Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rockin' Out in Bali

There is a young man who lives and works at the bungalows where I'm staying. He is the eldest son in the family that owns the place and each morning he is dressed in the traditional white garb serving coffee and breakfast. In the afternoon he acts as the maid tidying up the rooms. He is quite small even in Balinese terms and always has a huge smile. He is amazingly gentle. In the evening his white outfit comes off, his long black hair comes down, and I find him wearing a different black rock'n'roll tee-shirts with bands like "Led Zepplin" and "Motörhead" advertised on the front, converse shoes, and cutoff jeans. I have had beers with him on my porch, went out with to the local eateries, Warungs, for traditional Balinese food, and even joined him and his buddies for a drink of their local beverage, Irik, some of the worst tasting alcohol I have ever put my lips to, made from some part of the palm tree. He has been in an especially good mood all week because one of his all time favorite bands is coming to play on the island.

I am very familiar with "Iron Maiden". Although I never owned an album of theirs, I found all the "headbangers" I grew up with completely adoring the band. I don't know if there is a group that had such devoted followers in the heavy metal world. My friend here, Chukee, asked if I was interested in joining him and his buddies to watch this hard rock show. I don't know if I would have gone in the States even if someone gave me a free ticket, but the idea of seeing such a spectacle with thousands of Indonesian enthusiasts was intriguing. At the age of 29, Chukee had never been to a concert and to join him for his first show enough motivation for me to jump on the back of his scooter and head into the city for a full on rock'n'roll extravaganza.

I found it ironic that the show was held at the Bali Cultural Center where they put on dances and traditional Balinese music. Talk about a culture clash. Here I was surrounded by thousands of Indonesians from here and neighboring islands dawning their favorite black tee-shirt with the bands name and a grotesque image of the decomposed monster, the well know symbol of Iron Maiden, drinking Heinikin beer, and getting pumped up for the show. My friend even lent me one of his many collected band tee-shirts. I was a part of the pack.

The venue was stunning. It looked to have been an old quarry dug in the top of a hill on the southern peninsula. It was a large rectangular pit with hundred foot white rock walls. The stage was at one end and the other had steps leading up to a huge stone statue most resembling a Griffin. We perched ourselves upon a ledge overlooking the show. The crowd sparkled with lights. It seemed like half the people we're poised to record the gig on their camera phones. There will be thousands of poorly shot YouTube videos with highly distorted audio of Iron Maiden's "New Frontier - Indonesian Tour" hitting the Internet soon.

Having low expectations of the actual band was a blessing. The show sucked... or at least I thought it did. I am long over the arena rock, with the same crowd pleasing phrases barked out, and the over exaggerated stage moves. I think I kind of dozed off during the last half. I guess I was not there for the music anyway. Much gratitude to Chukee for giving me the experience - love that guy!

Location:Denpasar Bali

No comments: