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DJAKARTA WAREHOUSE PROJECT 2014

TWO DAYS OF EPIC PARTYING

I had to pinch myself twice just to be certain it wasn’t a dream. See, if you love dance music the way I love dance music, even you would have trouble believing it was reality. The good people at Ismaya Live (organizers) have truly outdone themselves with the 2014 Djakarta Warehouse Project (locals refer to the event as ‘De-we-pe’, which is the pronunciation of the letters ‘D-W-P’ in Bahasa Indonesia, for simplicity and just because acronyms turn me on, I will refer to the event as ‘DWP’).

Let the music speak for itself. DWP boasted a lineup that would give any true electronic dance music (edm) fan an electro fit. We’re talking Showtek, Martin Garrix, Steve Angello, Skrillex, Laidback Luke, Nervo, Above & Beyond, Nicky Romero, Steve Aoki, Blasterjaxx, DVBBS and that isn’t even the full line up. Take this moment to pick your jaw up off the floor and quit hating yourself for not going. I have the next best thing for you - even though it is in no way, shape or form comparable to having been there for yourself - I hope it gives you a taste of what DWP 2014 was.

Pre-game

My head and heart departed for Jakarta two weeks before I even boarded the plane. I guess it was the anticipation of rocking it out in a completely different country, with thousands of strangers, united in the celebration of dance music and oh... getting royally ‘shyt-faced’. So I sought out to find anything and everything I could about DWP to feed the excitement and ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to report that Ismaya Live have done an excellent job in promoting their sixth installment of DWP.

For starters they had pretty solid digital and social media coverage. I appreciated the promo videos they posted on the DWP Facebook page - a sick mash-up of popular songs played by all the acts performing on the first and second day.

There was even an unofficial playlist for DWP 2014 on Youtube, which included the hits of all the headliners of the event. And from a print media perspective, let’s just say between the airport and my hotel alone, there were so many billboards, banners and posters of the event, it felt like Indonesian election campaigns were still going on, and DWP was running for President!

A pretty well-designed application for androids and iPhones alike was also handy, as it allowed me to view all the set times for acts playing on each of the three stages, and it got sexy points for allowing me to create a personal schedule of the acts I wanted to see. A brief description of all artists were also available, with respective links to their Twitter and Facebook accounts. The ‘app’ honestly deserves a review in itself because there was a load of other stuff on it that I just couldn’t be f’cked (cbf) with.

Tickets were priced at IDR 1,100,000 (RM308) for the general admission two day pass, while VIP Gold tickets would set you back IDR 1,800,000 (RM504). If you paid any less, there's a good chance your tickets were fake (that’s right - DWP gained so much popularity even the counterfeiters tried to make a quick buck!).

Tickets were exchanged for the wristbands, and in an attempt to avoid mile-long lines on the event day, the organizers set up wristband exchange booths at key locations around Jakarta a day or two prior to the kickoff of DWP. I thought this was smart but here’s an important note on Jakarta - traffic is a nightmare. No. It’s like waking up from a nightmare, only to realize you’re stuck in another nightmare. Traffic in the capital city of Indonesia makes traffic in our beloved Kuala Lumpur look like a Sunday drive (actually, traffic in KL on a Sunday is pretty f’cked too but nowhere nearly as bad as Jakarta).

With this in mind, I choose to book a hotel close to the venue (Jakarta International Expo aka JI Expo). I strongly recommend you do the same if you plan to go for DWP in the future or risk being stuck in the kind of traffic that people walk beside your car selling food and newspapers because they know you are going to be there for almost forever (true story!). The organizers took this into account and partnered with hotels in the surrounding area of the venue. Together they offered package deals which covered both tickets and accommodation for set prices, which I thought was pretty awesome.

The climate in Jakarta is almost identical to ours, which means both our countries get really wet in the last few months of the year. This was the overriding f’ck up to the previous year’s DWP, where fans ended up dancing on the muddy grounds of Ancol Eco Park (don't be deceived - this sounds a lot hotter than it actually was).

Learning from history, the organizers chose JI Expo, which was not only tarred but had indoor stages as well, just in case Mother Nature decided to get bitchy again.

Day 1

I could feel the electricity in the air from all the excitement. It was ringing in my ears, almost numbing to my touch. No wait, that’s probably just me hungover from getting borderline wasted the night before. Malaysians love to party! Even before DWP started, Malaysians were bar-hopping and club-rocking, like Jakarta was one big playground. I could completely relate to the party anxiety though, everyone just couldn’t wait to rave.

Arriving at JI Expo, I was greeted by a flurry of dodgy ticket resellers. I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘terima-kasih’ more than I did in that short walk from my cab to the wristband exchange booths. The organizers had set up at least 18 booths for ticket purchase and redemption. This made exchanging the ticket for wristbands pretty smooth. With all the publicity surrounding the wristbands, which claimed to have a microchip inside that could ‘enhance your experience’ if you connected it to your Facebook (cbf), I was pretty disappointed. See, I expected this wristband to have fallen right out of ‘TRON’, but to my dismay it was merely one of those fabric wristbands you pull on to tighten and never comes off unless you cut it off.

Security was no different from any music festival in Malaysia, but they did have many more lines which made access a lot faster. After getting past security, the illusive microchip on my wristband was called to action as a member of the event staff guided my wrist to a scanner, which caused a screen above that to flash a green tick. That’s about as technologically advanced the wristband got. Nonetheless, to me that green tick was the green light to get my party on!

Entering the venue, the first thing I saw was this massive illuminated structure, which spelt out the letters ‘DWP’ and I’m not kidding when I say it was massive - I mean seriously - it was so big even blind people were talking about it. The structure probably served a couple of purposes, which included being a checkpoint for friends to meet at, advertising for the event and ‘selfie-whoring’ site for all those who get off taking pictures of themselves.

The area opened out to both the left and the right, with the ‘Mixmag Asia Stage’ to the left and the ‘Cosmic Station Stage’ to the right. The ‘Garuda Land Stage’ (main stage), was straight pass the huge DWP sign. In between the DWP and the main stage was a tall structure which held a massive screen which basically mirrored everything that happened on the main stage through a live feed. I personally thought this was brilliant because it allowed those who weren’t ballsy enough to brave the thousands of people fighting to party up front, a great view of the main stage.

Now before I begin my review of the acts I watched, I’d like to include a little disclaimer. Much like a good cup of coffee or a really beautiful woman, every person has different preferences and thus, appreciates different things. I’ve always thought ‘our differences are the greatest trait and threat of mankind’. That being said, while I may think Above and Beyond’s set at Heineken Thirst 2012 was the greatest show ever played in Malaysia, you may think otherwise. Fortunately/unfortunately for you, I’m the one writing this story, so stfu and read on.

Showtek (No. 17 - Dj Mag Top 100)

Now I’ve liked Showtek for a long time, they almost feel like my bros cause I was right there with them when we went through the whole ‘Hardstyle’ – ‘Melbourne shuffle’ phase of life (God, am I glad that chapter is over!). In more recent times Showtek has gone EDM mainstream and people everywhere are lovin’ it. You can imagine how pumped I was to hear them drop ‘Booyah’ and ‘Bad’ but to be quite honest (and it sucks having to be quite honest), Showtek just did alright. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I went ape-shyt crazy when they dropped ‘Cannonball (Earthquake)’ but the set as a whole - well, there were moments where I was either not dancing at all or giving a ‘B-grade effort’. This was a disappointing surprise, like one of those nicely packed presents you get from a rich aunt during Christmas which turns out to be socks. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Showtek’s set and am glad to have crossed them off my list of Djs to watch before I die.

Martin Garrix (No. 4 – Dj Mag Top 100)

Hailed as the ‘Boy-Wonder’, Martin Garrix has never been more popular than he has been over the past twelve months. I mean - the kid jumped 36 spots to 4th in the most recent Dj Mag Top 100 list! He was one of the Djs I really looked forward to at DWP and he did a good job. I really enjoyed his set, absolutely lost it when he dropped ‘Tremor’ and appreciated the moments when he mixed in unique tracks. To be quite honest again however, the set as a whole - well I’d say he held back. It’s alright though, I doubt it’ll be the last time I see him.

Steve Angello (No. 26 – Dj Mag Top 100)

One third of the EDM power house that was the Swedish House Mafia, Steve Angello was just awesome at DWP. Perhaps it was because I had little expectation, but honestly. while the guy is ranked behind both Showtek and Martin Garrix, I felt he did a better job than both of them. ‘Payback’ is a great song and worth checking out if you haven’t already.

I stumbled into the ‘Cosmic station’ arena for a moment only to see what appeared to be Orjan Nilsen & Marlo (No. 79 – Dj Mag Top 100) murdering the crowd with their set. For the little time I spent there, the fans looked like they were having a kick-ass time. Perhaps it was because they were raving in a completely air-conditioned hall - which I must say, is one of the greatest things I have ever experienced in life. Our homeboys, Dj Goldfish and Blink did a sick job at rocking the same stage earlier that night (Represent’).

Skrillex (No. 9 – Dj Mag Top 100)

And then came Skrillex, whom I would like to bestow upon the crown for the best performance of Day 1. “Mad-energy”. I kept saying it to myself each of the many (many!) times he climbed on top of the Dj deck. He was hands-down the most engaging of all the acts on Day 1 - regularly pumping the crowd up throughout the set and then dropping some sick dubstep/trap/I don’t know what the f’ck but daaaymn’ beats. It was honestly a crazy set, especially when you consider the fact that half way through it, he dropped ‘The Circle of Life from The Lion King’. Wtf. Maybe I’m a sucker for trap music, but even so, I thought the showmanship, tempo and consistency Skrillex managed to maintain throughout the set was what made me feel he was the best act of Day 1.
The sweet thing about regulation in Indonesia is that music festivals are allowed to keep going till 4 am. 4am however, was also the scheduled time for the start of an after-party featuring Ferry Corsten (No. 91 – Dj Mag Top 100) at a separate venue (cbf). I left JI Expo that morning with the bass still beating in my veins, knowing I’d be back in just a few hours to do it all over again tomorrow.

Day 2

It was the first time DWP was held over two nights but this made sense given the number of headliners. This also left me with one of those complex first world problems, the ones most of you have to deal with on a daily basis. While set clashes suck, they are a clear indicator of a truly great festival. Having to choose between Nicky Romero and Blasterjaxx wasn’t all that difficult, especially after getting a sweet tip-off from fellow music connoisseur, Leon How aka Dj Play Mochi, who said they killed it in their set on ‘It’s The Ship’.

Choosing between Steve Aoki and DVBBS -now that was a tough one! Might not have been so tough if you were there to watch Aoki rock it at ‘KL Live’ a couple days before DWP, but unfortunately I didn’t get to. Read on to see what I ended up deciding on.

Having to choose between Kaskade and Matthew Koma wasn’t difficult at all, given that Kaskade (No. 46 – Dj Mag Top 100) decided to pull out of DWP at the very last minute, leaving many of his fans extremely disappointed. The organizers did a good job at promptly notifying people of the change and replaced Kaskade with a surprise guest Dj (Who later on turned out to the beautiful Dj Yasmin).

Nervo (No. 21 – Dj Mag Top 100)

If I took all the acts from the first day, ground them up and served them in a single set, it would’ve looked like porridge compared to the feast Nervo served up as one of the opening acts on day two. I’ve had a soft spot for the Aussie girls for awhile, especially since they hail from Melbourne but many others I spoke to shared the same sentiment. What made them kick-ass? Well, it really lied in their stage presence, intensity and consistency in maintaining such a high and ever building tempo. They were ever engaging with the audience, and on many occasions dropped some sick beats (I’m talkin’ stage IV cancer sick). Indonesians, who I suppose were mostly ‘Nervo – virgins’ (given that DWP 2014 was the first time Nervo ever played in Indonesia) loved the twins. By the end of their set, they had everyone begging for more.

Above and Beyond (A&B) (No. 25 – Dj Mag Top 100)

Probably the one of the most anticipated performers of the entire DWP, A&B has fans so dedicated to them; they may want to consider signing up as a religion. If you’ve never heard an A&B song, you haven’t really lived. They are passionate, deep and meaningful, moving and you just wouldn’t believe it fell under the EDM genre. They were as about engaging as a door knob though, but I assure you they made up for the lack of engagement with the audience when it came to their ‘push the button’ moment. If you didn’t already know this, A&B started this little ritual where in-between playing their hit ‘Sun and Moon’ they put a gap in the middle of the song and drag the beat to form what feels like a build-up to eternity, set a cue point and then invite one lucky fan from the thousands in the audience to come on stage to ‘press the button’, to unleash a drop that essentially feels like it shakes both the sun and the moon (pun totally intended). The crowd loved it but it all honesty that was the best thing about their set and for the rest of it, well, I was left wishing there was more to it.

Blasterjaxx (No. 13 – Dj Mag Top 100)

‘Rocket’ is a track Blasterjaxx worked on along with the maestros’ of music, W&W. The track sums up everything you’ll ever need to know about the Dutch duo in their current state.
The bass shook me to my bones. If there was ever a device invented to measure the intensity of a Dj set, they would have shattered it to pieces that night. Couple that with ‘Life in Color’ (creators of the world’s largest paint party) and you have yourself, one hell of a life experience.

Words do this moment no justice. I mean, picture raving in an air-conditioned setting, to world class Djs in full form and every other time they dropped the bass, paint would explode from cannons on to you. Mind you, in-between all this happening, an MC on stage carried industrial sized paint gun and shot paint 30 feet into the air and on to the blank canvas that was the ecstatic fans of DWP. It was like being at the ‘Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards’ except on crack!

DVBBS (No. 20 – Dj Mag Top 100)

Forgive me Aoki fans but covered in paint and pumped as f’ck from the Blasterjaxx set, I decided to stay on at the ‘Cosmic station’ stage, referred to as the ‘Life in Color’ stage on the second day. My decision was not at all biased by the fact that there were girls covered in paint everywhere I looked - it was biased by the fact that I F’CKING LOVE DVBBS! Back in Malaysia, I rock out to DVBBS alone in my room as if I’m at a private rave and listen to ‘Raveology’ like it’s my personal national anthem. It’s just their pure unfiltered energy (f’ck off Duracell energy bunny, DVBBS should be the new face of battery brands because they just keep going!).

Half way through the set, the CyberJapan Dancers made an appearance. Professional NBA athletes jump less in a lifetime than DVBBS did during their set and I was there jumping along with them to every beat they dropped.

Conclusion

At the time of writing this, weeks have passed since DWP ended but really it never ended for me. I constantly find myself replaying the memories of those two nights in my head over and over again, it’s like rave withdrawal syndrome. So maybe now you understand why it took me two painful pinches to reassure myself that it all actually happened.

From humble beginnings, the Djakarta Warehouse Project has become arguably the greatest music festival to take place in South East Asia. I’m lovin’ it and looking forward to seeing how Ismaya Live up their game next year. More brief notes below, on other aspects of DWP that made the event great.

Encore

DWP wasn’t good, it was GREAT. Here is a list of things, I felt made the event awesome:

Indonesians party hard!

Indonesians are beautiful and they party as hard as we do. It was the crowd that made DWP great. People from all over the world came down for DWP but the vast majority were of course, the locals. They were dancing, singing and jumping to every beat, it was beautiful to watch. Generally, an ‘all love, no hate’ atmosphere surrounded DWP. I mean, sure you get your usual pushing and shoving from making your way to the front but everyone was generally respectful of one another.

Mini Malaysia

The Malaysian support for DWP was overwhelming. I was honestly shocked at the number of Malaysians, who took the trouble to take leave and fly their asses down to another country, just to get their rave fix. Just to give you an idea of how many Malaysians were there, at one point I honestly saw more Malaysian flags being waved than I did Indonesian. It was beautiful to connect with so many random Malaysians who share the love for music.

Toilets

Why the loo is worth mentioning? Well, while at most music festivals having to pee can be the suckiest of experiences, at DWP, the toilets were fantastic. No, they weren’t much different from the portable toilets we have at our raves but the difference lied in the organization. The organizers hired people to manage the toilets, making sure everyone who needed to take a piss found empty toilets quickly. This improved toilet turnover and so even though there were lines, they were pretty short.

Food and Drinks

Ismaya Live is the event arm of the Ismaya Group, who own a chain of restaurants with some pretty cool concepts. These outlets supplied the food on both nights and I am happy to report that they were reasonably priced (for a music festival) and tasty. Drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic were readily available, and all transactions were completed in token form, which you could buy from designated token booths (plenty). If you ran out of money, they had you covered as well. A secure truck, carrying three ATMs was positioned within the venue.
I thought that was pretty smart as well. The event also gained sexy points for hiring people to walk around selling water. They did however lose sexy points for not cleaning up so well on the first day, where by the end of Steve Angello’s set, saw a sea of empty bottles and beer cans littered surrounding the main stage.
Production Value

DWP went all out on lighting and sound. Each of the three stages had excellent sound quality and lighting set-ups that truly made for a great show. You didn’t need to be trippin’ balls to appreciate the laser lights. Don’t take my word for it, check the scene out yourself on DWP’s Facebook page, where they have some amazing photos taken by Rukes, the No. 1 Dj Photographer in the world.

I would however have liked to see the owl head, which was the centerpiece on top of the Garuda Land stage, light up. That would’ve been awesome. Maybe next year.

This experience was shared by our very own Bryan Gabriel Joseph.

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