Tag Archives: UB City

Gareth Emery at UB City, Bangalore

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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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Bengaluru Hubba ft. Bhoomi, Caesar’s Palace at UB City, Bangalore

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Shayne Reynolds

Shayne Reynolds is a rhythm guitarist, song-writer, harmonicist and singer. He is adventurous,uncomplicated and slightly eccentric . His other interests include eating, reading, exploring and bike-riding

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Anoushka Shankar at UB City Bangalore

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If there is one Indian city that has advanced well on the professional front, and still holds the pulse of the personal space, then it has to be Bangalore. It makes news for being India’s IT hub, but there are regular mentions of its city life too. Musical concerts, dance festivals, and theatre are regular occurrences on the Bangalore stages.

The talented daughter of Pt. Ravi Shankar was recently in Bangalore, to promote her latest album Traveller. Bangalore’s famous open-air amphitheater in UB City was slated to serve as the venue for her performance. But this was not going to be a usual one. Anoushka had chosen to fuse her Indian classical rhythms with Spanish Flamenco.

Anoushka Shankar at UB City Bangalore

The audience was curious as to what would the outcome of Indo-classical and Spanish Flamenco be, and so was I when I entered the crowd at UB City. The much-awaited moment arrived, and Anoushka gave her distinguished start to the musical evening. She opened the kit with a harmonious, but unconventional, Raga Bhairavi while a minimalistic sound of Tabla and Tanpura backed it up.

Her choice of Raga was unconventional because Bhairavi is traditionally sung at the end of Hindustani concerts. This had come as a surprise for those who expected the customary start to the event. This Raga was the only one that was performed in the pure classical style. As the event progressed, she introduced the flavour of Flamenco and though she had begun with the light sounds of Tabla and Tanpura, the other members like Guitar, Shehnai and Percussion joined in, along with the vocals.

Anoushka Shankar at UB City Bangalore

The true connoisseurs of Indo-classical music would know that the 6 beats of 16 beats pattern was readily complimenting the other sounds, but the majority of the listeners was there for music, not the technicalities. They could sense that the beautifully executed jugalbandi between the sitar and guitar, and the Percussion and Kunnakols was flawless. As they say, appreciation is the fuel for an artist. The crowd was cheering, and the performances were gaining impulse. The entire on-stage execution seemed well-rehearsed, as not a single beat or strum was out of place. No single instrument worked any less, or any more than the perfect limit!

Anoushka’s main motive to perform was to give an insight of her recent release Traveller. But since the mood was all set for the evening, she did not shy away from experimenting with several other aspects. Her set, which had started with Raga Bhairavi, had begun to reach the lovely Khamaj and the famous Carnatic Raga Keeravani. Anoushka then proceeded to sing a soft song that aimed directly at the hearts; she seemed a bit diffident initially to perform the ‘Love Song’, but when she did, she left the crowd asking for more. Finally, she concluded the evening with the beautiful Raga Jog.

Anoushka Shankar at UB City Bangalore

The knock-down voice of Sandra Carrasco was doing justice to the Vocals. Melon Jimenez was good at the Flamenco Guitar, and El Pirana managed Cajon and Spanish Percussion. These three musketeers added their own tone to create a magical fusion. Sanjeev Shankar made his mark in the performance with his emotional Shehnai, though it sounded forced at some places. London’s Prasanna Thevarajah brought about the true colors of Carnatic music with his splendid variations at the Carnatic instruments- Mridangam, Ghatam, Morsing and Khanjira. He also worked on Kunnakols at some occasions, and proved the mettle of his dynamism. Though Carnatic Percussion is not generally chosen for Hindustani music, he pulled it off really well. Tanmay Bose set a good ambience with his Tabla too. I am an old admirer of the Tabla and have witnessed the different variations it has been used with at numerous concerts and I felt that there was yet a lot more scope for Tanmay’s improvisations.

This was sure an experimental endeavor trying to dig out connections between Indo-classical and Flamenco. Perhaps that is the reason it felt like a dose of Filter Coffee and Coke. The blend did go down well, I must say. The ones with an inclination to either of Indo-classical or Flamenco could not have found anything better than this evening.

Anoushka Shankar has evolved as a music virtuoso, some people attribute it to her genes, and some to her inherent talent. Her immense control on her tones was a delight to witness. Those who wished to spend the evening drenched in music had got the best they could at UB City.

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Bhoomi, Caesar’s Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

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First things first – What a venue! The open air amphitheater with the UB City tower looming majestically in the background, and its big bright blue horse logo looking down upon us was quite an amazing sight! And what’s more – for a city perpetually stuck in traffic jams, its habba started dot on time.

The line-up on this particular evening comprised of metal aficionados Bhoomi, the multi-genre, Bangalore based Caesar’s Palace and Bangalore rockers Thermal and a Quarter who made a surprise entry later. All three of them, veterans of the Bangalore rock scene, took to the stage with the promise of a great Saturday evening and they sure lived up to it.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

First up was Bhoomi, one of Bangalore’s oldest and best metal acts. They started the evening with their renditions of rock classics like AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, and smoothly drifted into Deep Purple land with Jason Zachariah belting out the keyboard solo to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and then Tony Das belting out the guitar solo from ‘Burn’, both playing them absolutely perfectly. Though I’m a fan of bands covering songs their own way rather than playing it exactly like it is, I have to admit that Bhoomi’s version of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ did seem a tad out of place and unnecessarily heavy. Tony Das sang the next song ‘Burn it Down’, a very bluesy number with some great guitar licks. This was followed by another cover, Mr. Big’s ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’.

They finally went into their originals, starting with ‘Inside Story’, a song about the press today and its obsession with the personal lives and affairs of celebrities. It had some great harmonies between Tony and Jason and ended with a really cool guitar-hero solo from the former. Next they played ‘Uncultured’, a song about riots with some really powerful vocals. It had a great vibe and had me replaying “Come help us fight…War without reason” in my head even after they finished. Their last song was ‘The Game’, a song about playing music live (I loved how Sujay bonded with the audience by explaining each song before playing it. Tony thought the better alternative was to chug some beer before each song. I loved that too!) The final track had a great riff, fierce drumming from Kishan Balaji and very eerie vocal harmonies, a powerful song to end their performance.

The band announced their new album set to release later this year, which is being produced by Neil Kernon, of Queensryche and Nevermore fame. When asked if this is the next big step for Indian bands i.e., to have internationally produced and marketed albums, frontman Sujay replies, “Definitely. It’s already happening. Not only international producers, but there are also many Indian producers with very good technical skills. In a few years, the Indian rock scene will be self-sufficient and we won’t have to look to the west for everything.”

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

Next up were Caesar’s Palace   a rock/funk/blues/soul/jazz/disco/phew! band from Bangalore. They played a very groovy, almost dance-y set of songs. They started with a cover of RHCP’s ‘Readymade’ and soon went into originals starting with ‘3 hour love affair’. The bassist Kenneth Wilson’s getup with his hood and shades (at 8:00 in the night) looked exponentially less pretentious with each note he played as he got them grooves going. ‘Stare’ had some funny lyrics about the cliche` of thinking deeper. Unni, the frontman then announced that they were going to cover Bappi Lahiri and frankly, I was disappointed to know that it was a joke. This is one band that could actually pull it off! They did come close to it though as they played a very 80s disco style original called ‘Get Your Mojo On’. By this time, Kishan Balaji had begun to look like some medieval war hero (read madman) behind his drums. He and Jason Zachariah had battled and conquered every style from heavy metal to funk and now even disco, both of them having played for both Bhoomi and Caesar’s palace.

They continued their brand of funk with a sense of humour with ‘Wol Chod’, which had some cool slap bass and screeching wah. ‘Dreams’ had a groove that got the entire amphitheater swinging their heads from side to side and had some interesting guitar and bass harmonies. The song ended with a great keyboard solo. They then went into a very well done medley of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ followed by Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’ that ended with the outro of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which Unni pulled off perfectly. It was great to see how open minded they are to different genres of music, and not just open minded, but also technically proficient enough to pull off all these varied styles.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The highlight of their performance was ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ by Ray Charles, done in a modern John Mayer style. It ended with a jugalbandi of sorts between the guitar and keys. Jason then played a beautiful piano solo that quietly blended into ‘Swim’, a lovely ballad. They ended with ‘Bittersweet Mind’, a typical 12-bar blues song but with some exciting odd-time signature twists to it.

The night was already going on a high when Unni announced that Thermal and a Quarter was going to take to the stage next and caught everyone by surprise. Thermal and a Quarter or TAAQ , as they are popularly known, consists of Bruce Lee Mani on vocals/guitar, Rajeev Rajagopal on drums and Prakash K.N on bass who happen to be Bangalore’s favourite power trio. This was proven by the fact that despite the fact that it was getting late and terribly cold in the open air amphitheater, the audience didn’t seem to want to be anywhere else.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The trio kick-started their set with ‘Can you fly’, a typical TAAQ song with jazzy guitar playing, great vocals and a powerful rhythm section. Their second song was ‘Meter Mele One and a Half’, about the auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore. As Bruce Lee Mani sang about the woes of the average Bangalorean, I couldn’t help thinking that the band’s music IS indeed the sound of urban Bangalore. They do sound like UB City at night, like the traffic jams, like Masala Dosas, like an auto-rickshaw’s faulty meter, like Cubbon Park, IT parks and all things Bangalorean.

They continued in the same spirit with some “tapang-blues” with ‘If Them’ and ‘For the Cat’ which got few audience members even doing some tapang moves in the front row, as Bruce himself cheered them on! Quite impressive on the part of the dancers I’d say, considering the fact that ‘For the Cat’ had many time meter changes.

Their next song ‘Birthday’  was dedicated to Rajeev’s mother as it was the eve of her birthday. And apparently it’s no ordinary birthday song. As Bruce explained, “It’s about wanting my birthday to be a space and not a time. Very deep…very deep!” This was followed by one of my personal favourites – TAAQ’s rendition of ‘Hey Jude’. It amazed me to see how they could take a classic as popular as ‘Hey Jude’, turn it upside down and change it around completely and still maintain the feel of the original. TAAQ’s version of the song has to be heard to be believed! Their last song ‘Chainese Item’ sounded like the theme song to a spy movie where everyone’s running behind a plate of chow mein, for some reason. Or maybe the ridiculously cold breeze was finally getting to me!

Thermal and a Quarter were undoubtedly the heroes of the evening, captivating the audience with their distinct sound and energetic performance. Overall, a great gig and a perfect Saturday evening, all three bands providing three different versions of that rock and roll sound we all love.

The moral of the story at the Habba’s rock fest seemed to be that rock fests no longer mean copying the west. As the three veterans showed us, rock music in Bangalore today is more about ourselves and all the things that affect us in our lives. It’s more personal and easy to relate to than ever. I think it’s this quality of the music that made it so enjoyable and is making an increasing number of people turn up for concerts like these.

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.

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Anoushka Shankar at UB City, Bangalore

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Dev Ambardekar

Dev is a music photographer based out of Bangalore. He has been documenting the music scene actively for almost two years during which he has shot several Indian bands and a handful international acts. His expertise ranges from multi-day music festivals to pub shows. While he is not behind the camera, Dev is an Architect and occasional writer. You can follow him at @DevAmbardekar.

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Sur Taal 2012 with Trilok Gurtu at UB City, Bangalore

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Chethan Ram

Chethan Ram is a failed musician but wants to keep his association with music by capturing the best moments through his camera. His loves Hindustani and Carnatic music.

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Sanjay Divecha Duet at the Bangalore Habba UB City, Bangalore.

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On a chilly evening in Bangalore, I looked forward to being dazzled by the promise of some good ol’ blues, with a little bit of that jazz thrown in! A tad delayed, for whatever reason, one of the main attractions of the night, composer and guitarist Sanjay Divecha, walked onstage with only his guitar for company. The significant lack of other musicians on stage only heightened my anticipation – I’d heard enough high praise about this musical great to know that he wouldn’t be a letdown.

Sanjay’s set at UB city was peppered with original compositions (one by Aman Mahajan as well) and classic blues pieces interpreted in his own style.

Sanjay Divecha Duet at the Bangalore Habba UB City, Bangalore.

Beginning the set with the self-composed track ‘Africa, he set the mood for the rest of the evening. I’ve heard a full ensemble version of this track online (with flautist Carl Clements no less) but, somehow, the stripped down version of the song he presented at UB City just took my breath away.

Aman Mahajan – you’d probably recognize him as one-third of the trio that makes up electroacoustic outfit Schizophonic – joined Sanjay for the second song, ‘Rapaz de Bem’, completing the duet promised by the Habba. Accommodating the piano with ease – in fact, giving it precedence from the get go – the duo’s cover of a classic blues number was paced a tad faster than other versions.

Sanjay Divecha Duet at the Bangalore Habba UB City, Bangalore.

The third track, ‘Nardis’ (Miles Davis and Bill Evans) was a delight; the deliberate slowing down to a pause mid track had me at the very edge of my seat at one point. The two instruments took turns with the spotlight and I loved how there was no fencing and that each was given its due.

Next up was the duo’s interpretation of Jimmy Smith’s ‘Back at the Chicken Shack’. A short post-gig interview had us in on the fact that the duo had only hours to practice before they were to go up, but the quality of the performance didn’t hint it at the slightest.

My favourite track of the night, ‘Refuge’, was composed by Aman and appeared to have marked Turkish/Eastern influences, though, during our conversation later, he denied any conscious tinkering in that direction. Either way, it was a beautiful meld of styles.

Sanjay Divecha Duet at the Bangalore Habba UB City, Bangalore.

Jazz standard ‘Ladybird’ by Tadd Dameron was up next. As the name suggests, the track had a flighty tone to it, like the score to a semi-comedic routine – though I wouldn’t trivialize it any further with shady comparisons. To the layman, it appeared the perfect follow up to the slightly dark-edged ‘Refuge.’

Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Wave’ was next and while it was almost as soothing as the original, the fact that it was only a duo playing it came through like an elephant in the room. A strings section on this would’ve perfected it; at the time, I was hungering for something as small as a cabasa/shaker to soften the delivery and given it that fuller sound. But that’s just me!

‘Thai blues’, one of Sanjay’s own compositions was next, followed by ‘St.Thomas’ a traditional nursery song from the Virgin Islands, adapted by Sonny Rollins into the Jazz version that is probably better  known the world over. The last song ‘Spain’ wrapped up the set neatly; the duo took the slightly eclectic Chick Corea standard and refined it to all smooth transitions and managed to make it sound melancholic during some parts and peppy during others.

While it’s easy for certain people to forego listening intently to the sort of music that’s crudely classified as “ambience music”, Sanjay and Aman’s performance drew this member of the audience straight in.

Sharanya Nair

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

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Chronic Blues Circus and Groove #3 at Bangalore Habba, UB City, Bangalore

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Uday Shanker

Uday Shanker is a freelance photographer based in Bangalore and has a day job.

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Blackstratblues at UB City – Bangalore Habba 2012

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We all have our favourite Zero song and mine was ‘Her’. I remember listening to the simple chord work and smooth vocal harmonies and falling in love with the sound back when I was in college and I remember thinking to myself, “Indian bands sound awesome!” Zero has been the benchmark for a band in my mind and to be able to see some of the original masterminds perform live was a treat I could not afford to pass up.

Bangalore Habba probably hit its zenith over the weekend when it featured one of the country’s ace guitarists Warren Mendonsa’s instrumental project Blackstratblues. Warren, alongside childhood buddies Sidd Coutto on Drums and Johan Pais on Bass, performed tracks from his two albumsNights in Shining Karma and The New Album.

The band was visibly pleased with the great looking venue; UB City’s amphitheater was adorned with two rows of LED parcans on trussrods, washing the stage with vivid colours. There was also a backline row of moving headlights that added to the crisp evening ambience. ‘Steppin Out’ was the first track for the evening, a blues rock standard that BSB usually opens a gig with. ‘The Happy Billi Song’ was up next – a feel-good track that Warren really opened up his playing with. It would seem another album is to be expected soon. The by-now grooving audience were treated to a slew of songs that will probably be featured in the next collection. ‘Untitled(1)’ aka ‘E maj Blues’, a warm, slow ballad was the first of the lot.

Blackstratblues at UB City - Bangalore Habba 2012

A cover of Billy Cobham’s ‘Stratus’ was really unexpected, mostly because I’d never heard this song before. A driving bassline with a busy 16 beat to keep the drummer busy let the guitars take over for a groovy jazz-rock track. It is always fun to watch a three-piece outfit create such a ruckus onstage, each maintaining their range, dynamics and yet not sounding like a competition for sonic space. ‘The Universe Has A Strange Sense Of Humor’ was up next – a very intimate and very personal sounding piece, which was quickly followed up with ‘Soar The Sky’ that was easy to listen to and wonderful to watch as it was being performed by the master himself. The highlight was the time meter switches from the solo feeding back into the main motif.

Johan dutifully maintained his elegant bass lines throughout the show and Sidd – a real beast behind the skins, he treated percussion lovers to a magnificent show. His energy was spilling all over the kit and even knocking over hapless drum mic stands that seemed to be in awe of his intensity and prowess.

Warren took a little time to talk about writing the songs in Auckland and how the overcast weather often inspires you to write songs sitting by yourself with a guitar, like ‘Ode To A Rainy Day’ – a beautiful ballad that opens up deep emotions with a minimalist texture that is intensely stirring.

Blackstratblues at UB City - Bangalore Habba 2012

His vocabulary seems to prefer “feel” over technicality and honesty over elitism. Warren’s guitar playing sounds more like an extension of his thoughts perfectly connected with a voice that is singing gloriously in his mind with overwhelming emotion and empathy. ‘Blues For Gary’ brought it all back to the legends who have wielded the strat before Warren – black or any other color for that matter. All of this just had to lead into one of the greatest pieces of music I’ve ever come across – ‘Anuva’s Sky’. All I can say is learning to play this song, will spawn an entire generation of soulful, patient and hardworking guitarists who, in my opinion, are of a dying (unborn?) breed.

The band was wildly cheered into an encore – their rendition of ‘Norwegian Wood’, and as if the night couldn’t get any better, the boys launched into three more ‘Untitled’ jam tracks that simply floored the last bunch of people who faithfully stayed on till the fitting finale.

It was a privilege to be able to watch the Blackstratblues albums performed live – although slightly tailored to suit the minimal performing format – the evening was all about  great hooks worked into catchy melodies, great tunes delivered humbly, with conviction and straight from the heart.

Fidel Dsouza

Fidel Dsouza is a Journalist/Editor at WTS

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