Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not too many Indonesians expected in 2012

Amongst the 53 nationalities taking the rock tour this year were fans from some pretty surprising countries, proving rock's global appeal. Among the English-speakers, Latin Americans, and sundry Europeans were Russians, Indians, Syrians, Taiwanese and Malays! Remember, up to a relatively few years ago, rock was either banned or severly frowned on in many of these countries.

But while most of us across rock's globe can now listen openly to virtually uncensored rock, wear t-shirts advertising our heroes, and even dress to reflect our chosen genre, spare a thought for those who can't and for whom listening, or adopting a particular dress code is still an act of defiance - just as it was in those early years of rock.

Take Indonesia, for example. It's reported that police raided a punk rock festival in the city of Banda Acha this last weekend. Traditional drug raid? Alas no; it was a much more fundamental attack on rock. Attendees were rounded up and those with Mohawks, or similar punk hair styles, had their heads forcibly shaved. Body-pierced jewellery was yanked out, and some fans were literally thrown into nearby rivers and ponds for a spot of 'spiritual cleansing'.

On the one hand, it's somewhat reassuring that rock still has the power to frighten establishments, and to 'kick against the pricks'. I often fear the blandness of Coldplay is a reflection of where our beloved rock n roll is in this 21st century, but maybe, to paraphrase Zappa, rock ain't dead (at least not everywhere), it just smells funny.

On the other hand, we need to spare a thought for the youth of Indonesia in their fight against such stupid reactionalism and crack-downs such as these. Solidarity is required! Rock on, Banda Ache.

We had a couple of Indonesians on the tour this year, but given the current over-reaction Indonesian authorities have exhibited, we must doubt there will be too many Indonesians on our nationality list for 2012!

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