• Mon, Sep 21, 2020

Harley Rock Riders ft. The Incredible MindFunk, Gravy Train, Barefaced Liar, and The Circus

gig Reviews Sep 16, 01:29pm

We landed up at the Harley Rock Riders at Hard Rock Cafe the other day, only to see a potentially great gig wrecked by poor sound and a snoozing audience who just didn't seem like they wanted to be there. Aditya Varma tells you more.
 Photo Courtesy: Eshna Goenka

September 12

Harley Rock Riders

Hard Rock Café, New Delhi

The Incredible MindFunk, Gravy Train, Barefaced Liar, The Circus

First up on stage were The Incredible MindFunk, Gurgaon’s indie/funk/psychedelic rock outfit, whose first song I half missed because I was waiting downstairs at the lot for the Harley-Davidsons that never showed up. But I digress; it was the gig that I came here for, so I made my way upstairs to Hard Rock Café and was greeted in through the doors by auditory chaos; overdriven bass, bad acoustics and off-key vocal harmonies. The band had some nifty instrument work going on with the drummer beating the drums just how he should, and the guitarist showing off some really technical and just plain cool fretwork; it was a pity that you could barely hear the guitars. The music was edgy and more than compensated for the lack of strong vocals, ‘Velvet Skies’ had a catchy riff and some ambient progressions and breakdowns which somehow barely mustered a ‘head bob here, and a hip shake there’ from the crowd. At this point I just thought that the band couldn’t deliver; the vocals were throwing off the groove of the music and the vocalist herself seemed like she just wanted to get over with it because she had too much stage fright.

Next up were rock ‘n’ roll band Gravy Train, with frontman (frontlady rather), Tanya Nambiar, who certainly used her position at front and centre to the fullest, giving the crowd the energy that they needed. I am not much for rock ‘n’ roll, but the band had its groove and personality comfortably in place. A few of the songs on the set list were ‘Guilty One’, ‘Wild Child’ and a song they had written like a day back, which they referred to as ‘the unnamed song’; the band seemed a little tighter than the clothes they were wearing but the guitar work was dry and solos were simply off key and off context (this time I didn’t mind not being able to listen to the guitar). The crowd left a visible vacuum between themselves and the stage, creating, in a sense, a moshpit without the mosh, just to show us how empty it was going to be all night. By this time I wondered if most of the people at the gig really wanted to be there.

Gravy Train doin' their rock 'n' roll thang.

Then came the band that I had been waiting for all night: the proggy Barefaced Liar from Delhi. The set that followed inspired in me feelings of awe, happiness, confusion, anguish and depression; a quick look around the room and it seemed as if I was the only one who could feel something. Except for two kids, headbanging in the previously unfamiliar and uncharted territory of the mosh(less)pit, the crowd just seemed confused as to what they should do. And then I had an epiphany: it wasn’t that the crowd didn’t enjoy the show, they just seemed like they were forced to sit through it. Vocalist Akshay Chowdhary had to go out of his way to evoke some sort of a reaction from the seemingly lifeless mass. If you know BFL, you know that there’s no way someone can just peacefully stand through their sets. The band did what they do best, and thrashed the living hell out of the stage, ripping out solos and spewing energy across the room like molten lava, just to have the crowd scream for an occasional moment when prompted, and go back to being the black abyss of silence.

Barefaced Liar trying to get the crowd to, you know, move and stuff.

The last act of the night to take the stage were The Circus, who successfully woke up the snoozing mob in front of the stage. The Circus were simply fun, with energetic and ambient rock music emanating from the stage. Vocalist Abhishek Bhatia and guitarist Arsh Sharma took turns on the mic, slapping the audience every now and then to make sure if they were still with us. Personally, I loved ‘It Feels Good When The Medications They Kick In’, a cleverly written song that just seems to stick. The frantic energy of the band was such that even the stage looked as if it could barely hold out any longer against the jumping around and ‘rocking out’ of the band members; it was interesting to see how, one second the band was thrashing the stage, and the next they were all bent over to the pedals at their feet, playing around with little knobs creating violent and ambient effects. The Circus are the sort of band that take and own the stage; well, of course except for the moments when the vocalist seems like he’s ripping his hair out and the extremely awkward moment when the guitarist asked the people there if they felt ‘sexy’, and then subsequently instructed everyone to touch and grind each other. Was a bit much aye, guv'nor?

All said and done, it was a fun evening, with each of the bands offering something different and interesting, although the multitude of annoying problems that haunted the gig – the acoustics at Hard Rock Café, a seemingly heavily medicated crowd, the sound problems, and so forth – did cause a bit of a dampener.  

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