Thursday, November 15, 2007

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!

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