Tag Archives: Coldplay

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

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Bangalore, of late, has been getting bombarded with a slew of international musicians starting from Swedish House Mafia and Zedd to DJ Tiesto and TATW. If you think of it, there have been so many international artists that keeping track of it has become a gargantuan task. Every artist has left an impact on all of us in some way or the other and this continuous pampering of our senses has turned us Bangaloreans into a greedy lot. To satiate our continuous need for world class performances, DNA Networks brought to us the second edition of Sound Awake, only this time it was bigger and better!

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

The second edition of Sound Awake was held on the 1st of December at the Supernova Arena & Convention Center, Yelahanka where the first edition had also taken place. The format of the event was more or less the same this time as well, but the twist to the show was the massive 150 ft long stage which was essentially a dynamic multi-stage format where we would get to experience 3 stages all together in the same space and direction.

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

Having reached there on time, I was quite surprised to find a-not-so-teeming crowd loitering around (maybe it was the heat). The food and the alcohol counters were in full swing, serving the hungry and the thirsty while Doctor A & DJ Siddharth played popular house numbers to keep the crowd entertained. The Goa themed flea market had artisans and merchants who were selling merchandise exclusively from Goa, which saw quite a number of people throng the different stalls and make their purchase before the start of the big party!

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

Around 2 pm, the first big name of the day Dutch DJ Patrick Hagenaar the key resident of Ministry of Sound global tours took to the stage, which was named after the EDM house. As I rushed to there to secure a cosy spot right infront, I realized I was one of the few people who had actually made an attempt to go close to the stage. Maybe people were oblivious about the fact that some of the biggest names in the EDM genre were going to play that evening. Nonetheless, the small crowd started dancing to Hagenaar’s (who was wearing a cheeky t-shirt which said “I am Patrick Hagenaar. We are Colour Code.”) electronic hi-octane dance tunes which mainly consisted of instrumental Dutch house tunes.

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

After he got the crowd moving, Shane Patrick took over by which time, a generous number of people had gathered in front of the Ministry of Sound stage and the Bangalore skies had turned a bluish grey. His rendition of the popular Fatboy Slim song ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat‘ got more people near the stage. The visuals that accompanied his tracks started getting more and more stark which was a treat for all the party goers. His remixes of popular tracks Like Icona Pop’s ‘I Don’t Care‘, Zedd’s ‘Clarity‘, Lana Del Rey’s ‘Summertime Sadness‘ (which happened to be my personal favourite because of the tempo and the surprisingly different distorted backing track) and Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky‘ were real crowd pullers.

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

He took a bow making way for the Hedkandi heroes to take the center stage.The crowd quickly moved leftwards and gathered in front of the Hedkandi stage.All 3 artists namely Carl Hannaghan, Nathan Cozzetto & Dean Oram came onstage and would stay there till the end of the whole Hedkandi act. First up was 25 year old DJ Carl Hannaghan who started with a hard hitting electronica piece. Dean Oram a.k.a Drum Warrior accompanied his track with his electronic percussion thus adding a tribal touch to the track. ‘You’ve got the love‘ by Florence and the Machine and ‘Sweet Dreams‘ were the popular tracks from Hannaghan’s set, to which Oram lent his tribal percussion dash. The crowd responded positively to all the tracks he churned out!

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

After almost an hour of what can be called an energetic performance Nathan Cozzetto took over the console.He played a fast electronic remix of Coldplay’s ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall‘, which got all of us to jump and jive. Dean Oram added an exciting angle to the song with his percussions.  Cozzetto entertained the crowd with a lot of mashups of lesser known house tracks, while Dean Oram kept entertaining us with his stage antics while wearing a red Indian feather headgear and a body suit adorned with LED lights. Oram did not accompany Cozzetto with his percussions beyond the first few songs of his set, after which Cozzetto started playing tracks which had varying bpms and sick bass drops. His set ended around 6.30 in the evening, and a heavy accolade from an odd 400 people followed.

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

Jacob Plant took over the massive stage almost immediately, keeping the crowd energy levels at their peak. His fast paced ‘Eat Sleep Rave Repeat‘ got a better response from the crowd than Shane Patrick’s. His progressive house track ‘Fire‘ got me dancing, even though I was near the artist lounge waiting to meet SoundAwake’s headliner (guess guess)! The bass heavy track had pulsating beats on the first and second count with swaying beats on the third and fourth and later transformed into a full beat song! The technical prowess shown by this 22 year old in his other instrumental tracks of the evening was nothing short of spectacular. No wonder he has been dubbed as the new Wonder Kid of the electro scene apart from having a forthcoming EP out on Dim Mak Records.

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

After an hour of heavy set electronic tunes and stark graphics, it was Rocco Rampino better known as Congorock’s turn to make the crowd dance to his tunes. By then a slight drizzle had started, ready to mar the crowd’s spirits, but that had no apparent effect on any of them, as they continued dancing to the electro dance punk music of Congorock. His set mainly consisted of dance punk and dubstep which had a lot of complicated layering done thus lending a very interesting multi-dimensional effect to his tracks. He played a very heavy dubstep version of the club hit ‘Satisfaction’ which resulted in a positive uproar from the booming crowd. The other popular tracks from his set were ‘Babylon‘ and ‘Runark‘. After one hour of heavy dubstep and electronic dance punk, crazy visuals and a dense drizzle, he exited the stage following a heavy accolade from all of us!

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

Seconds after his exit, the ginormous stage was shrouded in darkness, and we could feel the tension building in the crowd which had multiplied by a manifold. A robotic voice boomed  “ARE YOU READY FOR AOKI?” and the uproar that followed was almost deafening. People were screaming on top of their voices which was quite a crazy sight! The robotic voice now spelled out A-O-KI and continued repeating his name while the tempo got faster and faster with every second and with an imminent gush of fire and a blast the most awaited artist of the evening, DJ Steve Aoki entered the stage. With a “Namaste Bangalore” and an adrenaline pumped track he started his set – a perfect start! He kept his tracks short and made no haste in moving to the next one. With a varied range of electronic dance numbers to his name, our expectations from his DJ set were quite high, and boy did he not disappoint! The visuals that accompanied his songs were eclectic and stunning to say the least and the fact that it spread out from end to end on the 150ft stage made the effect even more powerful.

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

Boneless‘ from his new album Neon Future was a massive hit with the crowd and that’s when he went for his classic cake throw which drove the crowd mad. Confetti burst out in the sky, hands went up in the air, screams and accolades filled the night sky and we knew that the biggest party of the year had arrived. With tracks like ‘Afro-ki‘ by Afrojack and Steve Aoki, ‘Who‘ by Tujamo & Plastic Funk and ‘Turbulence‘ he kept all of us on our feet. By the middle of his set, the confetti was replaced with fireworks, the visuals became starker, inflated boats were thrown at the crowd driving them crazier. Cakes were thrown by Kid Millionaire almost every 15 minutes, and the crowd didn’t protest. The visuals accompanying his tracks got wilder by the minute. The second half of his set consisted of songs like ‘Pursuit of Happiness‘, ‘Warp 1.9‘, ‘A Light That Never Comes‘ by Linkin Park & Aoki which had a transcript by Chester Bennington at the beginning which lent a very humane touch to the song. The one thing that was consistent throughout the one and a half hour long DJ set was the energy level which did not wane even for a second. The last few songs of his set were from his new album Neon Future and the concluding song was ‘Aokijump’ which quite literally had the crowd jumping!

SoundAwake 2.0: Re-living EDM

The Steve Aoki party officially ended at 10 pm, leaving the audience wanting for more and thus to end the party in style Bangalore DJs Ajit Pai & Ivan took over. Playing popular house numbers kept a section of the crowd dancing, although quite a number of people had already started to leave. The party fever was still in the air and what had transpired that evening became a topic of buzz for everyone present at the venue. The smiles got wider and the experience overly satiating, to say the least, and we walked out of the venue thinking to ourselves “What a hell of a party that was!”

Debarati Sanyal

Debarati is a freelance photographer based in Bangalore and for the past one year has been actively documenting the music scene. When not shooting gigs, she can be found in front of a computer working on graphics and writing. Or maybe you can find her at one of the watering holes chugging beer!

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Penn Masala at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

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The term ‘boy band’ is dismissively used and abused as shorthand for everything that’s wrong with the music industry – whether personality-free meat puppets heeding their Machiavellian producers, or guile-less manipulation, or a general lack of character, integrity, and quality in the product itself. By ‘product’, I mean the music, but that’s the sort of word the puppet masters are supposed to use to describe something as elemental as music – a product to be hawked. However, often lost in this monetary maelstrom is that product – the songs are frequently frighteningly good. They’re appealing, catchy earworms that are even, summoning my forces of Carnatic music clichés, mellifluous. 

When Penn Masala took the stage at a packed Hard Rock Café on the 10th of January, the first impression was that they were a boy band. Eleven young lads trooping onto the roof of the bar made me marvel at the structural integrity of the stage, and these gents had no instruments – they had no names either, apart from the one alumnus who joined them for a couple of tunes. The rest didn’t introduce themselves, reduced to being marked only by their quirks of appearance under their uniform colour-coded attire – that one in the waistcoat, the one who looked like a cross between Vir Das and Ranbir Kapoor, the one who looked like a lost brother of Joaquin Phoenix (See also: ‘that white guy in the brown group’), and so on.

Penn Masala, hailing from the University of Pennsylvania, are billed as one of the world’s preeminent Hindi a capella bands. A capella, Italian for ‘in the manner of the church/chapel’, has come to mean singing without any/minimal backing instrumentation. ‘Voice only’, one might say. In other words, Penn Masala were very much on friendly turf – a capella is hard coded into every Indian’s genetic makeup by that bane of school excursion buses everywhere: Antakshari.

They kicked off their first set with Outlandish’s version of ‘Aicha’, and two things were immediately apparent – that they had solid backing arrangements and that their lead vocalists were hit-and-miss, some sounding a little off key. It took a while to get warmed up, but the crowd really got going, in brazen defiance of the prevailing political climate, when Penn dove into Atif Aslam’s ‘Woh Lamhe’, with the band almost being drowned out by the crowd for most of the song.

That exuberance was a sight to behold for the rest of the gig. Penn Masala took a break shortly after, and when they returned for their second set, most of the songs (‘Tu Aashiqui Hai’, ‘She Will Be Loved’ and especially ‘Fix You’) were raucously matched by the crowd – that’s the benefit of singing popular songs that the crowd had been weaned on, or perhaps the benefit of allowing more alcohol to be imbibed.

 

The night’s setlist was as close to (discounting Real McCoy’s ‘Another Night’) a list of modern standards as you can get – Atif Aslam, Maroon 5, Coldplay, but as stated earlier, the quality of the singing itself was variable to an extent I wouldn’t have expected from a band that’s been around for fifteen years and released seven albums. But then I realized that Penn Masala is indeed a boy band, in the conceptual sense of the term – they aren’t a band per se, but more a brand with a revolving door of members (thanks to that annoying college conceit called ‘graduation’). I say that not as a slight, but to gain a measure of understanding. While ‘Penn Masala’ have been around for fifteen years, as too some of the arrangements used, the singers themselves are relatively wet behind the ears. Keeping that in mind, the band actually did a remarkable job of supporting each other, often adapting their harmonizing to the key of the vocalist.

Yes, Penn Masala is a boy band – literally as well, for a group of women I met before the concert told me (facetiously, of course… I hope) that they’d come to scout prospective grooms from this buffet of eligible gujju (I checked – they’re not all gujju) boys. Though not without their faults, the liveliness, charm, and the sheer energy of the crowd and band in tandem won over pretty much everyone in attendance.

On the other hand, I must mention that there was one gent who grumbled that all the people who were cheering off-key singing were a blight on humanity. It takes all kinds to make the world.

Varun Rajiv

Varun Rajiv has tinnitus. The first band he adored with all his heart was Boyzone.

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Allegro Fudge at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

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Allegro Fudge – a contemporary acoustic rock band had a modest crowd gathered at The BFlat Bar in Indiranagar on the 8th of June to listen to music from their new album Maximum City. Strong influences of jazz, pop and folk music make for their unique sound. The band seemed to be enjoying every second on stage and kept the small assembly of enthusiastic listeners near the stage thoroughly engaged.

Allegro Fudge at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

The show kicked off at 9 p.m. with ‘Hear Them Say, a bluesy tune that I enjoyed a lot. The song has a nice up- tempo break in between which adds some oomph to their sound. The first thing that struck me when Allegro Fudge opened their set is that they are all individually very talented musicians. The band went on to play ‘Far Away’ and ‘Yellow by Coldplay. The keyboard forms an important part of their sound and is almost a lead instrument in itself. The keyboardist, Jason Zacharaiah, added a level of complexity to the sound which kept the music engaging. I really enjoyed the “blues face” he’d make when it was his time to jam out! The band followed with some more originals, ‘Colors Fly’, ‘Day Dreamer’ and ‘˜Waiting’. The crowd really got going by now and a few people could be seen dancing animatedly to the music. Anish’s guitar work was particularly enjoyable on the latter part of the setlist. The drummer, Kishan Balaji, also did a fantastic job throughout the set and played with a lot of feel and dynamics.

Allegro Fudge at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

Allegro Fudge then went ahead to play the classic ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ originally by Bill Withers and this proved to be an instant crowd pleaser with people joining in with the singing here and there. Vocalist Saahas Patil has a sweet choir-boy voice which is soulful and easy on the ears. They followed up with ‘Rock All Night’, their heaviest number so to speak and this was one of the more memorable moments of the night. The barefoot Shalini Mohan did a really good job on this track playing bass and the song also featured a bass-vocal duel.  They followed with ‘Adrift’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Eye To Eye’ and ‘Time After Time‘ by Cindy Lauper. The overall sound of the band was tame and I was disappointed that they opted to play more easy-to-listen-to covers than their heavier and darker tunes like ‘City Of Sin’ and ‘Constant Paralysis.’

Allegro Fudge at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore

They ended their set with ‘When We’re Gone’, ‘Maximum City‘ and ‘Hey Jude’. The Beatles cover was a good concluding track with the audience singing along and Saahas walking off the stage with his mike to egg people on to join in, to which they readily obliged. Galeej Gurus’ guitarist Ananth Menon then took over the vocal and guitar duties and played some blues for us with the remainder of Allegro Fudge helping out and at this point, the audience just didn’t seem to want to leave. Most of the tracks Allegro Fudge played can be found on their new album which is out online and is soon to be released on disk. The band still has a lot of work to do in terms of keeping their scarce live performances a little more engaging with more stage presence but Allegro Fudge is most definitely a band to watch out for!

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Jack Daniels Rock Awards ’12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

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Jack Daniels Rock Awards

Time check – it was 18 o’ clock. Was I going to make it on time for the JD rock awards?  At around 7-ish as I was zooming on the highway, I was mentally preparing myself for what the entire evening was going to be like. I got to the venue at sharp 7:30 and was mighty pleased to see that the entrance was nicely decked up with sweet signage complete with a desk of folks from Rolling Stones magazine/JD to check invites and sort out the invitees. They had setup a neat-looking JD/Rolling Stones magazine backdrop for photo-ops with a dozen photographers trying to squeeze out glamour shots for their respective publications. It all looked a lot like an elite fashion event.

Jack Daniels Rock Awards '12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

This was the first time that I had entered this stage at Mehboob Studios and as I later found out this was the first time they were doing a live music event at this particular studio. It was huge with an incredibly high ceiling and the minute I got in, I was immediately enveloped by the smell of expensive alcohol and the sound of general last-minute sound check noises. I got in just in time to hear Luke Kenny start to rev up the crowd to get the Rock Awards going after introducing himself as the host. The turnout for the rock awards was modest at first but the place got crowded later, not uncomfortably so at any point. Furthermore, the place had long bars on both sides serving unlimited JD on the house!

 

Sky Rabbit or the erstwhile Medusa played a tight set of their tracks in spite of the odd sounding PA mix which I would largely attribute to the high ceiling and room in general. The Sky Rabbit sound, if I were to describe it from the few songs I heard them do in that particular setting, was a mix of post-punk and electronica, which for some might be pretty reminiscent of early Coldplay. However, it was packed with enough new ideas to still be quite distinct sounding.

Jack Daniels Rock Awards '12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

Indus Creed was up next and they played a long set. I liked quite a few of their songs, but I certainly would want to hear the album that’s coming out soon so I can listen to them without having to put up with spectacular room reverb. They were quite energetic on stage, were groovy and had interesting bass lines and harmonic modulation throughout, which I quite love in a band.

Jack Daniels Rock Awards '12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

Next up was Ankur and the Ghalat family. Since the first time I heard these guys at Blue Frog when we were all doing a mixed singer-songwriter set, I’ve always liked their downright earthy sound and honest songwriting. Moreover, their sound has always retained its simplicity and has a nice clarity in the way the songs are arranged and the harmonies are brought out.

Jack Daniels Rock Awards '12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

For the most part, I expected this to be a lot like the splendid party thrown by the nice people over at The Blue Frog, a few months ago. Except at the end of it, maybe there would be a good old fashioned fist fight over who deserved to win best award for a three legged drummer. This certainly was at par and done on a much a larger scale apart from being an awards event. However in retrospect, I figure that one of the nicer things about the Bombay music scene is that nearly everybody has played with everybody and shares a healthy mix of camaraderie and the Bohemian spirit of I-don’t-really-f**king-care which leaves little or no place for any kind of angst or I-know-where-you-live type of behaviour. Bombay is certainly a great place to be a musician.

Jack Daniels Rock Awards '12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

Amongst mixed reactions, knowing nods and downright ‘What the Frankenstein’ reactions the winners for this year’s JD Rock Awards were announced. Bombay Bassment won ‘Best Emerging Act’ which I suppose was well deserved. They have acquired quite a following in the past year and their live act is very entertaining. Bassist Ruell Baretto was nominated for ‘Best Bass Player’ at the last JD Awards and the band was ecstatic when they found out they had won this year. It would be great to see where and how this band evolves and where they go with their sound. Dischordian won the award for ‘Album Art of the Year’ designed by Hemant Kumar for the album The Feni Farm RiotPentagram won several awards some of which were for ‘Best Vocalist’, ‘Best Guitarist’, ‘Best Video’ and ‘Best Album’. Shiraz and Vishal were pretty much on a marathon to collect the plethora of awards that they picked up.  ‘Best Vocalist (Female)’ went to Subhadra Kamath from Fire Exit. ‘Best Drummer’ went to Vibhas Venkatram from Eccentric Pendulum.Stefan Kaye from The Ska Vengers picked up ‘Best Keyboardist’.  ‘Best Bassist’ went to Abhinav Chaudhary from The Circus. ‘Best Producer’ went to Miti Adhikari for his work on Menwhopause album Easy. ‘Best Venue’ went to Blue Frog which couldn’t really have gone any other way! A special award for ‘Years of Excellence’ went to Lou Majaw.

Jack Daniels Rock Awards '12 at Mehboob Studio, Mumbai

The party continued for quite a while even after the awards were done and host Luke Kenny had signed off. The alcohol kept flowing and people seemed to be having a good time too. The place had a steady influx of a lot of familiar faces from television and movies who didn’t really have much to do with the rock awards or rock in particular but certainly contributed to the overall eye candy. I think that purely for the great setup, the copiously flowing alcohol and the abundance of legs, the JD rock awards was certainly a smashing night.

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Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

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On their second coming to Bangalore, and after the much-acclaimed first and second albums, it was only expected that Goldspot were up for a super-gig this time around. And what happened was as uplifting as it was exciting. The incredible energy, top-notch performance, and astonishing fan-frenzy, added up to create a fantastic atmosphere. I had come across a description of Goldspot somewhere that said “This is where The Beatles meet the Golden Oldies of Bollywood” – and that is exactly what a lot of us got to witness that evening.

Goldspot has been around since 2001, and has gathered a lot of international following and critical acclaim over the years. The band has produced two studio albums and a third is in the making. Their songs have been featured on many popularity charts, television shows, commercials, movie trailers, and OSTs.

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

January 2012 saw Goldspot’s third coming to India, after their visit in February 2008 and 2009. This time their tour kicked off at IIM Lucknow after which they performed in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad, before they finally landed in Bangalore. Before the show began, I spoke to a few people and figured that not all of them were aware of Goldspot’s work – only a few of them knew about Goldspot’s earlier albums and famous singles. I’m guessing it was only later that their real fans arrived, because once the gig started, I could hear people singing along and there were constant requests for popular songs by the band.

In the past few days, I have heard both of the band’s albums thoroughly, and I came there expecting a performance that would hardly go any heavier than soft-rock, although I didn’t rule out the possibility of it drifting treacherously close to pop. However, Siddhartha Khosla (vocals), Jacob Owen (guitar and keyboard), James Gabbie II (lead guitar), Adam Chilenski (bass) and Darren Beckett (drums), created an experience that any rock concert-goer would appreciate.

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

Here’s the thing about their songs – western arrangements which may remind you of artistes such as The Beatles, REM, Coldplay, Snow Patrol are subtly combined with Kishore Kumar, Paul McCartney-style singing, and Shankar-Jaikishan, S.D. Burman-esque sensitivities and melodies (and these happen to be just a few of the influences).

Rewind’ and ‘Friday’ are two of the most popular songs by the band, and they chose to open the gig with the former, and sign off with the latter. The songs were emotionally intricate, while the tunes were still light. But then again, that is the case with most Goldspot’s songs. ‘Rewind’ also happens to be the track that has featured on How I Met Your Mother (Season 5, Episode 2). ‘Friday’ has been done in both English and Hindi and Sid performed an expected medley of the two versions.

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

‘Call Center Girl’ and ‘Paperboats’ were up next and despite the fact that the show was only three songs down, the crowd was already immersed in the band’s music, bouncing about and swaying their hands.

Emily’ has the spark and hope of youth with a wonderful level-headedness. The lyrics range from something as innocent as “a pair of fourteen year olds holding hands”, and as mature as “if we can be wise we’ll part with the pride set our egos aside”.

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

One Year Anniversary’ and ‘Tale of a Fish’ reminded me of heartaches and heartbreaks. ‘One Year Anniversary’, which posed the unanswered question “Why is this damn life so hard?” was kept light-hearted with spirited guitar work and a catchy tune.

Grocery Store’ brought cheer not just because of the xylophone notes or because of the fact that it is a lively song by nature, but also because of the repetitive “Pum pa ra ra ra” (strongly reminiscent of Kishore/Burman/The Beatles) something that Sid seemed to find a lot of joy singing and the audience found equal joy dancing to!

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

What’s Under the House’ and ‘It’s Getting Old’ followed next. ‘It’s Getting Old’ didn’t seem to move me as much as the other songs did, and in my opinion, just seemed to act as filler material. For ‘What’s Under the House’ saw Sid dancing with the people in the audience, with child-like effervescence. This is the typical rock-n-roll track, built on 2/4 beats, but only more flamboyantly arranged.

If they were running short on time, ‘It’s Getting Old’ could well have been avoided, and Sid could have obliged the screaming audience’s pleas for ‘Miss Johnson‘ but he didn’t. When the show ended, this resulted in a lot of complaints from heartbroken female fans who almost wept saying, “They didn’t play my favourite song!”

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

Clap Clap’ is a song you might recognize from the Apple iPad’s guided  tour video  (at the 00:20-00:53 mark). This, as it seems to me, is a lighthearted take on heartbreak and the subsequent moving on. Darren with his drums was undoubtedly the star for this track, as the outro for the song was made super-entertaining with his thunderous drumming, something that’s not heard on the album version.

The surprise of the evening came with ‘Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din‘, from Raj Kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker. Sid showed us how with a capo on third fret, and some simple chords, a timeless classic can be brought back with a lot of psychedelic quality to it. A heart-wrenching song but a deliciously trippy cover!

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

By this time, the sound system at the venue that seemed to be delivering well beyond 3000 watts started to seem insufficient as the crowd’s screams were getting stronger with every song that was played. Increasing volume levels on the PA wasn’t the wisest solution, as the feedback that occurred was not exactly what one would expect from a place like Hard Rock Café, Bangalore. At many points this was also a problem for the band members who seemed dissatisfied with the on-stage monitors right from the start. When Sid went down dancing on the bar counter, and on the floor with the audience, it wasn’t unexpected that he’d lose track of either the beats or the key for his vocals – which almost happened when they played ‘What’s Under the House’, and finally did end up happening during ‘Ina Mina Dika’.

Goldspot at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

Before signing off, Sid gave a sneak peek on the upcoming album with ‘The Abyss’ and the show concluded with the much awaited ‘Friday’. Thanks again to the PA installed, I could not decipher most of the lyrics from ‘The Abyss’.

Goldspot has managed its espousing of genres pretty well, while still not bastardising the output. They have created a sound that we can recognize, and which is not a potpourri of confused genres. Their music deserves, and has the ability to charm an audience much larger than a packed house at a pub.

Gaurrav Tiwari

Drummer at DIARCHY, and HR Manager at Genpact

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Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

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It’s not often that you get to enjoy 80s music these days. The once ubiquitous rock pub where you could sip a leisurely beer while tripping on Mr. Mister and Culture Club on loop is fast being replaced by live gig joints: not that I’m complaining! However, when news broke that a U2 tribute night was being organized at a nice alfresco bar not too far from home, we thought: why not? It’s probably too early to be paying tribute to a band still going strong, but given the bleak possibility of the aging rebels from Dublin ever making it to Indian shores, this would be the next best thing.

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

I’d never heard The Beatroute before. According to their Facebook and Reverbnation pages, they’re a Mumbai-based Alternative Groove Rock band that started off by playing covers of songs by bands ranging from U2 and Incubus to Maroon5, Coldplay, Wolfmother, etc. They’ve recently started composing and playing original music, which they will be releasing soon. However, we’re always all ears when it comes to new acts on the scene so, after a lazy Sunday afternoon siesta, we took off towards the High Spirits pub at Koregaon Park – a nice enough venue for live music, but just a trifle small and unsuited for large turnouts.

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

We needn’t have worried. For quite a while, it seemed as if The Beatroute’s active audience would not cross the dozen mark, though a bunch of late entrants did fill the place to some extent. The band started off bang on schedule which I liked, and without the prolonged and annoying sound checks that are the bane of any paying audience they launched effortlessly into ‘Elevation’ and surprised many, including myself, with their tight sound. A fairly decent attempt at covering a band that often sounds deceptively easy. The good feeling persisted a few songs later, with an unexpected original called ‘Roll the Dice’ in which the rhythm section came into its own, with a sprightly drum solo tossed in to boot!

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

The Beatroute, formed in late 2010, is still young as bands go, but you wouldn’t know it from the ease with which vocalist Greg Sarma hit the high notes that Bono is much loved for; or from Vignesh Iyer’s neat ‘The Edge’ imitation (woolen cap and all), his red PRS and Boss GT10 weaving a loop of nice chorus-y delays that characterize the Irish band’s sound. The show-stealer however, was Eeshan Tripathi, the talented, classically trained pianist who played his Roland Fantom G6 with a nonchalant ease that was a joy to behold. The “long-haired freak on the bass” (Biswajit Chakroborty) and a replacement drummer (Toobloo, really?) standing in for founding member Gopal Dutta who, with Tripathi, branched out from regional-rockers Arth to form The Beatroute, complete the lineup.

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

There were glitches, sure – the guitars were barely audible on the left speakers for a lot of the songs. The Beatroute would be well served with a full-time sound guy on board, a role currently being moonlighted, one understands, by their manager. But on a lot of songs, the band’s love for the material shone through. I was particularly looking forward to my favourite U2 number ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and there was an awkward “Oh no!” moment when Greg started the verse two bars too early but the rest of the gang caught up quickly and it was smooth sailing right till the beautifully executed arpeggio outro. I, for one, was happy though it was becoming increasingly clear that the audience members weren’t exactly die-hard U2 admirers.

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

The next track, a groovy, funky love song called ‘Glow’, was carried effortlessly by the talented Eeshan and extremely well-received by the audience. The band seemed rather thrilled by the fact that the crowd was enjoying their originals more than the U2 covers they were ostensibly there to watch!

Next up, a rather ordinary cover of an extraordinary song: ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ from U2’s Grammy-winning Joshua Tree album. Everything was wrong: the guitars were turned too low, the vocals seemed off, the band didn’t seem to feel the song at all. Sensing a low, they quickly launched into a piano piece that morphed seamlessly into the jivey ‘Sweetest Thing’. Now I’ll be the first to confess that this is NOT my favourite U2 track by any stretch of imagination, not in the least because Boyzone is singing the chorus! However, surprisingly for me, this was the rendition of the evening – beautifully done, with the audience swaying and singing along.

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

The band seemed to grow massively in confidence after that, playing ‘One’ with panache. If only that acoustic guitar patch had been set up correctly for the vocalist! He did his best, sure, but there was something wrong with the way it was sounding, and Vignesh caught it right away when he traded in the PRS for the Walden acoustic for the next number, a jazz-funk original that was most enjoyable. I found myself marveling at these youngsters who delivered original material with such élan. In the 80s and 90s, any “good” band that dared inject so many “OC’s” into a tribute set would surely be booed off. Times have changed, it seems, and for the better!

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

Another original, ‘9 to 5′ featured in the set between excellent covers of two songs straddling opposite ends of the band’s oeuvre; the haunting ‘With Or Without You’ and ‘Hold Me,Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’ (from the Batman Forever soundtrack). With the former, the guitarist finally found his perfect sound, and it couldn’t have come at a better time! The latter kicked off with a host of keyboard runs and scratchy record effects, which set up the track rather nicely.

Da High Tribute to U2 by The Beatroute at High Spirits, Pune

I must confess I had a great time overall. The show ended rather abruptly at ten thirty, with an aborted version of ‘Vertigo’ and one of the rare moments on the show when the band’s lack of maturity in handling live situations coming to the fore (the other was at the beginning when an over-excited Greg yelled out “How we doin’, Pune?” to a deafened and rather amused audience). The best takeaway for me that night was the fact that all the material was enjoyable, including the original stuff that we hadn’t even expected to be brought to the table.

With a better sound guy and some more flying hours, this band could wind up quite the live act to watch out for. They certainly had us in high spirits as we left the venue. More power The Beatroute!

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Coldplayer live at UB City,Bangalore

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Being a fan of Coldplay, this was an evening I certainly didn’t want to miss. By the end of it, I was convinced that even if I wasn’t a fan, I still would’ve loved it. The start of the show was delayed by nearly an hour, which was a real turn off, especially for those who’d shown up on time. Now I don’t know whether to blame the organisation, or Bangalore’s audience, which is normally known to be late. The crowd poured in very slowly for the first hour, either hoping to skip the opening act, or because they were stuck in traffic, and eventually the late audience and the late beginning turned out to be perfectly in sync with each other.

The opening act was a solo artist, Thom Chacon. He is currently promoting his latest album Featherweight Fighter, produced by the legendary Perry Margouleff. Thom played an impressive set, with completely original material. He captivated the audience with nothing but his guitar, his harmonica and his voice. His set was very reminiscent of American-Folk, yet I won’t venture as far as putting him into such a tight box, because his style was nonetheless unique. Between his tracks, he would talk to the audience, and share stories, like a true story-teller. His style reminded me of the legendary story-tellers, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. Some of the more memorable numbers included, ‘She Ain’t The One’, ‘The Devil You Know’ and ‘Innocent Man’. But I think the unequivocal winner on his set was ‘Crazy Pills’. I simply loved this song! The lyrics were simple, yet reflected Thom’s depth as a songwriter.

There wasn’t much of a wait after Thom Chacon went off stage. ColdPlayer made a dramatic entrance, with a darkened stage and a powerful introduction by the MC. Then suddenly, the lights, the band, and the sound exploded spectacularly into the night. This entrance got the crowd very excited after the long wait. The band looked every bit like what everyone was expecting. From the way they dressed to the way they sounded to the way they moved around on stage, everything was so authentic! It was an uncanny first couple of minutes where I had to keep telling myself that I wasn’t watching Coldplay themselves. The sound of the band was so rich and full. It was very evident that they had put in a lot of work as a band and crew to form the complete Coldplay experience.

The entire band was dressed in a grungy ‘Viva la Vida’ style, complete with French Revolution coats, and hats and Converse shoes. The vocalist went even further with his hand-bands and plastic rings, emulating Chris Martin. The way he romanced the mike, the way he would sit at the piano, the way he would look away into the distance and sing, everything was such a brilliant imitation.

They played most of the popular ColdPlay tracks and even interspersed it with some of the lesser known tracks, but the Bangalore audience kept up throughout the set! I couldn’t believe my ears when the audience were singing along to every single track for the entire two-hour set! The band looked quite impressed with the audience too. I saw them on many occasions looking at each other, completely stumped by how much the audience knew. I spoke to them later, and it transpired that they had been told to expect maniacal metal fans in Bangalore. It took them completely by surprise when Bangalore was singing Coldplay, word for word.

The band let the crowd do parts of many of the tracks, like ‘In My Place’, ‘Fix You’, ‘Politik’, ‘Yellow’ and ‘Trouble’. The crowd went berserk when asked to sing. They even sang along in tune, and in time! Hats off to everyone there! You were awesome.

The first set was one of very very high energy levels with tracks like ‘Speed of Sound’ and ‘In My Place’. To add to the ColdPlay act, in the middle of ‘Yellow’, a lot of yellow balloons were released into the air. This added to the authenticity of the evening. The crowd was having a blast throwing the big balloons around, sometimes even throwing the balloons onto the stage. The band would promptly throw the balloons back into the crowd. The band was having so much fun, jumping off the drummer’s stage, and running around that they tired themselves out after a while. The drummer and bassist took a break while the vocalist and guitarist kept the crowd swaying to some of the mellow numbers, like, ‘Green Eyes’ and ‘Trouble’. When the entire band got back together on-stage, they went wild with another powerful set.

Replicating the stage antics of Coldplay, they even brought out a bat and ball towards the end of their set and batted some balls to the crowd. Right at the end they even gave away the bat, a hat and a couple of guitar picks. The crowd loved them so much that they repeatedly kept asking for an encore. The by-now-exhausted band took on a couple of encore tracks, and finally ended with ‘Yellow’, sung mostly by the crowd. It was the perfect end to a fantastic evening.

Bharath Kumar

Bharath Kumar, besides being a full-time geek, is a keyboard player and music producer. He runs his own studio, Minim Sound Labs www.minimsoundlabs.com, and is an active volunteer in various charities.

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The Beatroute – Live at Pizza By The Bay

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They say the ‘routes’ of music lie in the ‘beats’ of sound, and that’s what the emerging Bombay based band,The Beatroute adheres to. The Beatroute, that comprises of ex Vayu drummer Gopal Dutta, Vignesh on guitar, Biswajeet on bass, Eeshan on keyboards, and Greg on lead vocals, recently played a gig at ‘Pizza by the Bay’, previously known as ‘Not Just Jazz by the Bay’.  This new and upcoming band performed a wide array of songs ranging from their originals, to covers of U2, Coldplay and the sensational Michael Jackson.

Despite the fact that they are new to the world of live performances, their music seemed to stir our attention. With a professional like Gopal in the band who has had years of experience and other band members full of enthusiasm and zeal, they kickstarted the show with Wolf Mother’s ‘Joker and the Thief’, which was very well done. In  their second song which was a cover of U2’s ‘Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me’, we saw a very focused Eeshan almost magically produce a techno sound through the motion-sensing interface on his keyboard, as if he was talking to it with his fingers!

Then came one of their originals called ‘Nine to five’, about the working class people in the city. The song was a tad shaky here and there and a little monotonous, but a good attempt at an original nonetheless. Next up was another U2 song, ‘Where the streets have no name’ followed by another original called ‘Glow’, which again seemed to lack the punch and vigor of ‘Nine to five’.

Next up, The Beatroute went into a wonderfully done medley of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ and Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’. Subsequently, they played another cover of ‘Smooth Criminal’ by Michael Jackson, which was completely off beat and too fast a version of that song to be sung. It sounded like a cacophony of sound, with a mix of different instruments and bad timing. Next up, they broke out into another one of their originals called, ‘This Is Bound To Happen’, which had an electronica feel to it, making it a good listen.

Then came Eeshan’s solo performance on the keyboard, with an assortment of ‘Chariots Of Fire’, ‘The Godfather Theme’ and ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’. Immediately after which, out of the blue, I heard Greg screaming out happy birthday to someone, with Eeshan hastily filling in a 2 minute happy birthday tune on his keyboard.

Later on, Gopal Dutta played a 15 minute drum solo, which was astounding, highlighting his prowess as one of the most technically skilled musicians in the band. The best cover the band played was ‘Sunday Morning’ by Maroon 5; it proved that they have an umpteen amount of potential in them, considering that they’ve only been playing live for a few months. ‘Clocks’ was one song where they couldn’t get their timing right however, and towards the end of this Coldplay number, everyone in the band seemed to be a little perplexed.

Amidst this ambience of good music and dim lights, a man came up to the microphone and proposed to a woman, on stage, while Greg retreated into the background. Apparently, this wasn’t a prank, but the real deal. In so many years of having attended gigs, this certainly was a first!

After this unusual saga, the band played a rather flat version of Porcupine Tree’s ‘Lazarus’ and a soothing version of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ which made everyone in the house sing along and come together for that moment. They proceeded to play an impressive rendition of ‘Drive’ by Incubus, followed by ‘Slither’ by Velvet Revolver that had a good solo by Vignesh. All in all, a band heavily inspired by Coldplay and U2, The Beatroute will probably go a long way.

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St. Patrick’s Day – at the Hard Rock Cafe

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St.Patrick’s Day (17th March) came alive at Hard Rock Café, New Delhi. A lot of people showed up to celebrate it, since one of Delhi’s greatest bands “Cyanide” was playing, not to mention the Beer Drinking Competition that was to be held! The show started at 10:30pm with Cyanide’s cover of U2’s Vertigo. The band covered a lot of Irish bands like U2The CorrsThe Cranberries, and Snow Patrol, given that St.Patrick’s Day is an Irish Festival. Although they played a new original Money the band mainly concentrated on playing covers.

Finally, it was time for the main attraction of the night, the beer drinking festival. The members of Cyanide started off by downing their glasses real quick. After they were done the five teams were called right onto the stage amidst a lot of cheering from the vast numbers of people who’d thronged to witness the competition.

Cyanide took over the stage again post competition with a cover of Yellow by Coldplay, and dedicated it to the disaster stricken people of Japan. This was followed by Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol and the gig closed with Elevation by U2. Rohan Solomon was at his energetic best and his on-stage presence left everyone wanting more!! Sound at Hard Rock Café, New Delhi is never good, and testament to this fast was that when Rohan was singing ‘Vertigo’, the acoustics were relatively ok but problems arose with the twin guitar sound, proving to be a total killjoy.

This problem should be fixed ASAP; bands need good sound, period!

Overall, a memorable evening of music with Cyanide!

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