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The Superfuzz, Fetishizing Nostalgia, and the Future of the Universe

gig Reviews Mar 14, 04:40pm

The Superfuzz took the stage after a leave of absence spanning six years, with Grammy Winning Effort kicking off the night at Turquoise Cottage in Delhi on March 13. Here's what happened, and what it stood for. 
 Photo Courtesy: Aaquib Wani

 

Six year later. It’s like time stood still and nothing changed. The Superfuzz got on stage – three-piece the way they were supposed to be – started off with ‘Queen of my Heart’. They proceeded to belt out around a hundred more songs: old fan favourites – ‘School’, ‘Maple’, ‘What I Really Think’ – a couple of new songs, Led Zep’s ‘Communication Breakdown’, White Stripes songs, Tame Impala songs. An endless jam ended, a wail of feedback left behind in their wake. And they were done. Familiar faces – from a time back when (exaggeration alert) electronic music in the country had only just graduated from Enigma to Prodigy and packed “live” electro-gigs monopolizing live music in the country were a far-fetched fantasy – hung around to reminisce about the “good ol’ days” when The Scene was apparently still a Scene and music was still Music, you know. It’s like nothing had changed. Sure, Aditya Paharia has biceps now, and a cool little stick holder attached to his drumkit. Sanchal Malhar has a shiny Fender Mustang, a considerable upgrade on his old Telecaster. And Nikhil Rufus Raj’s Samsamp pedal box is now a glistening silver, not black. But figuratively, there was something retro and old-school about this.   

It was a feel-good gig. And we can get to it in due time. But where do The Superfuzz go next? Was this a reunion gig, you know, like The Rolling Stones have been doing for decades? Or was it a comeback? Will they discover The Mars Volta all over again, recruit a new guitar-player, and then rechristen themselves as Indigo Children? Again. If not, and if indeed they plan to continue as The Superfuzz, then what happens to the existing Indigo Children, the band that’s been “almost ready” with a new album for the past four years? Especially since 66.6 percent of The Superfuzz constitutes 50 percent of Indigo Children.

Was the feel-good air around the place, Turquoise Cottage (or TC) in a new avatar, basically a regressive descent into the fetishizing of nostalgia that people who’re over the age of 22 or 23 love to indulge in? Like: WWE used to be believable 15 years ago when it was still called WWF; cricket was cricket before T20 when Dravid, Tendulkar, and Ganguly were at their peak; bands with white people in them used to be good in the ’70s; bands with brown people in them used to be good in 2005 – they were honest. The shitty acoustics at defunct venues had soul; character, man – those days are long gone. Nobody remembers all the things that used to go wrong.

Well, so then? There’s nothing wrong with moving forward. I’m not saying for even half a second that The Superfuzz shouldn’t have re-formed; they’re my favourite band to have sprouted in this beautiful country of ours and that hasn’t changed over years of dysfunctional inactivity and red herrings and false dawns. They write great music, and they play it well, and with integrity and honesty. This particular gig represents a crossroads of sorts, wherein fans – like your reviewer here – can relive the old days and make little trips down memory lane shamelessly. But beyond that, a gig such as this one – not as a standalone gig in itself, but for what it means – should provide some kind of direction for the future. Once the old days are fully relived and enjoyed, it should also represent a way forward.

New songs by The Superfuzz being one such indicator. Then there’s the fact that this was an entirely DIY gig with no actual organizers – a trend that seems to be developing in Delhi thanks to the dearth of venues and the support of this particular pub towards indie music. An entry of 200 rupees was not that great a deterrent, as close to 150 people showed up, most of them enthusiastic and cheering for everything The Superfuzz did – particularly the lengthy monologues in a couple of their songs, which were met with approval, laughter, and applause. Gig posters (of this gig and others) were being sold by RSJ’s own Aaquib Wani, who did not leave the little makeshift stall featuring his works, situated Stage-Left even once, not even to visit the powder-room. Word about the gig was spread by the band, their fans, their friends. It was a victory for rock ‘n’ roll, a much-needed one after the crushing defeat just a couple of weeks ago.

 

 

Grammy Winning Effort opened the evening, and they were a breath of fresh air with their brand of hardcore. They did get extremely heavy, leaning more towards the modern hardcore sound that sort of melds into metal, all the while retaining a punk energy and a dirty sense of melody within the music. An aggressive and endearing live act, with much friendly curses exchanged between vocalist and crowd, kept people involved in their set, although it’s a pity the place wasn’t quite full when they took the stage. And then came The Superfuzz. Leaving aside the symbolic nature of their performance, the music itself was increasingly powerful – it kept fans and casual visitors gripped through their set. The way they controlled the stage, the way they missed barely a note all evening – it was like they never went away. And now they’re back.

 

Grammy Winning Effort on and off stage.

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