Tag Archives: The Family Cheese

The Family Cheese Album Launch at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

Avatar photo

Parizad D

Parizad D is a photographer with a strange aversion to her surname and an even stranger affinity towards all things feline. When she isn't going click-happy you can find her obsessing over feet, good food, Radiohead, tea and dead baby jokes! Follow Parizad on Twitter @parizad_d


Anathema, Bevar Sea, Heretic, Family Cheese, Clown with a Frown at IIT-M’s Saarang 2013


At 5 PM on the 12th of January, finding my way through the forested IIT Madras campus during their fest Saarang to attend the rock show, it occurred to me that the one phrase I should definitely not use is ‘rumble in the jungle’. When I reached the venue, the fest was in full swing with stalls hawking bags to deodorant to scooters, making people debase themselves for trinkets. In the midst of this melee could be heard a dull sound emanating from the Open Air Theatre (nobody calls it that – it’s always the OAT) that most people chose to ignore. I headed there.

Clown with a Frown were already on stage – gleaned only upon entrance. They’ve been on a roll recently, winning, inter alia, Strawberry Fields (the NLSIU rock show), a slot at NH7 Weekender’s Bangalore edition, and now at Saarang. I caught only the end of their set, but was nonetheless impressed at their improving dynamic with each passing gig. There’s an infectious delight to their music, and it’s clear that there’s an unbridled energy and sense of fun while they’re playing, even when to a paltry crowd. Neither necessarily means their music is any good, but it’s not bad, and they have the trumpet-y thing going that yields the priceless ‘more brass on my monitors, please.’

Next, the first of the billed bands, were The Family Cheese. They had an interesting sound, but technical issues – ‘plagued’ is the word for it – never really let them get started. They had the musical chops, but also a tendency towards self-indulgence, though it’d be unfair pass judgment based on this staccato set. One thing must be noted – they were playing to a measly crowd who couldn’t make up their minds whether to applaud or boo, but the biggest cheer was for their last song: ‘Comfortably Numb’. Engineering students, I tell you. They spent the downtime between the Family Cheese and the next band cheering a sexually-charged advertisement on the stage screen. Engineering students, indeed.

Around when The Family Cheese finished, the sun had started to shrink away and I looked behind me to see a sight that warms the black, filthy, withered cockles of any band – a legion of black t-shirted masses, perched at the sides of the amphitheatre, roosting together in an impromptu The Birds-themed flash mob. The students had left their halls for the OAT.       

Heretic rode this black tide with elan, rousing the crowd with their nu-metal (I don’t mean that as a slight) inflected high-energy hard rock. The singer was particularly adept at varying between growling and smooth vocals, and they’re definitely one to catch live. Reliably, the partisan crowd displayed their highest regards when the band cut into an interlude of ‘Urvashi’ from Kadhalan.

Bevar Sea was my highlight of the night. Their viscous riffage sounds fantastic when unleashed on a large stage, and it brought a giddy grin to my face when the crowd sang along to ‘Abhistu’. Also, the number of people in Bevar Sea t-shirts far outnumbered any other band, including the headliners. Their set, curtailed by time constraints and consisting of just three songs, reminded me of a quip: Did you hear about the one-hour King Crimson gig? Yeah, they played half a song. As vocalist Ganesh put it, they are bevarsea, and so are you.

After they cleared out, the headlining act (predictably) took the stage. Anathema has been around for over twenty years, and I quote their Wikipedia page: “Beginning as pioneers of the death/doom sub-genre, their later albums have been associated with genres such as alternative rock, progressive rock, art rock, new prog, and post-rock.” Tellingly, there is a flag saying additional citations needed for verification.

When Anathema started up (with ‘Untouchable I’ and ‘Untouchable II’), my jaw dropped. This band was full of love and no blackness! They were crammed to their gills with inner nobility of character. They spouted Tamil and flashed the V-sign instead of the Devil’s Horns, and not in the British sense of ‘up yours’. You could practically feel Vince Cavanagh, their lead singer, reaching out to comfortingly embrace you.To sum up, if Anathema were a Captain Planet element, they’d be Heart.

Still, the crowd was into it. I’d ventured up to the cheap seats and was watching the now-sizable crowd bounce in unison when something spectacularly hypnotic was wrought from the depths of this fiery love – a mosh pit of group hugs. It looked like the oscillating mouth of a sea anemone. But everyone was just jumping up and down and having an oh-so-good time.

I headed back to front and centre, still reckoning this band with suspicion. I don’t think it’s solely a question of proximity, but when up close, it was really quite moving. Their older tracks were just better, and when Cavanagh emotes while singing, it felt like he was speaking to me, and simultaneously to every other person there. This was either the single most emotional performance I had the privilege of attending, or the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. Probably both.

Curiously, the mood of the crowd turned. They’d already befuddled the band with an incessant chant of ‘Haska lakala laka laka laka OOH AAH OOH AAH’ (a common motivational mantra heard during cricket matches at Chepauk stadium) – one that started as a voice of appreciation, but soon veered into boorish impoliteness, breaking out even between songs, and then morphed into a downright rude chant of ‘We want Meh-Tuhl’.

The band, to its credit, ignored it and chugged on, which was a practical application of their entire state of existence. They sang of numbed emotion (‘The Storm Before the Calm’) and showing the way (‘The Beginning and the End’), and by the end of it, hitting the home stretch with ‘Empty’, ‘One Last Goodbye’ and‘Fragile Dreams’, the crowd had been won over once more, proving decisively the power of love and letting the credits roll while the band were freeze-framed in victory.

Life can be simple.

Avatar photo

Varun Rajiv

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


The Family Cheese at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore


An eclectic mix of almost every genre imaginable, The Family Cheese was an interesting and enjoyable start to the weekend. At Bflat on Friday night, they played Psychedelic Rock, Progressive Rock, Blues, Funk, Gangsta’ Rap, Electronica and Brazilian Bossa nova! They even let loose a riveting Pink Floyd cover!

We entered the venue just as the band was setting up. There was some classic jazz on the speakers which instantly induced a positive vibe. As the drums were being set up, Homi started playing the groove of the background track flawlessly. This was a small initial dose of the band’s technical prowess. They soon progressed into a sound check which was a jazzy jam. Each member fed off the others’ energy and it was clear that they were proficient and capable.

The band consists of Apurv Frank Vedantam “Lala” Isaac on Lead guitars and Vocals, Homi Rustamji on Bass and Yohan Marshall on Drums and Vocals. They are all students of the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, Chennai. They introduced themselves (and each other) with loads of jokes and teasing. It was obvious that their egos aren’t as immense as their musical training. Also, after every song, Yohan kept repeating the line “We are the Family Cheese and we absolutely love that breakfast!“, which was funny at first but seemed a little strange after a few songs.

They then began their set with an original which gave off slight alternative rock vibes. Lala proved himself to be a competent singer with Yohan effectively backing him up. The solo was a tad too reminiscent of ‘Comfortably Numb‘ and Lala’s delay-heavy guitar tone embellished this similarity. At the end of the song, Yohan quipped sarcastically that the energy in the crowd was too much to take, once again dishing out their brand of humour.

They then started playing a Brazilian bossa nova tune ‘Black Orpheus‘ and we were left speechless for a minute. It did look like things were going to get serious when Yohan pulled out brushes and soft sticks. Their ability to play jazz was really impressive. The phrasings were sublime and really well constructed. Homi played his six string bass wonderfully and perfectly complemented the guitar. The walking bassline seemed to jog in the middle and eventually even ran! Yohan played a very intense drum solo in the middle of the song and blew the crowd’s mind. Along with the intense precision and technicality, one could also hear a lot of konokkal within his phrasings. He is an insanely talented individual and a force to be reckoned with on the drums.

They then played an original titled ‘Stories of the places you’ve never been‘ which was a progressive rock/metal song. Lala shone through on lead guitar. The crowd lapped up his licks and solos. Lala seems to be most at home with progressive rock/metal and played face melting solos and demented arpeggios effortlessly.

The band then went into total ‘mess around’ mode with Yohan leading their whimsical experimentation for the night, on a ‘Sit on your bum groove‘, as Homi described it. The playfulness began with Yohan singing ‘Toothpaste baby’ or ‘Two-piece baby’ over some blues. The band then started a rap song with Yohan rapping in Gujarati about how his mom wouldn’t let him drink daaru or bring chokris into his room! Lala also joined in and they covered Afroman’s ‘Colt 45′ with Yohan using his cymbal hits to censor obscenities. It was clear that they wanted to have as much fun on stage as they possibly could.

They then played an original called ‘UNIR’ which was again a progressive number. This was followed by a heavy cover of the blues classic ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ with Yohan on vocals. They played a decent rendition of the song. It was Lala’s birthday the next day and the band got one of their friends to smear cake on his face during the middle of the song. This was another example of how open and easy-going the band was. They had already impressed the crowd with their technicality and now proceeded to have as much fun as possible.

They then launched into a medley of famous tunes like the Simpsons and Mario theme songs, followed by some very off-time signature jams. Next up, ‘Blue and pissed off’ was an original blues song but played in a very progressive and experimental light. The highlight of the song was Homi’s bass solo. By now Lala was tired of the cake on his face and took a break to clean himself up. Homi and Yohan launched into an electronic drum & bass jam which was a little too experimental and didn’t really go down too well with the crowd.

Lala returned and the band played one of their best known originals ‘The Cheese’ which Yohan proclaimed was “Homi’s song”. Why it was called that was obvious the second the riff started. Homi played tapping riffs with both fingers and created a complex interplay with the guitar on a 9/8 time signature. There were complex interludes and psychedelic portions with myriad effects which felt and sounded like an acid trip.

The band ended their set with a rendition of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’. The dual vocals of Yohan and Lala more than did justice to this famous albeit overplayed classic. Lala’s sometimes overly heavy and Gilmour inspired tone and style seemed to finally get some relevance in the solo. He was totally in control and walked out into the crowd and even got a member of the audience to pluck his guitar for him.

Overall, the evening was very entertaining. It was heartening to see talented musicians having so much fun on stage. The Family Cheese is a funny quirky band, technically proficient and easy going. Although their jokes and banter were humorous, it did get a tad excessive towards the end, but considering the vibe of the place and the fact that they had mainly their friends and family present, it can be understood. The band did spark our interest and it would be interesting to see what they can do with a bigger audience and a more structured setlist.

Avatar photo

Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash is a Bangalore based guitarist and is a third of local act Groove Chutney. He loves jazz, street food, Woody Allen movies and often pretends to be a writer.


B School Of Rock at IIM, Bangalore

Avatar photo

Robin George Thomas

Robin George Thomas is a photographer from Bangalore. He likes to wear white socks. He will only wear white socks. He cant remember the last time he wore a pair of socks that weren't White.


Vildhjarta – The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012


The open air theatre of Saarang has been graced by Metal giants in the previous years, more specifically Swedish bands in the genre like Opeth, Pain of Salvation and Hammerfall. This year the 7-piece ambient/djent band Vildhjarta from Sweden visited the festival along with Indian metal bands Inner Sanctum, Blind Image and Scribe.

The show started off as dusk was falling, with performances from The Family Cheese, Crypted and 83 Mph, the finalists of Decibels – Saarang’s competition for semi-professional bands. Crypted was announced as the winner with The Family Cheese as the runner-up. As this mini-battle was taking place, the Open Air Theatre slowly started seeing a swarm of black tees entering the arena in high spirits.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

Inner Sanctum soon took the stage by storm and started off their set and it didn’t take long for the crowd to start head banging and raising their fists in the air, but we soon came to the realize that the sound mix was quite absurd. The drummer’s kicks were barely audible and the bass was missing at certain points. However, the nearly-synchronized headbanging by the members of Inner Sanctum and vocalist Gaurav Basu’s windmilling and powerful vocals kept the crowd engaged. By their final track, ‘The Guardian’ the sound issue was sorted out. Nevertheless, Inner Sanctum was very professional about it and got the crowd geared up for the rest of the night.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

Blind Image was next on stage and right when the crowd believed that the sound issues were fixed, they were plagued by yet another series of sound issues; only this time they were much worse. As soon as they started off with their opening track ‘Deciphered’ there were absolutely no guitars on the PA and this continued with the monitors going off for the bass player and drummer, and guitarist Pranav had his Pod X3’s adapter short circuited due to a power surge. Vocalist Noble Luke kept the crowd engaged amongst the confusion but owing to time constraints, the band had to end it with a short set filled with technical issues. Having heard that Blind Image have a reputation for being a very good live act, I thought it quite unfortunate that the band had to go through such terrible sound issues. Many Chennai metalheads were disappointed as they had seen Blind Image previously in several gigs where the band had put up amazing shows and the crowd expressed open disapproval of the constant technical issues by shouting “What the f**k!” along with vocalist Noble Luke. Word got around that there was a “bug” in the digital console that kept altering any equalizing and mixing that was introduced.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

Next up were the much awaited Mumbaikars, Scribe. The band started off with a song famous for being a Rajnikanth intro song that immediately got the crowd’s attention, with whistles and cheers from all around. While vocalist Vishwesh put paid to sour moods caused by the sound issues by talking to the crowds in Tamil, the sound issues were tackled by Scribe’s own sound engineer playing the role of a much-needed knight in shining armour! The band had to skip a few songs including ‘Street Archana vs. Vice Varsha’ due to the on-stage sound issues. Overall, the crowd seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed Scribe with mosh pits and circle pits in the OAT. First-time metal listeners and IIT volunteers themselves were seen headbanging in groups. Scribe’s track ‘Buddy’ saw members from Inner Sanctum, Blind Image, and Crypted headbanging and moshing on stage. Even a couple of members from Vildhjarta joined them and the OAT seemed to be suddenly engulfed by a bout of madness at this point!

After a careful inspection of the technical issues, Vildhjarta was ready with a line-up that included three guitarists, two vocalists, a bass player and a drummer- something that is very uncommon for metal bands in general. However, the three-guitarist-trend has been noted in popular bands like the American Periphery in recent times.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

“We are Vildhjarta from the World of War craft”, announced frontman Vilhelm Bladin as they took the stage. ‘Ben Blast’ was the first track they played and the crowd broke into a roar of howls. One could see that the band was influenced by Meshuggah and that the typical djent-styled riffing and the dual vocals were somewhat new to some people in the crowd. Metal noobs were unable to understand the riffing patterns and many were seen head banging off-time – something that, I must admit, was quite hilarious to witness. It was a treat to see the 7-piece band being an incredibly tight live act, though. The crowd roared its approval as the band played ‘Shadow’ the first track on the Masstaden album – with a slow, ambient intro pounding into heavy djent riffing. The dual vocals, with Daniel doing the screams and Vilhelm doing the deep growls, were a definite highlight. The next song ‘Dagger, which is the first off the Masstaden album to have an official video, was welcomed with metal fists and roars from the hardcore Vildhjarta fans standing up against the railing. The song comprises of alternate clean ambient parts and complex riffing; ‘Eternal Golden Monk’ came next, starting out with complex grooves and good use of the three guitarists in the band. ‘Deceit’, an instrumental track off their 2009 EP Omnislash that was infused with vocals and added to Masstaden, was filled with slow grooves and saw some intense head banging from the crowd. ‘Traces’, starting out with fast riffing, was the next song. It saw a circle pit instantly and was followed by ‘Phobon Nika’, a short 3-minute track that has quite a long clean intro and heavy breakdown riffs in the end.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

The three guitarists, two keeping rhythm and one playing lead, had perfect timing with their breakdowns and all of them seemed to have amazing guitar tones as well. The drummer, who seemed to have been playing along with a click track, was flawless and held the band together quite comfortably.

During a quick word with the vocalist Daniel Adel, he said that the band’s album Masstaden is based on the concept of globalization and its good and bad put together in the form of a fable; he added that his personal inspiration as a vocalist comes from Jens Kidman (Meshuggah) and Eric Kalsbeek (ex-Textures).

All these feelings’ was the last in their set; again, filled with slow grooves quickly switching to fast double bass drumming, it was a perfect ending to the set. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the tight and intense performance and headbanged right till the end of the set, with the band performing ‘Dagger’ as the encore.

Sound issues were the only let down of the evening, affecting some bands more than the rest. This isn’t unusual and it’s quite evident that these things are sometimes unavoidable. At the end of the day, the OAT resounded with the sound of Metal and many people who weren’t as into the genre, went back home with the strong urge to give it a more serious listen.


The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore


The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival wasn’t promoted as vociferously this year; while we’re wondering why, we’re also thankful that it panned out that way because the number of festival attendees this time during peak hours was just right – it wasn’t claustrophobic and it wasn’t marred by huge patches of empty grass/tables with people desperately trying to look like they’re having a good time.

Counterculture in Whitefield, known for its extremely chilled-out vibe (you can take your dogs with you to a gig), was buzzing with activity a little past ten a.m. on D-day. It was amusing to watch people bustling back and forth toting everything from humongous ladders to newspaper sculptures to kites! Quiet warnings of “watch it!” or “duck” were uttered more than once by friendly bystanders.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

While the food counter wasn’t open that early (the event was to begin at 11 a.m.), people already had the tenacious audacity to walk around with bottles of Millers glued to their fingertips (whiskey was our poison, so we’re not judging)! The venue itself had been done up with kitschy, unusual displays of art made from recycled stuff. The dragonflies, with tea strainers for eyes, bobbing happily above the bands while they played, were particularly amusing as was the centipede-like structure in a far corner. The fest had displays of art by Ari Jayaprakash, literally strung up, and featured a counter with Astral Cat creations.

Members from the Chennai-based hard rock band Totem got onstage to set up a little over an hour after go time. They had the misfortune of playing the earliest set to a crowd that was only just getting lulled into the appreciative mood. There was a short burst of a riff with an electro tinge to it and the ten second vocal that was belted over it was impressive. Anticipation heightened as the band started in earnest but while the sound was fine and the vocals were noticeably good, they didn’t come together as they should have. The bass was particularly impressive with even, deliberate plucking; it overrode all other instruments, not only in technique but also in sheer volume.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

The songs they performed, while filled with angst, didn’t bring anything new to the table. We were three songs in and still waiting for something to sound as good as that ten-second sound check. The vocals were impressive in parts and we even appreciated the on-pitch maniacal laughter that accompanied the song ‘Little Gravity’. The last song was a bass-driven number with elongated notes but the incomprehensible lyrics were a tad disappointing.

After the relatively enthusiastic applause for Totem died down, the band introduced their successors – Mushroom Lake. This band’s set was soothing and the words “ambient sound” were being flung around as people walked back and forth between the outdoor area with the stage setup and the indoor area with the food.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

This band had a settled feel to them, not only because they were seated for the most part, but also because of the sound they produced; there was a definite hint of whale song at certain points. A minimum of five minutes for a song, but what songs! While they were repetitive, there wasn’t any complaining about their finesse. The band was in sync all throughout despite the fact that they weren’t even looking at each other!

All four band members were bent over their instruments, hair shadowing their faces while they strummed, plucked and tapped for all they were worth. ‘6 A.M.’, ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘The Day After’ had the audience lulled into a sense of comfort as any beautiful Saturday morning should.

When Adam and the Fish Eyed Poets sauntered on stage later that the evening, we smirked because we were one of the few in on their secret. Here it is: there is no Adam. The frontman is Chennai-based singer songwriter Kishore Krishna who formed the current lineup of the Poets to promote material from two previously released albums. The four-member band put on a quick fire set with short punchy songs. A consistent post-punk sound with characteristic overdriven guitars sound punctuated with staccato-like riffs and break sections, a heavy chorus with extensive use of the crash, blended with some lyrical wizardry made for a brilliant show.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

We happened to walk in right on ‘Little Monkeys’ and couldn’t help but notice Krishna’s Telecaster with analog stomp boxes. Typically up-tempo and energetic with classy crunchy-fuzz guitar tones and with running bass lines, the songs had Krishna moving from whispers to a rough-voiced lad to full throat screams. Often, even his vocals were drowned out by the music and the lyrics unfortunately were barely discernible. A few songs later, the band pulled a switcheroo with the guitarist and bassist exchanging places on a couple of tracks to end the show. The audience hollered for “one more”, and the boys obliged much to everyone’s delight.

We caught up with Krishna after his set for a little conversation about his influences and aspirations. The sound they have arrived at can be mostly attributed to the late 50s Stax/Volt Record Label’s music era along with the late 70s post punk movement. He said he prefers using his analog pedals because with the limitations in terms of sound, comes the opportunity to arrive at a distinct original sound. It definitely scores over a multi-light-bleeping-console with so much processing power it could take the focus away from the simple things. Since the material draws so much on the songwriting and lyrical themes, their next album has a very imaginative and dystopian concept album with an alternating first person narrative of a 30-year marital setting between a Dyke and a Schizoid. Heavy!

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

We were just getting comfortable with watching a good act on stage when Adil and Vasundhara walked on. Adil Manuel (guitar) and Vasundhara Vidlur (vocals) head this project that experiments with Latin-jazz, jazz-rock and funk grooves with an extremely intimate RnB and soul-influenced vocal style. Adil and Vasundhara performed songs off their self-titled debut EP that was recorded after they formed the outfit in January of 2009. Most of their tracks on the recording feature as soulful acoustic melodies, so Adil went unplugged for the first few songs of their set. Saurabh on bass and their short-notice replacement drummer provided a funky, low-key groove backdrop to the dominating foreground of Adil’s vast repertoire of nomadic jazz voicing and inversions, harmonically balancing Vasundhara’s soul singing.

Tracks like ‘Just Another Blues’ and ‘Pinocchio Times’ showcased Vasundhara’s dynamics with a powerfully projected voice that could playfully shift from sultry and husky to a strong, big-bodied high note effortlessly. Her impressive stage presence is complemented by Adil’s fluid, McLaughlin-esque solo spots that leave you dazzled for their complexity. You could catch the bass and drums always right in the groove pocket, even over an odd-metered time that Vasundhara simply soared over, powerful and elegant at the same time. Adil had a ball with his ‘Cry Baby’ and went beserk on a solo section. On one Latin beat, Saurabh provided the bass and chord voice with a two-finger tap sequence over the guitar solo.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

They ended their set with a powerful song ‘Blue Bashing’, about a spat between two people that Vasundhara wrote after one such incident with Adil! While neither has been trained formally in music, Adil’s biggest inspiration is the legendary Allan Holdsworth and finally had a chance of meeting his idol recently in Mumbai. He also cites greats like Scott Henderson, John Scofield and Frank Zappa for their techniques that continue to inspire his sound. He says it is critical for a musician to develop a sense of “vocabulary” that speaks for your music. Without developing and improving on a vocabulary, musicians cannot achieve an individual style and would end up sounding like just another guitarist. He went on to say if Indian musicians took the effort to work on their identity and sound more original we would not have to seek fame and riches elsewhere. Adil has been a professional musician for years now, having played in bands like Asphyxia, MRP, Polio, The Rock Opera and more commercially with Bandish, Silk Route and Indian Ocean.

Vasundhara said her vocal techniques initially developed while performing with the Choral collaborative ‘Artists Unlimited’ in Delhi, where she was exposed to Gospel, Soul and RnB sounds. She has since performed with international composers and even voiced characters on-screen. Her strength also lies in the fact that she is comfortable singing in French and has performed for various French Music festivals.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

After a fitful conversation with Adil and Vasundhara, we had spotted this deranged looking guy with a suit in the audience and thought “Man is he at the wrong gig!” Turns out it was Nikhil, the drummer for the band The Jass B’stards, who incidentally was celebrating his birthday. We had seen a video of these B’stards supporting the Indie singer-songwriter Noush Like Sploosh and were mighty curious about them. There’s an aura of what-are-these-guys-about-ness that surrounds and shadows them. A gamut of instruments was brought up on stage, some shakers, some tambourines, a Theremin (which didn’t work) and two fezs. Stefan (keyboards), Tony (Bass) and Nikhil (Drums) belted out their first track ‘Samba Sin Titulo’ or roughly translated from the Polish – ‘Samba without a title’, a wild instrumental jam led with an Electric Piano melody. Nikhil’s up-tempo, double-time style drumming kept the beat super-pacy along with Tony’s consistency on the bass.

It was more than evident these guys were having way more fun – with their antics and tomfoolery – than the handful of free spirits right below the stage gypsying around to the groove. Stefan scurried off to return with a transistor radio, belting out some static-scratchy Hindi tunes off it. It’s amazing how furiously a drummer can play even with a tweed suit on, so furious and erratic that the other two had to tackle him just to keep his impulses from hurting himself! Stefan kept things wacky with a conductor’s whistle, crying away over some looping convoluted sounds and textures on his Nord keyboard. It was fun all the way with the B’stards, so much that they called on Gauri – another prominent Indie singer songwriter – for a song they haven’t played before. But that’s okay; The Jass B’stards have refined the art of not practicing to an unattainable level. Gauri sang over some improvised lyrics and music, with a bold, broad tom-boyish vocal range, before she darted off stage to an equally improvised ending. Their last track featured some vocals by Stefan, poetry even with small mellow sections in between the main groove sequence that had a sense of terror rising within the music, creating epic tension that crescendoed into a dramatic piano-led outro.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

We met with the band post set, and must confess, had the best interview ever. You cannot get a straight answer from these guys and each question meets with pithy, wry, sarcastic humor bouncing off each other just like on stage. It’s worth mentioning some of the band’s influences include the smell of a damp cat, poorly translated Chinese menus and creaky wooden stairs. Nikhil mentioned that of late, he’s been listening to some good Russian music. That was a marked improvement from the bad Russian music he’d been listening to all this while.

Nikhil – “You should also listen to some fine porn music”

Us – “What’s the best kind?”

Nikhil – “Vintage of course”

Four-piece ensemble Peter Cat Recording Company took to the stage next. My only regret is not being to meet with the band post gig, because these guys have the freshest new sound on the block. Their music has been attempted to be described with tags like Gypsy Jazz with Midnight Moonlit Car Chase music inspired by Frank Sinatra and old Bollywood film music. The music has lyrics that are cynical and sinister which, accompanied by Suryakant’s smoky velvet voice, make it sound like ‘failed circus music’. There was a light drizzle in the air when they took to the stage as the penultimate band. Their music is so ethereal and bizarre, yet has this reassuring old world charm like a black and white film soundtrack on vinyl.

The Big Mushroom Cloud Festival at Counterculture, Bangalore

PCRC started out as material written by Suryakant Sawhney in San Francisco, which he continued when he moved back to India in 2008. He met members of a local metal outfit Lycanthropia with Karan (drums), Rohan (Bass) and Anindya (Guitars, Keyboard) to form PCRC to record their debut album. They performed the opening track of the album ‘Pariquel’, which seems to talk about delusional lovers and prostitutes, a recurrent lyrical theme. ‘Love Demons’ featured an extended surreal sequence, plunging into a heady mélange of sounds with a quasi-harmonium/Russian organ. The audience just had to have another song, the band brought on the popular ‘Clown on the 22nd Floor’ which has this whimsical swingy carnival sound that ends with a Hindi film dialogue playing in the background.

At the end of the festival, we caught up with Abhishek from Logic and Madness who said the intention of this year’s format was to open up the festival to new sounds and new bands. An alternative festival to bring together off beat culture, art and music and form a collective that would manifest in an out-worldliness of influence on contemporary images and sounds.

It was rather unfortunate that we had to inevitably miss out on the performances by Stuck in November, Avilente, The Family Cheese, Schizophonic and The Bicycle Days; we’re sure we’ll catch them some other time!

Avatar photo

Sharanya Nair

Sharanya is a 'writer' and an 'editor'. You know the type. She loves her music too much to share.