Felix Dass , Contributor , Yogyakarta | Sun, 12/13/2009 1:55 PM | MusicIt was around 8 p.m. in Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiarja, Yogyakarta. Rain had just left town. It was a little cold, but more than 100 people had gathered.
Their aim was one: to see a band called Melancholic Bitch. The band had just released their sophomore album, Balada Joni dan Susi (The Ballad of Joni and Susi).
Lights were low. People were busy chatting. Then, Ugoran Prasad, the band's front man, appeared. He welcomed everyone and then invited Djaduk Ferianto to give a speech.
It was a typical artsy opening, just as you would usually see in theaters or in contemporary dance shows. The difference was Djaduk's speech opened a pop concert, rather than a more serious art genre.
Melancholic Bitch: JP/Adi Adriandi
The album itself is a romantic epic. It tells a tale of two people falling deeply in love from the beginning to the end. The couple join forces with nature; they walk in a simple jungle titled life.
Since it is a complete story package and they have to play the album in a similar order, it could be categorized as a storytelling concert, but with a different atmosphere.
"For me, this is a story about a couple who are always trying to pick a fight with the world, their country, or even with people. Joni and Susi taught us that a simple love story can be very politic," explained Ugoran Prasad.
The front man was responsible for writing all the lyrics on the album. The main idea for the story was also credited to him.
From start to finish, the epic had Joni and Susi as the main subjects. But, Ugo added some other ingredients of life to carry the story along.
For example, he described the 15 seconds of fame thing in a song called "Akhirnya Masup Tipi" (Finally, on TV). The lyrics show us all about the influence of TV in general on people's lives in Indonesia.
The same theme was used in their first single "Mars Penyembah Berhala" (The Idolatry of Mars). Dreams that were shown on TV 24/7 somehow affected the way people thought about life. Ugo captured it perfectly and then wrapped it into his tale of Joni and Susi.
There's another song on the epic album called "Distopia" (Dystopia). It's a simple love song, but the band describes it in very complex way.
"Right from the start, we wanted this song as a gateway to the ethnographic atmosphere of Balada Joni and Susi. The smell, the melody, even the surroundings help us to interpret the love story. This is just like Indonesia; frantic but in order. It's routine but hysterical," Ugo said.
On the other hand, the story wouldn't make it as a whole finished product without the music. His comrades completed the tale.
"The musical idea was translated from the story written by Ugo. Especially the social background, the shelter, the streets, the supermarket, the guesthouses, the alleys, TV and the crowds.
That's the main idea behind the sound we produce. It includes pop music, dangdut, or even sounds of noise. All of them give the basic rhythm to this story," said Yennu Ariendra, guitar and synthesizer player of the band.
The other members of Melancholic Bitch beside Ugo and Yennu are Josef Herman Susilo on guitar, Teguh Hari on bass, and Septian Dwi Rima on drums. But for Balada Joni and Susi, they were helped by Richardus Ardita on bass and Wiryo Pierna Haris on guitar.
This musical machine produced breathtaking material. Each song has its own personification in terms of selecting its own melody.
To simplify, if you hear it superficially, it may sound like an ordinary orchestration of songs. But if you listen to it carefully, you'll find small interesting particles spread throughout its entire body.
They picked perfect sound samples and then mixed them perfectly with traditional musical instruments.
And, as Yennu said, it helped them create an ideal interpretation of the whole Joni and Susi story from a musical perspective.
The band was started in 1999. Although they've been working together for the last 10 years, Melancholic Bitch has only three records - one EP and two full-length - in their catalogue.
Their debut was the Melancho-lic Bitch Live at Ndalem Joyokusuman EP back in 2003, followed by Anamnesis in 2005.
Back to the concert, Balada Joni dan Susi's 12 songs were completed in less than 40 minutes and the band had not prepared an encore.
The audience was shocked; they did not expect the set to be such a short one.
Some of them shouted, "We want more. We want more." But the band remained silent. The pop concert in the artsy venue had to finish.
Definitely, the night ended too soon.