Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Chronicles Of Cassini's - The Oriya Complex

The date: 4th November, 2007
The venue: Xaviers Institute Of Management (XIM), Bhubaneshwar
The players: Cassini's Division, PJ, Amit Goel, your's truly - PJ and Amit are rookies on this tour, for me this would be my 3rd trip.
The event: XPRESSIONS 2007


6:30 AM
I hear my Mom screaming in my ear - having a human alarm clock around is by far the most convenient device to get you out of bed.
The previous day has been a tiring one: Cassini's Division live @ Nazrul Manch for the "STATESMAN VIBES" fest. So I'm still kind've pooped even though I had an early beddy-bye last night.

6:35 AM
I give a wake-up call to both Ludo and the Goel. And I'm off to the loo to do some, umm, stuff!

7:15 AM
In a taxi - off to pick up Ludo from his place.

7:30 AM
In Ludo's complex. Help him load his drum stuff and we're off again... this time to Abhudaya (no not to pick up John) - to get some medicine for Ludo from his aunt. The big guy has been having fever for the past few days. He even played last evening's gig after a heavy dose of medicine. And today morning he doesnt look pretty good either.
Anyway we take a round past Ruby, much to Amit Goel's amazement whom we dont pick up on the way!

7:50 AM
We finally leave Abhudaya and reach the bus-stop. We pick up a groggy eyed ciggie puffing Amit Goel - who looks suspiciously at us for "NOT" having picked him up the 1st time.

8:15 AM
Somewhere near Ultadanga... Ludo is yelling at the taxi-driver for driving his vehicle like a, like a, like a... well you couldn't even describe this as driving. Our luck - this guy must be the slowest driver in the world!

8:40 AM
We finally reach the airport. We spot John, Sookie, Rahul and PJ sitting outside with a pile of luggage stacked on a couple of trolleys. A fast smoke and we enter the terminus for departure.

8:45 AM
The usual formalities - get your luggage ex-rayed, get your boarding passes, blah blah blah. We spot a few Deccan off-duty air-hostesses. Hmm, maybe they're gonna be on our flight? :) heh heh! Well ya right, if wishes were horses!

8:55 AM
In we go for the security check - our flight is supposed to take-off at 9:15 AM. But hey, did I mention it's a Deccan Airlines flight???
Anyway, we all finish off with the frisking and man-handling. Sookie gets held up because the security think his guitar gadget is some kind of mysterious device - no doubt to be used to kill all the passengers on board. Anyway, with some friendly explanations and persuasion Sookie and John get that part cleared up.

9:10 AM
We meet Chandan (an old SPE hand and a CD fan as well) and his friend Mou at the airport... coincidentally he is going to Bhubaneshwar too on work, and he promises to make it to XIM for the show tonight.

9:15 AM
Time of departure... but just our luck - no one seems to be announcing for boarding. So the inevitable delay. We wait for the call. And wait. And wait.

9:45 AM
We're still waiting.

10:00 AM
Yup - we're still waiting.

10:05 AM
We decide to have coffee... and just as we're sipping - the boarding call is announced!

10:15 AM
We're up on the plane - and the gruesome sevensome that we are, we've been allocated last row seats just near the loo! So its Rahul, PJ and me at one end. And Ludo, Sookie and John on the other. Amit Goel sits in front of me and he promptly falls asleep.

10:35 AM
We take off.
I hate travelling - so I'm busy listening to music on my I-Pod. And I feel kinda nauseous as usual. Flights always make me feel nasuseous. Anyway!!!

11:00 AM
Almost there I reckon - John suddenly asks if I wanna go to Konarak after the show. I can't make out if he's joking or serious. So I take the middle path and smile at him geekily.
PJ sitting beside me is busy listening to music as well, and he's having a ball headbanging and playing the air-guitar.
Sookie borrows my I-Pod and listens to some of my shit.
John is looking at the view outside - and so is Rahul too at the other end (in between flipping through the flight magazine).
Ludo is half asleep and staring blankly at the ceiling.
Amit is still sleeping.
I stare at the air-hostess for a bit (Kumud, ya that was her name!)

11:20 AM
We land at Bhuibaneshwar. Thank god! I hate flights.

11:40 AM
We get our stuff and stack them up on a few trolleys - and out we stroll into the Bhubaneshwar sunshine!
Nice little airport and not very crowded as well... we start looking for our pick-up but don't see anything remotely resembling one. Ludo, John and Sookie start to make the calls. We sit and puff outside.

12:00 NOON
Amit decides its time to be a camera man. So he promptly starts snapping away - I kinda get all inspired and take out my camera too. We click for a bit and then we get tired of clicking! :))
We're still waiting for conveyance btw!

12:10 PM
Me and Sookie go to the nearby airport canteen and buy smokes and some snacks. Everyone seems to be hungry here. John, Rahul, PJ and Ludo join us while Amit is left to guard the luggage. After a while I go and relieve him of his guard duty. And he's off for some grub.

12:15 PM
The car finally arrives - its just one car. So we need another vehicle. The guy in charge calls up a taxi and we start piling in our stuff. John is in charge of this and its kind've almost an art deciding which stuff goes in first and what gets stacked on top of what!

12:20 PM
Me and Goel and Sookie are in one car with our XIM guide. We drive through Bhubaneshwar and its a pretty sight! A planned city with lots of greenery. A very nice drive indeed. In between we stop at an SBI ATM for Sookie. Anyway in no time we're at the XIM campus and the sight is awesome! Huge and green and with banners all around. A cool, clean environment.

12:25 PM
We're at the XIM guest house now. And by God, by golly! What a cool guest house - a typical international standard type guest house you would find at most top Management institutes (we stayed at a similar one when we had gone to the XLRI show). All of us are very impressed and happy too. The fest co-ordinator top honcho Avishek comes to meet us on his bike and apologises profusely for the car pick-up fuck-up. But it's cool - he isn't to blame for flight delays anyway!

12:30 PM
We're in one of the 2 guest rooms allocated to us. But since we are 7 people in our entourage Avishek promises to get us 2 more rooms. :)

1:10 PM
Avishek comes back with a big box full of Bisleri water bottles, Pepsi bottles and kingfisher beer!!! Amazing!!! And also an assorted set of cigarette packs which PJ and John and Amit distribute amongst themselves. I don't drink beer so he promises me a bottle of whiskey... whoo hoo - where am I? Is this heaven? Better service than a 5-star hotel!
Avishek takes our leave for the time being but informs us that he will provide us with anything (I mean just anything) we need! And that lunch would be available for us at the mess room down the hall.
We plan out for a 4:30 PM sound-check for the drums - the guys wish to do the remaining sound check just before the show.

Just FYI - the itinerary for the evening: a fashion show from 7 PM to 9 PM. And the band gets up on stage and blasts away after the fashion hungama till 11 PM approx. All is cool - and everything looks to be extremely well organised. So no chaap. We relax and enjoy our AC rooms and the drinks!

1:50 PM
Lunch time down at the mess hall. A buffet with chicken and roti and veggies shit. Damn good food. After my "maggi dinner" experience at the XLRI show, I intentionally eat a bit too much so that I dont feel hungry at night.
Amit pretends to be the CD manager/spokesperson and hooks up with Avishek and the JAL manager (JAL were the guest band the previous evening). I leave him and occupy our room.

Another FYI:
room I: Sukanti and Rahul
room II: Jboi and PJ
room III: A feverish Ludo (his fever seems to go up and down like a yo-yo)
room IV: Me and the ever increasing crazy Goel. Oh, btw its his birthday as well today so he's in an absolute "surreal-freaked-out-this-is-my-last-day-on-planet-earth" mood! :) Lord help us!

2:20 PM
Whew! I'm all fresh and chilled out after a quick shower and change of clothes. The AC is on, the TV is on and me and the Goel are busy watching... "BHAGAM BHAAG" :)) - and the Goel also flips channel to the occasional Punjabi bhangra song. He's getting all excited now. Lordy lord!

4:30 PM
We get up and check out the others. Seems like they are getting ready to go to the show area and start with the drum sound-check. They also decide to take their other stuff as well - maybe jam a bit after the sound check is done. We get ready too. The proceedings for this evening are about to begin!

4:50 PM
Ok so we all take some of the kit/apparatus in hand and walk over to the stage which is in this HUGE field. And the stage looks pretty good too - very wide and there's a "T" shape ramp in front, no doubt meant for the cat-walkers. But that's ok - Rahul and Sookie can walk down the "T" and kick-ass with the crowd.
Umm, one problem though - no drum around! So we wait and the guys make the usual bout of phones. Ludo is pissed off. And his pissiness makes him feel all hot too, as he promptly takes off his jacket.

5:20 PM
Me and Jboi and Sookie and Rahul are fed up waiting so we go to the campus cheap shop canteen (whatever its called) for some coffee and some egg-bhujia (for Rahul). There's a Madhuri Dixit film going on and I spend some time staring at her jhatka-matka routine. Anyway. The weather is really cool here. Announcements are blazing all over the place about events being held and sundry. Its total fest time going on over here.

5:45 PM
We're back at the stage area. The drum is finally there and being set up with Ludo's help. Amit is again busy mingling with students curious about the band. PJ is getting himself acquainted with the sound knobs. I take out my camera and start clicking... it's my turn to be camera man.

6:30 PM
The band and the sound unit spend a considerable time getting everything all ready - the drum sound-check has just begun and its taking some time to get it right. But one thing for sure - the acoustics are excellent. Crystal clear at most points considering the fact that its an open area.

7:00 PM
Drums are done - Sookie and PJ are trying to get things right here and doing pretty well. The local sound guy is taking a back seat becoz the 2 of them seem to be handling things between themselves pretty smoothly.
In the background there are loads of announcements going on for the fashion show and stuff. And the emcees of that event are actually tearing their hair out becoz of the delay in our sound-check wrap-up... no fault of ours - the drum should have been on stage @ 4:45 PM!!!

7:15 PM
We're done with Ludo and Rahul's guitars and Jboi's bass is almost done. Amit is around trying to pacify a visibly nervous Avishek who is getting apprehensive about tonite's CD show. He's not very sure if we're gonna be able to pull it off and that the crowd won't ejoy themselves... plus he's getting worried about the long time being taken for the sound-check. Which is quite funny - because it actually hasn't taken too long, everything has been handled with clockwork precision.
Oh, now Jboi's check is done - and now it's Sookie's turn!

7:25 PM
We're done with Sookie and PJ is now taking care of Rahul's vocals and the over-all sound. The guys try out a few songs - Satyr9, The Story Of My Life, Fallen et al.

7:40 PM
It's a wrap! The band are visibly pleased - the sound sounds really good, and we have no complaints with the equipment and acoustics. The lights - well, I can see a sea of bugs near all the lights everywhere and I expect the band to be swallowing a few creepies during the show.
We walk back and I'm pleasantly suprised when one of the organisers catches up with me and gives me a bottle of whiskey. :)

8:00 PM
Back inside John and PJ's room. Me and Amit pour ourselves a drink. John makes PJ pull his finger for some SPIELBERG style sound-effects - (Yeeeuuugggh!) and the bugger goes into the loo for a quick shower.
Ludo phones us after a bit asking me if I've seen his jacket. Nyet from my end, and from Amit's end as well... the 1st casualty of war! Jacket overboard!

8:20 PM
We're still in Jboi's room chilling out and I'm TOPLESS when along comes a pretty woman asking for Ludo. No time for me to cover up my indecent exposure...
An excerpt from the weird conversation between the 2 of us:

WOMAN: May I come? [the door is wide open and she's actually already inside]

ME: Yes please do come in but only after you let me wear my tee-shirt [I'm standing TOPLESS with my paunch sticking out like the Indian peninsula, with a glass of whiskey in my left hand, and a cig in my right!]

WOMAN: Umm, ok - umm, I'm looking for Ludo. [she stares at me and looks all embarrassed and actually takes a few steps backwards out of the room!]

ME: oh ya sure, Ludo's in the next room I think - sleeping or in the loo!!! [and I'm waving my tee-shirt like a flag indicating "which" direction she should go!]

WOMAN: Thank you! [Takes another look at me which makes me think I'm diseased and in the nude... and runs away!]

8:40 PM
We go back to our room and get ready for tonight. Amit gleefully takes out his SLAYER tee. And I take out my standard MEGADETH tee. We go back to the other rooms. John and Rahul and PJ are busy applying gel to their hair... Amit joins in on the gel fun. Ludo I notice is in the mess hall having a quick snack. He really looks down and out.

9:00 PM
John, Sookster and Rahul quickly convene in "room I" to chalk up a set-list, and I join them while sipping a final peg of whiskey. Everyone is happy with the song list that Jboi jots down.

9:10 PM
One of the organiser's come down to inform us that it's almost show time. Me and Amit walk down the few metres to the venue. And the rest take the car with the gear stacked behind.

9:20 PM
We're still waiting near the stage - the fashion show cum dance hungama is going on still with some local singer singing BEEDI JALAI LEH and other stuff. The crowd seems to love it though. I have a head-ache already. Chandan and his pal Mou finally arrive and they have a gift for us - a bottle of TEACHERS! Shit! What is wrong with the world??? Everyone is being so nice to me today :)

9:40 PM
I'm standing behind PJ at the sound console. Amit, Chandan and Mou are there too. The band is on stage finally and are tuning up.

Its time to rock 'n roll.

9:45 PM
Show begins - the lights flash on Rahul and he starts singing "Drown". The crowd are genuinely excited to see a proper rock band playing in Bhubaneshwar. Anyway, the set-list is attacked by CD with vigour - "Imitation Of Life", "The Sky Is Falling", "Only For A While", "Vindicated"... and then the gut-crunching "Stay"!
The crowd don't know much about Cassini's Division so the usual yell for METALLICA and IRON MAIDEN and PANTERA and LINKIN PARK go around. Someone asks for MARILYN MANSON and Rahul is glad to oblige him with "Sweet Dreams".
The show is more or less going according to their set-list and it's all cool.
One hitch - Sookie's guitar feedback. But taken care of. Ludo seems to be ok as of now.

10:30 PM
The crowd suddenly vanishes after an announcement about the campus gates shutting... Chandan and Mou reluctantly leave. The crowd also minimises by half. And its a sorry sight. But Amit Goel takes the role of one-man cheer leader and gets the remaining genuine rock lovers channelised. And what better way to do this than with the help of "The Story Of My Life".
By now I'm on stage trying to do what the Red Bantoo would normally do for the guys, i.e. snap around from various angles. And I kind of plant myself on stage like a prop!

10:40 PM
The party is getting a whole lot heavier with "Ceasar", "Voivoid", "SATYR9" and "Kryptonite" being churned out.
In the meantime Ludo's getting all uncomfy with the lights around him - and John has to make an emergency announcement: "Please turn off the lights behind Ludo becoz his butt is on fire"

11:10 PM
CD show no signs of stopping - and the crowd magically re-appears. Maybe some of the students had come back after dinner. Anyway, the band dishes out one song after the other - "Lithium", "Fallen", "Smooth Criminal", "Rumble", "Higher", "Glowworm"...
I'm loving it on stage and the crowd are too. Amit is screaming like a maniac from up front and PJ is doing a great job twiddling away with the knobs.

11:30 PM
Time to close the party - Rahul does a dramatic entry for "Like It Like This" and then proceeds to sing "Urban Phenomenon". The band also gives in to the requests for RADIOHEAD by playing "Creep". And the final encore is "The Story Of My Life" once again by popular demand.
The band is totally wasted now. John is lying flat on the stage sweating buckets. And Ludo walks up sheepishly to the crowd saying sorry, but he has a fever. But in a nutshell - even after more than 2 hours the crowd wanted more and needed to soak in CD... an amazing show. Almost near perfect for the band and I see Avishek grinning from ear-to-ear now.

12:10 AM
We're back at the guest house with a few students who have fallen in love with the band. We bring out the beers and smokes and whiskey and take it easy. Everyone is a happy chappy.

12:30 AM
Time for a late dinner - me, Sookie, Amit and PJ march off to the mess hall. And it's great to be able to sample some good food here.

12:50 AM
Back in John's room - we chat with the XIM guys and they tell us to join them at the whole night party that has just commenced. They all seem to look forward to it becoz its the final event after a 3 day long fest and it's just for them - in fact the event is aptly named "Just Like That" or JLT. Most of us politely decline (we have an 8 AM flight to catch anyway) but Amit seems interested.

2:30 AM
Most of the guys seem pooped and Ludo is already in bed. The beers are out and I'm not in the mood for anymore whiskey. Neither is Amit it seems - in fact he tells me he'd prefer a drink with ice instead!
Sookie proposes a one final cup of coffee - so we all march out of the guest house.
The JLT party is in full swing now. And we walk past it eyeing the crowd. And the crowd eyes us as well. Amit starts to do a few steps on the way.

2:40 AM
Avishek and Amit take a bike ride to get some cig packs for the guys and we sit on the benches enjoying our coffee. After a while the 2 "A"s are back and we decide to head back to the guest house. The 2 cars to take us to the airport are gonna be in by 6:15 AM and we plan to push off by 6:30 AM.

2:55 AM
We walk past the JLT venue and the party seems to be in full swing - and right on cue the DJ starts playing a bhangra number. Amit looks all hypnotized now and is definitely in some voodoo trance. I ask the him whether he wants to stay back and party or go with us to the guest house. He opts for the former and Rahul decides to give him company for 15 minutes (the time it would take to finish a small drink) - before we depart Amit says that he'll be back within an hour and makes me promise that I won't lock the door.

3:15 AM
I turn on the TV and watch some football... but its late and I'm tired - plus I have to be at work as well. So I decide to take a snooze.

4:00 AM
I wake up - the bed beside me is empty.

5:00 AM
I wake up again - and the bed beside me is still empty.

6:00 AM
Final wake up call. The bed beside me is still empty.
I decide to get up and take a shower. Might as well feel fresh before work... and suddenly I hear 2 voices singing in the distance - one of them is distinctly Amit Goel's!

6:05 AM
In walks Amit in a dishevelled and umm, non-normal state shall we say? And there is a young management student with him (I learn that his name is Imon). Amit is smiling at me like a toothpaste model and he looks in no shape to travel. He's talking at the top of his voice and he informs he that he's never had so much fun in his life - and that he's never met so many Punjabis outside of Punjab at one single place!!! I'm annoyed and I leave him with his singing partner and enter the bathroom.

6:15 AM
I'm trying to crap (yes crap - shit - whatever), but nothing is coming out because Amit and his pal are singing at the top of their voices like loonies. The sound is enough to knock the stuffings out of a rogue elephant. I hear John's voice calling me... but hell, how can you hear what he's saying when you have Bianca Castafiore and Daler Mehendi singing like there's no tomorrow in our room?

6:30 AM
I'm ready and packed. Amit isn't however. He's lying on his bed and it looks like he's down for the count. I tell the guys and they all seem worried. The logical thing to do is to leave him behind - but then again, we can't do it without his consent.

6:40 AM
We manage to get Amit out of his bed and bring him to the parking lot. John and Sookie have finished stacking their gear on the 2 vehicles reserved for us. A groggy-eyed Avishek is here to see us off. I make a smelly Amit change his tee-shirt. And we're ready to leave!
But suddenly Amit gets off the car and says he can't make this trip! I get down too and tell the guys in the other car.
In hind-sight a wise decision since I doubt Amit would have been allowed to board the plane anyway.

So we leave XIM sans a member short - a quirky way to end a glorious trip! The rest of the trip is uneventful - the Deccan flight was on time. Chandan and Mou are heading back home to Kolkata on the same flight as us. Sookie is as usual stopped at the security check. I feel sick on the flight as usual and listen to my ipod as usual to keep me from feeling pukey. And checking out the air-hostess "Anupama" helps me feel less pukey as well...

And we all reach home in one piece feeling absolutely on top of the world - the band for conquering the hearts of everyone @ XIM, and me for enjoying the best tour ever with CD. Looking forward to the next one... and I'm sure Amit is too :)

Amit arrived back in Kolkata by the Kingfisher evening flight! :)

NIGHTMARE ABBEY - umm ermm aaaahhh :|

The date: 27th July 2007
The venue: The Princeton Club

Uh, are any of the band members of Nightmare Abbey or their fans going to kill me if I say that I wasnt too impressed with their performance?

Let me be very honest here - coming down from sector-V after work to Princeton just to catch a new band isnt something I do everyday. I think you'd agree with me that its waaaay too energy sapping to do that on a regular basis.

But I did that for Nightmare Abbey - and all on the assumption that they would be what they said they would be - A.K.A. - a gothic rock band. Gothic... that is the key word here.

So to sum up everything in one sentence - Nightmare Abbey were "NOT" gothic rock by a long shot. And although musically the band were really nice to listen to, well I kinda felt cheated. Becoz this wasnt the music I had expected them to play.

Yes yes yes, I know the usual arguments - NA are a young band, they were playing maybe their 1st gig in front of a big crowd at a spacious venue (unlike the Planet M shows which must have been cramped, especially the one @ City Centre). And yes, when you are a young band starting off initially you want to win the crowd over and play them stuff that they know and can sing along to. Its very natural for a band to play its "safe" when they are new.

And I am sure there are a 100 other reasons that the band were "anything" but "GOTHIC" - well I've heard them all... been there done that.

Actually it wasnt just me NOT BEING IMPRESSED - i was very very sad as well. Here is a band that is obviously very talented. And who looked like rockers to the core... and what do they do? Play us stuff which any other band in this city plays - so where is the difference between Nightmare Abbey, and say a Hip Pocket or any of the host of other "classic rock" bands that play @ Princeton? Or the college/school bands that play a similar type of set-list @ the fests? Ya, some band play the Doors better than other bands and some play Floyd and so on and so forth - but at the end of the day, they are all bands catering to the same genre of music.

I mean what makes Nightmare Abbey different from all these other bands? Apart from hair length that is...
Nothing much is my final assumption. And that is very very sad.

I know most of the crowd their Rolling Stones and Joan Baez and Janis Joplin covers etc etc etc, but what I liked the most was their original - the "Eclipse" (umm forgot the name) - ya I was the guy who yelled out asking what the song name was... and I will also say that the Nightwish cover was done excellently. Evanescence sounded good too.
When these guys actually played the gothic stuff they did sound pretty good.

In my final analysis I will say this - all the band members - drums, bass, keyboards, guitar and vocals - all of them are super talented. And while they lacked a bit of togetherness when playing (and didnt seem to gel in bits and pieces during some of the songs performed), yet as a whole I would say that Nightmare Abbey have the makings of a decent band.

1. NA tries to find a formula that makes them stand out amongst the crowd. Enhance their uniqueness or else there are good chances of them drowning in the sea of bands that seem to crop up on a daily basis.

2. Stick to being more of a gothic rock band and less of a classic rock band - becoz from whatever little "goth" they played yday, the band sounded good. But if they arent going to go the goth rock way, then maybe a change in their line of PR would be required - and that would also require a change in their band name too. I mean, with a name like Nightmare Abbey its very obvious that most people would think the genre of music being played was on the heavier side - and not Janis Joplinesque!

3. Add in more originals if possible. It is a MYTH that the crowd nowadays only like listening to covers and not originals. They definitely shouldn't be afraid to belt the crowd with their own "sound".

Anyway, this HUGE write-up of mine isnt by any means an attempt to offend Nightmare Abbey.

Far from it.

I had heard good stuff about these guys and that is why I came down to check them out. I'm just a lover of good music and I was hoping that Nightmare Abbey would provide me with the same.

YES, the music was fairly decent - no doubt about that, but NO it wasnt what I had come to Princeton for.

So overall, a pleasant evening spent listening to a talented young band - but, unfortunately I went home with not a single stand-out moment etched in my memory.

I do look forward to something more special at their next gig and I do hope to see more of their GOTH element - all the best to Nightmare Abbey for the future.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The best young band in Kolkata

After seeing this band for 3 whole shows...
After checking out most (if not all) of the young rock bands in the city - some of whom left me absolutely flabbergasted (why do these kids bother to play anyway?)...

The last man standing. Without a doubt - CRYSTAL AND THE WITCHES.
They are the real McCoy.

A short intro - this is a young band with roots in the North East. The vocalist/lead guitarist Diwash Rai, and the bass guitarist Tenzing Louden Bhutia are from Sikkim. The drummer Shubhro Ganguly is originally from Assam. And I dont know where their keyboard Arthur Gomes is originally from
They play metal (more of the old school stuff) - they are heavy, they are very good musicians and extremely tight, they have excellent stage presence and they can certainly get the crowd going. This band hasn't been on the scene for too long but their fan following is enormous (as per Kolkata standards) - most of their shows consist of a huge number of rock/metal lovers from St. Xaviers (since I believe 2 of the band members are currently students there) and also a gigantic number of young ppl from the North East... a conglomeration of mongoloid music lovers (that wud include me as well I guess) who would headbang any metal lover to shame. The energy both on and off stage is absolutely intense... and if you are a genuine lover of music attending their show is an absolute treat. Granted, you may not be a fan of the heavy metal genre, but just watching these young men perform on stage is an awesome fun-filled experience. Try them out - I recommend this band 1000%.

The lead singer/guitarist Diwash was a former member of the top Sikkim band STILL WATERS (if you know anything about the current Indian rock scene then you must have heard of them) - and his experience with that band certainly shines through during the gig. Clean vocals, screeching, growling - he does it all. And also an excellent impersonation of Dave Mustaine (MEGADETH) as well, as was evident in the Megadeth cover that they play - SWEATING BULLETS

The keyboardist Arthur does an excellent job of providing rhythm and balance to the metal sound that this band performs. And he gets the crowd all charged up when the guys start out with their opening track - a NIGHTWISH cover (Crimson Tide)... yes Nightwish, you read right - now when have you ever heard Nightwish being played @ SPE???

Tenzing on the bass is fantastic - a very talented bassist. And its not just about his playing. You can see that he's having fun on stage especially when he's dancing around with his guitar. With the kinda space constraints on stage @ SPE, its a miracle he doesnt trip while doing so Awesome young musician.

Subhro - an absolute monster on the drummer. The most unassuming drummer you would ever find. And the most improved as well I must say. The 1st time I saw him perform I wasnt very impressed. But not anymore. Kolkata has its fair share of good drummers in the circuit... and pretty soon he's going to be joining that club.

Are this band all about covers btw?? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
Hell, I wouldnt be raving about them if they were just a cover band. Crystal And The Witches have an excellent repertoire of originals - originals that have won them accolades in quite a few rock contestants in the college circuit. And they are also the current East Zone "Campus Rock Idols" champions, just to let you know.

Holes, Resurrection, Black Roses, M.I.U. are some of their compositions (I might have some of these names wrong btw) amongst many others. Originals that are mainly heavy (old school thrash oriented) - but which also consist of power ballads. Megadeth is a major influence as is evident from some of their compositions... the resemblance is sometimes a bit too uncanny - but hey, no complaints, they are good quality originals I give you that. In fact I believe they have enough compositions to fill up an entire show. And some songs like M.I.U. are major crowd pullers.

And oh ya, Crystal & The Witches play a fair share of covers as well:

Megadeth (Sweating Bullets), Metallica (For Whom The Bell Tolls), Iron Maiden (Dream Of Mirrors), Nightwish (Crimson Tide), AC/DC (TNT), Deep Purple (Perfect Strangers), etc. etc.

Does anyone see a nice pattern here? No?
Well, so you wanna listen to Metallica eh? But they dont play "Enter Sandman" - its old school Metallica for you. You want Deep Purple? Well thank god they dont play "Highway Star" or the tremendously over-played "Smoke On The Water"!
And how many people would expect an Iron Maiden cover from one of their lesser known albums "Brave New World"?

If anything else their covers set-list shows how intelligent this band is. The songs they cover arent your run-of-the-mill, a million-times-over-played songs, which is extremely refreshing to say the least. And they also dont always do a cover note-for-note - they add a little extra to make the song a bit more interesting.

For example - take their cover of Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" - during the middle of the song Diwash suddenly does a little guitar solo of the popular Bollywood tune "Tujheh Dekhah Toh" from the film "Dilwaleh Dulhania Leh Jayengeh" - the innovation is positively brilliant. And total fun.

Another interesting cover is Leo Sawyer's "Love You More Than I Can Say" - a sudden break in the tempo in their gig from the ferocious headbangers that constitutes 90% of their set-list.

During the show one of the many headbanging amigos out there happened to mention to me, that after CASSINI's DIVISION, Crystal & The Witches were the only band that had managed to get the crowd @ SPE going.

And despite my well-known bias and preferences I am inclined to agree with him.
Not too many bands have managed to do that in recent times.

Hate them or love them - you would be a moron to ignore Crystal & The Witches.
Yes you might hate heavy metal but if you are broad-minded then please check out their live gigs - you will not leave disappointed.

Camouflage revisited

The 1st time I saw these kids perform (sometime last year) I was moved to write a blog on them and my experience.

After much water has flown under the Ganges (read: after seeing them perform hither and tither AND after losing their band leader/keyboardist to the yuppie-corporate world) Camouflage finally get their lucky break and are invited to play @ Someplace Else.

The 9th of September, 2007

The band has improved a lot since when I last saw them perform @ Princeton. The quality of their originals are above average - "Recycled", "Hysterical Blindness" and "Slide" sounded really tight and I enjoyed listening to them. "Revolution", "Hang On" and the other new song (Imposition? or was it Disposition?) sounded nice but the songs mentioned before them are what should take them to greater heights.

As mentioned previously, I could see "U2" written all over their songs - this band seems to be a major influence to Camouflage - as are Coldplay, Oasis and other Brit-pop alternative bands. And that isnt necessarily a bad thing, btw, just an observation.

I do think Avik's keyboards add a lot more depth to the band's sound, so its a pity he hasnt been around to perform @ SPE. But the other band-members have improved a helluva lot and overall the Camouflage sound is a lot more tighter - guitars/bass/drums.

1> The vocals still dont do much for me - and that is the band's weak point. The vocalist does sing with a lot of passion and emotion, but he lacks the killer punch in his delivery.

2> It was very obvious that the band was a bundle of nerves - understandable becoz it is after all SPE. But they need to project more confidence on stage. Sunday evenings (post CASSINI's DIVISION) arent what they used to be @ SPE and its generally not so crowded. I would think that is a blessing in disguise for the band - being this nervous and playing in front of a prime time SPE crowd (@ 9:30 PM) would have been the death for the them.
So a band which has played @ the CRI finals and @ Princeton shouldnt be that nervous. They are a good band after all and have the experience of playing in front of big crowds.

3> The covers sounded cool, but as I've said before, Camouflage sound a lot more convincing when they play originals. Bands like Hip Pocket/Krosswindz have made it big by only doing covers and I certainly hope Camouflage DOES NOT take that route. This band's future lies in their creativity

Boomerang @ SPE boomeranged us all

The Date: The 5th of September, 2007
The Venue: Someplace Else (oh no, not again!!!)

India vs. England, 6th One Day international... everyone was glued to their TV screens on the 5th of September that evening... everyone. Including 80% of the clientele @ SPE as well.


It isnt very often that we get to see good out-station bands performing @ Kolkata. Last month was an exception becoz of the RSJ sponsored Pub Rock fest - but as a whole, its pretty much dry out here in this city... the same old classic rock blues based bands. The same old shitty college bands playing covers that their grandpa wud sing to their grandma in college. Blah blah blah.

So along comes a young band from Mizoram - Boomerang - they featured on this year's GIR compilation and have been gigging heavily in Delhi (opening for Them Clones and the like)... and you'd expect at least some semblence of a crowd @ SPE to catch them.

But why am I cribbing? I should have known better - the crowd was practically non-existent... maybe becoz of the cricket match, but I primarily I would believe, becoz the quality of music listeners and music lovers has started going down the drain in this city. People arent as open to new sounds or new bands as they used to be say 5-10 years back.

Music to them is all abt being part of the in-crowd... abt showing off their latest jhatka when "Megadeth" is playing in the back-ground... abt screaming for DJ Austin to play "BRYAN ADAMS and SUMMER OF '69"... of getting all orgasmic when Hip Pocket plays "WHERE WERE YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU". This is what music is to most ppl in this city these days.

I think Boomerang got a good taste of that - dont know if they'd wanna perform here anymore, which is a pity - because they are a very talented band and if they stick it around and polish up their act, then they will go places.

So what did they play?
It was a set comprising of both originals and covers - a 50-50 divide. They started off with the original "Kingdom Of Pain" and followed it up with "Rhythm Of Revolution". Other originals they played were "Circle", "Ash", "Who Do You Wanna Be" and "Home"... hmm. A few others too whose names I dont remember.

Yup they played covers as well - heavy versions of "Get Back" and "Come Together", and loads and loads of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. In fact it was almost like they were on a mission to promote RATM @ SPE... RATM's very own PR guys from Mizoram!

But who's complaining? Killing In The Name, Wake Up (the vocalist forgot the lines to the song and I had to sing them for him), Bulls On Parade, Bomb Track, Guerilla Radio, Take The Power Back, etc etc etc... man the RATM covers just kept on coming!

So after all that - how were they as a band?
Boomerang are a pretty young band and they'd whip ass of most college bands and junior bands in the Kolkata SPE/PRINCETON circuit - english/bangla both. They were that good and tight.

They have a good vocalist who can actually sing and with passion too. The rhythm section wasnt outstanding but they did their job pretty well. Hopefully they'll get a lot more tighter thru the years. The guitarist was good - but I saw him mess up quite a few of the RATM covers. Especially "Killing In The Name"... Kolkata's INSOMNIA do a far better job on this song than they did - but yup, the guitarist gets a thumbs up from me inspite of all that.

Their originals. A band which is heavily influenced by RATM wud obviously sound a lot like them. One of their songs sounded almost a ditto copy of "Bulls On Parade". But songs like "Circle", "Ash", Rhythm Of A Revolution" and "Kingdom Of Pain" were just mind-blowingly awesome. A+ quality originals. "Home" on the other hand didnt do anything for me since it flitted in and out too much between heavy and rock and blues... "Who Do You Wanna Be" which featured on this year's GIR compilation was one of their few non-heavy originals.

So a good young band which is capable of composing quality originals and also playing some decent covers... hopefully these guys will make it big in the future. They certainly have mass appeal - something that most of the junior bands in this city lack.

The only problem they might have is that they dont seem to have decided on what exactly their sound might be - altho it does seem pretty likely that the rap-core style of RATM is what they are going to be adopting as their key sound. Still, a band that is comfortable playing both a heavy sound as well as a bluesy one does have some planning to do.

Very unfortunate abt the crowd - consisted mainly of us north-easterners and the band members from "Cassini's Division", "Crystal And The Witches" and "Hoof Hooey". As mentioned earlier most everyone else was busy watching India narrowily beat England - and it was a downright shame becoz ppl did miss a very good band... I hate SPE on such days - you could hardly call it the mecca of music in East India on days like these.

Anyway, I sincerely hope that BOOMERANG boomerangs back to Kolkata in the near future - most of you "ROCK" lovers have no idea what you missed.

Half Step Down - Pub Rock Fest 2007 (SPE)

The Date: The 10th of August, 2007
The Venue: Someplace Else (yawn!!!)

I really liked Half Step Down. They had a sound which isn't something you get to hear very regularly in Kolkata. So it was interesting going through their set-list.

HSD has been labelled by many as a blues rock band... but I'm not too sure of that definition. In fact the stuff they played was so varied last night, that I would actually have some difficultly in labeling them one. Some people would call this being versatile - others wud call it being too "middle of the road" or "putting ur hand in too many baskets".... and it was maybe becoz of the latter that at least 60 % of the crowd that turned up @ last Friday did NOT enjoy HSD's brand of music. Unfotunately most of the crowd were either expecting something vey blues/classic oriented OR something that was downright loud and heavy AKA the Them Clones. And it was obvious from the comments after the show that most of the attendees had still not gotten over their THEM CLONES hang-over. "They arent as good Them Clones"... was something which I heard throughout the evening. And it sounded kinda lame, the fact being that TC and HSD play completely different genres of rock.

The sound was horrible as well - for a show as big as this, it should have been one of the 1st things that the organisers should have handled. But the moment I saw the guy behind the console "Sidhu", I knew the band weren't gonna sound right. This guy is supposedly one of the most "in-demand" sound guys in the delhi rock scene, and he took care of sound @ most of the shows at last year's Pub Rock Fest in delhi... I had attended last year's inaugural show @ the Fashion Bar, "Climax" - Cassini's Division were playing with Them Clones that night. And this gentleman royally screwed up the sound for both bands... it's extremely depressing when you come to see 2 of your favourite bands and you cant hear a friggin' sound from the guitars or the vocals. Both Rahul and Prithwish for the respective bands sounded like they were whispering at times.

But anyway, back to the music that night - despite the average sound and a barrage from a very hostile section of the crowd, the band coolly went about with business.

They opened up with an original, "Girl Not Guitar" (which can be found on the "Stupiditties" compilation of the top non-metal bands of India in 2006-2007) - a very decent composition indeed.

The show was interspersed with nice fluid originals and some up-tempo covers as well. Led Zeppelin "No Quarter", Red Hot Chilli Peppers "Torture Me", Pink Floyd
"Have A Cigar" and Stone Temple Pilots "Plush" were some of the notable songs that were covered.

The highlight was the performance of their original "Overture To Outer Space" which featured on this year's GIR compilation. A very haunting and melodic original with large dollops of the keyboard in it. I got a great kick hearing this song live.

Special mention must be made of the keyboardist and the drummer - they both added a zippiness to the sound which sometimes kind of faltered at places.

Overall a very decent debut for Half Step Down. They played their stuff well, the covers were well performed and their originals didnt put me to sleep - and "Overture To Outer Space" was a stand-out.

But maybe that was the problem - for the average listener there werent too many standout songs in the set-list they played... nothing which maybe struck them as "all right, that was a cool song"... a tune that irritatingly persists inside your head and does not go away and which leaves you humming the whole day... moments and songs like these were few and far between that night. AND crowd involvement was also at a minimum during the show as well. So I guess it was this that kind've alienated the general population.

But personally I would think that Half Step Down are a band that grows on to you (like the way some films or albums do)... you might not like them @ one sitting, but maybe after a few shows that irritating feeling just might grab you and nip you hard on yur ass. Maybe. It worked for me!

The end? Not quite...

I was one of the few people who knew about Cassini's Division and Someplace Else getting divorced before the official announcement, so I had time to let all of this sink in.

That I am disappointed is an under-statement.

I have been an SPE regular for many a year and I have seen all the bands here perform. I have also seen the crowds SPE has been drawing over the years. And I guess some things wont ever change.

SPE - Kolkata will always be a classic rock and blues hub, where people celebrate the technical excellence of musicians covering songs. Where people will have a few pegs and keep on asking a band to play The Doors or the Beatles or "WHERE WERE YOU" by Floyd... sheesh. They cant even get the name of songs right.

It was a very brave thing for SPE and Gautam Singh to get a band like Cassini's Division to play regularly in such an evironment - CD had just managed to get a foot hold in the industry then, and asking them to play @ SPE was almost like throwing them to a pack of hungry wolves.

But history will have recorded the fact that they were more than succesful there after a few initial hiccups. They managed to shock the puritans @ SPE and gave all the established bands a good run for their money - and actually outshining most of them.

Listening to them - personally it opened my eyes to the trials and tribulations of being in a rock band, and trying to do something new. It made me believe that Kolkata finally had a bunch of musicians to be proud about, who were willing to show to the rest of the city that you could play your own songs and NOT cover FLOYD and still be able to produce good quality music. And draw huge crowds as well.

I guess its no secret that I am CD freak to the core - i am proud to be one. And I'm also glad that i am not the only one here. The Sunday ALTER JAMS brought in scores of us freaks and we moshed and headbanged for 2 hours and had the times of our lives. I'm glad no one from the Friday crowd ever came in, we'd have probably mass murdered them all and strung up their body parts in front of the stage.

But anyway this current SPE chapter is over for CD and I am sure the PARK management must be heaving a HUGE sigh of relief:

- no more headbanging or moshing or jumping down from the speakers
- no more breaking of beer bottles during crazy headbanging frenzies
- no more screaming and behaving aggressively with ppl inside SPE during the shows
- no more crowding outside in the lobby of Park Hotel after shows and having huge addas
... gosh its no wonder the ppl there are heaving a huge sigh of relief.

Well, the Alter Jams were started for a reason, and it did work out splendidly - i wud know, i missed only 5 shows on sunday evening in these last 2-3 years. But I guess SPE is going to have to close down this concept... i dont see any band even being able to garner 5 % of the crowd that CD did... they set a standard which is going to be hard to beat. Even Hip Pocket wudnt be successful - so exit CD virtually means the exit of 400 odd fans from the scene there. The numbers might not be huge in terms of paying clientele i guess, so no wonder SPE cares whether CD stay or leave. Well that's my impression anyway.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: CD were the best thing to have happened to SPE in recent times. It was a rocky alliance no doubt but i am sure something cud have been done to salvage this marriage... and its disappointing to see the end come like this.

SPE will always be the place to be as far as music goes in Kolkata, of that there is no doubt - and I will always be there for good or for worse... but I know for sure that my evenings there wont be the same again.

And SPE hasnt managed to address or acknowledge the fact that music is much more than classic rock, bidding adieu to CD kinda added fuel to my theory. Ah well - rejoice Hip Pocket fans and lovers of classic rock - SPE is exclusively yours again... and its back to my i-pod for me with my collection of metal and alternative...

And now for the show - the final ALTER JAM show @ SPE:

The Date: The 22nd of July
The Venue: Someplace Else (where else?)

Awesome show, maybe their best show ever @ SPE - and fuck all of you who think otherwise.

I will spare you my running commentary on the incident filled gig that occured this evening... if you missed their last official show @ SPE then you are a big loser. A big big LOSER.

And its not about being a CD freak or having a love for heavy music... if you are a lover of good quality original music then you should have been here. Yes you were a big loser - no doubt about that!

Dare I say (at the cost of sounding repetitive) that this is SPE's loss, big time - the kinda crowd that came in today for the show... well I'll be suprised if the Pub Rock gigs @ SPE even manage to get in that many ppl...

Ah well. Post here if you want to share your thought on today's gig. I'm at a loss for words right now (even tho I have been rambling above )... new songs, head banging galore, violent moshing, fights with bouncers, fans getting injured, me jumping off the speaker for one last time, the crowd singing so loudly that rahul stood and looked at all of us like a happy father would do when his child does well at an exam, screaming and shouting and mass hysteria... we had it all and much more.

Sad? You bet - its an end of an era @ SPE - but happy too, for the band... and happy that I got to see one of the best ever shows that SPE has hosted. And I would know... I've seen them all.

Last but not the least - a small tribute to the crowd - die-hard CD fans and music lovers every last one of them. A dedicated group of people who will never let CD walk alone...

Them Clones galore...

I'm currently sifting through a backlog of music reviews that I should have published on my blog ages ago...

Anyway, some stuff I wrote after 2 Them Clones gigs -

The Date: The 16th of April, 2007
The Venue: Someplace Else

Well truth be told Them Clones were disappointed with the turn-out - and most of the ppl who turned up I guess werent expecting such an assault on their ears. Uninformed people I should add. People who had probably come strolling in for their staple diet of pink floyd!

They should have been fore-warned - 2 years back when THEM CLONES last played @ SPE, they decimated the place... it was a full bodied full frontal assault. And I still consider that performance to be the best ever show I've seen @ SOMEPLACE ELSE. It was mind-fucking brilliant.

But anyway yday most of the crowd were busy being wussies behind. Good for them - if they had come up front we'd have crushed them during the final fucking mosh during LIMP BIZKIT's "TAKE A LOOK AROUND" - ya we had a mosh pit yday and it felt freaking awesome. I even roughed up some stupid asshole who kept on shouting for Judas Priest... scared the shit outta him, pushing him square across the room.

Yday's show was good but it was the most tame and mellow Them Clones set I've ever heard - they played too many non-noize songs, but with the kinda crowd that turned up I guess there wasnt anythng else for them to do.

They did play stuff from their usual set list like "Sindrome", "My Life", "Zephyretta", "Ignite And Walk Away", "The Bomb Song" (my favourite TC song) - and the usual list of covers like U2's "Vertigo" and "(Pride) In The Name Of Love", Coldplay's "Yellow", RATM's "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" and "Killing In The Name Of" (which sparked off a headbanging frenzy)... and other originals too like "Awaken", "Find My Way", "In The Name Of God"...
oh and how could I forget the Disturbed cover "Stupify"? That was excellent fun headbanging to.

Anyway, great gig, I headbanged like mad and jumped like crazy - and me and Abhishek "The Snake" Majumdar and the Hoof gang moshed around (no I didnt break my glasses this time) - the moshing was pretty violent, but we took full advantage of the free entry - no security situation @ SPE ... so much so that you could see lines of worry and concern on the faces of the SPE staff

sorry Gautam :))

The Date: The 4th of August 2007
The Venue: Someplace Else
The Event: Pub Rock Fest 2007 - Day 2

1. The Supersonics kicked big ass last night. My love for this band increases 100 fold after each show of there's I watch. Their originals are some of the best in the rock circuit. Ya i know - lotsa ppl dont like them becoz they play a genre which is neither CLASSIC ROCK nor out-right HEAVY... bu they still manage to carry their stuff off with aplomb despite this fact. Very commendable - I have nothing but total respect for these guys doing what they do in Kolkata's sick music environment.

2. Mumshi as usual tore a string - which is something very normal during a Supersonics show. In fact he tore 2 strings - one each on both his usual and back-up guitar! Thats a record for him for sure.

3. But where Mumshi goes, Rohan is sure to follow... and so he kept him company by tearing 2 strings as well!

4. The crowd had however mainly come for Them Clones - it was packed to the brim. And for once I wish there could have been entry charges. The crowd was 50% @ SPE for the music and 50% were fuckin posers. Had to pick a few fights just to keep hold of our positions (front row)

5. Them Clones - what can I say? I love this band. I have never missed a show of their's in Kolkata. And I wasnt abt to miss this one. The show? It was a loud, pumped-up, full of energy show and the crowd went wild. Luckily there wasnt any moshing for once, but the headbanging was non-stop. It was a pre-dominantly originals set-list with songs like "Ignite And Walk Away", "Find My Way", "Zephyretta", "Sindrome", "My Life", "Follow The Prophet", "Awaken", "In The Name Of God", "Push", "Round", "Zoopertrip", "Wait For Me" and the ever excellent "THE BOMB SONG".

6. Ya they played a few covers too - U2, Coldplay, Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam.

7. This was maybe their best show in Kolkata out of the 5 they've played here. And if u missed it my condolences - more than likely u missed it becoz u cudnt enter due to the 100s of shitty ass-hole pseudo music lovers who were taking up unnecessary space inside.

Great night!

How I broke my glasses @ SPE (at a Cassini's show)

15th April 2007,
Someplace Else
A Cassini's Division show (which other show do you get so much action?)

It was an awesome show - just A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

We had it all - excellent originals, cool renditions of covers, and moments of sheer headbanging madness...

And I also managed to get Nepo up on the speakers with me and we did some serious jumping shit - it almost feels like bunjee jumping.

The best moment of the show - the part where we picked up Nepo and made him BODY-SURF during GLOWWORM - a 1st @ SPE... and this shit only happens @ a Cassini's Division show (good going Aveek, Ayan, Micky and some guy who's name I dont know who pitched a hand during the body-surfing incident - and good going ME ... did I leave anyone's name out here?)

And that is where I broke my glasses - got kicked in the face and pop, they fell on the floor and cracked. Anyway, luckily I cud reach home safely with one eye like a one-eyed samurai jack!

Oh and the screaming was major - courtesy Shaapla - she let loose a sonic boom in my ear as well, I almost went deaf for a second.

And birthday dedications galore - to Nobby, Mumshi (of the supersonics) and mister salsa Hitesh who's back in town... Kryptonite for him!

The crowd went wild - the momentum picked up slowly but surely here... its days like these that make me proud to be a hard-core Cassini's Division fan... no other band in Kolkata can turn a crowd of music lovers into a crazy bunch of maniacs!