The UK-based Renegade Brass Band performing during the 2017 Java Jazz Festival at JIExpo Kemayoran in North Jakarta on Friday (03/03). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Java Jazz Festival Kicks Off on an Energetic Note, Despite Rain


MARCH 04, 2017

Jakarta. The 2017 Java Jazz kicked off on an energetic note at JIExpo Kemayoran in North Jakarta on Friday evening (03/03), despite persistent rain and heavy traffic.

The crowd was not huge during the first few hours, but the number of people showing up grew as the night unfolded, despite constant rain until the end of the show.

In terms of the venue, it seemed that the organizers have kept their promise by presenting interactive stages and sponsors' booths. Instead of partitioned, boring constructions, the booths looked inviting with their unique shapes, Jakarta-style decorations, such as ondel-ondel ornaments, and neon lights.

Indonesian Artists Ruled

The performances were good enough as kick-starters and Indonesian artists seemed to attract the biggest crowds. Singer Danilla, for instance, warmed up Demajors Restaurant and drew in a sizeable crowd. Her fans, mostly consisting of 20-somethings, did not mind having to stand instead of getting a table just to see Danilla play some sweet tunes.

She even invited the audience not just to listen but to think about the meaning of her songs. Before she sang "Entah Ingin Ke Mana" ("Don't Know Where to Go") from her second album, for instance, she asked the audience to think about which direction they wanted to take their lives.

Newcomer Rendy Pandugo, considered by many as Indonesia's John Mayer because his raspy, deep voice, added a pop and blues touch to the event's jazz vibe with his single "I Don't Care."

Singer-cum-doctor Tompi attracted a huge crowd, almost filling up the A2 hall. Appearing without his signature hat, he sang his singles such as "Selalu Denganmu" ("Always With You"), "Sedari Dulu" ("Since Always"), "Sandiwara" ("Acting"), and "Tak Pernah Setengah Hati" ("Never Half-Hearted").

Andien was definitely one of the winners of Friday's festival. The B1 Hall, or also known as the Garuda Indonesia Stage, overflowed with her fans. She sang songs from her old albums and also some of her more recent ones, including "My Funny Valentine," "Belahan Jantungku" ("My Other Half"), "Sahabat Sejati" ("Best Friend"), and topped off her performance with "Moving On."

Indonesian divas performing a tribute to Whitney Houston ended the night on a nostalgic note. Dira Sugandi, Kamasean, Lea Simanjuntak, and Rini Wulandari – along with Jevin Julian, her fiancée and partner in the music group Soundwave – lent their voices to Houston's hits from "The Bodyguard" soundtrack and disco tunes including "I Want to Dance With Somebody."

Raising the Roof

Though not attracting as much attention as local artists, those from abroad certainly made the night more alive than ever.

From classical jazz tunes by Anthony Strong, a Latin feel by Brazilian guitarist Paulinho Garcia, to an instrumental tribute to Whitney Houston by saxophonist Kirk Whalum, Java Jazz surely lived up to its hype.

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum plays Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' at the 2017 Java Jazz Festival at JIExpo Kemayoran in North Jakarta on Friday (03/03). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

But the real star was the UK-based 12-piece Renegade Brass Band.

Boldly mixing hip-hop, funk, soul, and brass, Renegade Brass Band is composed of eight horn players, two percussionists, an announcer and a DJ. The music, complimented by the humorous announcer, sparked endless energy among the audience.

They jumped from one spirited track to another, including "The Seikh," "All Out," "Vicarious Visions," "Just Business," and "Junktion." Enthusiastic dancing and applause greeted each performance.

The band members looked like they were having fun onstage. Andrew "Vex" O'Neill led the performance with vigor, despite admitting that they were still suffering from jet lag. He even made jokes between songs in his strong English accent.

"A round of applause for finding the phone, please," he said after finding his phone, which fell under the drum set.

Renegade Brass Band's performance certainly never ran out of energy.