Tag Archives: Verses

Karnivool live at Mood Indigo, Mumbai

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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 Kolkatafailed 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.

Karnivool live at Mood Indigo, Mumbai

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.

Karnivool live at Mood Indigo, Mumbai

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.

Karnivool live at Mood Indigo, Mumbai

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.

Karnivool live at Mood Indigo, Mumbai

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.

Karnivool live at Mood Indigo, Mumbai

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!

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Battle of Bands to open for Metallica at CounterCulture,Bangalore

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Octoberfest – Day One

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I am annoyed with the organizers of Octoberfest 2010. Here is this glorious opportunity to call a musical event ‘Rocktober’ and they passed it up. This sort of chance comes only once a year! The Great Indian Octoberfest is an annual 3 day event that happens in Bangalore with loads of music, beer and entertainment. I am quite quite kicked about this year’s edition as the bandlist is very impressive.

I walk in on Saturday to find the meanest, most bad-ass 3 man moshpit I’ve ever seen. Theorized are the first band on stage and the crowd hasn’t come in yet. Vocalist Madhav vanishes from the stage to join the mosh which brings the total crowd there to a numerologically sound 4. I head to grab a beer as Theorized finish their consistent set. The cunning plan is to get suitably drunk before Shaan performs later on.

I manage to rush back before Slain have started their set (without spilling the beer, mind you), They include songs from their new album Here and Beyond in their set. ‘Tis a pity these guys weren’t around in the 80’s. They would have sold out stadiums (a band like Boston did!) easily. These young chaps are very talented. Technical metal act Eccentric Pendulum are up next and introduce their new guitarist who’s 19 years old. FML. The debut songs from their upcoming album. All the song titles are significantly longer than their earlier works and vocalist Nikhil stumbles while introducing the songs. GRE/GMAT prep eh boys? But their set is tight and ends with a trippy song from said album. They are also the third band in a row to crack a Shaan joke.

I bunk Verses performance to head to the outdoor stage. I’ve made fun of em before anyway. Outside, there’re mechanical bulls to ride and beer pong to be played. No one is really paying attention to the horrendous ‘Pinball Wizard’ cover by Freedom’s Price. I conveniently tune out till Swarathma are on stage. I have high expectations for this performance so I make my way right up to the front row. As they start their set, I am a tad disappointed by Vasu Dixit’s vocals, which aren’t as strong as they usually are. The bassist Jishnu is on fire with his infectious and catchy basslines. The real star of the show is artist Vilas Nayak who paints a lifesize portrait of Vasu during the interval of a single song. The audience seem to love their earwormy songs and are very appreciative. Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale are the act scheduled to perform next but they take 30 minutes to setup. I conveniently help myself to a lot of beer in the meanwhile. Drinking on the job! The rest of the concert is a blur although the objective to get drunk before Shaan performs is achieved comfortably.

(Advice to lazy writers: saying you were drunk is a nice way to keep that word-count down)

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Freedom Jam (No Bread)

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Freedom Jam is an annual gig held every year on August 15th to commemorate Independence Day. The first edition was way back in 1997 at Ravindra Kalakshetra but the location was shifted to The Club soon after. The legendary all-night concerts at The Club popularized this free gig but sadly its popularity diminished after the live music ban. The 2009 edition recorded one of its lowest ever turnouts thanks to it being held in some far flung location in Hebbal(No Bread). After last year’s damp squib, the organizers decided to change the format around by having genre-specific gigs at various locations. A reasonably good move, I thought, because no self respecting metalhead will want to endure 30 mins of Bhavageethe.

Day 1: I am kicked to see that there is a venue ear-marked for ‘experimental, avant-garde and electronica’ music. I trudge in to the venue – Jaaga and find that there are more musicians on stage than in the crowd. (Crowd – 3, Musicians – 6!) At one point, someone from the neighboring building asks the firaang-in-charge to turn the volume down. They oblige! Aargh. The amps don’t go to 11 here. The music itself was uninteresting – six random musicians jamming with absolutely no direction or purpose. I exit, stage left, not before I helped myself to some free salad.

It was Day 2 and I chose to go to Kyra. I walked in and heard Bourbon Street covering Steely Dan’s ‘Do It Again’. I wouldn’t cover that song again if i were them (Disclaimer: Steely Dan is my favorite band.) They proceeded to cover Phish’s ‘Free‘ and the venerable ‘Tic Tic Tic.’ Blasphemeous. Only Dr Rajkumar can do justice to that song.

Verses were up next and they brought some much needed energy to the proceedings. They have my nomination for ‘Worst Goateed Band’ in Bangalore. It’s nice to see that they had brought a Tam-Bram entourage of 50-somethings along. As the band doled out some heavy melodic metal originals, the entourage nodded in approval. A stray fist pump is seen. They know that the local music scene is in good hands. The keyboardist Sagar impressed with his lightning fast keyboard playing and his vocal skills. The band departed amidst much fanfare and the entourage followed. The average age of the crowd was thus reduced by half.

Prism were up next and I took a power-nap during their sound setup. Prism’s set was equally snooze-worthy. They conveniently omitted a solo on their cover of Mr Big’s ‘Take Cover’. Taking Cover, indeed! The organizers were kind enough to have a stopwatch program running on the screen behind the stage to indicate the time remaining for each band. An ugly pop-up appears, with a surly reminder to buy the full version of the software. I piteh da foo’ who dun pay for da full version.

Prog rockers Distortion Culture were on stage next. They informed the crowd that theirs was a wholly original set and then promptly announced a song called ‘Eleventh Hour’. The metalheads immediately sprung to their feet in protest!  Oh but no need to furrow the brow, it’s just a coincidence that their own comp shares the name with a LoG song. They played another o.c titled ‘Unforseen Truth’ which was superb. The guitarist Vivek put on a good show although he smiles way too much. Jeez son, where’s ya metal face?

Heavy metal heavyweights Inner Sanctum were on stage next while Distortion Culture were finishing their set. They loaded up two massive Krank(with a K, mind you) amps onto the already impressive sound setup. Precious time was spent on unloading and connecting equipment. Sigh. If only all the bands spent less time practicing arpeggios and more time practicing gear setup! The wait was well worth it though. Sanctum tore the roof down with a heavy-as-hell set. Vocalist Gaurav was all fury on stage as he kicked a JBL monitor down (For those of you keeping score- Gaurav 1 JBL 0). The organizers yielded to the audience’s chants for one more song. One ‘Agent of Chaos‘ later I was deaf in one ear. IS had pwned everyone. I decided to leave for the day and exit, stage right.

Compared to the travesty that was Day 1, Day 2 was satisfying. Freedom Jam still remains an important day in the Bangalore gig calendar and continues to be an excellent platform for lesser known bands to showcase their skills. With some sharper publicity and organization skills, FJ could be bigger and better next year. One small gripe though- the quality of food at Kyra affected vocalist Gaurav Basu to such an extent that he was spotted chewing on the mic wire on numerous occasions. Hopefully next year we’ll have some bread.

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