A show of kings
Outside of Ritz-Carlton Pacific Place ballroom, March 28th 2010, people were already lining up for the night’s event, the main show being the two Scandinavian artists with acoustic guitars at their arsenal: Jens Lekman and Kings of Convenience. (well okay, it’s three artists.) From the hype around the show days before, it seemed that Indonesians have been already quite familiar with KoC since their last 2006 visit, while Jens Lekman is still relatively unheard for the Indonesian masses. People were reselling their show ticket at ridiculously, astronomically high prices — the Rp 350k tickets were being sold at more than twice the price, and there were some desperate dimwits still buying them. So when the ballroom door finally opened and hundreds of audience that lined up for hours rushed in, will the highly anticipated show be proven worthy of its price? “Let the night judge,” I said.
The night was opened by a performance from Hollywood Nobody, which was performing like, uhm, nobody. With the awkward female vocalist trying to warm up the audience in between their songs with little success, it seemed like either they don’t usually play at events this big or the spectators just don’t care about their songs except for one where little parts of the crowd could sing along. Note that their songs weren’t that bad, actually.
The next warmup is White Shoes and the Couples Company, and I’m telling you, Sari is the real deal. Her dances round the stage in between her singing was a glare of extravagant grace, rounding up the retro feel of their songs. Playing some songs including the cutesy meowing in “Aksi Kucing”, WSATCC never fails to bring the audience to the joyful atmosphere of an event.
Finished up with the local bands, the first main course of the night, Jens Lekman, went on stage with nothing but… an acoustic guitar, a macbook and a nervous-looking female percussionist. It might sparked curiosity on how would he perform those full-bodied songs of his with only 3 instruments (the percussion, not the percussionist) but there’s nothing a laptop can’t do nowadays. Starting off with the stripped-down version of “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar”, it’s clear that one good rule to remember is to start a concert with a well-known song, but don’t play it acoustic. Continuing with the relatively unknown “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill” with only a tiny part of the audience can sing to his “bop-bop-bop”, the next, more laid-back “Your Arms Around Me”, “It Was a Strange Time in My Life”, and “Black Cab” (a girl or two shouts the oh you’re so silent Jens) were able to please the quiet fans of Jens. When more upbeat songs were coming, started with “Shirin”, his charm was more than able to complement with the cheesy laptop-generated sounds. Drowned in his own state of bliss amidst the generally quiet Indonesian crowd, Jens peaked the mood with perhaps his most widely known song “The Opposite of Hallelujah”. “Into Eternity” was then played before he closed the performance with once again a classier, richer version of “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar”. Even when most of the audience put him only as the opening for KoC, he was indeed the quiet hallelujah of the night.
The 3,000-ish crowd were already uneasy waiting at the dark stage for the long-awaited comeback of the night, and when the duo Erlend Øye and Eirik Glambek Bøe hit the stage with the roaring crowd before them and playing straight “24-25”, it was clear why they dubbed themselves the Kings of Convenience. With the crystal clarity of their guitars complementing the powerfully smooth harmony of their vocals, a flawless performance was built over such a minimalist set. The sweetly mellow “Me In You” was up next, followed by my favorite, ever so haunting “I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From”. Bøe was not in a good condition that night as he stayed standing still throughout the show, but the joyful spirit of Øye lifted up the mood of the show as he danced and joked around the stage. “Singing Softly to Me” was up next followed by one of the crowd favorite “Cayman Islands”. The overwhelmingly loud audience covered the voices of the duo as Øye then commented the Jakartan audience as “the loudest we’ve ever played to anyone”.
It was then a sing-along throughout the songs with a string of “Second to Numb”, “Mrs. Cold” which was highly anticipated, “Peactime Resistance”, “Misread”, “Boat Behind”. It wasn’t always the two of them though, as then Øye summoned Ricky and John from White Shoes and the Couples Company to play bass and drums to join them jamming the dancey ballad “I’d Rather Dance With You”. The mood of the show was already high, only to be calmed once more by a surprise: Øye singing WSATCC’s “Berlayar”, in broken Indonesian. It was probably the eeriest rendition of the song, him singing “Bersandar, menusuk jiwa…” in a haunting minimalist quality only the likes of Øye can perform. The gig was ending though, with their last song “Homesick” flowing through the audience as the perfect closure of the night, embossing the minds of the attendees with one of the most satisfying show they’ve ever been to.
Not to mention about half an hour after the show when people were already leaving, Øye wandered around with a ukulele, approached Lekman who was conversing with the fans, then the two of them sang some non-English tunes — couldn’t recognize what — inches from their lucky fans. Priceless.
Well okay I know this post is exactly one month late. Been batshit busy with academic life lately, don’t care if anybody would read the post, just in the mood for posting. 😀