The two-date tour took in shows at Rumah Api in Kuala Lumpur and the Aliwal Arts Center in Singapore. The five bands, all signed to indie label Orange Cliff Records, adhere to DIY principles with their music and on tour. (Photos courtesy of Sages of the Haze Tour)

Sages of the Haze Tour Lights Up Singapore, Malaysia

FEBRUARY 03, 2015

Five of Indonesia’s rising underground bands took their rocking to Singapore and Malaysia for a short tour ending Jan. 25. Though a good number of mainstream acts have also waved the “go international” flag — usually playing in front of Indonesian expats or student unions abroad instead of true international audiences — these five bands went deep into the Singapore and Malaysia underground to find if their music has what it takes to move audiences beyond their home country.

Taking a page out of the touring culture of western underground bands, the five hard rock bands — Sigmun, Matiasu, Vrosk, Kaitzr, and Heast — went ahead with no guaranteed positive reception; packing only their instruments, effect pedals and passion into venues where only the music has a say.

The shows took place at Kuala Lumpur’s Rumah Api and the Aliwal Arts Center in Singapore and were strongly received by rock fans.

Sponsored by recently established independent label Orange Cliff Records, the tour made no bones about its ambition, even if it does so in a tongue-in-cheek manner. 

Dubbing the tour “Sages of the Haze,” label owner Anindito Ariwandono says Orange Cliff – the label to which the five bands are all signed to — wanted to playfully bank on fans’ perception of Sigmun, who are the most well-known band on the bill, as being a “Stoner Rock” band, always rocking under the effects of natural herbs. 

“The tour’s name is actually just ... meant to lend off a ‘wise’ yet ‘weedy’ impression to the tour. In Orange Cliff’s point of view, these bands’ music is the kind we would listen to and do literally nothing but contemplate all day and night to, thus we always have had these sage-like images of them in our head,” explains Anindito, 

“We then added the word ‘haze’ to the tour name since their music, which people refer to as stoner, psych rock, metal, are usually associated with weed culture so we thought we might as well make this tour sound trippy.”

Trippy or not, the bands all agree on one thing: tours such as these are a chance to network and build lasting relationships.  

Everyone involved is used to running things independently, the concert organizers and the bands’ are constantly in direct communication, working side by side without runners or major management in between.

Haikal Azizi, who sings and plays guitar with Sigmun says his band’s previous tours abroad have always yielded these kinds of organic relationships.

“Every time we go abroad, we always meet and rely on these groups of people who do things voluntarily — just getting busy voluntarily — without much in the way of compensation. We won’t be able to give them much, obviously, but when their group then tours Indonesia, it then becomes our turn to help them out,” Haikal says. 

“Even if it is just giving them a place to stay, or taking them around town, I think that those are the kinds of relationships that keep the independent scene alive. I think doing those things simply because of wanting to support these kinds of music is a really commendable thing,” he adds.

Rajin Sihombing from Kaitzr considers these kinds of collective tours as also being a proud opportunity of showcasing just how strong the Indonesian underground scene is. Whether the music is received with rapturous applause of cold stares is of lesser importance, adds Rajin, 

“Those kinds of things are the appreciators’s concern. But just by us playing and going abroad, it at least provides a glimpse to outsiders on how strong our scene is. We love the challenge.”

Learn more about the bands and see photos from the tour at orangecliffrecords.com.

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