There’s this certain aggro-alpha male posturing almost synonymous with metal that this reviewer can’t quite connect with: It’s all angry-black-tees-dirty-hair-cargo-shorts-charged aesthetic hostility. And sweat. Oh, the sweat. Well, this is where Rolling Stone earns this reviewer’s full respect – there were a couple of people handing out these little tester bottles of perfume free at the entrance. It was, quite frankly, a stroke of genius that the organizers pulled out of the bag. Not that too many people – aromatically challenged as they were – used it; the venue was reeking of angry perspiration and soft drinks.
Your reviewer attended the gig with the intention of 1) soaking in the atmosphere and hopefully walking out with something to write about (which he did), and 2) watching post-metalish act Pangea take the stage for the first time ever (which he didn’t). You see, some top cop hotshot has cracked down on the intoxication-laced fun-culture of Bombay, and metalheads are not famous for their good manners. So the venue employed three gigantic bouncers at the gates – with one lady duly in tow – who made it a point to thoroughly scrutinize the belongings of every individual walking in, in as far as checking even tiny little compartments inside wallets, jeans, and backpacks for any unlawful supplies. Naturally, this led to a mammoth queue stretching on for miles, and resulted in a half hour wait outside, which meant that this reviewer missed his potential highlight of the night, Pangea, despite reaching a gig on time for the first time in his life.
Moving on, he walked in to see hundreds upon hundreds of black T-shirts and unwashed curly manes blocking his view to the stage. He walked over to the bar, only to find out it was a dry day. Dear reader, despite your reviewer’s cynicism at something as patently ridiculous as ‘metal awards’ rewarding what is, to your reviewer’s mind, mostly mediocrity and unoriginality, your reviewer, at this point, noticed something elegantly beautiful.
There was not a drop of alcohol to be had, there was an entry charge of 200 rupees, pot smoke was conspicuously absent in the smoking section outside, and the sound inside the venue was surprisingly average. The gentleman compering was having a hard time pronouncing the names of nominated bands and band members. And yet, there were at least 500 people jam-packed inside the usually quite spacious-looking Blue Frog, having a fucking blast. “500-700” was the estimate of one of the organizers.
That’s when this reviewer realized that, for all its flaws and limitations and obstacles and wardrobe malfunctions, we’re all very much part of a ‘scene’, as fucked up as it may be. Hope springs eternal.
Local something-metal outfit Providence was on stage when your reviewer noticed one of the guitar players looking over to the ex-vocalist, who was performing a growling duet with the current-vocalist. The guitar player, in the midst of a 150-or-so BPM song, gave the ex-vocalist a fist bump. Fist bump. Bro fist bump. This one time, a couple of years ago, your reviewer met an old acquaintance after ages. He reached out to shake said acquaintance’s hand. The acquaintance, on the other hand, stretched out a fist, meant to be bumped. Unaware of the concept, your reviewer simply clasped the fist inside his outstretched palm and, upon realizing the faux pas, smiled sheepishly and walked off.
The guitar player of Abraxas had one of those colossal broken-looking X/Y shaped guitars. It was black and yellow. And shiny. And fucking beautiful. On another note, the band had back to back solos played at lightning speed. It was like watching Spinal Tap live.
The absence of any struggling Bollywood B-listers. Although that’s not entirely true, since this reviewer harbours hopes of one day appearing in a Sholay remake.
The mediocre sound, which was quite a surprise since the gig was largely well organized and most things went off in an orderly fashion without any noticeable hiccups. Although the poor quality of the sound could possibly have been a consequence of the number of people inside the venue, acting as reflectors and absorbers of sound and basically messing up the settings a bit just by their presence.
The hot-and-cold comedy act exhibited by Master of Ceremonies P-Man. At one point, he announced nonchalantly that, were he to be nominated for the ‘Best Bassist’ award, there wouldn’t be any other nominees, which was sort of hilarious, thanks largely to the delivery. On other occasions, he wasn’t quite as hot.
The success of Skyharbor and Goddess Gagged at the awards. This reviewer happens to be a fan of both these bands. Incidentally, they were also probably the only two bands that he had heard properly from the list of nominees.
The guest list. This reviewer walked in for free and even snagged like 20 of those free mints kept at the entrance. Support the scene. Hyok.
FULL LIST OF WINNERS
Best Band: Goddess Gagged
Best Album: Winding the Optics (Eccentric Pendulum)
Best Song: 'Maeva' (Skyharbor)
Best Band (Popular Choice): Providence
Best Album (Popular Choice): Vanguard (Providence)
Best Song (Popular Choice): 'Maeva' (Skyharbor)
Best Vocalist: Sunneith Revankar (Providence)
Best Guitarist: Keshav Dhar (Skyharbor)
Best Drummer: Vibhas Venkatraman (Eccentric Pendulum)
Best Bassist: Arun Natrajan (Eccentric Pendulum)
Best Keyboardist: Taz James(Chaotic Years)
Best Album Art: Aaron Pinto (Providence – Vanguard)
Best Emerging Band: Skyharbor
Photos: Roycin D'Souza/Rolling Stone India
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