Thursday, January 22, 2009

A musical diary - non-stop gigging at my age!

Haven't blogged in ages - laziness is one of the main reasons why. Anyway, I thought I'd re-blog again and what better a topic than music - and it's been a very very busy week-end in January:

15th of January
The 1st Crystal & The Witches gig that I missed in Kolkata - blame my office commitments! (I was to follow up this miss with another one – on the 21st of January to be precise... midnight gigs during a week-day are NOW a strict no-no for me!)

But whatever, from the reports I got, it was a wild night @ Princeton and the show had to end after just an hour after the inevitable moshing led to the speakers falling on top of Diwash’s processor (or some shit like that – don’t remember the exact details actually, the info being all 2nd hand!)

16th of January (day)
A total drain-out for me.

I have been helping out Safire for the last couple of months (not as a manager, more as a “big-brother” advisor), and I promised to bunk half a day at work to help them out at their prelims @ Campus Rock Idols 2009. But it turned out to be more than just half a day!

The prelims were to start at 8 AM, but as always me and the band didn’t reach the Ultadanga venue before 10 AM (the delay being mainly due to procuring of valid documents like birth certificates and college IDs and college permissions etc. etc. – a huge pain in the ass if you ask me). Anyway, the prelims were excellent fun and the number of bands participating was staggering. Only 8 were to be selected.

Cutting to the chase – WEAPON SHOP and GRAVY THEORY were brilliant. 2 of the best young bands in Kolkata for sure. The goth metallers DREAM DIABOLIC were out of this world, and metal at this level has rarely been heard in Kolkata, especially at the college level. A band to look out for in the future.

SAFIRE with a new drummer were silky smooth, which took me by surprise because I had apprehensions about how they would fare. But they nailed the prelims.

SINFUL OATH was very good too, though loose in patches. Deeptaroop on drums did a very good job. A melodic death metal band, they have been very consistent throughout the college competition circuit this year. A band to check out, if they can stick it together.

As were GLASS ONION, always a pleasure to listen to them. Not many young bands play the kind of music they do, which definitely makes them a unique act.

And THE CYNICAL RECESS – with possibly one of the best vocalists in the entire Kolkata rock circuit, Abhishek Gurung. Most people say they get goose-bumps when they hear him sing – and while that certainly does not happen to me, I will concede that vocal-wise he would give even most established singers a good run for their money.

I would be happy to say that out of the 8, I kind of managed to predict 7 correctly (the ones above). The 8th band however was a complete surprise – ALBATROSS. I didn’t quite like them very much, no disrespect to any of the band members. I think they are a talented bunch of musicians, and their vocalist was impressive indeed (reminded me of Dani Filth!) but I thought there were better bands on the day.

Bands which were very good but did not qualify – PENNY DROPS BANDS, KREMATORY and CHRONIC XORN deserve a special mention. PENNY DROPS being a punk/emo band, they had a very fresh sound and I thought that would work in their favour – unfortunately it didn’t. I could not understand the judges take on this, and I would love to know why THE PENNY DROPS BAND missed out.

Being predominantly a metal lover, it was appalling to see the judges putting their fingers in their ears when any of the metal bands play. I wonder how they were allowed to be judges if their musical tolerance level was so low.

CHRONIC XORN in my opinion was probably one of the tightest bands that performed @ the prelims. Unfortunately, being a brutal death metal band, the judges could NOT tolerate anything that they dished out. Very sad, since this band was a Zonal finalist @ CRI 2008 – and their NOT making the final 8 was indeed a big surprise. You might not like their music but no one can say they are a bad band – and a very tight one too. Their drummer Tamaghna (along with Deeptaroop and DIOT B’s Niloy) form a triumvirate of Metal Bashers. It’s good fun watching them play.

16th of January (night)
The action wasn’t over – one of Kolkata’s most talented young bands was performing @ La Dolce Vita – HOOF HOOEY.

Performers at the Calcutta Rock Festival (2007) and bagging a 3rd place at last year’s Time Youth festival (their high points) - this band has broken up and reunited and gone on a break so many times that I have lost count. But it finally looks like they are getting their act together. And I was looking forward to their 1st full-length gig, albeit a pub gig.

And they did not disappoint.

In one word the HOOF was awesome. Playing their punk and emo driven originals (and a few covers thrown in for good measure), HOOF HOOEY systematically decimated the small gathering that had turned up. And the best part was listening to them deconstruct 2 major pop super-hits and have them played in “HOOF HOOEY” style: SHANIA TWAIN’s “You’re The One I Want” and CELINE DION’s “My Heart Will Go On” – the band totally massacred these 2 songs and churned them out brand new. It was awesome to hear them do that!

If you want to check out some good clean music, then HOOF HOOEY is a band to look out for. I believe they will be playing off and on @ LDV, so watch out for their shows.

17th of January
The CRI Regional finals followed by the CRI Eastern Zonal Finals – and in between performances by SKINNY ALLEY and F.L.I.

Lets go straight to the CRI Regionals 1st.

GLASS ONION were the 1st band up – and being the 1st band up is always a disadvantage, trying to get the sound balanced properly et al. I am no musician but common-sense tells me that all the subsequent bands get to learn from the goof-ups of the 1st band and that helps them to smooth out any rough edges during their slots. So GLASS ONION was the sacrificial lamb here – despite a pretty good 15 minutes, and vocalist Piu did a great job.

GRAVY THEORY faced sound problems too – but I found them to be very tight and thoroughly enjoyed their performance. In fact I was predicting them as one of the top 3 finalists. Their original “Wait and Watch” was superb – btw these guys were playing with a temp bassist: Rohit from the band PSEUDONYM, and he had just 3 rehearsals, or so I believe, to pick up the Gravy songs.

ALBATROSS were nice but I wasn’t expecting them to go very far because the competition was tough.

SINFUL OATH totally mucked up their slot with an average performance. But being metal, they got the crowd going full-on. They could have done a lot better though. Anyway, sometimes you have a bad day.

WEAPON SHOP nailed it with their originals – "Burnout" is a very good song, a very CREED-like composition. Their guitarist Adil, bassist Sowmya and vocalist Ishan had a very good day.

SAFIRE blew me away – my kids were awesome on stage despite their pre-show hiccups. I kind of knew they would be up there if not within the top 3 itself. Their original “Song For You” sounded excellent that day.

DREAM DIABOLIC got the crowd going the moment their set started – and they had the best stage act as well.

THE CYNICAL RECESS was good – but there too many glitches with the sound towards the initial phase of their slot, which didn’t help the band at all.

Anyway, the results were not very surprising – DREAM DIABOLIC, WEAPON SHOP and SAFIRE in that order.

Many felt THE CYNICAL RECESS and/or GRAVY THEORY were the unlucky ones, and yes I would think so too – but the level of competition was so tight this time that it was probably a fair result all around. Anyway, people will have their opinions.

In between there was a massively entertaining gig by SKINNY ALLEY and I must say, this was probably the best SKINNY ALLEY show I have attended – well the one I have enjoyed the most, at least. Their rendition of Welcome To The Machine (Pink Floyd) in their own SKINNY style was absolutely brilliant – and hardly what a Pink Floyd purist would have enjoyed listening to - but who gives a damn!

The Zonal Finals were a lukewarm affair – more metal this time around (the 3 Shillong finalists were all heavy bands): DIGITAL SUICIDE, NATIVE RULZ and MELODRAMA.

The Kolkata bands actually did very bad INCLUDING SAFIRE. It was probably the worst I have seen them perform - but with a new drummer, they would have managed to have only gone so far. Getting to the Zonals was an achievement in itself. Anyway, they were no good in the Zonals, but this is nothing to get disheartened about. These kids do know they can do better so I look forward to seeing them with a bit more polish and flair next time.

WEAPON SHOP and DREAM DIABOLIC all looked tired on stage – as did SAFIRE. Playing on Friday and twice on Saturday must have taken a toll on them because they looked anything BUT fresh. I think DREAM DIABOLIC was pretty good in the Zonals, but it did look like they were going through the motions – there wasn’t much feel in their stage act. And the same could be said of WEAPON SHOP, although the band did seem happy with their performance.

Of the North-Eastern bands, NATIVE RULZ would have probably won the best hair-style prize (drummer and vocalist looked like they were sporting Mohawks) but they played very monotonous thrash metal. Not very interesting.

DIGITAL SUICIDE did well – I can’t however remember anything of their slot. They played tight and their tunes sounded nice, but that’s about it. Anyway, to make a long story short they came in 2nd from the East Zone. I would believe that they pipped DREAM DIABOLIC to the 2nd slot – I was rooting for the latter, and I thought they’d be amongst the rank-holders, which was eventually not to be.

The best band (no questions asked) was MELODRAMA – they were excellent. Tight metal-core originals and a good stage act. And they played one cover: ARCH ENEMY’s “Dead Eyes See No Future” – it was a total earth shatterer, that one. Great young band, good potential – hope they manage to strike it big @ the CRI finals in Hyderabad.

The last guest performance was by FIVE LITTLE INDIANS (F.L.I.) with their new bassist Panku (LAKKHICHHARA/URBAN REFLECTIONS... but you knew that already!)

By the time the band got up on stage most of the crowd had left – it was late by the standard of most youngsters. They unfortunately missed a pretty good show.

This was my 2nd FLI gig – the 1st one @ Someplace Else during the Pubrock Fest was memorable more for non-musical reasons – most people (me included) were attending out of the curiosity factor – getting to see 5 well-known musicians from the Kolkata circuit isn’t an everyday affair after all.

But on Saturday it was all about the music – freed of the obvious “pub” restrictions, the FLI went ahead and churned out a tight and excellent performance. At SPE the original I liked the most was ”Go”, but after listening to them this time around I’d have to do a toss-up between “Survive” and “Screaming At The Sun”. “Prodigy” was another excellent original. The contrasting vocal styles of Neel and Sayok on their songs worked for me – it was fun listening to them singing in tandem.

FLI don’t play very often – and they obviously prefer outdoor venues to pubs, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them @ Princeton or even LDV (or SPE, but not @ midnight please!) – cheers to the band.

So that was the 17th of January! Whew! What a long day.

18th of January
Still not over yet.

Sunday 6 PM @ Someplace Else – GRAVY THEORY: one of my favourite young bands from the city.

It was probably their 1st proper gig ever ('till date it’s just been 10-15 minute college competition slots and 1 half-an-hour slot @ LDV during the memorable Halloween party)

These kids didn’t disappoint. This Sunday evening was like Diwali re-visited, an explosive performance.

Keeping their CRI disappointment on the back-burner, the Gravy guys went ahead and dished out original after cracking original – and by the time the show ended most of us were sweating! Special mention must be made of the following compositions: “One Man Dead”, “Wait And Watch”, “Read Me My Rights” and my all all-time favourite Gravy tune: “This Is My Disaster, Not Your’s” – wonderful song that!

And amongst the covers, well how could I NOT mention their kick-ass ZERO cover – PSP anyone?

Add to that their signature Popeye theme tune and a mish-mosh of GNR’s “Sweet Child Of Mine and BLINK 182’s “All The Small Things”… and there you have it – Gravy served fresh and hot!

ZERO from Mumbai, THEM CLONES from Delhi… it won’t be very long before GRAVY THEORY from Kolkata are put in the same bracket as these great bands. They have the potential – I just hope they have the luck and drive to sustain them on their journey, because, ladies and gentlemen, GRAVY THEORY is a very good band.

So that's done – my musical diary from the 15th to the 18th of January - anymore gigs to attend and I'd turn into a zombie. Music listening can be pretty tiring!


Growling Gore said...


Arunima said...

hey, So glad to see that you are blogging away to glory.

Came through an old post of mine. Somebody had commented that I have a fucked up attitude in that post. You said something nice and I came here. :-)

panu said...

Whats in your heaaaad........ in your heaaaaaaaad.... Zombie Zombie...Zombieeeeeeeee.......