2013 in BATS

Well, it’s been a while, but it’s about time to do a quick update of what’s been going on in BATS recently. After the slow motion car crash that was the residency of Cache Superstar in early 2013, it seems appropriate that the second half of the year saw Crash Motion take up the reins. With the best looking female singers since 2010 and a strong male vocalist it was a pretty successful time and BATS was packed most days.

This was Cache Superstar (Jan-July 2013). Let’s just say the line-up changed quite a bit by the time they had finished. The well-built male lead vocalist was very good though. As for the rest, let’s draw a veil over it, it would be kinder.

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Crash Motion, the band in residence from July to December, were a hard-working group from Canada. They made a good effort to integrate with the locals, particularly memorable was their version of Pelan Pelan Saja, a big Indonesian hit. Other memorable songs they did were Don’t You Worry Child and Starships.

The band’s line-up saw a quick return for Daren from Earthbeat, surely now BATS’ most capped lead guitarist. The bass player was a crowd favourite as a native Spanish speaker doing all the Latino songs (Suavemente being his signature song). The keyboard player was incredible – anonymous at the back but holding it all together. The two girls were very easy on the eye, especially after a few drinks. The slimmer one did sing sharp quite a bit, but that improved over time and her optimism was infectious. The large-breasted one slimmed down a lot over the course of the contract but thankfully not in all areas.

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Also worth noting is another change of manager, and a massive hike in both prices and volume. I think it must be because prices are based in dollars, so when the rupiah collapses against the dollar, a beer goes from being 90,000 to 120,000. The speakers have now been jacked up to the extent that anyone close to the stage will have ear pain for the next 2 days. It would probably be illegal in the West, but, well, we’re not in the West.

Anyway, we look forward with optimism to 2014 to see what the new all-British band, The Volume (below), will bring us. They’re newbies in Indonesia, although they have just come off 2 years on cruise ships, so it’s a bit of a different gig. A more stable stage, more prostitutes in the crowd, and a different type of OAP. Their first couple of weeks have been impressive, but 6 months is a long time, let’s hope they maintain their health, focus, sobriety and sanity.

Volume band

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Review of Earthbeat, BATS, 2010

Rating: 63%

Earthbeat are a solid professional show band, whose members are mainly from Canada, and have been on the circuit for several years. They played at BATS from July 2010 – January 2011 (having previously been there in 2009).

line up ..

Earthbeat 2010 (minus Ariel)

Overall rating 63%.

Memorable song: Can’t take my eyes off of you

Update: Earthbeat played again in BATS (for the final time as it turned out, they went their separate ways) from July 2012 to January 2013. They changed the vocalists but the core of the band was still the same. A very strong French-Canadian singer was brought in, replacing the equally good Brad who had been with them from the beginning.

Earthbeat probably rival Solidaz as having played BATS the most times, and latterly were the go-to band who would always give a good solid performance. They will be missed in Jakarta.

Memorable song: La Camisa Negra

Glamourous band at BATS July 2011 to January 2012

The second half of 2011 saw a bit of a low point for BATS, with the 6 month residence of Glamourous Band, a French Canadian band who spelt their name incorrectly amongst other sins. They were a bit young for this type of gig (mid-20s), and most had never been to Asia before, so not really an ideal band for BATS, and so it turned out. Audiences declined over the period and only started to recover once the strong Australian band Platinum Vibe took over in January 2012.

Glamourous Band 2011

Glamourous Band 2011

They didn’t help themselves by not learning new songs fast enough, and generally not putting in the work to mix with guests between sets, or building a rapport with the crowd when playing. Anyway, they seemed to enjoy their first taste of Asia, including the time-honoured long-term relationships with local girls, and have now reformed as Remix Band, so while not BATS-standard, I’m sure they will find their niche somewhere.

Memorable song: Party Rock Anthem

Rating: 57%

Review of Oxygen Band, BATS, 2011

Rating: 65%

Oxygen Band played in BATS from January to July 2011, and were put together specifically for this gig (they disbanded in July 2011). Band members came from the EL-Live agency. The band had a standard set up with 3 vocalists (Inga, Vanessa – female, and Oba – male).

Oxygen band (minus Vanessa)

They were superb musicians, and it’s difficult to find fault with them or their performances. There wasn’t really a weakness. Both Inga and Oba were strong lead vocalists, Vanessa was a good second female vocalist, the rhythm section was solid, and the keyboard player (Zach) was a real virtuoso, which doesn’t often happen (although he tended to overelaborate at times, showing his technique rather than what the song needs, which is sometimes just less keyboard). Joe the guitarist was good but probably not in the top rank of guitarists, but he contributed a lot to the show. Oba was one of the strongest male vocalists I’ve seen in Jakarta, but for a black man it was interesting that his rock’n’roll voice was much better than his rapping. Overall I have awarded a rating of 65%. They were certainly worthy of the best gig in South East Asia – BATS.

1. Musicianship (14/20)

All members of the band were strong musically and there wasn’t really a weak link. Minor improvements in keyboard and guitar as mentioned above would have helped, and there was the odd night that they were so drunk that quality suffered a bit, but hey that’s Jakarta!
2. Atmosphere (13/20)
BATS is always a great atmosphere, and Oxygen if anything added even to what you would normally expect there. I believe that a strong top 3 are the key to a great band in BATS and Oba, Inga and Vanessa are maybe the strongest singing unit BATS has seen for a while (possibly even edging Earthbeat), both in terms of singing and getting the crowd going.
3. Communication (13/20)
They made a decent effort to mix with guests, and while on stage the chatting with the crowd was genuine and interactive. Occasionally they allowed other musicians on stage (I sensed maybe reluctantly). Despite their slight sense of superiority they did put a lot into the gig.
4. Songs (13/20)
Generally a good mix of songs, including up-to-date top 40. A bit too much Lady Gaga for my liking plus a tendency to always end up the last set singing Zombie (it kind of became Inga’s signature). Also they sometimes did an “introduce the band” segment which is not really appropriate for a covers band (on guitar, Slash, on drums, Don Henley …) and I wondered if it might have been because they were out of ideas at that point. Talking of which, the sets when Oba was leading the band in Inga’s short absence had a bit more energy, flow and creativity.
5. Value for money (12/20)
While BATS is a bit overpriced, it’s not the worst (see CJs!) and after seeing Oxygen band you generally had the feeling that they had put on a good show giving value for money. They were out on their feet each night which in a way is good to see; they put their hearts into it.

I hope we’ll see some or all of them back in Jakarta before too long.

Memorable song: Zombie