I never wanted to be an astronaut in the 4th grade or a cricketer in middle school. Over years the only thing that grew in certainty was that I wanted to be a theoretical elementary particle physicist. But something that I am even more certain about is what I don’t want to be, and that is a cleaner at café Morrison as of the 31st May 2010, for the carnage I’d witness would be enough to want to take up a job at the West Ham Cemetery. Blood drops on the black granite, broken glass strewn on the floor, footprints on the couches and frames that used to house photos. Even Nathan Gale would look up from the inferno he’s rightly in and with an everlasting ambivalence; wonder whether he actually robbed the world of a legendary guitarist.
Enough with the cryptic circumlocution and on with what really happened. As scheduled the gig started at 8 p.m (read, 2130 hours) with no problem with entry (read: bouncers wouldn’t even let magazine correspondents in). The usual predicaments taken care of, the show seemed to commence with unabated verve, and for once, with a justified excess of one band’s t-shirts (guess who?). Proceedings were started by a thrash- hardcore outfit from the capital, aptly named ‘lycanthropia’. In a gig with an underlying theme of paying respects, an all original set was largely uninspired and in parts also lost cause and purpose. A commemorative track for #2, the pig, Paul Grey (bassist, Slipknot) got the crowd going. The overall sound had glitches with a few rough guitar patches and a loose rhythm section for a few compositions. To his credit, the vocalist managed to maintain the fans as well as the sound system, although his views on a mosh pit were a bit confusing. Some of the riffs were catchy and crunchy bass lines gave them a half-developed sound on which they can build. The set had some humour with a boy band parody and the band’s t-shirts showed that India’s merchandising is progressing just as fast as, if not faster than its music.
By the end of the opening band the authorities had intervened on numerous occasions and the Pantera covers were sporadic to everyone’s disgust. However, the upcoming set of Undying + Hollowcaust + guests & friends was as intricate in its line-up as in its renditions of the groove thrash classics. Starting with ‘Cowboys from Hell’ featuring the dual guitar attack of Gucci (them clones) and Ripple (decibel), Vicki (IIIrd sovereign) on bass and Shashank and Punty in their usual roles every goddamn inch of Morrison erupted in one enormous conflagration. Keeping the same setup for the next track, they belted out ‘This Love’ (don’t even think about Maroon 5). For the first of many insane permutations, Yuvraj and Reuben completed the UI rhythm section with Gucci keeping the axe strapped on. Luke (Artillerie) called for vocal assistance from a manic turnout for ‘5 Minutes Alone’ which, from atop a pile of miscellaneous refuse items a foot away from the drum kit was quite literally deafening. ‘A New Level’ saw the cosmic union of Undying Inc that went on for ‘yesterday don’t mean shit’. Biz raged one blistering signature after another for the people and the people on the shoulders of the said people and probably even the families eating on the second floor. In one of many quirks, ‘Walk’ had four vocalists with Shashank and Reuben (yes, their bassist) joined by Lalit (frequency) and Luke.
Stepping into the crowd from backstage, I saw there was a 3rd mosh pit (remember, this is a pub gig, not GIR) with cheeky beer spilling crack-a-jacks wreaking havoc. ‘Fucking hostile’ was a zenith, or at least it appeared so after a hammering. ‘Slaughtered’ got a hoard up on the tables and many more clobbering the neatly framed pictures of guitar heroes, probably in an unconscious attempt to solidify their love for Dimebag.
An hour and a half of the most acrimonious tones at any tribute on this side of the Atlantic culminated in a gripping version of ‘Domination’ with one jocular bouncer and many cleaners adding to the bandwagon with what they thought the chaos was all about.
‘Never before have so many owed so much, to so few’. Well they were more than just a few, a line up of Undying plus 6 guests in the form of Punty, Luke, Lalit, Ripple, Vicki and Gucci. A great quote from world history epitomizes the aura of Pantera, as manifest by the ten man wreck crew. It was night with more changes than the Argentinean football team in the World Cup qualifiers, but unlike the drag of Diego Maradona’s men, this was a panoramic spectacle.