A few months ago, IIT Bombay threw the biggest surprise at the nation by revealing their headlining act for LiveWire – Karnivool. The band was already quite famous, and music lovers were hooked on to this alternative/progressive powerhouse almost immediately. A lot of bands across the country had been competing to make it to the finals so they could open for Karnivool and also get the opportunity to represent India at the Great Battle of Bands in Romania.
To start off, none of the bands could give it their best, but they weren’t really to blame. With only ten minutes on the clock, they probably did the best they could under the circumstances. Another thing that affected the performances was the overall sound – the drums were too loud and the bass could barely be heard, at times not at all. Those who have attended LiveWire pro-nite will know that standing in line means that there’s a good chance you’d either miss the competition, or would enter midway or towards the end, which is exactly what happened this year.
When The Hoodwink Circle from Mumbai took to the stage, there was barely a crowd since everyone was making their way through the extensive lines. Their music was very good, save for the aforementioned problems of time and sound. In my opinion, they were the best act and should have played last.
The next band, Turnkey of Kolkata, failed to impress, especially after The Hoodwink Circle had set the bar quite high. With their rap-metal genre, they put on a good show nonetheless. The crowd had moderately increased by then.
The third band Verses, a melodic heavy metal band from Bangalore – put the competition back on the table. The crowd grew considerably, though a lot of people were still stuck in the excruciatingly long lines. Verses played a powerful set to bring it to a close finish.
All the three bands kept the crowd interaction to moderate. The results were quick to be announced as the crowd clearly wanted to get on with the show and see Karnivool on stage. Verses from Bangalore emerged the winner and were chosen as the band that would go to Romania to represent India at the Great Battle of Bands.
Junkyard Groove is a band with many feathers in their hat. They have in the past, opened for leading international acts such as Iron Maiden, Prodigy and Incubus and Karnivool has now become the latest addition to the list. The sound issue that had earlier plagued performances of all the competing bands had been fixed. Junkyard Groove remained consistent and spot on with their tones and rhythmic patterns. Being exceptionally good at crowd interaction, they had the crowd all pumped up and cheering enthusiastically.
After Junkyard Groove’s performance, the wait lasted a few minutes before Karnivool decided to come on stage; the energy and excitement was infectious as the crowd repeatedly chanted the name of the band.
I have been following this band since 2007. Around that time, not many people in India had heard of them. They had released just one EP and an album. While in New Zealand, I unfortunately missed two of their concerts. However, whenever I heard that Karnivool was going to play, there was immense hype about the show. Four years later, they set foot in India. Since 2007 they have come out with another album Sound Awake that, as opposed to Themata, is much more progressive and technical and also one of the most intelligent set of compositions I have heard.
So on 18th December 2011 when the band finally took to the stage, all the hype that surrounded them didn’t seem out of place. Having been tagged as one of the best live acts in the world, Karnivool did not fail to deliver.
The open air theater was now packed. As the band began to set up, people started to take guesses as to what the opening track would be. The crowd roared as the band opened their set with the track ‘Goliath’. The sound took some time to get settled, with the levels going up and down, but it wasn’t too noticeable.
The next track was ‘Simple Boy’, which is usually the track the band opens with. The sound had considerably improved but wasn’t quite at its best yet. Mark Hosking began the track on the xylophone over a distorted ambiance effect while Steve Judd joined in on drums along with Jon Stockman on bass with distortion. It is difficult to say which portion was the highlight because each member proved to be uniquely excellent. In this track I’d highlight the bass runs on the intro as well as the drum pattern.
The next track was ‘Umbra’, which starts off with a smooth bass line and an odd-time drum pattern. By this time, the sound has settled down and was nearly perfect. But the crowd had already lost themselves in the music and it made little difference to them.
They then played the first track from their 2005 album Themata called ‘C.O.T.E’ that begins with an effect on the guitar making a “ripple” sound. As Ian Kenny began the song, everyone started to sing along. The track that followed next was ‘Themata’ one of the most energetic tracks of the album. Andrew Goddard’s guitar work was more than prominent. His stage act along with the others was in sync with the ambiance and the music that they play, making it all seem very easy.
The track from Sound Awake ‘Set Fire to the Hive’, kicked in with a high paced guitar drum and bass. One of the things in this track that proves that Mark Hosking and Andrew Goddard are amazing guitarists is the variety of sounds that they produce, which is only possible when you know your equipment and the sound you can attain from it extremely well.
‘All I Know’ highlighted a sliding bass line and a guitar delay. Ian Kenny’s vocals were the biggest highlight as the delivery involved singing a major portion of the track in falsetto and being able to generate powerful vocals at the same time.
Tracks from Themata including ‘Fear of The Sky’ that was played earlier in the set and my personal favorite ‘Roquefort’ had most of the crowd singing along with the band.
During the penultimate track, ‘New Day’, vocalist Ian Kenny did not expect the paper bombs to go off. Although he was startled, his voice did not falter and he sustained the note to perfection. That definitely deserved some admiration from anyone who noticed it.
The closing track ‘Change’ was sung as a farewell to the audience. The band thanked everyone for the support and said “It was a humbling experience to play in India”, after which the band turned their backs to the crowd to pose for a picture to capture the crowd in the background.
The only low point was that the backing vocals were not very clear. Although during the bits when they were audible, the notes and harmonies were spot on.
As the band turned to leave, several fans requested them to play the tracks ‘Shutterspeed’ and ‘Sewn and Silent’ but in vain. Everyone around quoted the gig to be “an experience of a lifetime”. I now regret missing the two Karnivool gigs in New Zealand!
The Bombay Rock Project, although being a new entrant into Mumbai’s music scene, comprises a line-up of musicians who are well established in their own right, each of whom plays for a number of city bands. The gig they were playing today was at a mall, and I didn’t really know what to expect from them in terms of music, or the venue’s sound setup.
It was a typically windy and rainy June evening in Vashi, as the band set themselves up in the Inorbit Mall compound, close to the entrance. The place was sheltered by an unusually psychedelic looking ceiling way above, and kept out most of the rain. There was a sparse crowd present, as you’d expect in a mall, most of who were either known to the band, or curious passers-by.
A quick chat with one of the band members told me that I was to expect covers of classic Bollywood songs, with a twist, and maybe a couple of English songs thrown in as well. This surprised me, given the kind of music that I’ve heard each of these musicians play before with other bands.
So finally after a long drawn out sound check, the band was good to go. On lead guitar was Sanju Aguiar of Devoid, on bass was Ishaan Krishna of The Hoodwink Circle, on drums was Agnnelo Picaardo of Dischordian, on keyboards and saxophone was Nigel Rajaratnam of Dischordian, and spearheading the project was The Works’ vocalist, Mihir Joshi.
The first song was an upbeat cover of the title track of the Amitabh Bacchan starrer, Don, and set the stage for an energetic set list. The next was a cover of ‘Janu Meri Jaan’, from the 1980 classic, Shaan. At this point, I must admit I didn’t quite know what to make of the band. It felt a little bit indulgent, and more like they were playing to the masses, and not to a more discerning audience.
The band seemed tight and the overall sound was fairly good, given the windy conditions and that the location was for all practical purposes, a driveway. Ishaan had broken the top string of his bass guitar at the end of the second song, but to everyone’s bewilderment, nonchalantly proceeded to continue without it.
The next one was a rather crowd-pleasing mash-up medley of ‘Summer of ’69’, ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’, and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. The songs were blended together quite well, but essentially stayed true to the originals. This was followed by another two hindi covers of the songs ‘Dekha Na’ and ‘Jawani Janeman’. So far, I had no complaints about the performance itself, but given the set list, it felt a little like we were watching an Amitabh Bacchan tribute gig.
Things started picking up with the next song, an interesting jazz-like cover of ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ with a nice drum solo from Agnnelo and a piano solo by Nigel. Things got even more interesting with a reggae mash-up of John Mayer’s ‘Your Body Is A WonderLand’ and Lucky Ali’s ‘O Sanam’, scoring highly on the creativity scale.
The next two songs were covers of ‘Saara Zamaana’ and ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, both of which had a distinct classic rock feel to them, and were followed by ‘Inteha Ho Gayi’ (yet again featuring the Big B) and was for me the best song so far, with Nigel switching to the saxophone towards the end.
Tossing in another English track, the band did an unusual take on the David Guetta house sensation, ‘Love Is Gone’, before moving back into hindi mode with a cover of the title track of the movie ‘Rock On’ as Mihir went into the crowd and got people to sing along with the chorus.
In response to the crowd’s request for another fast song, Mihir belted out ‘Dance Dance’, probably not my favourite of the evening, but there was a lot of energy in the performance, and some nice guitaring by Sanju. The list concluded with ‘Om Shanti Om’ and a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’.
The performance overall was very entertaining. Agnnelo was solid as ever on drums, Nigel was creative with his keyboard, Ishaan was quite flawless despite playing with only three strings, and Sanju’s guitar riffs were excellent. Mihir was clearly the life of the band and though his vocals were at times a little bit pitchy, more than made up for it with some incredible showmanship and stage presence.
I’ve always found it interesting to see the name of a band qualified with the word ‘Project’. It indicates a certain lack of pretence, a degree of experimentation, and to some extent, an organised approach, all of which, The Bombay Rock Project at first glance seemed to fulfill in fair measure.
The band appears to be well prepared to take on the music scene. Their costumes and logo look to be steps towards creating a solid identity. Their performance looked tight and well rehearsed, and the members appeared relaxed and were enjoying themselves. The musicianship was of excellent quality and had a balanced sound. All in all, they appear to be unabashedly, a hindi cover band, and clearly look to be taking the commercial route by introducing rock music to the masses.
Last Friday at B69 Bajaao, hundreds of metal and rock heads gathered to celebrate the never-say-die spirit of the late Vincent Pereira. Roydon Bangera and Ashwin Sharma organized this event, which was in its third year, and certainly seemed like its strength was increasing year after year. Goddess Gagged, Summerpint Junkie, The Hoodwink Circle, Blakc and Split formed the lineup for the first of the two day show. For reasons unknown, the atmosphere was somehow a lot better than the last time round, people were enthusiastic, the bands kicked ass and everyone had gathered for the same cause, that of paying their respects to THE BEAST.
Before I write about the show, I’d like to take a minute to say that the Underground Scene in Mumbai is finally here. The crowd knows it, the bands know it and so does everyone else. After Blue Frog and Hard Rock Cafe, B69 witnessed the presence of a few foreigners; I sense good things happening for the scene.
Ever tried putting your head out the window of your car at 120kmph+ ? Well if you have, then that is what Goddess Gagged was like. Aggressive, in-your-face, heavy and melodious at the same time, truly justifying the genre Progressive/Hard alternative rock. Siddharth Basrur was fantastic with his work on the mic, and the drummer, Jeremy managed to pull out the best in him along with Arman and Devesh on Guitars and Krishna who practically killed his bass on stage, with those funky riffs and some sweet lines. All in all a great show starter and a time and paisa vasool band .
Known for their trippy and off beat progressive music amidst some ‘FULL POWER’ alternative rock, Summerpint Junkie literally made people swing people to their music, sing along and took them to seventh heaven. Well, the credit for that somewhat goes to the cheap beer! But on a more serious note, great set, an immaculate combination of genres and songs coupled with some raw high pitched vocals, got the people rolling. The highlights of their performances were a few ‘spacy’ effects and some crazy acts by the vocalist and bassist. However, people seemed a little bit disappointed with the small talk the vocalist was having between songs.
The Hoodwink Circle was the underdog of the day, with some pure, honest and true music straight from the heart. Sanjeev ripped apart the guitar with his unseen fingers during the solo with some company from Ishaan on bass, and Joshua, probably one of the most fantastic drummers in the city. Aiden, the frontman, was able to make people laugh with this witty sense of humor. The band, with some good old fashioned blues, trip hop, jazz fusion and funk got the whole B69 gang back on their feet. Clearly Joshua, Sanjeev and Ishaan were at their best today and helped the band generate an even larger fan base.
Split and Blakc need no introduction or words of praise, being the two most established alternative bands in the city. Blakc for the first time played an acoustic set at B69. Playing the crowd favorites resulted in a moshpit. I mean, if you see a mosh pit during an acoustic set, you just know that it’s Blakc playing! Shawn hogged the limelight, leaving very little for anyone else, which was quickly grabbed by Roop, with his ‘driving’ bass lines. The band never fails to deliver what the people want and generated plenty of headbanging.
Split on the other hand, played a chilled out set with two new songs, which were pretty good. They managed to get all the other bands up and listening to them, jumping around and humming with them. Varoon, the drummer was on top of his game, ably accompanied by Shekhar on the bass. Aviv and Melroy with their great soloing and mind blowing rhythm sections were able to give the crowd something to hold on to for the rest of the night until tomorrow, when Tribute to the Beast continues into its second day with the top 5 metal bands in the city, including Zygnema and Atmosfear.
It’s on days like today that I pity my friends and acquaintances who sit at home thinking, who cares, these are local bands. They have no idea that what they’re missing is some of the finest music they could have seen live!