys going to concerts, it’s almost impossible for me to be strictly business about it – I want to enjoy these shows as they’re happening, as well. Bootlegging has become an attempt to kill all these birds with one stone – I get to enjoy the show (while trying my hardest not to sing along and ruin the recording), I get reference material to help write reviews, and I get an instant souvenir when I want to remember cool moments that happen.
Included in this mixtape aren’t necessarily songs from all of my favourite shows, nor necessarily my best recordings. They are not placed in chronological order; I just tried to make them flow in an enjoyable way if you listen from start to end. I don’t have any fancy equipment, just a run-of-the-mill digital voice recorder that I, uh, borrow from the office. So if you’re looking for some high-fidelity recordings of concerts, you might have to look somewhere else. None of the recordings here are CD-quality. But if you want something to remind you of what it was like to be there, or give you an idea of it if you weren’t, then I hope you enjoy.
1. Ian Brown – “I Wanna Be Adored” (Lapangan ABC Senayan, Jakarta 6/8/2010)
You have to give Ian Brown credit for not being someone content to bask in the glories of old, even if nothing from his lengthy solo career ever caught fire like in his brief Stone Roses heyday. Still, you can’t help but think if the rabid reactions he’d get from playing Stone Roses classics in shows like this led to him finally agreeing to get the band back together. For this show, they set up a stage at the end of a basketball court that was wet after heavy rain. This was my second Ian Brown show after I’d seen him the day before in Singapore, where he performed at the lovely Fort Canning Park as part of Singfest. I chose the Jakarta performance because in Singapore the sound went out during the iconic bass intro, a big no-no. And Jakarta crowds are usually louder than in Singapore.
2. Smashing Pumpkins – “1979” (Fort Canning Park, Singapore 5/8/2010)
About a week or so before the Smashing Pumpkins headlined Singfest, I saw a live stream of the latest line-up’s performance in New York, which blew me away and made me want to fly to Singapore to see them. Much had been made about how the Smashing Pumpkins weren’t really the Smashing Pumpkins without James Iha and D’Arcy Wretzky, and even Jimmy Chamberlin had finally jumped ship and been replaced by a 20-year-old. But it occurred to me that we should now view Smashing Pumpkins less as a band and more like Nine Inch Nails, which is the vision of one person executed by a revolving cast of musicians. It just happens that this particular line-up is excellent, as they proved in Singapore. Two months later they played in Jakarta, and it’s this show that made me convince everyone I know to not give a shit that it wasn’t the original line-up and to just go see them. Of course, it turned out to be something of an anticlimax, which added to my own disappointment because I knew how great they could be if they wanted to. Maybe Billy Corgan had a bad day at the office – unfortunately that bad day ended up letting down a lot of people who came. (P.S. The above setlist is from the aforementioned anticlimactic Jakarta show, I didn’t get the Singapore one.)
3. N*E*R*D – “She Wants To Move” (Istora Senayan, Jakarta 10/1/2011)
I’d seen N*E*R*D two years earlier in Kuala Lumpur, where Pharrell Williams displayed his firm side by berating a security guard who was getting rough with people in the front row. At one point he invited a bunch of girls onstage, and told them that they weren’t allowed to take any photos or they had to go. Of course, the next thing you know some intelligent lass takes a picture, and Pharrell told her, “You’ve got to go”, much to the shock of everyone there. Nothing that awkward happened in Jakarta, where he just brought up one guy because he had an N*E*R*D tattoo on his arm, and one girl who knew the words to every song, even though they played some stuff that was only on the deluxe version of their latest album. It was a bit surprising that Pharrell kept his shirt on, since he’s practically topless in all his videos and photos. The lucky fan girl seemed to have read the dirty minds of everyone else in the crowd, and so when autographs and hugs were handed out to those two lucky fans at the end of the stage, some negotiating took place between the girl and Pharrell, which ended with Pharrell taking off his shirt and giving it to her. To which I shouted out what was probably on the mind of a lot of women there: “You bitch!
4. Tahiti 80 – “1,000 Times” (Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung 30/4/2011)
Given my occupation and the networking that comes with it, I often don’t have to pay to get into gigs. This one was a rarity, as it was an excuse to take a road trip to Bandung with some good company, and the tickets weren’t expensive, either. Tahiti 80 were headlining the Kampoeng Jazz festival, which probably surprised them as much as anyone. The definition of jazz seems to have become increasingly loose, which probably accounts for one of the other performers who had made a name for themselves by churning out lifeless acoustic covers of well-known hits. (I’d rather not name them in the hope that they’ll go away like Voldemort.) I had interviewed Tahiti 80 during their last visit to Indonesia almost four years earlier, and they still remembered who I was. So we hung out backstage and I managed to finish the Coca-Cola in their rider, then went with them to the after-party. Those French party love to party. Good times.
5. Keane – “Everybody’s Changing” (Fort Canning Park, Singapore 13/8/2009)
I was in Singapore to catch Nine Inch Nails’ farewell tour. I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge big NIN fan, but I’d be a fool if I didn’t see them when I had the chance. Plus a lot of friends were going, so it sounded like a good idea. The gig was on a Monday. On Tuesday, before we were due to fly back to Jakarta, I went to an internet café and decided I’d see Keane anyway, whose music I was more familiar with and were playing two days later. After I bought the concert and plane tickets, my ATM card got swallowed by the machine. Upon landing in Jakarta, I called the bank to make arrangements for a replacement card. On Wednesday morning I sorted out the paperwork and instantly got my new card, and on Thursday morning returned to Singapore for the Keane gig, which was at the same venue as the NIN show. They played every single song I wanted to hear. Even though I was alone, it was probably one of my most satisfying gigs ever.
6. Travis – “Closer” (Fort Canning Park, Singapore 2/8/2008)
One of those moments where you finally get to see one of your favourite bands, and even get to meet them. I was covering Singfest and hanging out near the media room backstage, when I suddenly saw the members of Travis leave their trailer to have lunch at the catering area. I somehow managed to sit at a table a few metres away from them without having security breathing down my neck, but I didn’t go up to them and say hello. Partly because security would jump all over me like shop-a-holics at a sale, and partly I was just too starstruck. Eventually they disappeared, but fortunately there was a mini-conference later on at the media room. I got a photo and autographs, and Fran Healy ended up borrowing my marker to sign for other people. When he returned my marker, he held his hand out to shake mine and said thanks. No, Fran, thank you, you nice man.
7. Stereophonics - “Have A Nice Day” (Pantai Carnaval Ancol, Jakarta 9/10/2010)
Stereophonics are one of those bands that are more about songcraft rather than flashy showmanship. Even though they move slightly more than Oasis, with Oasis you were guaranteed some entertaining remarks and friction. With Stereophonics, it’s all business. So they’re not the most exciting band to watch, and they pretty much stick with the arrangements of the album versions. But man, Kelly Jones’ voice is a wonder to behold. Sounds exactly like on the CDs. I guess there’s no need to jump around and hurl your guitar around your neck when you can sing like that.
8. Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up The Gun” (Bengkel Night Park, Jakarta 24/10/2010)
Though things are much better now, not so long ago a major international artist would come to Indonesia when their career was in the toilet and they were on the verge of breaking up. So it’s always nice when an artist comes when they’re at the peak of their popularity, even nicer when they’re one of the biggest bands in the indie world. They only had two albums at the time of this gig, but just about every song they played was a crowd-pleaser. I can’t help but love the part on this recording where the crowd starts singing “I see you shine in your way, go on, go on, go on.” If you look for this performance on YouTube, maybe you’ll find footage of fans holding up handmade signs with those lyrics on them. A lovely moment. Lovely guys as well, not many overseas acts give a shout-out to the local opening band like Ezra Koenig did for Monkey to Millionaire.
9. Warpaint – “Undertow” (Powerhouse, Singapore 2/8/2011)
I was first introduced to Warpaint in late 2010. I saw the video for “Elephants” and thought, “Wow, that bass player is hot.” Then suddenly they were on the cover of NME and getting hyped everywhere. They opened Laneway Festival Singapore in January 2011, so of course I had to get there early. After their set, I got to meet three out of four members of the band, including Jenny Lee Lindberg, the aforementioned hot bass player. By this point I wasn’t just hooked on her looks, because their music and musicianship were just as enthralling. A few months later they were going to play in Jakarta, but the deal fell through. But they did end up playing in Singapore again, and having been impressed by the first time, I ended up going there, which makes them the only band I’ve flown to Singapore twice in a year just to see. Wasn’t be the first time I’ve done something nuts for women. The gig was at Powerhouse, one of several clubs located in St. James Power Station, a disused power plant. I like how Singapore retains historic buildings like this and Fort Canning, and uses it for something else. In Indonesia they’d probably knock it down and turn it into another mall.
10. Suede – “The Wild Ones” (Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore 3/8/2011)
As it turned out, Suede were due to play in Singapore the day after Warpaint, and Brett Anderson and Neil Codling went to the show. I saw Brett’s silhouette somewhere on the upper floor, can’t mistake that fringe and bone structure. This was also my second time seeing them in a year, after they came to Jakarta in March. Vibe-wise, I think the Jakarta show was better, because it’s always more fun when you have lots of friends around. But I chose this recording because at the Singapore show I wasn’t standing near any drunken friends who were singing along badly and out of tune.
11. Maroon 5 – “She Will Be Loved” (Istora Senayan, Jakarta 27/4/2011)
Maroon 5 are one of those bands whose music is everywhere, to the point where you end up getting sick of their songs that you previously liked just because they’ve been played to death – especially by every two-bit home band in every café. So when the real deal finally comes to town, well, it’s a big deal. This show was sold out in hours, months before the actual concert date. And in all the years I’ve been to gigs, there aren’t many sights and sounds better than an entire arena packed with people singing along to every word. Even if you hate Maroon 5, the part near the end where the crowd takes over the backing vocal parts might give you chills.
12. Jimmy Eat World – “Hear You Me” (Nusa Indah Theatre, Jakarta 3/4/2011)
“Play ‘Your House’! ” I told Jimmy Eat World frontman Jim Adkins before the press sessions at their hotel hours before the show. “Is that your jam?” he said. “Yeah!” said I. Well they did not play my jam, but they did play plenty of other songs, including this rather touching rendition of “Hear You Me” from the same album as “Your House”, Bleed American. This was the first show I attended at the Nusa Indah Theatre, and it’s a very nice place. But if you ever see a concert there, I recommend getting a seat somewhere on the lower floor. Up on the balcony is no fun.
13. Oasis – “Don’t Look Back In Anger” (Singapore Indoor Stadium, 5/4/2009)
This was my second time seeing Oasis live, and turned out to be the last as they broke up a few months later. The first time was beyond what I could ever ask for, as me and my friends met Liam Gallagher as he was strolling down near Orchard Road, and we managed to meet the whole band at their hotel after the show. There was no way the second time was going to top that, so I didn’t even try. I just enjoyed the gig, which sounded better than the previous one. Probably because this time I stood near the back instead of the front where the sound can get too loud. Not that you care anyway because the vibe is great and you get to be a few metres away from your idol. I always crack up when I hear that bit near the climax of the song, where Noel Gallagher’s concentration is suddenly broken by the appearance of an empty wheelchair in the middle of the crowd barrier extending from the stage towards the mixing desk.
14. Ben Folds – “Army” (Nusa Indah Theatre, Jakarta 26/5/2011)
All of the songs you hear on this mixtape were recorded by me standing at the back near the mixing desk, which is where the sound is usually the best. Except for this one, in which the venue was an all-seat theatre where you could buy tickets for seats of your choice. And since this was someone whose music I had liked since high school, I decided I was going to buy my own ticket in the very first row, front and centre. I managed to secure an exclusive interview to be held the day after the show, but I went to the press conference earlier in the day to get acquainted with Ben’s tour manager, with whom I had been emailing. Suddenly he said, “Wait there, I’ll introduce you to Ben.” Next thing I know, Ben Folds walks up to me and says, “Hi Hasief!” If I had died right there and then, I wouldn’t have minded. But I managed to stay alive and chat, and even went out and bought him some Indonesian CDs. I asked him why he chose to do this show alone without his backing band, and he said that he prefers it this way. Even though he was on his own on that stage, he displayed his mastery in getting the audience to be his backing singers and even instruments.