Jaya Pub lived up to its reputation last night, and I got to rendezvous with my friend Richard from Batukaru. Walking into Jaya Pub at 10pm, the rectangular bar that is situated in front of the stage, was half full of people. As soon as I entered, 2 different staff and a member of the band, invited me to sit at the bar. At Jaya Pub its almost a cult calling to sit at the bar.
I resisted and reclined in a lounge chair next to the bar. Recalling a memory of long ago in the Philippines, I think this was wise move. The memory was in a diving spot, that I stayed at. One night I had cruised down a street looking for a beer. Spotting an open-air bar I sat down. A 40 year old male singer in a tight black sequined jump suit looked over and said over the microphone”HELLO STRANGER, WELCOME JOIN US.” “WHERE YOU FROM FRIEND?” “WHAT’S YOUR NAME?” WANT TO GET UP HERE WITH ME AND SING A SONG?” I’m like ‘Oh God’ I just want a quiet beer, I’m not looking to be the entertainment.
Back to Jaya Pub. The building is a curious blend of wooden beams and bamboo. The clientele something out of a David Lynch movie. Odd things were happening all over, from the aging hippie gyrating in front of me, to the 30 year old Aussie couple, making their first ever attempt at dancing. Right behind all dressed in black, where several stocky Indonesians. Around the bar they hang bicycle horns, for excited patrons to honk at moments of uncontainable pleasure.
The centerpiece of the whole show was the Indonesian band, decked out in black and red. Two female singers, one very cute / average voice, the other semi cute / good voice. Young lead guitarist, who could jam out heavy metal licks, but got nervous on his big solo and blew it. Drummer – adequate, bass – average. The most annoying member of the band was the keyboard player. In an effort to present a ‘full sound’, many local bands (and local western pub bands overseas) use a keyboard. Unfortunately the effect often comes out sounding like ‘um bapa, um bapa’, rather like a kids birthday party. It totally takes away from anything special the band is doing as a whole.
Anyway the band started out singing a rocking version of a Santana tune, I was impressed. Their song selection went steadily downhill, with older rock hits from 25 years ago, as well as more modern pop songs. I said to Richard, ‘song selection is a big problem for many of these bands’. He agreed, and said the keyboard player didn’t know what a volume control was, the instrument blasting out.
Drinking Bintangs, I noticed a small was 20,000rp, not the cheapest in town, but then again, where else can you spend 2 hours hours looking at lovely female singers? Chatting with one older Aussie expat, I asked him why he liked Jaya Pub. He told me “I like the atmosphere and I get treated very well in here.” So there you have it. If you are a regular at Jaya Pub, you will notice less of the weird stuff, and the cabaret show music will seem like a concert.