Kickstarting December with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

[Bandung, December 2013]

"When everything is going down
Nothing seem to feel same
No one seem to know my name
No one seem to go my way

But who knows if I'll see you again..

Time won't save our soul." ♫


An early cheap flight took me and a colleague to my hometown on the last day of November 2013. It was nearing lunch time when we landed and our stay in Jakarta was only one day old as we headed straight to Bandung the next morning.

It was the weekend we've been looking forward to. We took a travel van and and spent good three hours blasting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on our iTunes all the way, I kept saying to my friend, "damn we'll be seeing them live in a couple of hours", and I kept mentioning how I tend to spend my cash to travel for concerts and short getaways and I'm pretty sure I'd still be doing this even when I'm older.

We reached Bandung in the late afternoon. Planning to be on time to the concert, dinner became early and short, and we headed straight to the venue to get our pre-ordered tickets first. Bandung was drizzling and it got colder in the evening. While waiting for more crowd (hence, more local friends to say hi to), we got ourselves cheap coffee and tea from a stall just outside the entrance gate. Dago Tea House was packed with people in leather jackets and I was trying so hard to kick away the chills from the freezing air. I spotted my best friend Nara among the crowd and before he even came closer I ran and jumped off for a hug. Gate opened around 9 PM and everybody rushed in and started filling up the hall. Nara managed to steal a press/photographer ID from his friend, so I handed him my camera and said "have fun, you know what to do."

The crowd settled in and suddenly the room dropped dark. Red beam slowly started filling the entire hall, like an intro to a hot night ride, welcomed by the screaming from the longing audience and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club went on stage and from that very second onwards, I couldn't remember anything else but 2 hours of pure fun. I had a list of songs I wished they'd play and almost all of them were ticked. Their performance was very entertaining and the exchange of energy between them and the crowd was beyond amazing, they definitely have what it takes to get people addicted to rock and roll. I undoubtedly walked out of the hall when the gig ended with sore throat and tired legs, but my soul was well fed and I was completely satisfied. Nara appeared out of nowhere and handed me back my camera with at least 900 photographs and right away I thought about a blog post that will easily be filled with a collaboration between his amazing shots and my editing.

And as we made our way home, exhausted yet content, I replayed those echoing melodies over and over again, the most favourite punchlines, the grunge of hard rock, messy love,
"Red eyes and tears no more for you my love I fear
Red eyes and tears no more for you my love I fear
No more fear, no more fear, I'm in love".

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 "She brings the cold and scars my soul
She's heaven sent to me.." ♫ •
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• Peter Hayes and Leah Shapiro, setting the night on fire •
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• The crowd •
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• Heart warming photo •
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• Spotted: Somebody stealing a #selfie with Robert Levon at the back •
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• "So was never known on which they choked where books of old and time
It's a complicated situation.." ♫ •
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• Midnight quickie with this red hot beauty before departing the next morning •

Months of festivity, Natsu Matsuri [夏祭り] 2013 & The S.I.G.I.T live in Singapore

[Singapore, November 2013]

this town is small yet stories are spilling out from every corner, time is limited yet everything's changing everyday and when life passes too fast and stories end too soon sometimes it spins me inside out and my overwhelmed head feels heavy and all I want to do is close my eyes and let the heavy clouds above my head pass and only open my eyes when the sky clears out.
But I didn't. I never could.

I am now writing this from memories of August 2013,
November sky is painted grey and rains out heavily almost everyday. Days are dark and time seems to be passing so slow. During night time, after a heavy washout, I would hear lonely laughters echoing among the buildings I see on my first sight out my window, the little bright lives whose existence I never really expect in the dead hours, yet lately I am one of them too. There would still be people playing in the playgrounds around my HBD neighbourhood, I would still be pausing in between fleeting stories. My feet had been wondering around this dark city past midnight these days.
As I lay my head I wonder about the endless word vomits I've been having in the past few months. 

On a beautiful afternoon I was putting on my brand new Yukata for Natsu Matsuri. I was sitting straight while getting my hair did by my ex housemate, Dira, when the fat cat named Bobo covered my ankles with his thick golden fur. Today last year I was here, living shortly in a small homey room, surviving on my own. And being back in that room I felt like I was reminded of all the brand new starts I've had, and the bravery I had to find and choose endings to some of them for good. In between the reminiscing, Dira made my hair bun and applied eyeshadow on my lids. Natsu Matsuri this year was just as festive as last year, and through memories I made my ways easier through it all this time, I knew which stalls to get the best food and which spot is the most convenient to sit down with drinks and park our Geta. I joined Bon Odori (盆踊り) and danced with strangers, and my tummy was spoiled as always. Unfortunately I didn't get to take as many photographs as last year.

I remember stories of September 2013,
disconnection has been befriending me. Beautiful, troubled, escape-craving souls came and left and I can't remember having companies that would stay long enough to wake me up before nightmares eat up my mornings alive. These detachment side effects had left me lost in the air of solitude, I was a grasshopper, jumping from one green leaf to another. Everything remained a give-and-take, numb and free.

On a windy evening I was strolling along River Point with a best friend of mine, drinking away and loving everything that kept us together like this. He was in town for a job, and I'm happy that he gets to travel while doing something that he loves for living. Later that night he passed out on my couch while I was drowning on pilling deadlines myself. The next evening was spent on a gig of one of my favourite Indonesian musicians down at Boat Quay, my best friend on duty with camera on his hands and I, on mine. It's always pleasing to spend short hours on good music, while greeting new familiar faces and getting involved in conversations that felt like home.  And of course, it's always pleasing to be taking photographs again too. I haven't been spending enough time to take photos out of passion, and although I haven't been too passionate on stage photography myself, I collected amazing images of amazing talents wrapped in amazing energy on stage and I had an amazing time. All's good.

I felt the sudden energy rush from being back on track on spray painting and it was great to be doing mural art again. I spent several good months being surrounded by crazy talented local street artists and the amount of motivation they gave out whenever they're down for spray painting sessions had been contagious, mostly during their Singapore Biennale week. I got an offer to get involved in Jogja's street art project/exhibition for January around the same time, and the fact that I haven't practiced mural painting for years now made me nervous yet I was very excited for it. These were the times I spent my days being at school and working part-time and saving up money for new year trip and plane tickets, and my nights preparing sketches for the Jogja exhibition while drinking cheap coffee with people who had spray paints all over their arms and clothes until sunrise. Everything felt so young and timeless. But in fact, time was going just as fast as ever.

It's approaching the end of the year again as any other years before but this time I've been too overwhelmed to get excited about anything a brand new year would have to offer. This town is small yet stories are spilling out from every corner, time is limited yet everything's changing everyday and when life passes too fast, and stories end too soon, sometimes it spins me inside out and my overwhelmed head feels heavy, and all I want to do is close my eyes and let the heavy clouds above my head pass and only open my eyes when the sky clears out.
I tried.
And when I opened my eyes, it's another December for the lost and found...

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• Rainy season •
• Natsu Matsuri's festivity •
• Colours and people •
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• Custard Taiyaki ((鯛焼き) in the making •
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• Cotton candy face •
• Gulping peach sangria on my new Yukata •
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• The only bright afternoon on September •
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• A very Bon Iver kind of morning •
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• ZnC preparation for Singapore Biennale •
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• ZnC crew on duty •
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• A Saturday spent at Haji Lane •
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• Home cooked dinner in between pilling assignments •
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• Acil The S.I.G.I.T on their rehearsal night, photo taken by Nara •
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• Passed out best friend won over by Jim Beam •
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• The S.I.G.I.T's gig at Homeclub, Clarke Quay •
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• Some photographs I took of them on stage. I forgot how good of a band they are, and I definitely had fun •
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• Endless storm every single day and night for months •
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• My fruitful deathbed, 25 hours to assessment day •
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• Mom bought be a warm wool top when she visited •
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• Made it back home to spoil my main man with homemade chocolate ganache cake and dinner on his birthday that one long weekend in September •