Tuesday, March 13, 2012

REVIEW: BLEEDING CORPSE concert review – Live in Cibinong, 8 October 2011, my rating: 88%

BLEEDING CORPSE at Event Organiser's home in Cibinong prior to the metal show, 8 October 2011. Left to right: Lukluk (Adrian) (bass), Ari (Bejo) (drums), Uus Death (guitar), Bobby Rock (vocals)
BLEEDING CORPSE concert review – Live in Cibinong, 8 October 2011
By Jack Frost, 13 March 2012
My Rating: 88%.

With it now dark outside and the time past 7.00pm we headed back to the BLEEDING CORPSE tour bus in order to return from the Event Organiser's house to the venue. As expected the bus driver now seemed to realize the impossible task that now confronted him and darkness made it far worse. He realized he could not reverse uphill all the way up the narrow road (around 100 metres to the main road) so he painstakingly reversed out from under the tree and then headed along the road in forward direction, away from the way we had come in. However, eventually he would have to turn around to come back unless the roads ahead were linked up somehow with those behind. There are no street lights on minor roads such as this one and so the driver was going to be confronted with a difficult task. He decided to reverse within a small T-junction which had buildings close in around it on all sides as well as trees and passers-by. It took an eternity to turn the bus around, and small movements in each direction were all halted abruptly by people inside and outside the bus shouting “hoy!” At one point I had given up hope that we would ever get out but, in Indonesia, generally things work out fine in the end especially when a major metal band is due to headline a nearby show!
The main street was much more crowded than it had been earlier in the day and much of the traffic heading in our direction was clearly made up of metalheads on motorcycles heading for the show. We made slow progress in the traffic but we eventually reached the venue. At the interview members of BLEEDING CORPSE had said that they wanted me to see how crazy their fans were. I would soon find out. We parked at the back of the compound which was then full of expectant metalheads and hundreds of parked motorcycles. The band went upstairs and walked through the crowd to the backstage area. I was invited to go with them but I decided it was time for the band to be preparing alone.
Popo (vocalist of DEMONS DAMN) and I stood at the back of the crowd next to someone connected to the organization of the show or who was high up in the metal hierarchy in Cibinong. We watched the last three of the support acts. All bands on the bill were death-metal and only BLEEDING CORPSE was from outside the city. There was a blackened thrash band and a band with female vocals. The aggression, speed, and enthusiasm of the music were exactly what the crowd wanted. Popo later estimated the crowd at around 500 inside the building and another 500 outside. Given that this was a death-metal only event in a provincial city, the size of the crowd will give a clear indication of the rising popularity of the death-metal sub-genre in Indonesia. As expected from a death-metal show, as opposed to just a metal show or just a rock show, the entire crowd wore the black death-metal tee-shirts. The vast majority of the crowd were teenagers. Some looked very young, from the westerner’s perspective, but were probably of junior high-school age. As some of the Bandung metalheads pointed out in interviews, death-metal is a trend, in certain circles and up to a certain point, in Bandung to the extent that many high-schoolers are in bands while primary-school children know what death-metal is (see my interview with Glenn of BLOODGUSH, Bandung, 10 October 2011). Glenn of BLOODGUSH says:

“Bandung death-metal is the biggest death-metal scene in Indonesia ... and in the world [laughs]. Now in Bandung the kids in junior high play death-metal and in primary school the kids will know about death-metal. It is most people [who] like death-metal here in Bandung; it’s bigger than in the other cities. Bandung has a slogan ‘Flower City’; we can change it to ‘Bandung Death Metal City’”.

This night in Cibinong girls made up around 5% or 10% of the crowd which is more than might be expected at a western death-metal show. Some of them clearly attended in small groups of girls rather than following a boyfriend as is standard practice in the west. The girls seem to go because they enjoy the moshpit slamming and dancing. At the BLEEDING CORPSE show I managed to edge my way to close to the stage and took pictures whilst around one point five to two metres from the stage. The moshpit area at the front stops and breaks up at the end of songs, allowing people to retreat away to the cooler areas near the open windows and other people to go forward to take their place. As such it is possible to edge closer and closer to the stage. The moshpit is made up of a circle pit and people frantically headbanging at the edges of the pit. All of these, apart from me of course, were very young fans. A practice which the Yogyakarta metalheads say is unique to Bandung is groups of young people standing in a semi-circle and raising their bodies up and down in unison; at the top of the cycle they raise their arms and wiggle the fingers like a primary-school child doing the stereotypical impression of a ghost or like someone manipulating hand puppets.
The announcer verbally baited and cajoled the crowd. He was speaking in either Indonesian or Sundanese but I did hear the frequent mention of the band name “BLEEDING CORPSE” so clearly he was aiming to excite the crowd further before BLEEDING CORPSE started playing. The room was around 80-90% at capacity so that in the front half people were quite close together while, in the back half, there was room to stand feet apart with arms folded and even to sit down between bands. With such a large number of people outside I was hoping the organizers were monitoring how many people were inside the hall at any one time as we did not want a repeat of the BESIDE show in Bandung where seven people were crushed to death. The people at the front were clearly the fanatical BLEEDING CORPSE contingent.
For those who do not know Bobby Rock personally, he is a tall, gentle, charming, and peaceable Javanese man (considered an ethnic minority in Bandung) who has recently married the local Sundanese beauty and metal queen Popo. Bobby is gentle off-stage but a ball of aggression and energy on-stage. The BLEEDING CORPSE guitarists attract little attention and Bobby dominates people’s focus with his long hair, bare chest, and forearm spikes. BLEEDING CORPSE plays brutal and fast death-metal of the traditional type which is guaranteed to please a death-metal crowd. However, in all honesty, the songs all begin to sound the same with minimal variation in the vocals. I personally prefer the two faster songs at the end of BLEEDING CORPSE’s debut album Resurrection of Murder where Amenk of DISINFECTED and Man of JASAD do guest vocals on one song each. Popo later told me that the set included a mix of songs from the debut album and from the as yet unreleased second album. The headbanging was frantic and Bobby did a carefully managed stage dive. There is clearly personal rapport and mutual appreciation between Bobby and his fans which clearly extends geographically to Cibinong, three hours out of Bandung. The BLEEDING CORPSE show was a relentless wave of fury and energy, finished with an encore where the band began by standing with their backs to the audience. Bobby’s height is important for BLEEDING CORPSE’s visual image and it allows him to project his energy and will over a grater distance. It appeared to be an easy show for the band to the extent that the fans upfront were all clearly BLEEDING CORPSE devotees and Bobby did not have to win them over to his side during the course of the set as, for example, DEATH VOMIT had to do during that band’s Australian shows. Bobby is a classic front man who reminds me of the best front men from traditional 1980s metal where the frontman’s personality, charisma, and showmanship were vital to the band’s whole sound and stage-show. Obvious examples are Udo Dirkschneider from ACCEPT; the late Ronnie James Dio from BLACK SABBATH, DIO, and RAINBOW; Bruce Dickinson from IRON MAIDEN; Rob Halford from JUDAS PRIEST; Biff Byford from SAXON; Klaus Mein from SCORPIONS; and the incomparable and brilliant Dee Snider from TWISTED SISTER. In more recent years I think of Justin Fleming from the Melbourne, Australia power-metal band PEGAZUS. It is impossible to imagine BLEEDING CORPSE without Bobby Rock.
One interesting point to note is that both shows I witnessed this weekend (BLEEDING CORPSE in Cibinong and TURBIDITY in Bandung) had security teams of ten or twelve people who stood on the stage looking out towards the crowd. They unobtrusively policed the crowds and stopped the crowds from moving on to the stage. They looked serious all the time and did not headbang or join in at all with the music. This alone demonstrates to attendees their official status. However, they wore black metal tee-shirts (plain shirts, not band shirts) rather than security guard uniforms and this was obviously a factor which made them less offensive and irritating to the two crowds. They appeared as “one of us” or as self-policers of the metal scene from within it rather than as outside labourers hired by a faceless corporation.
At the end of the set, I rejoined Popo who had remained standing with friends in the middle section of the crowd. We headed down the stairs and out to a quieter area to the right of the stairs and away from the front gates of the compound. Soon after Bobby joined us and his transformation from Superman back to mild-mannered Clarke Kent was as complete as it was astonishing. He was now the same gentle, soft-spoken, and charming man as before he had gone on to the stage. Daniel of TURBIDITY was with us but none of the young concertgoers even recognized who Bobby and Daniel were or even looked in our direction. We waited a long time until Bobby had completely calmed down from the adrenaline high of being onstage. As we waited, much of the crowd dispersed into the night, tee-shirted slim youngsters on motorcycles heading, satisfied and happy, back to the roads, homes, and cafes out of which they had come a few hours before. This night BLEEDING CORPSE ruled in Cibinong!

This review will be published in my coming book called Struggle Anger Hate in the Indonesian Underground.                              
   

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