And The Band Played On

Felix Dass, Contributor, Jakarta | Sun, 01/02/2011 10:24 AM

Small venue, indie crowd, great music.

Most people want to relax on Sunday nights. But for indie music lovers who don’t want the party to stop, there’s an alternative way to wind down the weekend: Superbad.

Superbad is a monthly gig held at the Jaya Pub in Central Jakarta. Imagine a bit of the SXSW Festival in Texas mixed with a dash of a grimy pub in London where underrated musicians show magnificent energy.

That’s Superbad.

Jaya Pub is one of Jakarta’s legendary live music venues. For decades, the place has hosted hundreds of musicians who have all played for the people.

Visitors can easily spot memorabilia from different generations on on the walls of the Jaya Pub, from lousy “Peace Brother” stickers from the 1970s to an airline advertisement from the 1980s. You might even find your uncle’s happy face on one of the pictures hanging on the pub’s walls.

“The place was available and we’ve been in love with its warm look. It has a good atmosphere. Its reputation is also remarkable,” Keke Tumbuan, a full time writer and photographer, said.

Keke and Indra Ameng, who manages the RuangRupa art space, work together under the moniker of The Secret Agents to organize Superbad.

“Superbad is a simple idea of holding a regular show of intimate and relaxing music. Sometimes we invite friends from outside Jakarta to play here. They usually have something to promote here in town,” Keke said.

The Secret Agents said that they organize Superbad for the sake of fun. “We make the bands happy and let them show their own spirit when they play their set,” Keke said.

Everyone performs for free. There is a cover charge, but only to keep the pub happy. The money you pay at the door is only for your first drink.

The set-up is minimal. “We only have  standard facilities that suitable for performers at a local pub or cafe. If the bands want more, they have to bring their own. If they’re good, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Indra said.

Bands like the Trees and the Wild, Sore, Teenage Death Star, White Shoes and the Couples Company, Luky Annash and many others have performed at Superbad.

Even the Whitest Boy Alive – a side project by Erlend Oye of the Kings of Convenience – did a surprise set at the Jaya Pub when performing in Jakarta for the first time in 2009.

“I’m glad that we could make it and play a set at Superbad. It was actually a nervous moment. Can you imagine? The people who came to see us were usually people we watched on stage, L’Alphalpha frontman Herald Geraldo said.

L’Alphalpha stole the show when the Sigur Ros-like sextet performed at the last edition of Superbad, on Dec. 12. “It was super fun,” Herald said.

Keke said Superbad began with a simple idea: “We missed regular independent gigs in Jakarta. The city is full of cool bands and dozens of music communities. We missed the people who have been busy with their daily lives. We tried to find a way to just hang out with friends and write a new chapter for our local scene.”

Superbad’s most memorable (and chaotic) moment was Teenage Death Star’s performance, Keke said. She was a massive fan and welcomed the band with both arms open wide.

What happened that night was a series of crazy incidents, Keke said: the guitarist hid behind the speakers when the crowd got too wild, the vocalist left the stage out of breath and a drunken fan snatched the band’s snare drum in mid-song.

“If those things happen it’s always fun to be a part of it…We just want to know what’s going to happen if we arrange this kind of gig,” Keke added.

Superbad is held once a month on Sundays. You can friend The Secret Agents on Facebook for upcoming gig announcements.