There was something rather strange about last Thursday night’s 6th Annual JD Rock Awards, held in Mumbai at the Hard Rock Cafe. I’m not sure if it was the oddball MC-ing, the long list of small-time celebrities hanging around, the highly overpriced beer, or possibly a combination of all of these that left me slightly puzzled at the whole shindig.
The presentation of awards began almost as soon as I entered, admittedly quite late. I was already miffed at missing out on Demonic Resurrection, Split and Tough on Tobacco who had already played some brilliant sets as I was told, and now it was Luke Kenny dressed in a bizarre ensemble, who took centre stage. Despite a rather earnest effort throughout the evening, he somehow didn’t manage to connect too well with the packed house, the only highlight probably being when he tossed out freebies to the crowd. The screens displaying video clips and the names of the nominees, were placed far too high and ideally should have been a little larger and more visible.
The ‘celebrities’ who were called up on stage to present the awards included a motley bunch of designers, television actors, VJs and models who generally had very little eminence in the music scene, and were in some cases nothing more than eye candy. I also found it rather baffling that the two most important awards of the night were presented by Aftaab Shivdasani, who looked rather pleased to have this privilege as he violently chewed gum with his mouth wide open in a pasty smile. I really wish they’d left Bollywood out of this.
On the brighter side, the performances that I did manage to watch, were very good, and quite admirably salvaged the show. Something Relevant was up after the first round of awards, and having never watched them live before, I was highly impressed. The band was a tight unit, with a very diverse set of sounds and influences, and had the crowd well and truly on their feet. Ankur Tewari And The Ghalat Family played right after Ankur won the award for Best Male Vocalist, and played a nice set of catchy hindi rock songs.
Scribe then took the stage for a short set and did well to live up to the cool haul of five awards that they’d won that night. The show wound up with Ashu’s Petri Dish Project, who dished out some pretty decent trip hop and was interesting if you like that sort of stuff, although im not quite sure how many people in the audience really got into it. The assorted bevy of female vocalists that accompanied them one after the other held their own, but turned out to be more of a distraction than of any particular value addition in terms of sound. Dhruv Ghanekar joined them for the last couple of songs and sparkled with some fantastic guitaring.
In the end, I couldn’t really tell whether the emphasis was on the awards, the performances or the celebrities, and I think that JD would do much better with a slightly de-glamourised show next year.