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13 Moments of Clarity: The Circus & White Beryl Live At Turquoise Cottage

gig Reviews May 06, 04:15pm

Saket's Turquoise Cottage played host to a pretty winning alternative electro rock gig on May 2 with White Beryl, and headlined by The Circus. We had Aditya Varma observe and report, and following are some of the evening's highlights.
 Photo Courtesy: Tanmay Chakraborty

May 2

The Circus & White Beryl Live at TC

Turquoise Cottage, Saket

White Beryl, The Circus

Saket’s Turquoise Cottage always has an interesting buzz in the air on the night of a gig; tables with diners murmuring, a collection of people grooving in front of the stage, waiters and waitresses bustling around through the pie-eyed crowd packed around the stage, extremely cool bartenders that don’t mind tossing in an extended happy hour incentive, and of course, the endless universally intellectual conversations induced by the good folks that infest the smoking room in between songs, the kind of revolutionary epiphanies and ideas that are mostly conceived like bastard children – with an inebriated individual at the bar, after downing a few drinks.

May 2 at TC last Friday was a simple two act gig with Delhi’s, alternative rock band White Beryl and electro tock outfit The Circus, I personally enjoy that, short and sweet with about two hours of musical energy trading that has the swift dynamic of a T20 match. Based on my experience of the gig, I have taken the liberty of listing out a few observations and lessons that I learnt at the gig, and dispense this knowledge with no prejudice in mind.

 

The jocks that never grew up: The electronic, energetic, and loud evening seemed to give a bunch of what looked like recent grandfathers the license to hit on ladies younger than their daughters, and having the numbskull drunk fun that you typically see the average jock enjoying. In the name of jolly good fun, they created a minor ruckus. But I digress.

 

My first lesson in beat recognition: White Beryl’s vocalist turned out to follow the 150 BPM foot-tap thing that you see vocalists often doing when they have no other particular manner of grooving. I’m not against the foot tap, but it makes the vocalist look nervous and unsure, especially when they have all the right grooves to rock out to, but they don’t; if the vocalist can’t go all out, why would the rest of us? But the fact that I could fairly accurately recognize the beat per minute makes me feel better about my rhythm.

 

Sheep and Bats: The Circus played an exciting set with songs from their albums Sheep and Bats, which included their originals and an odd ‘The Circus version’ of a cover song. The Circus’s music is an interesting blend of electronic ambience coupled with heavy rock riffs and impromptu loop and lag effects. The band’s sound is robust and identifies itself with punk, Abhishek Bhatia uses a number of processors to manipulate vocals real time, with the guitarist Arsh Sharma and drummer Anshul Lall whipping rapid progressions and simultaneously playing with loops. Multi tasking, check.

 

Interesting fact #1: If you’d buzz around toward the smoking room in between songs during ’Beryl’s set, you’d stand the chance of witnessing a second guitarist popping out from right behind the vocalist for one song and then disappearing again in the next. Kind of mysterious; this elusive character was a little difficult to spot since I missed his introduction and subsequent departure.

 

Bassists having enough free space on stage: The sense of stage presence wasn’t completely lost for White Beryl, not for the bassist at least. Our man was all over the stage, enjoying every progression with a skip and a hop in the space the vocalist left empty. Also, it is always endearing to see the bassist violently slap the one note he has to play with ecstatic exuberance essentially taking over as the ‘performer’ in the band while everyone’s attention is on their respective instruments.

 

The Circus’ visual grandeur: If you have ever witnessed The Circus’s live shows, you know that there is nothing like it. It is evident that the band puts in enough energy and effort into pulling off a splendid show both musical and visual. Their music is turbulent and ambient; it puts one in a chaotic world of coherent sounds. That along with the lightings at TC and the projector throwing out images of the long exposure light painting time lapse video in the back, looks pretty damn cool.

 

Covers, covers, and more covers: White Beryl played a whole bunch of covers and, unlike The Circus, their versions weren’t really interpretations, staying true to the originals mostly. Now, I love playing covers too, when I am at home. The idea of attempting to emulate or experience the musical energy of your favourite artists is surely tempting, but bringing that to a stage may prove to be counterproductive. The audience may tend to compare and judge sounds based on an imitation, while the band’s personality goes to the shitter. One odd cover here or there that fits in to the ‘sound of the band’ is great but any more than that and the band suffers a loss of identity, specifically when the covers are popular songs. The occasional originals that White Beryl pushed out were kind of lost in translation because of that.

 

Interesting fact #2: White Beryl’s guitarist had a convoluted setup of pedals and processors in front of his feet. I counted eight pedals and three different processors, there could be more, I gave up trying to figure it out in about 30 seconds. But he sounded like he was using them well enough; respect. For a guitarist, I guess beyond the playing of the notes itself it is important to capture the tone that you want; the guitar on their cover of Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’ was particularly accurate sounding, on account of him using the maze of equipment like a boss.



White Beryl; that is about half of the pedal board.

 

The Circus and Brandon Boyd: The Circus are an energetic act and, as far as my eyes are concerned, that excitement is original. The energy stems from a deep sense of pride in their musicality and style. While I overheard a few calling the vocalist an imitator, even wannabe, The Circus’s Abhishek Bhatia will definitely remind one of Incubus’s Brandon Boyd with his performance on stage. But, I believe it’s more of an influence than an imitation, which probably makes this accusation a compliment, as he managed to use those influences well while still retaining a style of his own.

 

The bassist takes the cake again: Once again, The Circus bassist Abhinav Chaudhary smacked the bass with venom and hopped back and forth. The matchstick man, being as tall as a light house flailing his arms on to the bass, is hard to miss. The rest of the band was doing some complex stuff with their pedals throughout, intently concentrating on their instruments while bassist Abhinav Chaudhary rocked the hell out. Your witness.

 

Interesting fact #3: White Beryl’s vocalist stepped down for one of the songs – an original this time – and the drummer took over the vocals. It wasn’t the best moment of the show. I will leave it at that, the man looked like he could beat me to a pulp.

 

The loud outro: The Circus’s live outros are always larger than life. It is something that nearly every peanut rock band out there does or tries to do at the end of a gig, but there are few who can pull it off. The loud outro should be more than a cackle of jarry sounds, and The Circus use that knowledge to create some menacing effects when they’re all down on their pedals violating the little machine.

 

# The after party: Of course, one of the best aspects of Delhi gigs are the after-gig ‘Now the dance floor is empty I’m gonna bust these cracker moves at my Uncle’s wedding’ dance. Delhi’s freestyle dancers definitely don’t care about anything when they’ve got groove on their minds on a Friday evening.

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