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Split’s Debut Album Launch at Blue Frog, Mumbai


I remember having a conversation with Nihar Manwatkar of anECHO back in 2003, about bands that we thought had great potential to be big. And by big we didn’t mean bands that would click on just the national platform, but the ones that would be able to connect on a global stage if given a push in the right direction. We both agreed that Split was one of those selected few. They were marked out by us as a band to follow. Unfortunately for most musicians, life gets in the way, and even many years later, Split hadn’t yet broken through that mid-card level band status and had yet to release an album or an EP.

Flash forward to 2009, and Split was back after a year’s gap with not only an EP, mockingly titled P is for Pig, but also with an all-India tour with Harley Rock Riders to support that release in 2010/11. The band has literally catapulted to fame after that by playing at venues across India and making people sit up and take notice.

Split's Debut Album Launch at Blue Frog, Mumbai

The launch of Counting Perfume was a highly anticipated event and when I walked into the venue that night, the first thing that surprised me was the low turnout. I was also beginning to rue the fact that I had to give Buddy Guy playing at the Mahindra Blues festival a miss in order to catch this launch. However, the band’s regular supporters were there in attendance and it took me only a few minutes to get excited for the band to begin the gig.

The band took off with ‘Fat Oaf’- a mid tempo chugger that literally tells you to “hold on tight and don’t let go” – a perfect way to start the gig. Garreth’s harmonica made an early appearance in ‘Belief’. It’s hard not to stand in front of these guys and be completely taken in by their overall presence. The band seemed to be reveling in the launch and so did the small gathering of faithful as they ploughed through their by now familiar songs like ‘Pig Society’, ‘Punk Rock Days’ and a new fresher version of ‘My House’.

Split's Debut Album Launch at Blue Frog, Mumbai

At this point Aviv broke a string and stepped off stage to replace it while the band moved into a slower ditty ‘Isn’t it Strange’. I was backstage with Aviv at this point helping him to find a string when Garreth walked into the green room behind us and casually said he’ll take the solo and the next minute we hear a beautiful harp taking center stage.

I’ve got to say that, listening to the rest of the set, it was apparent that these five guys have found a unique comfort level playing with each other. During those moments when Aviv’s string snapped or Melroy’s amp went off and he had to wait for it to be replaced during the song, the band made it work. When these musicians rejoined the song, the whole band instantly knew how to build the song a little to make it seem like, sonically, nothing went wrong.

Split's Debut Album Launch at Blue Frog, Mumbai

Split also played a couple of covers, the most enjoyable being one of Joe Cocker’s ‘Leave Your Hat On’. But my favorite cover was the grinding ‘5 to 1′ by The Doors. Their version for the night had a little bit of ‘War Pigs’ thrown into the mix as well, which saw a frenzied reaction from the front row of fans. They finally closed their set with their popular ‘Holy Ghost Machine Gun’. That ended a beautiful and tight set by the alternative rock veterans. The sound was mixed well by the talented Zorran Mendonsa who has also worked with the band on their debut album.

Some things have changed but most remain the same. The band is a whole lot tighter even though they are jamming impromptu, ordering drinks and laughing at jokes with the crowd. Their sound has changed, with both guitars throwing out a plethora of effects; the rhythm section of Varoon and Shekar is tight and provides the foundation for the structure of all the band’s songs; Melroy’s occasionally whimsical-sounding rhythm guitaring builds up sturdy walls of sound that are artistically awash with Aviv and Garreth’s guitars and vocals.

Although the band has taken an eternity to release their debut album, I’ve heard it and it was well worth the wait. Split is currently touring the country supporting this release so if they’re in your city, don’t miss them live.

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Howard Pereira

Howard is a guitarist with Mumbai based bands, Dischordian and Overhung. His other interests include drinking, comic books and occasional writing.


Control Alt Delete – Chapter II at B69 Bajaao, Mumbai





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!