B69 Bajaao was at its best again on the 23rd of April, when it hosted the second edition of the alternative rock fest, Ctrl Alt Delete, presented by Sidestand. Looking at it from a rock enthusiast’s point of view, this gig had something special for everyone, with the lineup of bands playing Punk rock, Punk metal, Hardcore, Alternative metal and some Jazz Funk.
The motive behind the gig was, and I quote, “We aim to slowly but steadily build a fan base for the Alternative bands all across India and to help the scene grow as a collective.” And with gigs like these, I’m sure that this aim will be achieved very soon.
The entry charge, like with the hugely popular first edition, was a liberal “Pay what you think the lineup deserves,” which apart from being a great way of trapping the fan into a guilt trip, is quite revolutionary. The recently launched EP by The Lightyears Explode was also being given away for free to anyone who entered. A great way to start off the evening, since nothing makes a fan happier than a free CD before a gig.
The gig basically had two parts to it, the amateur 1st half and the highly acclaimed 2nd half. To start off this alternative massacre, relatively new band Artificial Red padded up. The band played a short set and sounded sort of like a punk band with progressive influences. Himanshu on the bass looked quite ecstatic, and it was fun to watch him play along with the Thane drummer boy Varoon.
When the next band hopped on stage, people clearly had a look of bewildered amusement on their faces, as the band members showed up wearing gowns, and posted a hand-written sign in front that read ‘Power To Aunties.’
Forcefield/Power Aunties, (I’m not really sure what to call them) were playing for the second time at B69, and showed much improvement over this time round. Better sound, more variety in their music and of course their creative dressing helped them score some points early on. Their set had elements of heavy punk and alternative, as they mostly did covers, one with the Riot Peddlers vocalist. With these guys on stage one didn’t realize where the 20 odd minutes went. Entertaining stuff is what I’d say. Shawn on the bass was really in the groove, with Varoon on the drums, killing it once again.
If two punk rock bands weren’t enough, the third one wasn’t very different either, and I’d broadly classify them as Punk Metal. The Riot Peddlers failed to create much riot, and the audience had had enough punk rock. However, their unusual style with a few satirical songs and a few making fun of mainstream Bollywood, gave the fans something engaging. The Riot Peddlers had the energy on stage alright, but overall failed to connect with the audience this time. The drummer Ashwin was really tight with his set, with hard hitting beats reminding me of Keith Moon. The vocals somehow seemed a bit off genre though. The vocal style seemed like a copy of Tom Araya from Slayer, which didn’t go well with the hardcore/punk metal feel of the band. However, for anyone who’d just entered the venue, they probably would have enjoyed the set.
I felt that the organizers could have picked a set of bands which were a little more diverse in terms of their sound. Things had started getting a little bit monotonous, leading people to hang around outside waiting for the better bands to hit the stage.
The next band to play was The Lightyears Explode. Once again a punk rock band, but slightly more experienced. Probably one of the best upcoming bands with a rapidly growing fan base, The Lightyears Explode played a tight set and completely lived up to the expectation surrounding them. Their set included a few songs from their EP as well as a new one, which was well received by the audience. Their energy on stage was unmatched and really revved up the atmosphere inside.
After this, things were about to get even better, as Zero was setting up their equipment. It was their first time at B69 and they seemed to be quite happy to be playing there. Zero produced the same charm as always during their set, with all their songs drawing the crowd in to sing along. They played a number of their popular tracks like ‘Not My Kind of Girl’, ‘Christmas in July’ and their huge hit ‘PSP 12′, and were able to get the best sound of the lot. They successfully shattered the monotony and gave the crowd plenty to cheer about. It was truly a treat watching them play at such close proximity. This is one aspect of B69 that I’ve always loved, as it brings the music, musicians and fans closer together. A place like this was desperately needed since a long time, and finally there’s one that’s here to stay.
Split, the giants of Bombay’s alternative rock/metal scene were up next, and I believe that these guys have probably never had a bad gig. Their presence on stage is dominating and controlling and I mean that in a good way, with their immaculate sound leading to crazy mosh pits and people chugging their beer even faster. ‘60 Seconds’, and ‘Holy Ghost Machine Gun’ were the two tracks appreciated most by the audience. Garreth truly justifies the sound of the band and makes good use of it. Varoon was again giving it his best on the drums as Aviv and Melroy played some great melodies and solos, backed up well by some smacking bass lines by Shekar.
For the next band, called Sridhar/Thayil, their young looking female vocalist Suman Sridhar got up on stage. Her voice was tremendous and resembled that of Duffy with her high pitched vibratos. The whole sound of the band was highly diverse and could possibly be categorized as Funk Jazz. Viru, the actual drummer of the band was unable to be present that day and a replacement was brought in, who did a fantastic job as well.
The band jammed on stage creating a distinctly trip hop ambience. The guitarist Jeet Thayil blended in nicely with his effects and smooth, flowing solos with absolutely bizarre funk lines on the bass. The one thing that I admired about the band was that the vocalist was able to keep the rhythm even when the drummer was playing odd time signatures, while the bassist following the drummer was playing some chromatics and the guitarist was busy adding effects or playing solos. I belive that vocalist Suman Sridhar is gifted when it comes to musical understanding.
To wrap it up, the whole evening was great, with over 150 people showing up, some amazing bands playing and all of them getting the best sound that B69 could churn out. We certainly hope there’s going to be a third edition of the Ctrl Alt Del series!