Perhaps it had something to do with me not being a high school student anymore. Or maybe it was because I didn’t have time to revise the new CD that the group had released. I think it was both. I reveled in attending concerts in high school and university but, I realized that, after watching Maroon 5, my concert days were over. I’ve turned into a semi-demophobic, taking delight in the quiet solitude of listening to a CD in my office or plugging to my iPod, yet I took a little delight in witnessing the concert scene in Jakarta.
I felt, in all honesty, marooned on an island surrounded by a sea of people and mobile phones. I was the odd-man-out, not knowing most of the lyrics of the song, not one to stand in the mosh pit and not one to videotape the entire concert. It was bizarre watching these two concert-goers at Istora Senayan (Entrance D) in front of me film the entire concert via their mobile phones and watch the concert through their little monitors. Whatever happened to sitting down and listening to the singer, well, sing?
Making the most of being stuck, I whipped out my book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and passed the time waiting for Adam Levine and buddies to come onstage, and they did about 20 minutes past. Shrieks reverberated through the arena and the people down at the mosh pit moved forward like a tidal wave to the shoreline. There was no way to go against the tide – you were, literally, swept by the crowd forward. It was almost magical the way the venue suddenly filled with people just a few minutes before Maroon 5 took to the stage. It was as if they had this sixth sense, knowing exactly when to enter Istora Senayan, which looked half-empty when I took my seat. But it was packed to the rafters shortly before Adam Levine burst into the scene and screams punctured the night.
Onstage, Levine looked good in skinny jeans; the tattoos peeking out of the sleeves of his white tee shirt got my undivided attention (he loomed large on the video wall). Unfortunately, perhaps due to the acoustics of the place, it was difficult hearing him sing, clearly enunciating the words of the songs especially the new ones. Listening to his version of Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to Do with It wasn’t difficult – the crowd was uncharacteristically quiet because he couldn’t get them to sing along with him unlike with the popular Sunday Morning and She Must be Loved. In fact, he didn’t have to sing when he sang those songs, as the crowd took over while I sat looking bowled over.
It wasn’t surprising that he subscribed to the formulaic spiel of performers in foreign countries, uttering “Saya cinta kamu” and “Terima kasih” in between the numbers, which sent the crowd into a euphoric symphony of screams (including the men in my area). How do you endear yourself to the crowd but to say something in their language? It never fails to tickle the concert-goers.
Interestingly enough, not all, I learnt, were huge fans of Maroon 5. What they were huge fans of was attending a concert – any concert of any foreign artist. Prior to the arrival of Maroon 5, Justin Bieber had hundreds of thousands of young girls swooning over his performance, which, I imagined, was a nightmare for the 1,000 security personnel assigned to him.
I’m no fan of Maroon 5 but I don’t dislike them either. I was in town and they were in town so getting together seemed like a good idea. It proved to be an interesting night (including the long walk from Plaza Senayan to get to the venue and being escorted by the security from the stadium who took pity). Let’s leave it at that.