Revisiting Home Through The Tunes

Walking briskly with my hands in my jacket trying to get as much warmth as I can, I stopped in front of the venue for the 2019 Soundsekerta event. The Melbourne Town Hall stood proudly, boasting its history in the central business district of the city of Melbourne. While waiting, I could feel the excitement from those lining up to get into the venue. Some people stopped by to ask what people were lining up for and I could see how this could spread awareness of the Indonesian community in Melbourne. The anticipation grew while I waited to enter the historic Melburnian building where I expected to feel back at home—in Indonesiaafter a long time.

As I entered, the lights were dim, and the air was cool. I looked around and caught a glimpse of the brightly lit stage and the excited faces of people chatting to pass the time. The spotlight shined centre stage, where the hosts stood. With a burst of energy, they opened the event, then asked the audience to stand and sing the national anthem, Indonesia Raya. Nostalgia struck me – it’d been a long time since I last sang the anthem. Afterwards, a fellow student, Swain Mahisa, stepped up on stage to sing Pusaka followed by a collaborative performance with the band Blue Room. It was later announced that they were the winners from an audition that was held. All I remember thinking was, “they totally deserved it”. Together they delivered the opening act covering famous Indonesian songs, such as Could it be Love, Kamu, Belahan Jiwa, Berharap Tak Berpisah and more. The performers built an energy on stage that transferred to the audience.

The hosts came back on stage and officially introduced the start of Soundsekerta 2019. The theme for this year’s Soundsekerta event is called Mosaic of The Nation, their goal to “acknowledge and embrace the multitude of different Indonesian cultures and show that music can be a powerful platform to bind them together to form the great nation of Indonesia”.

The first artist was introduced as she came on stage. Yura Yunita’s performance was heart-warming. She always added a little bit of something in every song which made it impossible to tear my eyes away from her performance. Despite having limited exposure to Indonesian songs in general, I kept on looking forward to her next songs. For instance, she had a dance break in one of her songs, and in others, she would invite an audience member on stage to sing with her, ask the crowd to turn on their phone flashlight, point and make eye contact with some members of the audience, and take videos of us. The segment I appreciated most was when she shared a personal story with the audience. She said that the song Merakit was from a rough time and inspired by a visit to an event for the blind. Moreover, she performed this song with sign language that showed her connection between her experience and the song. Yura performed other songs including Get Along with You, Untuk Kita, Buka Hati, Intuisi, Cinta dan Rahasia, Bahagia and more. With a soulful voice and jazzy vibe, Yura reminded people how music can bring us back home through old memories.

The second artist to come on stage was none other than Tompi. The first thought I had when he started singing was, “what a guy!”. A man of many professions, his current role as a singer did not disappoint. With such a raw voice, Tompi did not only make people listen, but also felt the lyrics he was singing. The highlight from his performance aside from his voice was the band. The way they played with their instruments made it seem as if they were in a studio freestyling in their own musical world. Although in a sense it created a disconnect with the audience for some parts as Tompi’s improvisations to the songs made it difficult for the audience to follow along, it was a great listen for those who loves to sit back and enjoy the music they deliver. Songs he performed includes Salahkah, Tak Pernah Setengah Hati, Menghujam Jantungku and more. Overall, Tompi’s stage transformed the event into a jazz club with quality music and vocals. It made me think that music itself creates the atmosphere and had the ability to carry people to different places.

The third and last artist to perform was the band RAN with its three members Rayi, Asta and Nino. Starting off with Selamat Pagi, the band got the crowd alive and hyped throughout the performance. I chatted with some people during their performance and I could see how at home they felt. Their songs brought back many memories, especially since RAN is a band that most millennials grew up with, their presence made it close to heart. Connecting with the crowd over conversations related to exes, RAN created a comfortable environment with the crowd. They were very engaging too – they invited a girl on stage and serenaded her, performed coordinated dance moves, had Rayi’s son come up on stage to perform with the band, and joked about past relationships. All of this made their performance really eventful and lively. RAN also showed a different side than what we usually saw; for instance, Rayi performed his solo song, Ain’t Gonna Give Up, which showcased his music style and rap ability in full English. Each member is releasing solo tracks, which further showcased their different talents as individual performers. RAN performed songs such as Sepeda, Kulakukan Semua Untukmu, Pandangan Pertama, Dari Hati, Dekat di Hati, and more. Overall, RAN brought about reminiscence for the audience with a lively performance.

Overall, I would say that the Soundsekerta team really brought it home this time. The audience really enjoyed the performances and sang along, the songs and the artists brought a small piece of Indonesia to Melbourne and showed us that home is never that far away. Additionally, the event was run smoothly with no major errors and delays. With the warmth I felt going out of the event and the successful operation of the whole thing, next year’s Soundsekerta is definitely an event worth looking forward to.