We The Fest 2022 review: the Jakarta festival makes a safe, solid return

Written by on 28/09/2022


Since its inaugural edition back in 2014, We The Fest‘s mission has always been to offer the kind of extravaganza that music fans cannot find anywhere else – true to what the festival’s acronym cheekily implies. That sentiment will be understood by everyone who witnessed global superstar Lorde taking to We The Fest 2018 stage, bringing everyone to profound tears with the chef d’oeuvre that was ‘The Louvre’. It will ring familiar for everyone who saw Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform ‘Same Love’ – a song against homophobia in a predominantly Muslim and conservative country – in 2016.

Afgan performs at We The Fest 2022. Credit: Saska for Ismaya Group

It wasn’t just about the international acts – hometown heroes, too, saw We The Fest as a sort of holy ground on which they would get to dazzle with something unexpected. Who could forget that precious moment when legendary Indonesian pop band Sheila On 7 decided to come out of the woodwork in 2016 to brave the rain with thousands of their adoring fans? Or when Ramengvrl brought actor Iqbaal Ramadhan to her stage for an impromptu jam in 2018?

But that was then. And this is now.

We The Fest 2022 managed to deliver high-wattage, in-vogue international acts, all of whom delivered stellar performances. CL supplied the edge with spicy verses off her latest album ‘ALPHA’. Jackson Wang and his army of dancers kept it hot and tight through both the sensual ‘Blow’ and the brooding ‘Dopamine’. Offset even went so far as to defy his security personnel, ending his set by swimming through the merry crowd. That was a crowd interaction that was few and far between at WTF 2022 – for all the spectacle and charisma, the international acts nevertheless held their Jakarta fans at arm’s length.

Dewa 19 ft. Ello
Dewa 19 feat. Ello perform at We The Fest 2022. Credit: Vinodii for Ismaya Group

This year’s Indonesian acts also failed to bring the “wow” factor, though for a different reason. Even though the festival’s crowd was dominated by Jakarta’s hippest youths and (inebriated) partygoers, returning veterans such as Dewa 19, Raisa, Maliq & D’essentials and Afgan played things safe by relying on their past catalogues of buzz-killing ballads – though the latter did later join Wang to perform ‘M.I.A’ team-up.

Some of We The Fest’s debutantes were not doing so hot either. Rock band Perunggu were timid at best, failing to bring to life the feral charm of their debut album ‘Memorandum’. Fellow rockers Hursa, sandwiched between CL’s and Offset’s sets, kept their performance brief, modest and underwhelming.

Laleilmanino perform at We The Fest 2022. Credit: Saska for Ismaya Group

Still, a few acts made an attempt to shock and awe. Lyodra performed a cover of Adele’s ‘Easy On Me’ to the crowd’s amazement and, off the cuff, asked an overjoyed audience to join her during ‘Pesan Terakhir’ (‘The Last Message’). Producer trio Laleilmanino showed off their hitmaking prowess by welcoming an all-star ensemble that comprised the likes of JKT48, Tiara Andini, Diskoria and pop duo OKAAY. Teddy Adhitya showcased his fresh-from-the-studio EP ‘Ocean’ whereas pop-rock heartthrob Rendy Pandugo had the ladies swooning with two as-yet-untitled songs off his upcoming album.

In conclusion, We The Fest 2022 was a solid affair. However, considering what the festival has achieved in its previous editions and the thoroughly saturated festival market in Indonesia now, “solid” simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Here’s hoping for the return of the jaw-dropping statement pieces we all had come to love from We The Fest in 2023.

The post We The Fest 2022 review: the Jakarta festival makes a safe, solid return appeared first on NME.

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