Bone Broke, Blek, Your Chin
Dear Raj (because that’s what I think your name is/should be),
Yes, Andheri belongs to you. You eat 10 kilos of Whey every day; heck, there’s five shops in Lokhandwala Market that only sell protein supplements within a radius of some 20 metres. You wear pink T-shirts because you’re told it is masculine and Saif Ali Khan did it. No doubt you’re a handsome chap, with a square jaw and slick, gelled hair, and a carefully crafted two-day stubble. You want to be a superstar. You don’t go for auditions; you go for ‘meetings’. You have rippling 20 inch biceps – the same circumference as my thighs (both flexed and unflexed). You have pecs to die for, and a six-pack that screams out through your V-neck body hugging T-shirt. (Well, we have a six-pack too. Or had, before we drank it all.)
You have memberships to four different gyms, where you do your cardio and your upper-body and your weights and so on. You sit in coffee shops on Yari Road all day, discussing your next film or ad or web series or soap opera, and then you eat ice-cream at Naturals, and then you go to a club and dance your pecs off. Lokhandwala Market is bubbling with energy because of you. You have a photo of you smiling awkwardly next to Bobby Deol on your Facebook profile page. Yeah, Andheri does belong to you. You have it all – I mean that sincerely – and I’ve resented you for it in the past.
But you lack a punk rock soul. That’s not an insult – it’s just a thing. And I’m glad. Because that means that your world and our world can coexist in the village of Andheri. Thanks to Bomb Thursdays, which swing by once every fortnight, at a past-its-prime venue that’s in revival mode: Kino 108.
Allow me to explain. The bands aren’t necessarily punk. To put a label on it, you could call them post-punk maybe? A bit of grunge; some alternative. Even electronic. The crowds are not riotous, and beer isn’t exactly dirt cheap but affordable: 200 bucks a pint, or 500 for three pints. There’s no moshing as such, and crowdsurfing has been replaced largely by crowdfunding. Even the venue, till very recently, lacked a stage. The bands just sort of set up shop somewhere inside the pub, with the crowd surrounding them.
BOMB Thursdays, as photographed by THAT camera they use at Google maps.
Had you been in attendance at the gig, you may have noticed that there is a stage now. And behind that is a giant stone sculpture of Jim Morrison possibly carved into the wall. Bone Broke kicked things off, starting out as a White Stripes guitar-drum thing for the first couple of (very stripped down) songs before the guitar-player decided to whip out the distortion and they were joined by P-Man on the bass. Sadly, he was not playing a P-Bass. Instead, he had a 5-string. And five-strings are only cool in punk if the guitar player snaps a string and is too broke to replace it. Nevertheless, the involved rhythm section in this three-piece did a stellar job assisting the vocalist’s very melodic delivery careening across the dirty, raw, grungy guitar sound. They also have this thing they do in a few songs where they suddenly drop the tempo by half and slow down the song to a sludge before upping the speed again, adding a strong dynamic element to a sound that would otherwise be a little repetitive. Halfway or so through the set the songs just became a little limp and dull, plus they really suck at ending songs – they just sort of crumble and tumble instead of concluding cohesively – but those are trifling matters that can be settled at a later date. Fact remains that there’s something good brewing there, and the vocalist really owns a pair of ears that can sniff out a melody.
Bone Broke. They paid for their own drinks.
Blek came up next, another three piece, and they played a whole bunch of songs with a fierce energy, some from their debut EP, some new, some old. Their irreverent alt sound translates seamlessly into the cosy pub gig environ, with an aggressive and animated live act getting the crowd going. I’m pretty sure the drummer has four hands if not more, and I happen to be a huge fan of his style, where he constantly adds like little ghost notes and splatters on his high-hats and snare and uses the toms to great effect. It’s an interesting take on a traditionally simple and minimalist style of music and adds a great deal to Blek’s character, in sync with the pounding bass and the vocalist’s sing-speak drawl.
But I’m sure all this sounds like gibberish mumbo jumbo to you. Well, the bathroom smells like piss, but there’s an attendant there who hands you little tissue papers and sprays room freshener intermittently. In true Bombay tradition, the size of the elevator is negligible, and the smoking room, with its blue neon lights that don’t actually give out any light, has that typical shifty and crooked feel about it. It’s great, and all the scene talk inside is a welcome relief from all the scene talk outside.
Your Chin closed the night. It is essentially Sky Rabbit’s vocalist’s solo thing, where he sings over electronic music in a sideways pose, and plays around with some very expensive looking gadgets, including a Macbook (of course), a fancy soundcard, this device that had a whole bunch of buttons that lit up in gloriously bright colours every now and then, and an iPad, on which I genuinely hope he was playing Temple Run 2.
There were two things about the set that didn’t work: 1) it led to a visible drop in energy levels in the venue after Blek left the stage; the smooth, bouncy electronic music and impudent vocals and odd melodies didn’t really work as well as they deserved to because of the line-up. And 2) I don’t appreciate the fact that he’s talking about my chin. Beyond that, it was a pretty fun set, with some crafty singing – the looped electronics threatened at times to overshadow the compositional element of the music, but Your Chin always pulled it back just before that point, using his gadgets to change moods quite efficiently.
But beyond the this-good-that-not-good nonsense, Bomb Thursdays have a larger significance. Done by Ennui.BOMB aka independent punk master general of the scene Rishu Singh, this endeavour attempts to offset the manufactured insincerity that other venues in the city tend to descend into sometimes. There’s a raw, unaffected vibe to these gigs – you don’t go there for exceptional acoustics, production values, stage setups, networking, or other frills. It’s fundamentally a fantastic initiative that’s spreading the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll (if such a thing exists) through independent ideals and a commitment to live music and alternative bands. It’s a great platform and a welcome addition to the indie music bizniz, and you go there to listen to music that’s often raw and in your face, you go there to have a good time, you go there for the free magazine they hand you at the gate.
Very truly yours,
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