“We wanted to have an intimate concert.. more like a showcase, in a convenient place, where people do not have to cram in front of the stage, where we can have a dialogue with the audience,” Andre Harihandoyo, frontman of AHSP (Andre Harihandoyo and the Sonic People) said in the press conference before the band’s sold out concert held in Institut Français d’Indonésie (IFI) Jakarta, February 11, 2017. And the IFI auditorium was a place that wonderfully fit the description of their desired venue: AHSP were able to deliver a performance of intimacy in the concert that lasted for more than two hours and was brought by Konserku.
AHSP had known Konserku’s Danny Widodo since the time they participated in Rock and Roots in Singapore. When Danny told them that now he runs a platform called Konserku, which makes people’s dream concert happen, AHSP thought it’s a very good idea, and they accepted the offer to work together to bring about the gig in IFI.
AHSP was not a rookie band; their debut album Good for the Soul was shortlisted in Rolling Stone’s 2009 best album category. But there was a 2.5-year period of inactivity before the band returned last year with their album, Timelapse, contributing a song to the action flick Headshot. They realised that they missed performing together as a band. And this comeback concert felt even more special because when they went through the list of the names of people who booked the tickets, they found familiar names: Names of people who’ve been supporting the band since a long time ago. “It’s something that’s very precious to us. This concert is for them. This brings back memories.”
AHSP opened their concert with the blues-y Hometown, a fitting song for their ‘homecoming’ gig. But if anyone who did not know them thought that their whole repertoire would be all blues, they were wrong, because AHSP’s sound is more eclectic. Although their music is basically folk, they tell stories in music woven from various influences. And AHSP had the fortune to have Andre as their vocalist: his voice is the kind that makes you feel as if he’s singing exclusively for you.
What’s more special was that the relaxed concert format enabled the band to talk quite a lot in-between songs, so much that several times Andre said they’d better do stand-up comedy instead. For instance, before the third song, Sailed Across the Sea, Andre said that the song was written “because of him”, pointing at keyboardist Andreas Arianto.
“It’s for gimmick, right?” Andreas asked.
“We have to make this as if it’s not planned,” Andre quickly replied.
Andre said the song was about Andreas going to Singapore after a girl, but the girl had already left for another country. “If I were him I would have wrecked Orchard. I would have turned over the ice seller carts,” Andre joked.
Many times during the concert Andre showed his talent of being a comic, with Andreas acting as a brake each time he almost went too far with his jokes, or sometimes finishing his sentences. “Please don’t go there, please,” pleaded Andreas once, when Andre made a joke about the song Jika Kau Ingat Aku not certified for halal label because the song contains the word babi (it’s actually ‘membabi-buta’).
The song, by the way, was AHSP’s first that’s written in the Indonesian language instead of English. Each time they’re interviewed on the radio, said Andre, they’re always asked why their songs were all in English. Growing up with MTV, Andre said he could not write lyrics in Indonesian because he’s not used to it. Even until now, he’s still not confident about making the song – included in their latest album – a single, or even about singing it. “Even though it’s not good, please clap your hands still,” said Andre, although that request was not necessary, because despite a bit of awkwardness in the lyrics, the song was nothing short of wonderful.
That night, AHSP performed old and new songs, from their much-loved debut album to their latest. There’s a story told to almost every song they put in the setlist. The intimacy of the concert is not just about being able to be spatially close to their fans: it’s also about opening up about what’s behind their songs. The first song Andre’d ever written, for instance, came after he was thrown into a period of doubt following his winning a contract from Sony BMG in a TV show. He’s taking a year off from college to concentrate on his path to become a performing artist, yet he feared that he’d have to compromise and perform music that’s similar to what was popular on the mainstream back then. He decided to withdraw, and wrote A Room for Everybody instead. The song featured a long drum solo by Tobias Ringga, to which Andre asked the audience to give a warm applause.
Another song written from personal experience was Flood Song, which Andre penned down during blackout following a massive flood that until a few years ago often almost submerged the area where he lived. Without electricity, Andre used an acoustic guitar to give birth to the song that was nominated in AMI as Best Folk Song. Andreas played accordion in this song, and guest Sheryl Sheinafia jumped in to hijack the song into her own Kutunggu Kau Putus.
Andre said that the song was dedicated for Tobias, because… that very day, his ex was actually having a wedding. “That’s why his friends were divided into two,” Andre grinned. “Some went there and some came here. If they’re all here we’d be full to the brim.” Tobias could only laugh.
Another guest that night was The Dance Company’s Baim, who’s also helped AHSP with recording. Just like Sheryl, not only Baim brought his guitar virtuoso and singing voice on stage, but also his great sense of humour. He asked why bassist Tommy Setiawan was very quiet, and Andre deadpanned, “That’s his gimmick!”
The 15-song setlist was put to an end with Love Again, which saw AHSP combine forces with both Baim and Sheryl. The concert managed to usher AHSP’s return to Indonesia’s music scene – they’ve already got materials for their next record in the pocket, and a new album is on the way. A string of performances is waiting, including an appearance in Java Jazz in March, and Konserku has asked them to prepare for another concert.
AHSP x Konserku 11022017 setlist:
- Sailed Across the Sea
- Room for Everybody
- I’ll Wait for You
- Flood Song (feat. Sheryl)
- Justify (feat. Sheryl)
- Jika Kau Ingat Aku
- Good for the Soul
- Between Memories
- The Breakup
- Impostor Heart
- Like A Song (feat. Baim)
- Words of Wisdom (feat. Baim)
- Love Again (feat. Sheryl & Baim)
Make your dream concert come true with Konserku!
See more pics here
Photos from press conference and concert of Andre Harihandoyo & the Sonic People at IFI Jakarta, February 11, 2017 with…