The Theory of Bangkutaman
There were days where my mind wonders far back to the past. One of those days was exactly on August 20, 2015.
That night, that particular night… was something else.
It was at 365 Ecobar, Kemang. I went there that night, a regular bar with regular choices of beers but with abnormal prices (duh, in this economy?!). So I went to that place for supporting my colleague (whom also a very good friend of mine) who is happened to be one of the member of this — for the lack of terms — indie band called Bangkutaman.
I just found out that his band plays psychedelic folk rock. And that night Bangkutaman was having their ‘#5TahunOBK: Vinyl Launching Party’ on the very bar for their album, Ode Buat Kota.
I was with other friends too that night, watching the gig. No one knew Bangkutaman before.
The band ‘Bangkutaman’ (Indonesian translation for ‘park bench’ with no space in between the words) isn’t actually a new player in the industry. They debuted years ago and has been juggling for more than 15 years as indie band. Trying to get Bangkutaman to describe their sound is difficult, the band used to have a very unique and dreamy tone to the music reminiscent of late 80s Madchester rock (yes, I googled).
But when I saw them playing that night, it was like seeing Lou Reed, Neil Young, and Jimmy Page on stage. Somehow. Ode Buat Kota was something else. It was mean, restless, angry, honest, but beautiful. I hate and love Ode Buat Kota at the same time.
5 years ago on that exact date, Bangkutaman released Ode Buat Kota (CD). Prior to their big break, Bangkutaman were selling out shows and gaining popularity, even the album was nominated as the Best Local Album 2010 by Rolling Stone Indonesia magazine.
The past is very much alive in their performance that night, particularly when they played the title song ‘Ode Buat Kota’, a satire ode inspired by and presented for the capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta.
The sense of nostalgic, honesty, and maturity of the song got me that night, and it was the memories that made me travel far back to my past. Brought me back to one particular memory. Yes, that memory.
The memory from my early college life, the memory of “Teori Bangkutaman.”
Teori Bangkutaman (or Park Bench Theory) is a self-made theory. It’s a theory in which that there is a certain spot or corner, mostly benches, in a quiet and breezy park, where you can sit down, be alone, and hear yourself clearly, and then eventually when you get up from that bench, you are becoming this different person. You are changing.
The perfect spot that drowns you in your thoughts where the silence of your mind speaks so loud inside your head.
Doing nothing but staring blankly at the crimson sunset sky and see how it turns into a shadowy violet before completely engulfed by darkness. Bring no phone, no books, not even snacks, no, nothing.
It’s just you, Bangkutaman, and whatever passes by around you. You would most likely spend your time thinking or pondering. Maybe it’s about your job, your long lost love, your family, your hometown with the haunting feels of homesickness, or how your imperfect life would turn out to be one day.to be.
You would most likely fall into deep thoughts, with the breeze of winds that graces your cheekbone, and nothing but the voice of chirping birds and kids’ laughter in the park. By the time you walk away from the bench, you are not the same person you used to be.
That’s my Bangkutaman theory. Because this kind of spot really exists, I tell you that. It could be in any form. It could be a sidewalk by the traffic light, it could be a rooftop in the highest floor of an office building, it could be a bench on a bus stop, it could be a seat by the window in a moving train.
My Bangkutaman theory was there too that night. Right when Bangkutaman was performing on stage, it hit me. The thoughts. The memories. It turned out that their music was like a mind-blower deep-thoughts-trigger. I cannot unfeel. It felt familiar.
It was strange, though, of course. Good kind of strange. It was all quite morbid and beautiful, and it did exceptionally well at concealing things that I thought it wouldn’t have gotten the chance to ring any bells in my mind. But their music was something else.
Strange, the coincidence is so uncanny, that the band name is the literal translation of park bench who happens to be the name of the theory which I stumbled upon years before I even know this band.
What they showed me that night was that they didn’t necessarily think about wanting to say anything particularly when on stage. They just be what they really are. They were just being so honest. Ode Buat Kota is all about an album of a gentle yet complex guitar playing, forgoing the heavy bass playing, and creating a bit of folky retro eclectic feel.
What I realized after coming home from the bar that night was the Bangkutaman Theory is not only applicable to a certain place or spot. It can actually be in a form of a song, an album, a wild stage performance.
This band is actually my theory, for some reason. I thought they were just a band, like any other band.
I was wrong.
But I’m glad that I was wrong that night.
Bunga Istyani, August 22, 2015.
As published on http://bungaistyani.com