From a Heavy Metal Band in Hijabs, a Message of Girl Power

The drummer crashed her cymbals. The bass player clawed at her guitar. The crowd raised index and pinkie fingers in approval. The lead singer and guitarist stepped up to the mic and screamed: “Our body is not public property!” And dozens of fans threw themselves into a frenzy for the hijab-wearing heavy metal trio.

“We have no place for the sexist mind,” the lead singer, Firda Kurnia, shrieked into the mic, singing the chorus of one of the band’s hit songs, “(Not) Public Property,” during a December performance in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.

Nearly a decade after first emerging, Voice of Baceprot (pronounced bachey-PROT, meaning “noise” in Sundanese, one of the main languages spoken in Indonesia) has earned a large domestic following with songs that focus on progressive themes like female empowerment, pacifism and environmental preservation.

Now it is also winning fans overseas. It’s been praised by the likes of Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. In the past year, the band — whose lyrics mix English, Indonesian and Sundanese — has played in the United States, France and the Netherlands.

At the Jakarta gig, Ms. Firda, 23, who goes by Marsya, told the crowd that the band was “a little sad and angry to hear that someone here was a victim of catcalling.”

“Anyone who does something like that, catcall or touch other people’s bodies without consent, those are the worst forms of crime,” she said. “Therefore, we can’t wait to curse this person through the following song.” And then the band played “PMS,” whose chorus is in Indonesian:

“Although I am not as virgin as Virgin Mary/I am not your rotten brain servant/Although I am not as virgin as Virgin Mary/I am free, completely free.”

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