Nevertheless, on a damp night just before rainy season, mature Indonesian women in Muslim head scarves and even a few old bules trailed hordes of Indonesian teens through the gangs or alleyways of South Jakarta, past the make-shift security check point, and out into the mud and mist at Ahmad Yani Field.
Reggae travels well. Everyone and their mom has heard it almost since birth. And headliner Ras Muhamad doesn’t play a ton of shows. So maybe it isn’t surprising that all kinds of folks would gather to see just what West Indian music can do for us here in the East.
But when Psycho came on, a herd of *little kids* charged out onto the pitch and fought their way through the must pit toward the stage. Effective as can be, within seconds Anggie (vocals and trumpet) had worked the crowd into a ska-ful frenzy as his parents watched from the bleachers, at a safe distance from the muck.
Like ecstasy and good surf, ska is said to come in waves. “First wave” — I guess — was Bob Marley & the Wailers. Then Two Tone. Various ska revivals. Etc. So maybe it’s a generational thing.
The history of Indonesian reggae is mostly unwritten. For all I know, the inimitable Mbah Surip (1957–2009) could be the grandfather of reggae — everybody loved him and he had the dreads. But you can’t help noticing that singer-songwriter Tony Q has been successfully mixing reggae and traditional Indonesian music for a couple decades.
By the way, there was nothing animalistic or uncivilized at the Ras Muhamad reggae show. Except for — you know — the odd Rangda-chic accessory and Mad Max motor scooter. With 80 percent males, 9 pecent mud, zero security and no food or toilets, that’s a pretty good score. And you know you gotta hand it to that hard 11% core of Indonesian reggae chicks. But these were legitimately peaceful kids — semangat, santai & damai and they say, the local version of PLUR-alism. I’m told the dangdut shows at Ahmad Yani are way worse in terms of oversupply of intoxicated young men. (And so — in theory — that somehow makes it girly music.)
Of course, the best and warmest seats in the house were on Vespas parked outside.
Some of our crew failed to wear boots and got stuck in the muck — unable to walk, let alone skank. So we actually had to make like the Jetsons and jettison on outta there only a couple songs into the guy we came to see — Ras Muhammad. And sadly missed Souljah and headliner Gangsta Rasta, too.