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DWP 2017: 88 Rising glows as the dancefloor blows

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, December 19, 2017  /  09:23 am
DWP 2017: 88 Rising glows as the dancefloor blows

Some of the best Asian hip-hop acts graced this year’s installment of Asia’s largest electronic music festival, Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP). (JP/Ben Latuihamallo)

Some of the best Asian hip-hop acts graced this year’s installment of Asia’s largest electronic music festival, Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP).

With thousands of attendees from home and abroad, the latest edition of DWP reinforced the fact that hip-hop and dance music are still the dominant musical forces of today.

 In its ninth year, the festival, organized by Ismaya Live, took the turn of expanding their lineup to extend beyond EDM and trance to answer the increasing demand for hip-hop music, which has been swiftly taking over dancefloors in Indonesia and the rest of the world. Running for two days at the JIExpo Kemayoran grounds in East Jakarta, the first day of the festival featured the usual fare of electronic dance music (EDM) and trance artists, with notable standouts including Flume, Marshmello, R3HAB and Tiesto.

Flume’s DJ set was a drawcard for many punters attending DWP. His set was peppered with a lot of bassy hip-hop tracks that fit well within his canon, but the vibe of the set seemed to stagnate in the middle, before the 26-year old Sydneysider Harley Streten quickly picked it up at the end with straight-up hits. Streten played cuts from artists like TNGHT and Chance the Rapper in between tracks from his award-winning self-titled debut album and his most recent album, Skin.

It was apparent that many, many people at the festival grounds were waiting for the rainbow-colored, sticky-sweet EDM of Marshmello, the DJ notable for wearing a marshmallow-shaped bucket on his head. People rushed, ran and some literally fell down running toward the main Garuda stage just to secure a spot at the day’s most waited-for set. Decoy Marshmello buckets and masks were everywhere in the crowd. Sweat flowed from everywhere like torrential rain. It was almost too much to bear.

Those who didn’t stick around for Marshmello found solace in two harder, more pumping acts on the two indoor stages. Israeli psytrance act Vini Vici, who was one of the most anticipated acts at the festival, pulled out of its appearance at the Live ETC stage at the last minute, leaving the spot to be quickly replaced by trance acts Marlo and NWYR. 

Raise your hands up: EDM fans let go of everything and entertain themselves during the recent DWP festival.Raise your hands up: EDM fans let go of everything and entertain themselves during the recent DWP festival. (JP/Ben Latuihamallo)

On the smallest stage, the Neon Jungle, an onslaught of bass-heavy acts proliferated the stage such as Ookay and Zed’s Dead, both of which brought body-tickling, bass-overflowing dubstep.

The first night was closed out by veteran trance DJ Tiesto, whose set was audibly very much different from his pure trance days of two decades ago. This was understandable though, due to the shifting pop landscapes happening in the world. Gone are the days where one would be able to expect anthems such as “Ten Seconds Before Sunrise” or “Adagio for Strings” in his playlist, as the Dutchman prefers to include cuts from his more recent, more pop records and collaborations. As per his style, the frequent DWP visitor did not skimp on the fireworks and confetti.

Meanwhile, the much-anticipated 88 Rising showcase dominated the festival’s second day, especially with the appearance of hometown hero Brian Imanuel, or Rich Chigga, in his comeback Indonesian show — his first in more than a year.

Read also: Rich Chigga returns to Indonesia a wiser, better musician

American label and management company 88 Rising’s efforts to bring out the best of Asian hip-hop to the global eye has been achieved with incredible success, as otherwise underrated Asian acts are now finally breaking through to the Western markets with incredible ease and popularity. The showcase on Saturday featured some of 88 Rising’s best talent, aside from Rich Chigga there were China’s Higher Brothers, Japan’s Joji and South Korea’s Keith Ape.

Joji, also known to internet dwellers as Filthy Frank, started out the showcase in an early and fitting 9:45 p.m. slot, his brilliantly woozy, slow lo-fi hip-hop swayed as the antithesis to DWP’s usual fare of hard-thumping music. The Higher Brothers were next up, and the foursome’s energy was absolutely pumping, while Keith Ape’s set afterward came off possibly as the best of the night due to the fact that his catalogue is the musically strongest among all the 88 Rising acts.

Turn it up, DJ: Fadil El Ghoul, aka R3HAB, performs during the recent Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP) electronic dance music (EDM) festival at the Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.Turn it up, DJ: Fadil El Ghoul, aka R3HAB, performs during the recent Djakarta Warehouse Project (DWP) electronic dance music (EDM) festival at the Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. (JP/Ben Latuihamallo)

Rich Chigga, though, had the crowd firmly in the palm of his hand, as Indonesians welcomed his return to a hometown stage. Fresh from a new life and rising career in the United States, the baby-faced 18-year old showed that his skills as a rapper have developed and improved beyond his initial breakout with the “Dat $tick” video in 2016. Chigga’s catalogue has since expanded to include some of hip-hop’s better tracks of the year, such as the Keith Ape and XXXTentacion-assisted “Gospel,” and his wonderful single “Glow Like Dat,” which is so far, his best song.

It was a shame that after three full hours of exciting hip-hop music by the 88 Rising crew that the performance afterward by Atlanta rapper Desiigner ruined the momentum.

Desiigner’s song catalogue is incredibly weak, with very little standout tracks or features, making him one of the least interesting rappers of recent times, despite being signed on to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music crew. “Timmy Turner” is probably the most acceptable track he has, while his one-hit wonder “Panda” is disappointing beyond the hype.

Ismaya Live had clearly not learned its lesson in booking one-hit wonders as headline acts, as usually those who are famous for only one song are unable to hold a crowd for an entire set.

Flocks of people left Desiigner’s set mid-way because the performance provided little of worth to them, and only a fraction of the crowd stayed for (a mangled version of) “Panda.” His hype-man’s constant barking commands to the people to get down on the floor or form moshpits to the often confused crowd didn’t help either.

After hours of hip-hop, the only remaining draws to close the night were the crop of pumping DJs, from Steve Aoki and his cake-throwing antics, to a classy analogue set by house legend Richie Hawtin, the monstrous trap of Flosstradamus and the simple excitement initiated by Hardwell.

Throughout the two days of the festival, the international atmosphere was incredibly visible as audience members from various countries held up and carried with them flags of their respective countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Japan, China, France, Myanmar, Philippines, you name it. It shows what an international event DWP has become that Indonesia has caught the eye of the international crowd, even if it’s just for one weekend.

Through this achievement, DWP serves as a source of cultural (and economic) pride for Indonesia and one that does so through the power of music. 

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