Longing Band play at Beautiful Hope

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 02 May 2012
12.30pm–2.00pm

Venue

Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU

Speaker

Emma Baulch (ANU College of Asia & the Pacific)

Contacts

Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
“Keep going forward Kangen Band, just believe in yourself, like me.” On the cover of a book that recounts the rise to fame of the provincial boy band, Kangen (Longing) Band, Tukul Arwana is thus quoted. Arwana is a highly successful comedian and talk show host whose character is an ugly man of humble, village origins with a wicked sense of humour. By citing Tukul, the book’s publishers advance the production of Kangen Band as a narrative of upward mobility, one of many such narratives that now populate Indonesian popular culture in a context of heightened consumerism.

The paper is prompted by my curiosity about the contextual features of an evolving ideology of consumerism in Indonesia. I posit that a study of pop music, which has not only become digitalized, but also expanded in volume and proliferated since the turn of the century, extending Western-style pop to the masses, is productive for exploring questions of consumer agency and industrial regulation. Western-style pop may be more available to the masses than ever before, but just how open to interpretation is it?

I explore this question by comparing and contrasting three distinct fields of ‘Kangen Banding’: the field of unofficial (or pirated) exchange and distribution, official productions of Kangen Band, and the field of Kangen Band fandom. The study suggests, Indonesian consumerism entails new ways of heralding the masses that are generative of a new kind of mass public, but rely and play on old generic terms, kampungan (hick-ish) and ‘Melayu’. Active participation in this public is performed by fans at live, televised shows, such as the one featuring Kangen Band at the Harapan Indah (Beautiful Hope) luxury housing complex on Jakarta’s outskirts in 2010, detailed in the paper. Conversations with fans reveal the terms employed to herald them, kampungan and Melayu, to be relatively fixed and closed. But the study also suggests that this new mass public co-exists with a more ghostly counter-public that adheres to an increased volume of unofficial (pirate) sounds and images resulting from the advent of digitality. The paper details Kangen Band’s beginnings as a sonic commodity within this pirate economy, prior to their rise to national fame, and posits that the band’s early meanings were more open, less fixed in character, entailing greater possibilities for consumer agency.

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