Joyland Bali festival cures crowd of Covid blues
Around this time two years ago, Indonesia’s entertainment industry stood helpless as the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the country. Movie theaters and concert stages were bereft of their biggest income – the audience.
The pandemic is by no means over, but the current health situation has progressed to the point where people feel a little safer to be together again. Thus, the Indonesian entertainment industry and public have welcomed the return of offline gatherings this year.
But no comeback has been as eagerly awaited as the 2022 Joyland Bali Music Festival. array of entertainment including movie screenings and stand-up shows. The Jakarta Post has been invited to join in the festivities.
The sprawling site of Bhagawan Park in Nusa Dua, Bali, showed the serene beach of Nusa Dua as a backdrop with traditional Balinese architecture accentuating the space.
Big Audiences, Big Performances
The first day of the festival went smoothly thanks to surf rock band The Panturas and electronic band Agrikulture with Rock N Roll Mafia on the main stage. Big names in pop like Yura Yunita, Nadin Amizah and Danilla also serenaded the audience, with the latter giving fans a taste of some dangdut tunes.
Indie band Lomba Sihir got the crowd dancing before retro-pop outfit White Shoes & The Couples Company closed on the first night. With endless stamina, the legendary band also had a little chant in the
Guinness Booth corner two days later.
“Those who are sick of the main stage, come here now!” cellist Ricky quipped to cheers from the crowd.
On the second day, a variety of contemporary pop and hip-hop artists got more personal with the audience, with fans singing along to soloist Kunto Aji’s songs.
“The live interaction was very heartfelt, I really appreciated it,” Kunto told the Post on March 26. He was grateful for the closeness that an offline broadcast offered. “The fans – their stories and their interpretations – are what bring these songs to life,” he added.
Meanwhile, rapper Medan Basboi, during his very first festival, had fun explaining his roots to the public before launching.
“I felt very happy, very blessed,” Basboi told The Post. “Let’s hope that big festivals like this become routine, not only in Bali or Jakarta, but also in other parts of Indonesia,” he added.
The field filled to the brim as Indonesian pop diva Raisa sang some of her biggest hits on the evening.
Day two saw some of his craziest sets from harder sounding bands. Yogyakarta’s experimental band Senyawa delivered apocalyptic screams and growls from vocalist Rully with industrial noises from instrumentalist Wukir. Later, the return of revered Bandung rock band The SIGIT had the audience bouncing back with heavy guitar riffs and the screaming vocals of frontman Rekti.
“It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” Kumaha? [How are you?]said Rekti. Later, 2000s indie rock band The Adams took the stage, performing nostalgic hits for the crowd.
Cloudy skies appeared on the third day of Joyland, but the performers kept the same energy, with musical group SoulFood providing the funk and two of Indonesia’s leading indie-pop groups Bedchamber and Grrrl Gang opening to cheers from the audience.
“I was a little nervous because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, aren’t we?” Grrrl Gang singer Angee told the Post on March 27. But bassist Akbar added that seeing “people coming back to festivals was such a joy”.
The audience was packed when soloist Isyana Sarasvati appeared on stage. Dressed in gothic attire and makeup, Isyana performed the classic-progressive slash-rock tracks from her 2019 album LEXICON. Although she pulled off her pop persona, she was never shy about joking with the crowd, which is what she is famous for.
“I always try to give my best on stage,” the singer-songwriter told The Post before the show. “Every audience has a different energy. And fortunately, I adapt quickly.
Unfortunately, the rain started falling during singer-songwriter Pamungkas’ set, which had the audience swooning after Maliq & D’Essentials’ fun set. And when the disco duo Diskoria arrived, it flowed like a dream. But many withstood the rain with umbrellas and raincoats. Almost the entire field was still full of people singing and dancing to songs like “Berharap Tak Berpisah” (Hope that we are not apart) by Reza Artamevia and “Air dan Api” (Water and Fire) by Naif.
Even as the crowd stood outside, the booming sound of the Ambruk stage and Lily Pad area DJ sets was felt throughout the day. Those who wanted to rave descended the stairs from the wantilan (Balinese pavilion) on the left side of the park.
In collaboration with the multi-disciplinary Ravepasar initiative, the brainchild of electronic duo Gabber Modus Operandi, the Lily Pad underground scene was filled with high-energy electronic and industrial bops that kept the crowd going.
“We want [see] our basic talents here, because they are part of the world [movement]Gabber Modus Operandi half, Ican Harem, told The Post.
And the artists selected by Ravepasar have proven themselves as such. The underground venue was brought to life by Bandung rapper Krowbar’s vicious rapping, keyboardist Herman Barus’ endless dance beats, and laser-flashing gabber music from the creators of the initiative themselves. Musician Wamena Asep Nayak, fresh from his Jogja XVI Biennale set last year, brought wisisi music (traditional music from West Papua) to the delight of the audience.
“Many of my friends learn the [genre], but they’re not there, so I’m their representative,” Asep told The Post on March 25, wishing his friends could be invited in the future. “I don’t want to be alone at future festivals,” he says Films & Stand-Ups
Joyland’s ensemble went beyond the music. On one side of the main stage was the Cinerillaz space where you could watch short films during breaks between artists. The shorts ranged from festival-winning films like Dear to Me and Laut Memanggilku (The Sea is Calling Me) to the long-awaited live performance film from White Shoes & The Couples Company.
“These films are organized to serve as an opening for the interpreter [on the main stage]sort of,” programmer and film curator Alexander Matius told The Post on March 26, explaining the festival’s synergy between music and film.
Across the stage was the Shrooms Garden where stand-up comedians performed. A-list comedians, from Marshel Widianto to “Cing” Abdel Achrian, presented their material and filled the crowd with laughter.
The audience was in constant motion from scene to scene. Some sat at the food and drink stalls while others tried out various skills, from clay making to drawing tote bags in the White Peacock area.
Music aside, the festival has become a reminder of Indonesia’s presidency of the 17th summit of the Group of 20 (G20) intergovernmental forum, to be held in Bali in November. This was bolstered by the arrival of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his team of ministers as well as the National Police Chief, General Listyo Sigit Prabowo.
Sitting with Raisa and comedian Cak Lontong on the mini circular stage near the stands, Jokowi spoke about the comeback of music festivals and the importance of the G20 for Indonesia.
“This G20 is a group of big countries with a big gross domestic product, so we should be proud to be part of it and to be the president of the G20 now,” Jokowi said.
The discussion continued the following day with Minister of State Enterprises (SOE), Erick Thohir, mentioning Indonesia’s preparation for the G20 summit.
But government officials did not stop the public from enjoying the music. Jokowi wandered around the site upon his arrival on March 25, enjoying Yura Yunita’s music with the crowd, showing that this was the big comeback of live music after all.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA INFORMATION NETWORK