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Just another night with The Chainsmokers

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, April 2, 2018  /  08:15 am
Just another night with The Chainsmokers

Dance duo: United States DJ duo The Chainsmokers performs at “The Chainsmokers Live in Concert” in Kemayoran, Jakarta on Friday. The duo, Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, played their hits such as 'Closer', 'Don’t Let Me Down' and 'Something Just Like This'. (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

New York DJ duo The Chainsmokers are as much a brand as they are DJs. For the past few years during their ascent into the mainstream, they have attracted mainly the ire of music figures because of their allegedly simplistic hooks and clichéd, frat-boy themes (which they also live quite shamelessly) but have managed to turn that into gold. 

For Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, the hate has only helped elevate their fame and drove them further into themselves, continuing to keep the music simple, catchy and sticking by their sex-and-party-and-sex-again-and-breaking-up-and-repeat ethos, forging it into their hook-laden music and scoring big hits.

To conquer the world, one has to know how to dominate its surface. And no matter what the snobs say, The Chainsmokers have figured out how to conquer. 

And on an Easter night in Jakarta at the JIExpo in Kemayoran, East Jakarta, they stepped their feet into the Indonesian exclave of Chainsmoker territory with their first show in the city since 2015. Hardcore devotees of the duo enjoyed it all the more for that.

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But there is not really much to say about this kind of show. It is kind of the same-old, typical high-octane, fireworks-laden, laser-light EDM show, with nothing really that makes the duo stand out aside from The Chainsmokers’ logo flashing on the screens, indicating who they are. 

Pall and Taggart walked onto the stage at 10 p.m. to an eager sea of faces and soon drowned the crowd in their bass. Opening with their single “Everybody Hates Me”, the duo spared no time in diving straight into their rise-and-drop set for the next hour-and-a-half or so. Pall’s main job was to hype the crowd at times and sing his parts in the repertoire, while Taggart manned the decks. 

In between their radio hits, such as the massive singles “Don’t Let Me Down”, “Paris” and eventually “Closer” however, there was not much to be interested in. 

As per the standard EDM set, it was full of rollercoaster ups and drops, high-energy bass loops or brightly colored synth lead lines interspersed with some of the duo’s favorite songs, which they remixed, such as “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind, “When You Were Young” by The Killers and (delightfully) “Last Resort” by Papa Roach. 

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Gradually, some people were observed leaving the show early or having their initial smiles slowly turn to frowns, when it could have been that most of them realized they couldn’t hear anything beyond the dominant sub bass. 

In the case of almost all large-scale international electronic shows in Jakarta, the bass setting was way too overwhelming all throughout the set, effectively drowning out everything else in the sound. It is not clear why this keeps happening at shows in Jakarta, even at festivals such as We the Fest and Djakarta Warehouse Project (but they have done a better job at handling this bass thing).

But I’m guessing it is either the soundmen that operate these shows follow the idea that “the bigger the bass the better”, or maybe it is because the equipment in Indonesia simply cannot handle the international artist’s bass settings. Either way, this tsunami of rumbling, tickling bass basically just ruins everything, and unfortunately, the problem arose again this time. 

One thing that was sweet to observe though was the attendance of a lot of families at the show. Mothers and fathers bringing their children and enjoying the relatively late-hour show, with both the parents and the kids vibing to the music. Although in essence, EDM shows are typically bastions of hedonism and sin, you realize that in Indonesia they have the potential to become a family show, even if those on stage casually flip the middle finger every so often.  

On the whole, the crowd was a nice balance of both youngsters, teens and middle-agers and, at least when it came to the obvious radio hits, all of them seemed to know every word by heart. Only in Indonesia can such music be treated as accessible family entertainment.

The Chainsmokers undeniably provide popular music. It is as easily acceptable to Indonesian ears as rice is to our mouths.

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