The colourful world of Indo rock  

The Indonesia music scene is incredibly rich and varied, benefiting from a range of influences, historic and cultural. Its location on the Pacific rim is ideal for soaking up many of the musical styles which are prevalent amongst other Far Eastern nations.
But one form of music that seems to have been embraced by enthusiastic young Indonesians is rock. Known locally as 'rock indo', there are many aspects of the genre that are fairly unique to Indonesia. One thing that is typical to Indonesian rock is a sense of passion and individuality. All those clichés that can infest western rock, such as singing about drugs, fast cars or faster women, are completely redundant in Indonesia. Instead the songs are far more likely to concentrate on subjects such as modernism, environmental awareness, or sensitive personal politics.
The music itself varies considerably, covering all the different strand of rock n roll. There is a place for the darker side of the genre, with gothic bands and death metal exponents. But the most successful groups manage to blend the edge of loud guitar-driven rock with the popular, radio and download-friendly sensibilities of pop. This is reflected in YouTube videos, which reveal the sensitive side of Indonesian bands.
While the music might display the traditional attributes of rock – strident guitars, pulsating bass rhythms, driving drumbeats, heartfelt vocals – there are invariably strong narratives in the accompanying videos. Stories can vary, but they will tend to mirror the dramatic undercurrents in the music. Subtle verses might be reflected in introspective footage, with the video protagonists gazing wistfully into the distance, perhaps contemplating relationships that are under stress. Then a crashing chorus or soaring guitar solo will elevate the song to new heights.
That there is a huge audience for Indo rock is reflected in the many annual festivals which are organised. These events draw thousands of enthusiastic punters to events such as the three-day Jakarta Rock Parade. The most recent example of this get-together saw over 100 bands being hosted in the Indonesian capital city. A fantastic range of talent was on display, treating rock fans to music covering the full spectrum of rock n roll, from loud to atmospheric, jazz-tinged to out and out metal.
Bands such as J-Rocks are famed well beyond their Indonesian locale. The very fact that they are clearly influenced by Japanese rock n roll and street styles is reflected in their dress sense, and their raucous, almost cartoon-like enthusiasm for presentation. They have a wide fan base, and have played in Japan, where they have garnered a lot of followers.
Another colourful young Indo band is Superman Is Dead. Adopting punk rock thrash and strong pop melodies, they are clearly influenced by American exponents such as Green Day. In fact, they have toured extensively in the USA.
Pop-rock outfits such as Gigi have commanded a lot of local success. Their debut album 'Angan' shifted 150,000 copies, while their follow-up, 'Dunia', sold almost half a million.
Old hands, such as God Bless, who have been churning out rock n roll since 1973, are still flying the flag for no-nonsense, original, passionate, rock indo!

 

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