Guest Author: Prakash Rajgopal ( the guy in the Gulshan Grover beard).
BENGALURU, Bangalore or just same ol’ BANGY. Oh how fortunate art thee to have been the soil which played host to Rock in India. How golden is thy spirit to have seen history in the making!The biggest International Rock Festival India has ever seen! Nine bands! Two headlining acts! The chance to get 8 hours of thrash/hard rock drilled into metal heads! What a mouth-watering prospect! Which genuine rock enthusiast would miss such a historic event? One of the top four metal acts in the world, Megadeth was playing in India. Yes, MEGADETH!! It was the last leg of their United Abominations Tour Of Duty. March 14, 2008. Palace Grounds, Bangalore. After a month of eager anticipation since booking the tickets, the day had finally arrived! We all HAD to be there to witness it. And we did!
We (my friend Harshal and I) reached the venue well ahead of time, at 1 pm. As we arrived at the venue and were waiting for the gates to open, we could hear some sound checks going on inside. There were already some people loitering around, most of them wearing black tees. I could see lots of Maiden’s, some Slipknot’s, Children Of Bodom’s, Nirvana’s around along with the usual Megadeth ones. We also saw a girl and a guy walking in, with the girl wearing a Megadeth tee, and the guy wearing a… hold your breath… 50 Cents!! Yo mama, he was right in da club!!! I also saw a guy wearing a Master Of Puppets tee. I wonder what became of him. Soon, Sujoy arrived with his gang just in time for the gates to open, and we headed inside. There were two stages on the venue. A smaller stage that was meant for the Indian bands, and a bigger one up front, obviously for Megadeth and Machine Head .
Here’s a run-up of all the bands in the order of their appearances:
1. Casino Blues: The band from Guwahati formed by Joshua, the lead singer of the Independence Rock winner band-Faith. They might’ve rued the fact that their’s was the first act of the day. With the scorching sun was beating down everybody’s necks, most of the people preferred taking shelter in the shady corners of the ground to avoid being burnt. The band had some catchy numbers. But they didn’t catch enough attention. Enough said.
Sujoy’s Verdict: Joshua has got strong vocals, but it got sunburnt.
This Delhi-based band sure knows how to get people’s attention! They started their act with the intro of Holy Wars, and that got everybody kicked up and in the mood to rock!! They belted out most of their popular originals. They were very tight. A special mention for their lead guitarist. The solos were blazing fast, and he ripped apart the whole venue! The guitarist might’ve used all the existing guitar techniques from tapping to sweep-picking. Super-talented. But the special mention is for another reason. His mannerisms were all Kirk Hammett-inspired. I mean, Kirk Hammett would’ve been proud seeing his antics on stage and would’ve taken him under his wings! Whether intentional or not, only he can tell.
Sujoy’s Verdict: Best Indian Metal band I have ever seen live. Hint: I haven’t seen Bhayanak Maut perform live.
3. Junkyard Groove:
I’d heard a lot about this band. They had participated in the recently-concluded Channel V Launchpad. Let’s get to their music. What Prestorika lacked, Junkyard Groove made up for big time. Melody. The songs they performed were really melodic and got the crowd cheering, asking for more. The band’s stage presence was amazing. Especially the singer was great at interacting with the crowd, making wise cracks now and then. He also got the crowd to sing along to their well-known track “It’s OK”. In one instance, the singer said, “Say something. Say We love you, Fuck off! Say anything!”. Some attitude, and alcohol for sure. The drummer, IMO, was the best of the lot. His off-beat classical style drumming was effortless.
Sujoy had earlier mentioned about the unusually long fingers of their bassist! His bass guitar too was quite different in shape. Okay, let’s stop at that.
Verdict: Very Good
Sujoy’s Verdict: Ladies n Gentlemen, Vee are Jungayaarrd Groove. Welcome ..Wannakam! Vee khickd yur asses. Yuu know that!
A little history first. This band is based out of God’s own country (that’s Kerala, for the lesser mortals). So it’s a rock band comprising of all Mallus. I don’t have anything against their community (hell, I’m a southie myself). But it’s just that one cannot picture Mallu’s playing rock. I blame Lola Kutty’s sidekick Alex for this. Anyway, I had never heard about Motherjane before. When they arrived on stage to get plugged, I thought both the guitarists could certainly use a makeover. Sporting bushy moustaches that looked Mallu-ish from every angle, they were dressed in really “simble” attire, and were very unassuming. We joked that when not playing, to earn a living these guys must definitey be fishing or rowing boats in the Kerala backwaters (Damn you Alex!!).
Well, we had to eat our words, and how!! Right from the first note, we were all blown away! Motherjane’s music sounded like an amalgamation of hard-hitting rock and mellow carnatic classical music! What an orgasmic combination it was!! Each song sounded like it had bettered the previous one. Quite amazing! Although one guitarist (Mr. bushy moustache) did take prominence, I can absolutey not label the other guitarist as a pure rhythm guitarist. Their guitar solo’s were laced with carnatic raaga-style pieces, and lots of harmonic ones which had to be played by both guitarists. Both complimented each other very well. Their song ‘Mindstreet’ still lingers on in my mind. The way they started the song with the carnatic piece really gave me goosebumps! This was easily the best act on that day among the Indian bands.
Sujoy’s Verdict: Since IIT Guwahati’s Alcheringa 2006, I hadn’t heard of what happened to Motherjane. Two years later, they rocked not as hard as what they did then. They rocked hardER.
5. Thermal And A Quarter:6. Millennium:
We chose to give these bands a miss, and went off to grab a bite. But we were hearing them play, and we thought we weren’t missing anything great.
Sujoy’s take: Long queue at the Men’s Loo. Killed time by taking the Pic below and chuckling. Also showed to everyone around.
7. Pentagram: The last of the Indian bands to perform on the day. One thing that struck everyone about their act was that it wasn’t completely live. Most of their song parts sounded pre-recorded and were played from source. To add to this, their singer (Vishal from the Vishal-Shekhar composer duo) was jumping around with all his might and his enormous belly!! That was some sight not worth beholding! Their songs sounded like some alternative-techno-rock-punk junk. I saw a couple behind that were dancing salsa-jive to their songs while we were trying to make sense out of them. We were just looking at each other in disbelief. Here’s Pentagram, one of India’s leading bands, and what do they come play?! Pretty unimaginative stuff.
Sujoy’s Verdict:4u Vishal- Tera Paao Bhari Ho Gaya, Tera Paao Bhari Ho Gaya. 4 Pentagram-please stop churning out the processed noise aka shit aka bullshit aka Pentagram.
Alright, we said. Enough of the Indian bands. It was finally the turn of the real metal messiah’s to take centerstage. More people trickled in now, and the crowd gradually moved over to the main bigger stage. It seemed as if the heavenly gods were also a mood to headbang. The weather took a turn for the better. It became overcast, a cool breeze was running across the grounds, and a stunning lightning display played in the skies right behind the stage. The setting was perfect!! We were ready!!
But sadly it appeared as if the sound guys weren’t. There are some things you should really struggle to do at a heavy metal gig. Carrying out a conversation without blowing out your lungs should definitely be one of them. Well. when Machine Head and Megadeth came out to play, the sound system seemed to have a mind of its own. The volume kept going up and down, and the sound kept panning right and left. Hell, the Indian bands sounded louder and better than these guys. Anyway!
8. Machine Head: I had heard only two of their songs way back in college. Songs whose names too I had long forgotten. Machine Head shredded and shredded. Their solo’s were incredibly fast. I yearned for some melody in their songs. But they came and shredded the place down.
Verdict: Above Average
Sujoy’s Verdict: Why can’t I hear the guitars, or the drums or the vocals. I can hear him complain about the marijuana smoke from the front row. Damn you Penta’hose’gram. You played so damn loud. Now I can’t hear what I came to listen.
9. Megadeth: I couldn’t believe I was seeing Dave Mustaine in person. Megadeth played some of songs from their latest album United Abominations, and many of their popular ones like In The Darkest Hour, Skin Of My Teeth, Symphony Of Destruction, Tornado Of Souls. Dread And The Fugitive Mind wasn’t played, ading to the disappointment of a lot of people.
I’ve always felt it takes great skill to sing while executing some of those wrist-bending riffs, and Mustaine showed why he is one of the best! He was flawless in his solo’s and played them almost exactly the way they appear on the records. Chris Broderick, the new lead guitarist, was a tad disappointing though. No doubt, he was exceptionally talented, what with Mustaine drawing analogies between him finding Chris to Ozzy finding Randy Rhodes. But he seemed to lose control and fly away while playing some solo’s, and didn’t interact with the crowd very much. Probably the long tour must’ve taken its toll. But Marty was sorely missed.
They also did their Holy Wars/Mechanix mash-up which they have been doing recently at other concerts. Overall, although Megadeth were awesome, the sound screwed it all up. Mustaine’s closing words would be in memory for some time atleast: “You’ve been great, we’ve been Megadeth!”.
Sujoy’s take: It is a bad BAD thing to play and fuck around with the sound console during a concert. It’s considerable if it’s a Pune gig, punishable if it’s I-Rock, and sinful if it’s the Gods who are playing. I could hear someone shift the balance from left to right to left again. That was actually all that I could hear. Not the vocals of Mustaine, not the shreds of his guitar and not the bullets fired from the Drums. Damn you..whoever responsible.
Sujoy concludes: The skies were with us. It was dark and the clouds were roaring for Metal. They flashed the lightnings. They roared like they should. But then, nothing else could roar or was disabled from roaring. I am rocked to the core, but I still got some more room to be rocked. Boo you sound guys. Now you lady, I am cheering you to bunjee-jump.
PJ of the Day: What do you call a girl who is bunjee jumping? Think! Think! Wink! Wink!
Answer: Bundee Jumping.
Extension of the prior joke: Courtesy Praxy:- What do you call an elderly lady who is bungee jumping? Think.
Answer: Behenjee Jumping.
Overall, it was an average concert. It was really heartening to see all the Indian bands perform. It showcased the abundant talent that we have in our country. I also thought Megadeth playing with so many other bands on the same day wasn’t really a good idea. They appeared like just another band that came and went. Something other major bands would probably never do. Aerosmith’s June 2 concert at the same venue would definitely rate way higher than this one. (Save it. Not debatable at all!).
And now that Megadeth’s come and gone, it’s definitely time for a certain metal band to take note and consider touring India. DNA Networks, get the clue.
And now for the Winners of the Rock in India concert. Ladies ani Gentlemen, please applaud- OneKnightStands with Boras.