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Vibrant Katy Perry meets lukewarm crowd

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, April 16, 2018  /  08:42 am
Vibrant Katy Perry meets lukewarm crowd

Indonesian tour: Katy Perry entertains the audience during her “Witness The Tour” concert at ICE BSD, in Serpong, Banten, on Saturday. (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

Katy Perry deserves only to play sold-out arenas and packed auditoriums. Her grand, absurdist stage show and grand energy on stage can only achieve its maximum impact when the crowd’s energy matches hers. If it did, then the show could be considered one of the most dazzling to ever catch.

It was thus an absolute shame, to see the hall of the Indonesian Convention and Exhibition Centre (ICE) BSD in BSD, South Tangerang, only half full. She had played there in 2015 during her Prismatic tour, but never at a grand scale like this. The same can be said for when she first played in Jakarta in 2012 at the cold, unwelcoming Sentul Convention Center halfway between Bogor and Jakarta.

With ticket prices for the standing area reaching up to Rp 3 million (US$218), it’s not really strange to see low attendance, but the gaping void of an empty standing room separating the standing and seating areas made the energy in the room uneven.

The crowd was a mix of adults, teens and children. Unlike her previous tours, this stage show was more family friendly, to some extent.

Her stage was never devoid of color or dazzle. A giant eye-shaped screen reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s P.U.L.S.E Tour stage in the 1990s, towered above the stage, being the main proprietor of visuals, which ranged broadly from surrealist art to pop art, to even vaporwave, galactic and 8bit graphics. The visuals acted as bookends and transitions for different acts of the show. Space-themed casino-like visuals preceded the beginning of the show where tracks such as “Chained to the Rhythm”, “Roulette” and crowd favorite “Dark Horse” were performed. 

Segueing into the next act, neon-themed tropical futuristic visuals accompanied the most upbeat part of the set, which included her old favorites as “California Girls”, “Hot and Cold” and “I Kissed a Girl”.

During the third act, the PA system suddenly went dead in the middle of her song “Power”, which cut off the entire stage’s sound for about five minutes, in an embarrassing moment for ICE BSD and the promoters, who also copped flak from some concertgoers for not being very organized in terms of ticketing. 

Perry diffused the awkward situation quickly by giving an unplanned acoustic rendition of her song “Unconditional”.

“Hey, Jakarta you must be lucky. You get an extra song from us!” she added. 

The synchronization of her dancers, giant puppets, backing band and visuals was impeccable. The absurdism, costumes, grace of the dancers and the stage props shows that Perry really wants to cement herself in the vein of Madonna, Grace Jones and her own contemporary Lady Gaga in bringing a spectacular live show full of zaniness that leaves an impression.

Perry herself went through many costume changes, ranging from a gold-like suit ala Michael Jackson, a silver dress (and wig) made completely of sequins that made her look like a walking disco ball and a Dadaist striped-suit with angular shoulder pads complete with giant triangular arms where she strutted like a mosquito. It was really nice to see a performer put so much thought into her stage design.

Her humor and general welcoming personality was fun to see in person, especially when it came to the moment where she talked to audience members, playfully asking them how to say “hot” and “cold” in Indonesian, and how she invited one lucky fan from Surabaya on stage to help her learn simple Indonesian words like terima kasih (thank you) and kentut (fart). After that, almost every time she thanked the crowd, she used terima kasih.

When the fan asked her to take a selfie with her, she asked what the Indonesian term for selfie was, to which the star-struck fan answered foto sama-sama. Perry giggled at that, saying “Wow, I’m going to start calling it that from now on!”

All of this interaction came in between her playful interactions with the Left Shark: the stage dancer in a shark suit that became a meme a year or so ago and has since become a live staple. The Left Shark came onto the stage to great applause and undoubtedly helped create a fun show. 

Seeing the great effort she and her team has put into her stage show, one can conclude that Katy Perry is probably one of the best live performers currently on the road.