Check out some of Indonesia’s best Rock bands.
Indonesia’s bustling rock scene is loud, electrifying and armed to the teeth with a deadly attitude. There’s an undeniable cool that radiates from it, and a sense of danger that comes from the scene’s anti-establishment sentiments, filled with a determination to take the piss out of its homeground’s dense conservative population.
The image of tons of teenagers cramped together, bathed in sweat, and cussing out loud within a small venue wasn't an uncommon sight anymore (not until the global pandemic at least). When rock ‘n’ roll returned to prominence there in the early 2000s, it was a major turning point for the local youth culture and the arts in Indonesia as a whole.
Fun fact, current president of Indonesia, Jokowi, is known to be a huge heavy metal fan.
Oh, Let there be rock!
Here is a list of Indonesian bands that embody the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
Teenage Death Star
Teenage Death Star is a band that doesn’t care what you think. With the band’s irreverent mantra of “Skill is dead, Let’s Rock”, their debut album Longway to Nowhere set out to prove that technical prowess and skill were secondary in rock, to the power of infectious energy and tactful songwriting.
Their simplistic yet thunderous riffwork could be easily compared to those of influential proto-punk outfit The Stooges. Fuzzy, cutthroat guitars paired with a primal rhythm section merge to form Longway to Nowhere's noisy, almost brutal aesthetic, powering headbangers from start to finish. Its lyrics drip with wit and flirt with the comically taboo, altogether crafting a provocative, badass debut statement that serves as a loving tribute to raw, unhinged rock energy.
Teenage Death Star, formed in 2001 in Bandung
The S.I.G.I.T is the quintessential Indonesian Rock ‘n’ Roll band. At a time where their local airwaves were dominated by pop rock acts, The S.I.G.I.T brought ballsy hard rock back to the forefront. They played a big part in putting Indonesian rock music on the map internationally with an exhilarating hard rock style influenced by the rock bands of the 70s such as KISS, and of the early 2000s such as Wolfmother.
Their debut album, Visible Idea of Perfection was lightning in a bottle, a perfect album for its time. It’s an album where you just can’t help but to crank out loud and jam along to. Oozing energy and passion, Visible Idea of Perfection melded raspy vocals with catchy, dirty riffs and electrifying guitar solos into a single unforgettable experience that’ll be sure to incite air guitar moves, moshing around, and everything in between for a long time to come.
A celebration of rebellion, freedom, and just living, Visible Idea of Perfection was the much needed catharsis for the damned youth of Indonesia of the time.
The S.I.G.I.T, formed in 2002 in Bandung
Shrouded in mystery and spectacle,The Porno’s debut album Subliminal leaned heavily on its post-punk influences for an unexpected darker, moodier take on rock music. Pairing a nihilistic outlook with a strong animosity for the status quo, The Porno were determined to tear down the preconceived notions of what rock band in Indonesia should be and bring something fresh to the table.
Inspired by sounds of the 70s’ post-punk movement, Subliminal delivered an impeccable mix of biting vocal drawls, tastefully abrasive guitars, and hypnotic rhythms. The Porno shares many similarities to Teenage Death Star, in that both bands’ biggest strengths lie in their simplicity and groove.
The alluring, dissonant quality and cynical, haunting lyrics on“Subliminal”pushed the boundaries of what rock ‘n’ roll meant to Indonesia and served as a daring overture that embraced the darker side of what rock music could be.
The Porno, formed in 2004 in Pondok Gede
An exhilarating group with a zealous love for the British Invasion of the 60s, Indische Party fused a myriad of genres on their sophomore LP, Analog. The album dipped its toes in doo-wop, surf rock, and old school garage rock wrapped up in a tight, pleasant package (Think The Pinholes, but more sonically varied).
Unlike the previous bands on this list, Indische Party isn’t a particularly aggressive band, and instead focuses on more laid back songwriting alongside a sophisticated dress sense. Frontman Japs Shadiq frequently channels Mick Jagger with his magnetic and eccentric stage presence.
Overall, it’s a just an all round great album to dance to, be it with yourself, with friends, or with a lover; Analog harkens back to simpler times.
Indische Party, formed in 2011 in Jakarta
Kelompok Penerbang Roket
Gritty, rebellious, and politically charged with a fury, Kelompok Penerbang Roket’s debut album Teriakan Bocah (meaning Cries Of Children) was a warcry for the children of Indonesia that had lost their homes and their lives to the many mass killings by the government and their soldiers over the past 60 years.
With fuzzy, distorted bass and guitar riffs that trace its roots back to the likes of Black Sabbath and Motröhead, as well as drumming that embodies the spirit of John Bonham himself, Kelompok Penerbang Roket’s debut was nothing less than a visceral face-melting stunner. Its unfiltered lyrics also shone a light on the cruel realities that were lives of the oppressed in Indonesia.
Fast-paced, intimate and intense, Kelompok Penerbang Roket's music was a rallying cry that called for the unity and liberation of every citizen that had lived under corrupted systems and injustice.
Kelompok Penerbang Roket, formed in 2011 in Jakarta
It’s Different Class