Tag Archives: Subhadra Kamath

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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Fire Exit at Manajsa Cafe, Delhi

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A glowing halo around the stage, multi-dimensional streaks of lights spanning the floor  of Manajsa Café, Hauz Khas – all of this added to the exuberant performance by Fire Exit – a Delhi based progressive alternate rock band. A product of time and talent, the band’s own unrelenting ambition was truly expressed on the stage with its performance of all the tracks from their 6-track EP called OKBYE!

The first official studio release by Fire Exit showcased its proficiency in varied styles of genres; combining rock, metal and electronic sounds. The tracks ranged from acoustic-ambient nature to ones with a heavier feel. The band blends great vocal melody along with instrumental harmony, and is based on experimentation with varied time signatures, jazz-influenced bass-lines and an Indian percussion instrument.

‘Poison Ivy‘, ‘Vacuum‘, ‘MML‘ were the tracks where the tabla gave an intriguing turn to the way the songs progressed, evoking tranquility among the musicians and the audience alike. The band also did a couple of covers including ‘Secret’ by Maroon 5, ‘White Knuckles’ by Alter Bridge, and ‘Creep’ by Radiohead. Not to forget Subhadra Kamath’s bewitching performance reminiscent of Myles Kennedy (that made me hoot in quite an unlady-like manner). Hot guitars gave an energetic beat, with smooth soloing rhythm, accented by shakers and tambourine; paving way to the sizzling musical chemistry between the lead vocalist Subhadra Kamath and the bassist Aditya Roy. Now THAT definitely did not go unnoticed. Killer wah on the drop!

Besides the melody, the impressive song writing had me strung-out all through the gig. I simply love the art form of song writing and yes, agreeing to what Glen Hughes says that it is through song writing that you get to carry a lot of vibes to a lot of people. They tend to find themselves in the songs. Similarly Subhadra’s lyrics hooked and reeled me in till I was drowning in the melody so deep that resurfacing took me a long, long time (I ended up buying three CDs!)

Disappointingly, there were less takers than one would expect at the Cafe. The Indian rock industry has gone through a metamorphosis in the last decade, becoming a melting pot of influences. It comes across as more open to experimentation than bands outside of the country. However, there might be a need to sound out a distress call soon. Especially, considering the fact that we still see people going annoyingly berserk over western influences.

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OKBye! by Fire Exit

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Most people first got a glimpse of Fire Exit through the 2008 compilation release, Stupid Ditties 2. ‘MML’ was one the songs that stood out as it had a different vibe to it. Their debut EP has managed to capture the same easy vibe. Although the songs are complex in terms of time signature switches and vocal harmonies, the collection still comes across as simple yet thought provoking.

Subhadra’s vocals ring of familiarity, but you’d find it hard to really settle on a definite influence. Her voice sounds mature yet innocent as she delivers textures of harmonies on ‘Waiting For’. Nice subdued percussions close the song out well.

Poison Ivy’ starts off with a Tabla and Guitar intro. Varun is on form displaying some great tabla work and the whole band sounds great on what is my favorite song on the EP.

When I heard the guitar intro of ‘Vacuum’ I went straight to my guitar to learn the riff. Beautiful acoustic harmonics and great delivery in the vocals as she dips in and out of the blues scale in parts.

The Spark’ has a very RHCP feel to it with its pronounced bass line and clean guitars with slight swells. The song just goes ahead and reminds us all that we’re listening to a band that has defined their music and know enough about themselves to write honestly and intelligently.

Heroes’ has a nicely crafted rhythm that suddenly turns into a driving groove as Subhadra croons “You don’t remember all the times you failed, as long as you know you’ve tried.”

Its only fitting that the placement of ‘MML’ is last on the EP. Nice blend of jazz chords and progressive bass lines. Superb harmonies and definitely the lead song of the EP. ‘MML’ closes out a great offering by a talented bunch of musicians. The album is well produced, and the art work on the cover is unconventional and goes well with the band’s sound. If you haven’t heard them yet, listen and order a copy.

Howard Pereira

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

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