This past Sunday (9) at the Kukar Rockin’ Fest in Tengarrong, Indonesia, the big headliner was Testament (in fact, they’re the only band we heard of on the festival). Yet after physically unplugging the opening band to play their set, they found themselves criticized by some in the audience and have apologized for their actions. Website Lawless Jakarta wrote about the confusion, stating that opener Power Metal (yeah, that’s the name of the band) had their amps unplugged and turned off during their third song, and promised that they could play after Testament, stepped down. According to the blog’s account, after eight to ten songs, Billy “lost his mood,” kicking a can of beer on stage. In the blog’s words, “after Chuck confirmed that the crowd doesn’t want to see Testament anymore, they left the stage. Power Metal was back and the crowd went wild again.”
Testament’s statement is a little more explanatory, stating that a strict time limit led to them playing early, and admitting that a language barrier might have led them to come off differently than they’d wanted to:
As Testament returns from our first trip to Indonesia, a country we’ve looked forward to visiting for many years, it is with deep disappointment that our performance didn’t turn out as planned. While our experience in this great land had been nothing but wonderful from the time our first plane first touched down – from the warm hospitality of our fans, local staff and others to whom we are grateful, to being honored by the mayor and the press shortly before appearing in front of 50,000 fans at Kukar Rockin’ Fest 2014, things went awry only at the moment we were scheduled to hit the stage.
That’s when the support act directly before us began their set. Normally this would not be a big issue – rock’n’roll shows don’t always run on time as everyone knows – but in this case, there was a serious problem: we had a flight to catch in just a few hours. The flight was from Balikpapan Airport, several hours from Tengarrong (the location of the concert) which required several hours driving over rugged terrain. Making matters worse, several pieces of luggage had never arrived and these needed to picked up in Jakarta before we could board our connecting flights. Missing our connecting flights in Jarkata would have caused the entire band and crew to miss our further connecting flights home (after nearly a month on tour) followed by a trip to Mexico City’s Hell Heaven Fest within three days of arrival back to the US.
So in order to play our full set and be sure we made this flight, an attempt was made to play our set on time, with the support act following us. The local stage managers, while well-intentioned, did not seem to grasp the urgency of the situation as the support act (Power Metal) continued to play and we watched our set time disappearing. When our singer, Chuck Billy, came out and attempted to address the support band and audience, he was not understood. Regretfully, this led to a minor confrontation with the support act who only stopped playing once their gear was finally turned off by our crew (for which they responded by dousing water on one of our own amplifiers). While this situation was interpreted as the headliner being disrespectful to the local band, that was not the intention.
Not helping these miscommunications was the language barrier for which no one can be blamed – our concern wasn’t understood and nobody in our entourage speaks Indonesian. We were also short of our full crew, some of whom hadn’t been available when this show was added to our tour at the last minute. Regardless, the result was a crowd that was visibly unhappy during our set and for that we accept responsibility.
To our Kukar Rockin’ Fest audience: We deeply apologize for any hurt that was caused. While we would have appreciated the support act being more accommodating, we nonetheless apologize to them as well and meant no disrespect. In hindsight, it might have been a better decision to just let them continue and cut much of our own set. But in the heat of the moment, a judgment call was made that backfired. We regret this turn of events, which does not represent what Testament is all about, nor what we’d travelled all that way for Testament deeply appreciates the fans of Indonesia and hopes they find it within their hearts to understand what has happened and forgive. We truly hope to return to this region one day amidst deeper understanding and better circumstances.
At least Testament addressed the situation. It’s rare to see a band admit that they didn’t handle things as well as they could have. Playing, as Lawless Jakarta says, “a small town in the middle of the Borneo jungle” sounds like dicey enough of a proposition as is. But obviously, the blog has a bias towards Power Metal and against Testament, and while what Testament did isn’t necessarily commendable, you can tell that things weren’t as dire as it made them sound. That said, it’s a good thing that fans didn’t riot. Also, as an aside to Power Metal, you should probably change your name.