Tag Archives: classic rock

Bacardi Nh7 Weekender, Bangalore 2014 – Day 2

15 Nov

The Bacardi NH7 Weekender is one of our favorite events of the year. It lets us catch up with tens of acts from across the country – some new, some legendary – all within a beautiful, aesthetically arranged venue. On the weekend of November 8th and 9th, we went to the Bangalore edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, and were blown away by breadth of artists on stage. Here’s our take!

Beautiful aesthetics

Day 2

As with Day 1, our journey on Day 2 began with the Red Bull Tour Bus. The originally slated act, Delhi Sultanate and Begum X, was cancelled, giving way to an amazing performance by Your Chin, the peculiarly-named solo act of Sky Rabbit’s lead singer Raxit Tewari. Your Chin’s metered electronic music, buoyed by Raxit’s genuinely pleasant voice, seemed to pull the expansive lawns in front of the Tour Bus into a much closer venue. “Run Along Little One” was a stand-out track in Your Chin’s brilliant 45-minute set.

Your Chin

In perfect contrast to Raxit’s calm, subtle music was The Inspector Cluzo, performing immediately after at the Bacardi Arena. The self-touted farmers from Gascony, France, enthralled the audience with their music as well as what can only be described as stereotypically French stand-up comedy – the biggest butt of which was, of course, those Englishmen and their pissy English music. The Top Five Records team couldn’t help but remember the French knights scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Those silly English knnigghts!) All said and done, The Inspector Cluzo were a massively entertaining act, and rightly gained hundreds of new fans that day.

Inspector Cluzo

Up to this point, we had covered every stage except the Micromax Mega Mix stage. Thus, we made our way there to catch Klypp, a Bangalore-based duo specializing in making soundtracks to your inner visual-weaver (their words). Next, we caught Blent, a Bangalore-based game designer turned musician who currently serves as the resident DJ at the massively popular Humming Tree in Indiranagar.

However, this was all filler compared to the act that was setting up at the Dewarists: Thermal and a Quarter. Since 1996, TAAQ has been Bangalore’s most beloved alt-rock product, with several legendary albums under their belt. At the Weekender this year, we were incredibly lucky to hear the band’s latest album, The Scene, in almost its entirety. The album featured a tongue-in-cheek look at India’s music scene today, from the good (so many women festival-goers!) to the bad (all those ‘musicians’ on their Mac Books).

Thermal and a Quarter

Throughout their humbling one-hour show, Mr. Mani inadvertently schooled every lead singer in the country on how to captivate an audience’s attention: not by yelling at them to jump (ahem, Mink) or mumbling at them to dance if they want to (ahem, Your Chin) or by ignoring them to a large extent (ahem, Money for Rope). No, Mr. Mani captivated the audience by genuinely connecting with them, by giving a likeable intro to each new song, by playing skilled, appropriately-sized solos, and by creating a generally friendly and relaxed vibe. So much so that the audience had quite a smattering of little kids dancing with their moms!

Mr. Bruce Lee Mani

Mr. Bruce Lee Mani

After the show, we walked 20 metres to the MTS Discover stage, where Skrat began their ever-electrifying set. Like TAAQ, Skrat also took the Weekender opportunity to showcase songs from their new album, The Queen. The Top Five Records team has been in love with the album ever since its launch last month, and we naturally loved the chance to hear some of Skrat’s best new songs live. In particular, the wordless choruses on “Machete” and “Stomp” were the stand-out moments of the band’s raucous gig. The frenetic atmosphere was ably helped along by Skrat’s charismatic lead singer, Sriram TT, who was (or seemed to be) drunk out of his mind. He even ended up doing a tribute dance to Rajni Saar, in a not-so-subtle tip-of-the-hat to Kollywood in light of Amit Trivedi’s Bollywood extravaganza the previous night.

Skrat

Here, we must put in an extremely important word to the the festival organizers: NEVER pit Skrat against the F16s. It’s just not fair to make us choose between the two Chennai exports. Unfortunately, by the time Skrat’s monumental one-hour frenzy ended, we were left with just 15 minutes of the F16s, over at the Bacardi Arena. Luckily, we got to catch our favorite song, “Light Bulbs”, along with one or two new pieces that the band debuted.

The F16s

After the double bill of Skrat and the F16s, we were too tired to catch but a few minutes of the wonderful Soulmate, comprising two of Shillong’s bluesiest, most talented individuals. After refuelling with food and drink, we made our way to the Bacardi Arena, where almost everyone had gathered to witness the spectacle that is Mutemath.

On a personal note, though, some of our team felt that perhaps calling a sparsely known (although talented) band was kind of an elitist take on what constitutes a headliner act. We’re pretty sure that 80% of the crowd knew less than 20% of the songs that the band played. But, on the whole, the crowd didn’t seem to care. Overall, Mutemath had the energy and raw talent to close out the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in a fitting manner, and that’s what mattered in the end.

MUTEMATH

MUTEMATH

Words by Neeharika Palaka. Images by Rajat Tibrewal.

Girish and the Chronicles at HRC, Hyderabad (5/9/2013)

18 Sep

“Love, peace… and rock n’ roll” reads the tag line on their Facebook page. After attending their recent gig at Hard Rock Cafe in Hyderabad, the writer is as unsure of the first two as he is certain of the third.

All photos from Girish and the Chronicles' Facebook page

All photos taken from Girish and the Chronicles’ Facebook page

Girish and the Chronicles (GnTC) are absolutely no-nonsense when it comes to making “good” rock music. They are among a fast disappearing group of musicians in India today: musicians who don’t scream profanities in the name of death metal, show fingers to all and sundry, or puke sloppy emo stuff for people whose intellectual bandwidth rarely betters that of the bovine.

In other words, they are pretty much perfect for lovers of true, classic hard rock.

But first, here’s some introduction. GnTC, hailing from Gangtok, Sikkim, are a four-member group fronted by the ebullient Girish Pradhan, son of Nepali singer Bimla Pradhan. Legend has it that, up there in the mountains, good ol’ rock n’ roll runs in the veins, with kids picking up guitars before pencils, and it certainly seems to be the case here. GnTC’s talent isn’t the type to be acquired over the years. It’s innate. Intuitive. Heartfelt.

The first thing I noticed about GnTC was Girish’s powerful vocal range. I had heard some of his cover songs before on YouTube, and yes, I was pretty darn impressed, but this was unlike anything I had heard in my life. It was staggering. His voice reached peaks and troughs that could have rivaled the very best in the world, and there we were, being given a taste of such talent in good old Hyderabad.

They did some OCs in the beginning – songs ranging from hard rock (“The Revolving Barrel”) to softer and more melodic stuff (“A New Beginning”) and then moved on to what they really do best – covers. As the handful of people who had gathered that evening watched on in awe and wonder, GnTC took almost every big name in the history of rock music by the scruff of its neck, and gave the crowd their own version of the classics in the most incredible way possible.

First up was AC/DC. “Highway to Hell” was sent flying over the boundary amid an ecstatic crowd., followed closely by “TNT”. One couldn’t help but admire the sheer power unleashed in Girish’s vocals. Any classic rock fan will vouch that Brian Johnson’s vocals are probably one of the most difficult to mimic in a live event – but here was Girish, pulling it off perfectly.

Next up was a well-executed cover of Pink Floyd‘s evergreen “Another Brick in the Wall”, followed by a dedication to all the happy couples in the crowd that prefaced Bon Jovi‘s “Always”. It was scarcely believable that the same person could shriek like Brian Johnson and Bon Scott and could do as much justice to a starkly-opposite song a half hour later!

Soon, GnTC went even back further back in time, treating us to a couple of behemoths from one of those genre-defining albums in the timeline of rock: Led Zeppelin IV. Their stunning execution of “Black Dog” and “Rock and Roll” was sublime enough to move even the staunchest Led Zep lovers to tears. And the fact that Suraz Karki – the chap on lead guitars – looked a lot like Jimmy Page only helped things.

All photos taken from Girish and the Chronicles' Facebook page

All photos taken from Girish and the Chronicles’ Facebook page

Now, “Rock and Roll” is a considered by many rock aficionados to be a “complete” song, because it lacks absolutely nothing on any front – be it drums, guitars, bass or vocals. The mere attempt to cover it is bold, but it was no surprise that GnTC nailed it, hook, line and sinker.

After an exceptional cover of the Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”, Girish announced that they would now experiment a bit off their conventional classic rock act, and the band shifted effortlessly into Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. What blew our minds wasn’t their skilled execution of these classics; it wasn’t their flawless faithfulness to the originals. No, what blew our minds was the consummate ease with which they seemed to shift from AC/DC to Pink Floyd, from Bon Jovi to Skid Row, or from Led Zeppelin to Nirvana.

It had been over ninety minutes of GnTC belting out song after song, classic after classic, and the evening was nearing its tragic end. Girish then put his guitar aside and told a now-frenzied crowd that GnTC would give them two options for the closing song. And as a tribute to the greatest hard rock band of all time – Guns n Roses – it would either be “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. With this announcement, the crowd went berserk; and with no clear winner by popular vote, GnTC decided to do both.

All photos taken from Girish and the Chronicles' Facebook page

All photos taken from Girish and the Chronicles’ Facebook page

In 2009, VH1 bestowed the honor of “greatest hard rock song of all time” to “Welcome to the Jungle”, and there’s a clear reason why. The song embodies the soul of hard rock, and GnR’s 80s-era swagger itself. It was a truly fitting addition to GnTC’s hard rock night. Girish’s vocals reached new heights of brilliance in the song, as he brought in Axl’s throaty screams in a manner that would have made old Axl ring his lawyers. For the final song of the evening, they embarked on “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, arguably the world’s most loved power-ballad; and Hard Rock Cafe has never lived up to its name as it did during that song. Girish’s vocals reached meteoric heights for one last time that evening, and Suraz did complete justice to the solo that, even after a million listens, never fails to amaze the listener.

Girish cemented a lasting mark in the minds of every person who was present there that evening. This gig wasn’t just a tribute to the names and the bands that had shaped a genre we all love. It was proof that in an age of musical blasphemy – when Justin Beiber and Lady Gaga manage to garner more Twitter followers than all the bands of the yesteryears put together – there is still hope that somewhere out there, someone, with a guitar, still plays good ol’ rock music.

– Subhayan Mukerjee (@wrahool)

AlterEgoz at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad (29/8/2013)

4 Sep

alteregoz

AlterEgoz call themselves a “purely classic rock band”.

They started off in 2001 in Hyderabad – citing an all-encompassing list of influences ranging from the Beatles, through to the Police via Rush – and in their decade long career, they’ve played hither and thither around the country; at times sharing the stage with biggies like Parikrama and Mrigya.

Not surprisingly, they’ve done quite a few gigs at the Hard Rock Cafe in Hyderabad, and August 29th was probably just another one in their list. For the writer however, it was his first taste of the famous HRC, and when he left the place after the gig was over, he was – to put it bluntly – far from satisfied.

The gig was dubbed “a tribute to Pink Floyd”, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with the band’s performance, or their execution of the songs. They had the energy, the talent and the required eye candy to keep every classic rock lover hooked till the end – but the main reason we remained till the end, as I realised later was that – everyone was waiting to hear and sing along to – some songs that actually come to your mind when you hear the name Pink Floyd.

Thus, what was missing was a proper setlist. I can only wonder how insane the evening would have been, had the band put their talent to cover songs like “Wish you were here”, “Coming back to life”, “High Hopes”, “Time”, “Money”, “A Great Gig in the Sky”, “Brain Damage”, “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” and an infinite other songs which actually made Pink Floyd the milestone in rock music that they were.

Instead, what we were treated to, was Pink Floyd’s most exhausting and … must I say… dull double album in their entire discography – the Wall.

AlterEgoz live at HRC, Hyderabad

AlterEgoz live at HRC, Hyderabad

They started out the evening with their cover of the opening track from The Wall (Disc 1)In the Flesh – and what struck me at first, was their style of play. It was brilliant: the guitars, the vocals, the drums – oozing with technical proficiency. I’ve heard Dream Theater cover In the Flesh in one of their albums. so my expectations were set high. But AlterEgoz reached that bar, and maybe even bettered it. After all, DT’s Pink Floyd covers lack the inherent “soul” – mostly because they really cannot do justice to the vocals. This was, however, spot on.

After this initial peak however, it was downhill all the way. Yes, The Wall is a brilliant album; In fact, it is one of the most critically acclaimed progressive albums of all time – but it isn’t something you do at an evening gig. Pink Floyd did do several Wall concerts in their career, but those were concerts which involved elaborate theatrics, animations and pyro effects – which is how a true progressive music concert is generally supposed to be. The moment you take the “grandeur” and associated magnificence out of a “prog” music concert, a concept album doesn’t fit the bill at all. With this limitation, and given that the crowd in a cafe at 10 PM aren’t really in a mood to understand the subtleties of such an album, they should have used their talent better to choose more relevant songs. Instead what continued was the rest of the Wall – the Thin Ice, Another Brick in the Wall, The Happiest Days of our Lives, Mother and so on. Technically and execution wise, there was nothing wrong. But it still resulted in the crowd getting more and more jittery for songs that everybody could sing to. Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 was one such rare instance that got the entire cafe singing along, and later, Hey You and Comfortably Numb (from The Wall Disc 2) elicited a lot of cheering. (Comfortably Numb, in fact was done so exquisitely well that it’d probably have made David Gilmour shed a tear of joy, in the extreme case that he had heard this.)

To be honest, it was a good gig. If you are one of those, who worship Pink Floyd and bow down in front of an effigy of Roger Waters before going to bed, you’d have loved it. They even had an old guy who played the harmonica, and a young girl who played the oboe to get as close to Floyd as possible.

But then, when I hear “Pink Floyd”, I’m looking for certain songs. Unfortunately enough, none of those were heard that evening.

– Subhayan Mukerjee

Subhayan is the quintessential Bengali who likes maach-bhaat and porashona. He has a big thing for cars, and an acquired and somewhat esoteric taste in many things – including, but not limited to music.

%d bloggers like this: