‘A Fair Judgement’- The Saarang Experience

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This 2009, IIT’s ‘Saarang’ proved itself to be much more than a mere college fest.

Thanks to Opeth, a lot of us made the campus our temporary home for that weekend in January. And what a weekend it was!
The semi-pro bands competed in ‘Decibels’, which was held on the 24th, Saturday, first on a stage-aspiring-pedestal, and later on in the Open Air Theatre. At the competition, it seemed like funk/rock bands from Chennai were competing with metal bands from Bangalore. There was a very small range of genres, and not many groups from elsewhere in the country either. Nevertheless, we had a good time despite the sun and the shrieking groupies. Sound was pretty good, but as always, something went wrong for a few unlucky performers, and a few unlucky audience members, sitting near the speakers. (We sure hope the ringing in your ears has disappeared).

If you are wondering why the review is so vague, it’s because we were interrupted midway to attend the press conference with Opeth. A good handful of fans caught their first glimpse of the Swedes and interacted with them at the conference hall, adorned with pictures of the old-lineup. (Organisers ought to have been more careful about that. It was embarrassing!)

The band was badgered with questions about how they compose their music, who they are inspired by etc. Mikael and the guys patiently answered even the silliest of queries, throwing in a pinch of wit and humour here and there. (I still wonder if ABBA is aware of what they’ve given the heavy metal world!) Opeth however, made sure to not let out the set-list, making the wait for the final concert a lot more excruciating!

And the press conference ended with a show of horns.

Continuing with Decibels. Finalists played the same evening at the O.A.T. and were judged by Opeth.

The merit list goes this way:

Blood and Iron (Chennai)
E-Flat (Chennai)
Skrat (Chennai)
The Previous Band (Bangalore)
Stond (Bangalore)

Inner Sanctum (Bangalore) played an all-original set, and were tight as hell, but didn’t make it to the finals. The man upstairs also seems a little perplexed, so, the judges owe us a reasonable explanation.

Blood and Iron and Stond were the only two metal bands in the list, and both were fairly good. Both bands had great vocalists, and were also popular with the crowd, largely comprised of metalheads. The Previous Band attempted to be different, but only got annoying. Skrat, non-metal, were alright, but E-Flat, the grand winners, took the cake. The band, which was a wild card entry from the college level competition, stood out with their new sound and good stage presence. Off and on, they did sound a little sloppy, but the guys did manage to impress Opeth. So, congratulations fellas.

Honestly, more than the competition itself, the participants and 60% of the audience had come to see the judges, and didn’t go back disappointed.

Sunday, 25th January, started off with the wait for the autograph session. Metalheads began to filter into the campus, startling the freely wandering deer. The signing session, which was to start at around 1 p.m. went according to Indian Standard Time and began at 4ish. The queues were long and tempers flared when the orange-capped security tried messing with impatient fans. But the signatures and photographs at the end of it, made up for everything.

(Security, please note- we still hate you.)

Then, the grand finale. The concert was brilliant, but the sponsors and the MC ruined the mood. However grateful we are to you for bringing the band down, we will never forgive you for that circus act you interrupted the show with. You pushed it a bit too far this time.

Sound was alright, and thanks to Mr. Murphy, had to screw up during ‘Drapery Falls’. Stage setup was simple and non-distracting. Conclusion- A killer show and what an awesome bunch of guys.

The team behind ‘Saarang’- Headbangers India salutes you. Thanks for bringing us Opeth. How about Lamb of God next year? We can give you a kinder review in that case!

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