Pengamen Jakarta Reviews
Indonesian street musicians May 23, 2009
"Pengamen" or street musicians are everywhere in Indonesia.
2 most places they like to perform is restaurant or street food stalls and public transportation (buses).
I like the pengamen in the buses and trains because of their persistence.
Public transportation in Indonesia can't be said as a comfortable place to be, it's cramped, crowded, hot, slow, move too fast and stop to abrupt. Most of the time during the peak hours, we can't get any seats and has to stand. But these guys, can easily jumped into one bus, set up their equipments and start to sing - as nothing else bothers them. Finish the show, they will pass a plastic bag for the passenger to donate some coins, and jump off to catch another bus.
The quality of the singing and their equipment ranges, from a basic one with a piece of wood with lots of flattened bottle caps at the end which they will shake follwing the rythm - up to - a band consist of a drummer (with his drum set) and guitarist/vocalist.
Some of them have nice voices and songs, someother just speaking in tuneless way.
Some have a nice way to entertain the crowd, whereas other will sometimes be too harsh,but since everybody barely listen to what they said so it's ok:).
Some of them not only sing, but also reciting a poem or even a short play.
Some of them are teenagers (well, most of them), small street kids with unwashed hair and clothes, middle aged-man or woman or sometimes, disabled ones.
A great entertainment they are!
Less entertaining is the ones in the restaurant, as they can be very pushy - waiting for you to give them some money during your meal. This is probably why tipping is not a compulsory here - as we have already allocate some money for the Pengamens - not for the waiters!
Part of the Jakarta in one year (2009-2010) travel blog
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