POP MUSIC IN INDONESIA: KRONCONG, DANGDUT, POCO POCO AND DEADLY STAMPEDES

POP MUSIC

The pop music scene in Indonesia is regarded as the most lively and exciting in Southeast Asia. A wide variety of pop music is broadcast on television, played on the radio and blasted from buses, bemos and private vehicles. In metropolitan Jakarta, the Java Jazz Festival is the annual meeting highlight for top international and Indonesian jazz musicians. Indonesia also boasts some of the best rock and pop bands and singers. Bands like Nidji, Ungu, Slang, Peter Pan and singing celebrities like Rossa, Agnes Monica, Kris Dayanti, Pasha, Ari Lasso, are popular in Malaysia and Singapore as well as Indonesia.

Pan-Indonesian pop culture began at the turn of the 20th century with opera stambul ("Malay Opera") played by itinerant troupes in improvised local theaters. The music featured the Malay language, rather than local vernaculars, and the kroncong guitar music brought to Jakarta by Malacca's "Black Portuguese." According to the Rough Guide to World Music: "The plays mixed dance, slapstick and satire in a surreal amalgamation of Indian romance, A Thousand and One Nights and Victorian Gothic.” Many of the original actors were Eurasian. One popular opera of the 1920s was run by a white Russian. [Sources: Rough Guide to World Music]

Worried about the invasion of foreign culture and Western music in particular, Sukarno introduced repressive legislation that encouraged artists and musicians to shun foreign influences and energize indigenous forms. These laws were repealed when Suharto came to power in the mid 1960s. Today, big raves are sometimes held in Bali. In February 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on pop music television show in Jakarta, She got a big cheer when she said the Beatles and Rolling Stones were among here favorite music groups but politely declined an offer to sing. [Source: Reuters]

Styles of Indonesian pop music include include pop-sunda (mostly bad Western-influenced pop from the Sunda area); qasidah modern (Islamic pop music with Arab style melodies and Indonesian instruments), and batak (a percussion-driven music of the Batak people from the Lake Toba area of Sumatra).

Popular artists in the early 2000s included Peter Pan, Dewa, SLank. Padi. Coklat, Sheil on 7, Rof and GiGi. Ruth Sahanaya participated in a tsunami relief concert in Malaysia in 2005. Titiek Puspa is one Indonesia’s biggest pop stars. Rolling Stone Indonesia has selected two of her songs as some of the best Indonesian songs of all time. She made a much publicized pilgrimage to Mecca. Franky Sahilatua, who played an important role in popularizing voguish music of social criticism during the Suharto era, died at 57 in April 2011.

Kroncong (Keroncong) Music

Kroncong (pronounced "kerong-chong", also spelled Keroncong) is style of urban-folk music that is named after a kind of ukelele that dates back to the Portuguese era, when the music and rhythms from Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia merged and blended. It emerged in its modern form in the 1930s when it was featured in Indonesian films and spread throughout the archipelago. [Sources: Rough Guide to World Music]

A typical kroncong group includes a singer (usually a woman), two kroncongs (ukeleles), guitars, violins, a flute and sometimes a cello and percussion. The melodies were influenced by the sardonic Portuguese style of Fado and mid-tempo rhythms similar to this found in Mozambique and Madagascar.

Kroncong is sort of similar to Japanese enka and Thai luk thung music. Krongcong today is regarded as old people's people and many recordings have Muzak-style string arrangements. It experienced a revival in the 1980s thanks to the singer Hetyy Koes Endnag. Many of the songs played on the streets by ukelele players are kroncong songs.

Gesang Martohartono, composer of many keroncong (songs), among them the world-famous “Bengawan Solo,” a favorite throughout Asia, died at the age of 92 in May 2010. Associated Press reported: The songwriter, popularly known as Gesang, composed the song about the Solo River, the longest river on the island of Java, in the traditional keroncong style, a Portuguese-influenced folk music using stringed instruments. "Bengawan Solo" was translated into at least 13 languages and covered by Chinese, Japanese and Dutch singers.Gesang, who could not read music, was one of 10 brothers. He married once but had no children. Among his other famous songs were "Sapu Tangan" (Handkerchief) in 1941, "Tirtonadi" in 1942 and "Jembatan Merah" (Red Bridge) in 1943.

Dangdut Music

Dangdut is one of the most popular forms of pop music in Indonesia. It is a style of music that originated in the 1960s as an adaptation of Indian film music with some Arabic influences and still sounds like Indian film music today. It's name comes the rhythm played by the Indian-style tabla drum ( dang-dut-dang-dut-dang-dut-dang-dut-dang-dut-dang-dang). [Sources: Rough Guide to World Music]

Dangdut blast from taxis, bemos, cafes, markets and homes. Originally it was popular among the lower classes and associated with bars where knife fights were common. The lyrics were often about frustration and rage over the inequalities of Indonesian society. Now it is embraced by the middle and upper classes.

Dangbut is known for its sexy rhythms and emotive singing that speaks directly to Indonesians. Indonesia cultural expert Philip Yampolsky told the International Herald Tribune, dangdut "has a special power for Indonesians precisely because it is Indonesian not Western. There was a time when people symbolized their social aspirations with Western pop music. But that time has passed."

Dangdut thrives in Jakarta nightclubs attended by people from all walks of life. Describing one such place Jonathan Napack wrote in the International Herald Tribune, "The tabla drum clicks, synthesized flutes wail, a sultry woman sobs words of love. The ambience is opulent and sensual, reeking of perfume. Bollywood thrillers play on a projection television while bartenders in turbans pour beers. Men dance mostly with men, women with women."

Dangdut Performers

A typical dangdut group consists of a singer, tabla (Indian hand drums), electric guitar, percussion, bass and synthesizer. The music has a danceable beat. Dangdut singers are among the most famous people in Indonesia. [Sources: Rough Guide to World Music]

Dangdut's greatest star Rhoma Irma was at the peak of his popularity in the 1970s. He added rock music, political commentary, Islamic references to the music, and in the process created a unique Indonesian sound and angered the government at the same time. Rhoma Irma has produced dangdut films and was famous for his outrageous lives shows. He remains very popular today.

Other classic dangdut stars include Elvy Sukasih, Dettu Kurnia, Maryam and Camelia Malik. These four singers were all attractive women with large followings. "Disco-dangdut" stars of the 1990s included Ade Ima, Sendak Oriel, Evie Tamala. The form has appeal outside Indonesia. In 1999. MTV Asia launched Salam Dangdut.

Inul Daratista was perhaps the biggest pop phenomena in Indonesia in the early 2000s. Known for her hip-shaking and pelvis-thrusting dance moves, she was adored by her fans, who called her Inul and regarded her as the queen of dangdut. conservative Muslim clerics condemned her as “pornographic” and called her the “devil dancer.” One Muslim organization issued a fatwa against her. Inul has not taken the criticism lying down. She was spoken out against her detractors The criticism has also been great for her career. Her popularity skyrocketed after the fatwa was issued. Politicians begged her to perform at their rallies.

Poco Poco

Poco poco (pronounced poh-choh poh-choh) is a style of music and line dance that became popular in the 1990s and remains popular today. Based on rhythms from Papua in far eastern Indonesia, it has attracted teenagers in miniskirts, women in conservative Muslim head scarves, villagers who sway to the music while in their rice fields and nouveau riche who dance to it at fashionable nightclubs and high society weddings. Poco poco means “voluptuous.”

The poco poco music is associated with poco poco dance, a line dance with two steps t the right and two steps to the left followed by two steps back and then forward and back again. During the sometimes violent anti-Suharto demonstrations in 1998, the police sometimes played poco poco music to bring the crowds under control. Students and protestors who were ready to confront riot police suddenly found themselves dancing and even sharing in some dance steps with police.

Explaining the appeal of the dance, a middle-aged architect told the Washington Post, “We Indonesians love to dance but we’re trying to have a new way to express ourselves that comes from our own culture and own tradition, not just salsa and jive.” His wife said, “Poco-poco will make you sweat. we like it for our health and to lose wight. I’ve lost 20 pounds.”

History of Poco Poco

Poco poco music and dance is derived from tribal music and dances of the rain forest and mountains tribes of Papua. It was popularized and brought the main islands of Indonesia by the army’s much feared special forces, who picked up the music while in Papua and used it for their morning callisthenics.

The dance was jazzed and up standardized in the city of Manado in Sulawesi and dispersed with the help of a famous poco poco song by Yopie Latul, a pop star from the Maluka Islands. The lyrics to the song went, “You dance very hot. Your body is very sexy. You’re the only one I love but you’re making my head hurt.”

The song reached a nationwide audience with the help of General Agum Gumelat, for head of Kopassus, the Indonesian special forces, who soldiers perform the dance at his inauguration as commander. In an interview he said, “The dance was very helpful in establishing solidarity and togetherness among the soldiers, especially those from the special forces, who usually conduct their operations with very small numbers of team members.”

Jaipongan

Jaipongan is a percussion-based music using instruments from the Sundanese gamelan, particularly the rehad and kendang. It has a strange but danceable 16- or 32-beat rhythm, marked by a one-note gong, and no discernable Western influence.

Jaipongan is particularly popular in Bandung and Sundanese areas and was created by the Badung-based producer, composer and arranger Dr. Gugum Gumnria Tirasondjaja, who had the brilliant idea of speeding up gamelan music and making it danceable. Popular jaipong artists include Canelia Malik, Euis Komariah and Idjah Hadidjah.

Jaipongan is also a form of modern dance performed in western Java that features complex rhythms, break dance and martial moves and sexually suggestive movements.

Pop Singers and Politics in Indonesia

The legal troubles of male pop singer Nazril (Ariel) Irham, who was charged with violating the 2008 Information and Electronic Transaction Law for appearing in sexually explicit videos that were widely circulated online, held the attention of many Indonesians in late 2010 and 2011. The reason for the high degree of interest was that it revealed many levels of hypocrisy in society’s views of sex and morality, and more broadly because it tested the limits of openness and personal freedoms in the new democracy. Arrested in mid- 2010, Ariel was tried in January 2011 in a Bandung court, where 1,000 police officers were deployed to maintain security and order. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and a fine equivalent to US$27,500; an appeal was rejected. [Source: Library of Congress]

In 2001, pop singer Harry Roesli was questioned by police after he sang a satirical version of the patriotic song, "Garuda Pancasila," during independence day celebrations at the home of former president Abdurrahman Wahid. The New York Times reported: “Police in Indonesia plan to question an entertainer who performed a song that authorities claim pokes fun at the government and national symbols. Police say the lyrics appeared designed to spread "hatred and hostility" against the state, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. "It's time that the supremacy of the law be upheld. People can't ridicule state symbols," Colonel Anton Bahrul Alam said. The song parodies Garuda, a mythical eagle that is Indonesia's state symbol and a tune about Pancasila, the philosophy of national unity. Roesli denies any wrongdoing and says the song simply calls on the government to help the poor. He said: "Clearly, the tolerance of freedom of speech is narrowing." [Source: New York Times, August 23, 2001]

Roseli said the satirical song has been around since the fall of ex-dictator Suharto in 1998. He has performed it several times in public and it is also often sung by street entertainers. Colonel Alam says police will consult legal experts and historians before deciding whether to file charges against Roesli for performing the song on August 17. The lyrics amount to a play on words in the Indonesian language. They say Indonesians are tired of supporting the Pancasila philosophy and sacrificing themselves for the state. The original song says: "A just society will prosper. This is my people's character. Let's move ahead!" The satire says: "When will this just society prosper? This is my people's character. We're not moving ahead!" [Ibid]

Tielman Brothers: Indonesia’s Rock Legend?

In 2008, Robin McDowell wrote in Associated Press, It took a half century and YouTube to bring Indonesia's rock 'n roll legends back home. Andy Tielman and his three brothers left for Europe in 1957, where they packed clubs and stadiums with their high-energy shows, tossing guitars across the stage, plucking strings with their teeth and playing while perched on top of the standing bass. But while some music critics say the Tielman Brothers' rapid-fire Les Paul riffs and rough interpretations of country-western helped shape the sound of a generation, most fans in their native Indonesia only learned about them this year. [Source: Robin McDowell, Associated Press, August 1, 2008 ^\^]

“A story in the local version of Rolling Stone magazine sent curious readers to YouTube, where they could hardly believe their eyes: "Insane !!!!!" a new fan wrote on one site. And "why did I never hear of these guys!?" When Andy, now 72, returned to Indonesia for the first time to perform this month, hundreds turned out to twist the night away, calling out for old headliners written before most of them were born and snapping pictures with their mobile phones. "Magnificent! Fabulous! He TOTALLY rocks!" gushed Nada Yangrifqi, a 22-year-old college student, after watching Tielman play alongside a local band. "I'm so proud!" ^\^

“Andy, Reggy, Ponthon and Loulou Tielman were born to a Dutch-Indonesian father and German-Arab mother on the eastern island of Sulawesi during the final years of Holland's centuries-long colonial rule. The boys, then 9 to 14, started out playing before family and friends. Before long, they were going city-to-city with their banjos, drums, guitars and bass, playing mostly folk songs. Often their little sister, Jane, joined them on stage dancing. "These were the happiest moments in my life," Andy, one of two surviving brothers, said at an emotional post-gig press conference in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. "It was fun when we were older, too, of course. But when I was a child, with my brothers, that was really something."^\^

“Soon after Indonesia formally became independent in 1949, the country's first president, the fiery Sukarno, condemned rock 'n roll as a symptom of Western decadence. The Tielmans reluctantly left for Holland, settling in the small, southern city of Breda. Though already falling under the influence of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and others, Andy said he and his brothers knew they had to be more than imitators and created a sound and style that came to be known as Indo Rock by some -- by others, pure R&R. "We started playing country-western but my brother Loulou, who played the drums, complained because there nothing for him to do," he said, pounding the table as he belted out "Hey Good Lookin'." "See? Load drums to that and you get rock and roll."

“Andy, the band's lead guitarist and singer, introduced many changes of his own. He decided his Gibson was too heavy for stage throwing and switched to a lighter Olympic White Jazzmaster, which he converted from six to 10 strings, using a hot nail to drill extra holes into the headstock. He added four much-thinner banjo strings, creating a sought-after tighter, deeper sound that many others later mimicked. The boys went to Brussels and soon after Germany, where they became an overnight sensation, selling out concert halls and appearing on live TV. Next came Israel, where they became among the first musicians ever to perform in a football stadium, a 45,000-seater. ^\^

“Asked if the Tielman Brothers left their mark on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, as his fans so often claim, Andy said: "I know John Lennon, then playing backup for the Tony Sheridan band, saw us perform, a lot of the British did. But I'd never dare say we influenced them." The rocker returned to Indonesia at the invitation of the Jakarta Rock Parade organizers -- a 100-band, three-day extravaganza that wrapped up July 2008.

Dressed in black with colored spotlights setting his long gray hair ablaze, he played "Rock Little Baby of Mine," which was officially recognized as Holland's first-ever rock 'n roll song (1958). That accolade got the Tielman Brothers their first press coverage in Indonesia -- the article in Rolling Stone. He went on to play "Little Bird," "Rollin' Rock" and "Beethoven Rock," as well as the classics of others: "Blue Suede Shoes," "One Night," and "Oh My Love, My Darling." But there was no strumming the guitar over his head or with his toes -- things he said were better left to the young. When Andy finally got around to his last song, a national favorite, "Rajuan Pulau Kelapa" or "Coconut Tree Serenade," it was well past 1 a.m. But neither he nor his audience wanted to see the night end, swaying gently as they sang together, their hands raised to the sky. For Andy it was an emotional return. He said he felt honored to be invited back for his music -- something he never dreamed would happen -- and hoped to find a way to return soon. "I feel I'm at home," he said, accompanied by his wife and 12-year-old daughter. His only remaining sibling, Reggy, is 75 and no longer able to perform. "My only regret," he said, "is that my brothers couldn't be here with me."

Tantowi Yahya: Indonesian Country Singer, TV Personality and Political Leader

Tantowi Yahya is Indonesia's most popular Country Music singer. His first two albums, Country Breeze and Southern Dreams, featuring American Country songs sung in English and Bahasa (also known as modern Indonesian) went double Platinum. His third collection, Country Manado, is already Gold and features traditional songs from North Sulawesi, played American Country style. [Source: Angry Country, July 11 2005]

Yahya, who goes by the nickname Tanto, is involved in many show business and cultural enterprises in Indonesia. He is Managing Director of P. T. Ciptadya Prestasi, a company that runs a record label and produces pageants and TV shows. He is Chairman of the Indonesian-American Friendship Association, Director of the Indonesian Recording Industry Association (IRIA) and Chief Executive Officer of the Country Music Club of Indonesia (CMCI.) He's the Chairman and host of the first Miss Asean Pageant organizing committee. He also hosts the Indonesian version of the "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" franchise, as well as his own weekly Country Music show "Goin' Country." "I'm a multi-tasking kind of guy," Tanto said, his charisma, good humor and high energy evident even on the phone. "From nine to five, I'm at Ciptadya Prestasi helping to organize and produce events and overseeing the record label. But I put aside time to attend meetings of the IRIA and dedicate time every day to the CMCI, the only home for Country Music lovers in Indonesia. In the evening I host events and do my 'Goin' Country' TV show." In 2005, Tanto visited the United States as an Eisenhower Fellow. The Eisenhower Fellowship Program, started in 1953, identifies rising leaders and provides them opportunities to work with leaders from various backgrounds to foster professional, intellectual and personal growth, leading to a more prosperous, just and peaceful world.

Indonesian pop music is rooted in American Country Music, Tanto said. "In the early '60s, most Indonesian hits were Country songs by the Everly Brothers, Skeeter Davis, Conway Twitty and Glen Campbell," he said. "The '60s were the golden era of Country Music all over the world. ... In the '70s, R&B, rock, disco and jazz killed Country Music in Indonesia. From the mid '70s to the early '80s, Country made a comeback, but it died out again until I came out with my first album in 2000. Country Music is once again very popular in Indonesia," he said.

"In the '60s and '70s people only knew the music," he said. "Now with TV people know the lifestyle. Every day you can see Indonesians wearing cowboy outfits and doing the line dance. My weekly show ["Goin' Country"] is live. We perform 10 to 12 American songs from traditional to modern Country. I have a six-piece band, The Ole Friends, named after the Grand Ole Opry, and two back-up singers who also give line dance lessons. "Even though Indonesia is a Muslim country and relations between the U. S. and Indonesia are always troubled, Country Music is highly respected. I never get protested and we have more and more fans joining the CMCI every week."

Tanto's American style Country albums are unmistakably Country, even when Tanto sings in Bahasa. He has a rich, mellow tenor, and the studio band, which includes Australian steel guitar player Tom Grasso, is sharp and professional. "I choose covers that fit my voice," Tanto said. "Sometimes translating them into Indonesian, sometimes singing in English. I do the arrangements - traditional Country, Tex-Mex, swing, Bakersfield, cajun, bluegrass and honky tonk - all the sounds I love."

In 2009, Tantowi retired from show business to devote himself to his political career. The Jakarta reported: “Presenter and singer Tantowi Yahya has finally decided to bid farewell to the entertainment world, vowing to dedicate himself to his new political career. Tantowi, a member of the Golkar Party, is set to join the House of Representatives after winning enough votes in South Sumatra in April’s election. He will sit on Commission I for security and foreign affairs. “I really want to focus on politics. [Being a politician] has been my dream for so long,” says Tantowi, who has been in showbiz for 20 years. “If I keep my entertainment jobs, what would the people who voted for me say about me?” [Source: Jakarta Post, August 12, 2009]

According to the 49-year-old country music singer and founder of Country Music Club Indonesia, a career in politics is a major part of his life. Tantowi divides his life into three phases: the first 20 years for studying, then 20 years seeking fame and money, and the last 20 years for political work. “My political career can’t be separated from my entertainment career,” says the older brother of presenter Helmy Yahya. “It was my successful entertainment career that led me into politics. So I truly thank my fans for this,” he adds.

Iwan Fals

Iwan Fals is controversial rock singer who has been arrested on several occasions for criticizing the government but still manages to draw huge audiences for his live performances. In 2002, Time magazine named him as a Great Asian Hero. In 2002, he was named as Great Asian Hero by Time magazine. In 2011, he received "Satyalancana", the highest government awards from Jero Wacik, Culture and Tourism Minister of Indonesia.

Iwan was born Virgiawan Listanto in Jakarta, in September 1961 to Harsoyo, a soldier, and Lies Suudijah. He studied at SMP 5 Bandung and SMAK BPK Bandung. He continued his studies at Sekolah Tinggi Publisistik and then Jakarta Arts Institute. At the age of thirteen, he appeared as a street musician in wedding ceremonies and other social events. Aged 18, Iwan Fals, Toto Gunarto, Helmi and Bambang Bule formed a group named Amburadul. The group released the album 'Perjalanan' in 1979, which was not successful, but was re-released with the added track '3 Bulan' as '3 Bulan' (1980) in 1980. The group disbanded and played no further role in Iwan Fals' career. [Source: Wikipedia +]

As part of his early career, Iwan Fals also recorded some comedy albums, after winning a comedy country singing contest. He sang of comic situations and themes, and his first release was on 'Canda Dalam Nada'. During this time, Iwan supported himself by busking. 1981 saw Iwan Fals' breakthrough, when he signed to Musica Studio to record his first solo album, Sarjana Muda. This album shows Iwan Fals' signature country music style, with the protest song "Guru Oemar Bakrie", which talks of how a teacher is poorly paid but still responsible for educating future well-paid and successful people. 'Guru Oemar Bakrie' became very well known and popular in Indonesia, and helped established Iwan's name. +

1982's Opini, also on Musica Studio, cemented Iwan's reputation as a protest singer, but also as a balladeer. 'Galang Rambu Anarki', for his newborn son, combined both elements, commenting on both the happy event of the birth of his first child, but also commenting on rising prices, saying that perhaps his child would be malnourished if they could not afford to buy milk. In April 1984, Iwan was arrested and questioned for two weeks after performing the songs 'Demokrasi Nasi' and Mbak Tini, both songs never recorded on album, in Pekanbaru. The song Mbak Tini was about a prostitute with a road-side coffee shop, married to 'Soeharyo' (Suharto). Iwan Fals continued to release albums throughout the 1980s. The musical style was "rebana rock", a blend of Jimi Hendrix and Rick Wakeman, to a Betawi rebana. The album Kantata Takwa' was released in 1990, featuring songs such as "Bento" and "Bongkar" ("Rip It Down"), two of several songs which they sang during a demonstration by college students. +

Iwan Fals has been compared with Bob Dylan, who was one of his key influences, both on his early style, which made heavy use of the harmonica, and on his lyrics, which have frequently been in the protest song genre. For instance, "Kamu Sudah Gila" ("You've Gone Crazy") and "Apa Kamu Sudah Jadi Tuhan?" ("Have You Become God?") criticised the New Order regime. Other songs are more observational, but still could be seen as political. For instance, "Kembang Pete" ("Stinkbean Flower") tells the story of the underestimated poor. "Aku Bosan" ("I'm Bored") is about a child protesting to his parents because they left him alone at home. While "Hura-Hura Huru-Hara" ("Fake Riot") compares moneylender to blood-sucking vampires. +

In January 1982, Fals' first son, Galang Rambu Anarki was born. One of Fals' best-known songs, Galang Rambu Anarki, was written for his son's birth and released on 1982's Opini (Opinion) album. Galang was following in his father's footsteps playing in a band from a young age as a guitarist and folk musician, but he died aged only 15, on 25 April 1997 of either a morphine overdose or asthma. 'Galang Rambu Anarki' translates to "support the sign of anarchy" in English. In 1985, Fals' first daughter Anissa Cikal Rambu Basae was born.His third child is Rayya Rambu Robbani. He and Rosanna, his wife live in Cibubur, West Java.

Indonesian Concert Riots and Deadly Stampedes

In 2001, Four young Indonesian girls were killed in a stampede as hundred of fans of the British boy band a1 rushed towards the group to get their autographs, Billboard reported: “Four teenage girls were crushed to death in a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia when hundreds of fans panicked while trying to catch a glimpse of the British boy band a1. The four band members were ''devastated'' and canceled the rest of their tour in Asia, an a1 spokesman in London said. Some 1,500 fans -- hundreds more than expected -- showed up at a record store at Taman Anggrek shopping mall to see the band, security guards said. Panic broke out when fans tried to escape the crush by rushing to the mall's exits. Four girls were killed and two others injured after falling during the stampede, according to a hospital official. The band, best known for a string of top-10 singles in the U.K., went ahead with a live appearance on a local television station after the stampede. In the Philippines, a1 was forced to cancel an appearance at a music store after some 20,000 fans turned up when organizers were expecting only about 1,000, according to the band's Web site. The group, which recently won the best British newcomer honor at the Brit Awards ceremony, earned its first U.K. No. 1 last September with a cover of a-ha's "Take On Me.

In 2003, a free rock concert meant to promote social harmony ended abruptly with rioting and warning shots from police. At least six people were reportedly injured. Associated Press reported: “Veteran rocker Iwan Fals, whose songs were banned by former dictator Suharto, tried to calm the 100,000-strong crowd with a nationalist anthem as people began throwing stones and bottles in the sports stadium where the show was being staged. It was unclear what started the violence. The concert was aborted minutes later as police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd, the Jakarta Post said. Rioters later torched several food stalls around the stadium, which is frequently used for political rallies. One man was hospitalized with a knife wound to the stomach and five others suffered head injuries from stones, the Koran Tempo newspaper said. Concert organizers had sought to encourage peace after recent terrorist bombings in Indonesia. A terrorist bombing at the Marriott hotel in Jakarta earlier the month heightened concerns over security in the capital.” [Source: , Associated Press, August 31, 2003]

In 2006, at least 10 young people were killed and dozens of others injured when a stampede occurred at a pop concert at stadium Manggala Krida in the city of Pegalongan, Central Java Province. Xinhua reported. The event “attracted thousands of pop music fans, far beyond organizer's anticipation. The tragedy happened when the concert ended and people in the stadium were going to go home, but hundreds of fans waiting outside still wanted to push inside. The chaos situation resulted in 10 young people dead and many others injured. "The bodies were carried to our hospital at about 11 o'clock," said Agung, a official of Islam Pekajenan Hospital, which is the nearest hospital to the concert, with a distance of only two kilometers. "We are now waiting for their families to affirm their identifications." Agung said the victims all had internal injuries because of trample. "But the real reason of their death is lack of oxygen" as the color of their faces all changed to blue, he added. [Source: Xinhua, December 20, 2006]

In February 2008, a stampede at an Indonesian punk rock concert killed 10 people and injured dozens of others, most of them teenagers. Associated Press reported: “The crush happened Saturday night at a small cultural center hall in West Java province's capital, Bandung, after a show by a local band called Beside. Hundreds of people tried to leave the overcrowded venue at the same time, causing a panic, said local police chief Col. Bambang Suparsono. "People were screaming in panic when others fell down and were trampled," said Dani, a witness, who like many Indonesian goes by a single name. "I saw many people unconscious lying on the ground. I fell down but fortunately I was pulled out by someone in the crowd." [Source: Associated Press, February 20, 2008]

“It is unclear how the rush started at the show in Bandung, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of the capital, Jakarta. Dani told reporters people were pushing to get in and out of the venue's main entrance at the same time. The concert hall had been about 30 percent over its capacity of 700, Suparsono said, adding that investigators were questioning 15 concert organizers. Ten people were trampled to death and scores of others were treated for breathing difficulties, said Noorman, a doctor who treated some of the injured. A local government official, Edis Siswadi, said the families of those killed might be compensated. He did not give further details or mention any amount of compensation. Such stampedes have happened before at Indonesian pop concerts and sports events, especially in provincial towns where crowd safety measures are often inadequate. Just over a year ago 10 people died at a rock concert in a sports stadium jammed to more than twice its capacity.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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