Not On Pearl Jam’s Tour Schedule – Yet

by Kathy Davis on August 7, 2009

You’re on this website, Pearl Jam For The Impassioned Fan, so you undoubtedly know what it’s like to share an intense passion for the band, and to feel the need to connect with others who feel the same.  Imagine having that level of passion for Pearl Jam’s music and not being able to easily experience it live and share it with others.    Consider what it would be like to never have them come to your town, never being able to scramble to a cheap flight, hook up with a fellow Ten Clubber or share a fan club seat when the lights go down.

My intense love affair with Pearl Jam has not waned since watching MTV Unplugged May 13, 1992, and I have been fortunate to have scrambled to dozens of PJ shows since my passion for the band began that fateful day.  I live a two hour plane ride from Seattle, can easily get up and down the West Coast of the U.S. and parts unknown, with three airports to launch me into the world to get to shows.

I know what it’s like to need an outlet for my Pearl Jam passion.  I had to start a fanzine (Footsteps, 1992-1997) and co-found a website (this one, 2003 to present) to help me cope and have a channel for that passion.   Seeing the band live is a gift I do not take for granted, and connecting with others who feel the same way I do has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life.   Someone once asked me why I kept going to see Pearl Jam over and over, and I replied “Why do you go to church every Sunday?”  It’s a spiritual need, a place to connect with others who feel as though I do about the band, the music, the intense emotion and passion that flows from the band, to us and back again. Seeing how Pearl Jam transform and elevate the music in a live setting is an unparalled experience that has been the backbone of my life since 1992.  I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have the ability to easily get to a show.

Our friends over at The Sky I Scrape are taking an amazing look at this same subject with The Pearl Jam Drought List, and point out that “If Pearl Jam has never played your country, state, or province, your Pearl Jam drought has lasted a brutal 6,865 days.”  Here are four fans from Indonesia who have found creative  and unique ways to cope with their drought.

What would I do if I didn’t have live Pearl Jam in my life?  You’re about to meet Hilman, Awang, Reza and Eko – four PJ fans from Indonesia who are forced to answer that question every day.  These fans have organized several Pearl Jam nights in Jakarta over the past few years for fans to gather, listen to PJ music, share the love.  On July 4th, Indonesian fans came together for Acoustology, an event they created to celebrate with each other and rock out acoustic style.  Four bands, some jamming, 45 songs… a beautiful night.  You can check out some video from the night here, and a DVD is coming soon!  The story of the community of fans that have mobilized in a country where the band have never played live  is intense, creative, mind-blowing – and wonderful.

The big family of Indonesian Jamily. Photo taken from the latest Acoustology event, July 4th 2009.
The big family of Indonesian Jamily. Photo taken from the latest Acoustology event, July 4th 2009.

Hilman: – I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Hilman Taofani. I am the co-owner of Pearl Jam Indonesia group along with Reza Lubis. I also subscribe to the Bugs mailing list,

What song or event got you interested in Pearl Jam?

Awang: – I do not remember exactly, but first time I liked the energy of whole songs in an album were Vitalogy and Vs., then Ten came later. I was in junior high school.

Reza: – Back in late 1991 I was really into Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Blood Sugar…”, I was into all that funky rock stuff such as Faith No More, Fishbone, Infectious Grooves, Level 42 etc. One day, a local radio station playing a song with very funky driven bass line and drum beat, later I discover the title of the song is  “Why Go” and the band is Pearl Jam…Well, another funky band that I should check out I guess. Not long from that I found “Ten” is available in cassette format in our local record shop. I bought a copy and instantly rushed back home to play the whole album. Well, I didn’t find any of the funky stuff there except in “Why Go”, but I DO find out that this band has (a) very amazing singer, much like an opera singer sings rock songs, very comparable to Mike Patton which is my favorite vocalist at that time. And the guitar, wow, the dual guitar between Mike and Stone is very interesting;  it is like hearing Jimi Hendrix and Led Zep in one band. Afterwards, I started constantly listening to “Ten”,  and my other roommates liked it too…Then, all of sudden PJ exploded in the media, I started to realize the image and charisma that they bring to general public, what a band…And then I saw PJ perform “Jeremy” at  the MTV video awards in 1992, amazing! I recorded that show on VHS and played over and over again…I was completely devoted to Pearl Jam after seeing that performance.

Eko: – “Once”. It was the first song of PJ that I heard. I borrowed TEN from my friends, back in my senior high school time, around 1992 or so. The angry vocal and brutal guitar sounds made me fall in love with them. Up until now, 17 years later.

Hilman: – “Given to Fly”, when the single released in 1998. I was in my high-school. So, yes, it was a bit late for me to know Pearl Jam, which most of Indonesian people would into Pearl Jam by the time they got MTV/radio heavy-rotation.

Have you seen the band live? If so, where.

Awang: – No, I have not.

Reza: – I was fortunate to have a chance to travel due to my work and pursuing higher degrees. I first saw Pearl Jam in Stockholm 2000, I studied there for my Master’s degree and Pearl Jam dates were (during) the last few days I had left in the country. During that show,  me and few other people from the BUGS Mailing List managed to get in venue when Eddie was doing the sound check;  it felt like we were having private party with him (check Five Horizons and BUGS for my story). Afterwards Eddie came to shake few people hands including me. The second show I saw  was in Dusseldorf 2007, I was again fortunate that my office sent me for a training program in Holland. This time the BUGS people really helped me a lot to help me make it  to Germany as I didn’t have a visa to enter Germany. A Bugs couple managed to sneak me into their car and go across the border with no problem. I was having a blast that night! With warm people and amazing band. On the next day, the same BUGS couple took me from Dusseldorf to Schipol Airport cause I have to catch my plane back to Jakarta.

Eko: – No I have not.

Hilman: – Haven’t got the chance, yet. :)

Are any of you going to any of the upcoming shows?

Awang: – Though the upcoming concert will be near with our country (in Australia), I’d still say no :)

Reza: – If financial conditions allow me, I would love to see them this year in Australia or other Asian Countries;  this might be closest that we can get. But again, It will be very different experience if they DO play in Indonesia as it will be like a celebration for thousand of PJ fans in Indonesia. It will be a sacred concert too, this will be a big party for us…the waiting has drove us mad….

Eko: – I think I’ll spend some time, and huge amount of money, to watch them if they are about to play in Australia or Singapore next time. But, I do still dream to watch them play in my home town, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Hilman: – I will. But I guess it’d be nice to share those experience with my fellow Indonesian fans (thousand of them), here in our very own country. Not many people of our country able to go abroad to catch Pearl Jam. We’re a third-world country, but if another third-world country like Chile (Santiago, 2005) had their chance, I believe we will have our chance to bring them here.

How did you connect with other Indonesian fans? Internet?
Awang:
– Yes internet is so much helping us to reach each other. When there were any internet available for public (first time I knew internet was in 1998), I was a lonely Pearl Jam fan. The guy who introduced me for the first time to Pearl Jam, was no longer a fan anymore. So, I tried all the way to “find” real fans. A unique first time experience to meet Pearl Jam fan was when I read a Pearl Jam fanzine made by Hilman (at that time I never meet Hilman before) from his friend, that I met in an architectural event (when I was in college). . She – Hilman’s friend – knew I was using “Vedder” at my email address, convincing that I’m a Pearl Jam fan:). So that was moment, I was lucky and finally I got linked with other fans like Hilman and Reza who already joined the mailing list previously. Another way, then, was using  Friendster to search for someone who had hobbies and interests with Pearl Jam. I sent a message, asking them to join our mailing list. Sometimes it works and sometimes doesn’t. It’s so silly, even though I knew that I would never get anything (in terms of money) from Pearl Jam to promote them. :) Until now, there’s a “great” Facebook which make it easier to find any new “real” fans. I believe there are so many fans who have not reached (by us) yet.

Reza: – Well at the beginning I always begin with my surrounding friends and family, have several people really dug into Pearl Jam but as they start to be unpopular I notice their love starts to diminish. Then comes the internet, I join BUGS, LONGROAD, and even the old AMP-J. From that media, I discover other Indonesian PJ people and start trading bootlegs and stories. Then with the help of my friend Andi, we created Selai Mutiara mailing list with intention to unite Indonesian PJ fans, we did not realize that Hilman already have similar mailist named TenClub Indonesia. After much thought and discussion we decided to merge both mailing lists into one. I thought that Ten Club Indonesia is somehow a not so good name for legal reason, so then we decide to change the name simply to Pearl Jam Indonesia aka PJ.id. This is not a club, this is just a community, at least for this moment, to share our passion and love of Pearl Jam among Indonesian Fans.

Eko: – Yes, internet. Using mailing list and Facebook. Sometimes we also gather in an off-line event, such as screening party (ex: Immagine in Cornice DVD, as it arrived from our friends in US), watching movie (ex: Into the Wild, in a local movie festival), music event (ex: PJ Night 1-4, and Acoustology), and a simple weekly futsal (mini-soccer) game. When it comes to music event, PJ fans from Surabaya (East Java), Bandung-Bogor-Bekasi (West Java), and Tangerang (Banten) often come and join us in Jakarta. Each event was attended by 250-300 PJ fans.

Hilman: – Yes, we initiated to “collect” Indonesian Jamily through internet, circa 2001 (the first Indonesia Pearl Jam mailing list created – called “Indonesian Pearl Jam Fans”). Eventually, it went hiatus for two years until I resurrected the group and have it named “Tenclub Indonesia” in 2003. In 2004, there are another mailing list called “Selai Mutiara” (Indonesian direct translation for “Pearl Jam”) which administrated by Reza Lubis. In 2005, under the first “Pearl Jam Tribute” event (that we co-organized), we were merged into “Pearl Jam Indonesia”, until now. 2005 (was) also the year which we were having our first gathering, and slowly became an offline group too. In this last 2 years, our activities increased rapidly, especially in offline activities  which was marked by several events (Pearl Jam Night 2, 3 and 4; “Immagine in Cornice” Screening; having a community booth in cultural/musical events; Acoustology; and even releasing a compilation album – called “Not For You” – consists of songs from bands of Pearl Jam Indonesia’s members).

Our booth at Urbanfest, a cultural festival in Jakarta last year.
Our booth at Urbanfest, a cultural festival in Jakarta last year.

Who came up with the idea for Acoustology and who organized it? I would think that the inspiration behind the night was to connect with fans and have a live PJ experience since the band doesn’t play there?

Awang: – I couldn’t exactly recall it. The idea came first, maybe, through a discussion from little group of our community via regular gathering. We were always plan to make something in order to fulfill our needs on Pearl Jam. I think Eko the better person to explain. Yes, I guess it’s all because Pearl Jam have not play in our country and we want to get more connected with other fans and perhaps to find a new fan too. :)

Reza: Yes you are right, and this is not our first event, we have already experience setting this kind of public event, we also have private gathering, video concert screening etc. It was organized by ourselves and we rarely get sponsors.   But the people really enjoy what they work, and that’s very important for us.

Eko: – Hilman was responsible for the event’s title. It came from the need to create a different music event covering PJ’s songs. So we decided to make an acoustic event, playing PJ’s songs in whatever arrangement the band would like to play. There were 4 bands playing at the event. In the end, the acoustic concept was not entirely working, due to the “too great” energy of PJ’s songs. The show ended up in a full band concert fashion, with all the audience moshing and screaming and enjoying them selves all night long, hahahaha!

Hilman: – Yes, Kathy you are correct. Basically, to share Pearl Jam experience is the main generator for our events. There are many events before Acoustology. As for Acoustology itself, the idea came up from our community, to create an event from and for Pearl Jam fan, and different from previous events. Hence, we threw a poll, allowing member from Pearl Jam Indonesia community to choose their favorite songs from each albums, B-Sides, covers, rarities, and even side projects. The result was an extensive set list (45 songs) consisting  of rarities (brand new “Got Some” were included), which I had it posted to Bugs weeks ago. As for the event, Eko (chief committee) and several Pearl Jam Indonesia’s members organized it and they did a great job.

Any plans for another one?

Awang: – Although it’s a bit silly, we’d like to make a bigger community and reach a larger fanbase in Indonesia then make a petition to convince Pearl Jam to have a concert here (we have started, and up today, 400 people have signed). Also to show Pearl Jam that we are exist, thus they’ll consider to plan a concert here.

Reza: Of course, stay tuned for updates…

Eko: – Yup. We are going to create a bigger music event (full band format) later this year or so with another themes. Also a listening party of Back Spacer.

Hilman: – Sure, we’ll running for Pearl Jam Night V later this year and perhaps listening party for Backspacer months earlier.

Photo captured from Acoustology, an intimate-acoustic-intended show that turned into regular rock concert.
Photo captured from Acoustology, an intimate-acoustic-intended show that turned into regular rock concert.

Favorite Pearl Jam album?

Awang: – It’s hard to say. I love all of their whole album in every stepping years. I often hear the new one, like Avocado, Lost Dogs or Into the Wild for refreshment.

Reza: – No Code

Eko: – TEN. It was my first. And I still play it on my PC in the office, heehaw…

Hilman: – My favorite is Vita logy.

Favorite Pearl Jam song?

Awang: – I love every song, but as I start to grow old, just like Ed, I prefer slow – ballad – ukulele or single guitar song.

Reza: – Present Tense

Eko: – For all time, it was BLACK. But for now, I love Got Some!

Hilman: – Mine is Corduroy.

How popular are Pearl Jam in Indonesia, do they get played on the radio?

Awang: – Pearl Jam is not too popular in our newer generation recently. Some radio hits (sadly) can’t convince them to “convert their belief” to Pearl Jam :D

Reza: – Back in the 90′s they were quite popular, nowadays people only know PJ as the band who sings “Last Kiss”, you may know what I mean…after 2000, songs I hear played on local radio probably only “Nothing As It Seems”, “I Am Mine” and “Worldside Suicide”. I hope “The Fixer” will also get a good spot here.

Eko: – Back in 90′s, PJ was so popular in Indonesia. They were all over the radio, TV, magazines, and some times even newspaper. A lot of my generation were in love with them. And some professional and high-profile musicians were also Phi’s fans. Up until now. Nagy, Pang BIP, Andy /Rif are some of them. These high-profile musicians often come to our music event.

From left to right: Nugie (ALV), Ipang (Plastik/BIP), Erwin (Cokelat), Dendi (Kunci), Che (Cupumanik) taken from Pearl Jam Nite 2 event, 2007.

From left to right: Nugie (ALV), Ipang (Plastik/BIP), Erwin (Cokelat), Dendi (Kunci), Che (Cupumanik) taken from Pearl Jam Nite 2 event, 2007.

ALV and Plastik were the early generation of bands influenced by Pearl Jam/Seattle Sound in Indonesia. They rose to fame (mainstream) by mid 90′s until early 2000′s. Cokelat, Kunci and Cupumanik were the second generation of bands influenced by Pearl Jam. They’re currently stepping into a bigger stage in national mainstream scene.

As an audience, or more likely, as a guest star. But nowadays, PJ only make it to the radio in 90′s rock slot, or when they release new materials. I only watch TV for soccer and news, but I think PJ almost never show up there too. I think music/youth magazines, such as HAI or Rolling Stone Indonesia, are more friendly to them.

Hilman: – Any generation who grew up in 90′s must’ve known them. Although not much people were still attached to the band post-Yield release. This also to answer your query about radio. In 90′s, Pearl Jam aired frequently in radio and quite popular in early-mid 90′s (eventually, the first I got stick with PJ from radio in 1998). “Last Kiss” was perhaps their last “biggest radio hit” in our country. Afterwards, not so many people (were) still attached to Pearl Jam, only a few people did. And those few people fortunately shared their interest through internet and created this community. It also became our mission to “inform” people (especially those attached to Pearl Jam only during Seattle-heyday) that Pearl Jam still matters and continue their legacy through awesome songs and albums in 2000′s. I would call it quite a success to increase our membership, from 13 people by the first time I joined (2003), up to 500 fans these days. We believe that there are thousand of Pearl Jam fans outside our community, as evidenced in our events. Our local “grunge scene” were still relatively active and had millions of devout fans.
- Several of our members were professional musicians. Some of them even in bands with domestic/national reputation. And they are Pearl Jam fans as well.

What is it about Pearl Jam’s music that inspires you to connect with other fans?

Awang: – I don’t know. Only a few word that I read in internet called “Spread the Jam” that convinces me.

Reza: – Because is not just about music, is about a trip…With Pearl Jam you can go anywhere you can following different kind of road using different cars but you always end up in the same place….love and life. That’s how I love pearl jam, people who listen to Pearl Jam I always consider as clever people.  Seeing what music they have wrote so far, and what activism they have done , and how PJ fans are in general, really make me proud as a fan.

Eko: – To be honest, I’m an idiot on music. I don’t consume music in technical ways. I just sort of listen to it, and if the feeling was right, then I love it! And PJ is always felt right for me, by far. But when I talked to other fans in here, most of them were amazed by the deep meaning of Ed’s lyrics and Stone/Mike’s wonderful guitars. Some of them fall in love with Jeff. But Matt, sorry to say, don’t have significant amount of fans, here, hehehe… Me myself, from drum section, love Dave and Jack. For me, PJ’s music is more than a beautiful sound. It gives me positive spirit, every time I listen to it. In my dark times or in my happy moments.

Hilman: – Musical point of view, it would be a very subjective opinion from every each fan. Such as, in our community, there are fans who also dig extreme-metal, jazz, blues, etc. Personally, I dig their music through their words (lyrics). But basically, we all love Pearl Jam from their music generally, and also their activism. There are so many positive message from their activism to be shared among us.

How difficult is it to “collect” Pearl Jam merchandise in Indonesia…and are you all collectors?

Awang: – Yes I am a collector, but not a crazy one. It depends on my pocket’s situation. Pearl Jam sometimes made me bankrupt :) I intensively collect CD’s and DVD’s (no vinyl, I don’t vinyl-player yet). Large amounts of my collection depend with the distributor: friend of mine who live in USA which often asked me to buy whether new or used one.  I have whole albums and DVD’s released by Pearl Jam, more than 20 singles, OST and compilation, bootlegs (2 from 2000, 3 from 2003, 3 from 2006 and 7 CD Live at Gorge set), Pace/Date and 5×1 books. I appreciate Pearl Jam the most in audio format and nothing else. But now I try to have (at least one) of T-Shirt and Poster. I already have 2  T-Shirts from Into the Wild and Immagine in Cornice as a free bundle, so it did not count that I have bought that :) )

Reza: – Apart from official release album it is very difficult to get. I spend some time shopping at various record stores abroad and internet for satisfying my Pearl Jam needs. So far I’ve got all their official stuff album, dozen of singles, all DVD’s, several official bootlegs, and tons of audio video bootlegs in my hardrive. Back in the old days, I really depend on B&P from other PJ fans abroad, but now Internet really help me to have more materials easier. Then I pass my collection to other Indonesian fans by creating our own DVD tree. We are currently have several people responsible for different region in Indonesia for this DVD tree…this is our way to spread the Jam. Nevertheless, we always ask our friend to buy the official stuff whenever available

Eko: – I can tell you that it is quite difficult. Local distributors only distribute standard products such as: CD, cassettes, and DVD. There were almost no t-shirts, books, and bootlegs.

Hilman: – Thanks to the internet, now everyone in our country had their chance to become a collector. For general release (album CD), we have our local release (through labels). And for specific releases (like Singles, DVD, Bootlegs, Books), sometime we bought them online. Unfortunately, not every website had their delivery service to our country (thankfully, Ten Club do). So, I would still call it relatively difficult to be a Pearl Jam collector in Indonesia. Several of our members live abroad (especially US), and sometime we collectively buy PJ’s merchandises, releases, etc through them.

What are your favorite things to collect? – CD’s, T-shirts, posters….bootlegs?
Reza:
– All PJ & related stuff, I have lots of PJ T-shirts, a rack of CD PJ related, Hundred GB of Pearl Jam Audio and Video. Two Posters, several books on PJ, and a daughter I named Jamelya.

Eko: – I can’t say that I’m a collector. I only had PJ’s album CD’s, two DVD’S: Immagine in Cornice and Live at The Garden, one t-shirt, a book called Place/Date, and several Pearl Jam’s album cassettes.

Hilman: – I, personally, collect CD’s, DVD’s and bootlegs (everything audio/visual). I also bought two T-Shirts (Immagine in Cornice and DC’s 2008) from TenClub.

What kind of venue would you like to see Pearl Jam play in Indonesia? Small club, arena…?

Awang: – I love to see Pearl Jam in Indonesia anywhere they want. It’s an honor if they know the word “Indonesia”, kept in their mind then plan to come here :)

Reza: – I don’t really care as long they played here, both will be perfect so we can experience big and small PJ crowd, an Eddie Vedder show will be welcome too…

Eko: I think Pearl Jam should play in big arena. It will not be a hard job to sell 5000 tickets in Jakarta for one night show. And a rock concert by great rock band such as Pearl Jam, I believe, would definitely sell  out! FYI, there is this venue called Senayan Tennis Indoor Stadium that often used as a rock concert venue. Muse played there last year.

Hilman: – I believe that we will have a sold out arena, if Pearl Jam intend to play here. Regarding to millions fans of “grunge music” generally, I would also like them to play in major festival in our country. It would be none more less than Pearl Jam’s South America 2005 great experience.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?
Reza: – We are currently collecting signs for petition to PJ play in Indonesia. We will be grateful if you could give us a hints and tips and how to get this listened by PJ or their management….

Awang: - I have a dream. When there are many flags dominating (shown in DVD live show), we want the “red-white” color of our flag are there. I believe my country the same as USA nation, have our own unique(ness). Our country has thousand of islands (large and small) with different local languages, cultures and beliefs. We live together. I have belief, by being fans, we have a unique thing to make us connected (with) each other wherever we live and it felt like we have met before and known each other for years, just because of the name of a band called Pearl Jam? Sometimes I don’t believe that :D . It’s kind of magic of Pearl Jam :)

Eko: – This community, until now, has a specific (yet frustrating) dream: presenting PJ in Jakarta (Indonesia)! Maybe PJ could consider to come by as they touring to Singapore and Australia. I have to tell you this: our country has a great collection of beautiful cultures and places. Maybe it would be a great idea to come visit us, and try to enjoy theses beauties while they amaze us with their great rock music.

Hilman: – Our other aim in general, as a community, is to increase domestic/international awareness that there are significant numbers of Pearl Jam fans in Indonesia. So it might draw attention from local Event Organizers, or (even better) Pearl Jam themselves. The goal? Pearl Jam to play in Indonesia. There are places to attract Vedder and co. Mr. Obama’s former house and school in Jakarta. Surfing spots in Bali. Our rich cultural heritages. There are so many things to see in Indonesia, which sometime in my wildest dream, there will be a DVD about Pearl Jam having concert in Indonesia featuring uniqueness of our country like what they did with Italy through “Immagine in Cornice”.

Thank you to Hilman, Awang, Reza and Eko for sharing the PJ love.  Your story is an inspiration!

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

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