Gig Review: Rock Ethos 2009 (Bangalore)

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Infernal Wrath at Rock Ethos 2
Infernal Wrath at Rock Ethos 2

Bangalore is a pretty well behaved city. It is cultured, mannered and law abiding. Maybe that’s why when the cops say shut shop; we do it without a lot of revolt. Yes, there have been lots of strong opinions in the past, but that’s the highest level of protest to the vulgar suppression of our musical freedom.

That’s how Rock Ethos ended on this year, with Myndsnare being cut short of their set list at 10 in the night. 10 p.m. does seem a little odd, because the last time I checked, curfew orders were in place in Mangalore. 10 p.m. also happens to be when I get off my afternoon shift at work on weekdays. But thankfully, Myndsnare, being the pros that they are, finished two songs without a break in between and got off stage without a fuss. The crowd left with a sour taste in their mouth but with memories of a rain drenched mind blowing event spread over two complete days.

Let’s begin with Day One. First up on stage for the entire event was supposed to be Lost Creation. Sadly for them, one of their members enshrined the place with his absence, causing the band to not play at all. This left a lot of people disappointed as the audience was eager to watch them, thanks to their recent series of wins all over the place. The lead guitarist of Abandoned Agony was also to play for these guys, but unfortunately, Lost Creation did lose out on a good show.

Next up was Today’s Special – a classic rock inspired band. The group had quite an enjoyable set of fun-filled originals, which included a song about food (‘aloo tikki’, to be precise). The band’s high point- definitely the guitarist. His solos came out effortlessly, and the bassist too, put up a real good show. She has got to be one of the best bass players in the city as of now. Vocals were good too, and notes were correctly hit, while simple drumming lines were executed to perfection. But the saddest thing about their set was that they played for around twenty people, including the sound guys. This was the case till late evening, when audience count went up to 500 and more during the latter part of the day.

The feel-good-fellas, the Schikados then took the stage, playing their variety of jazz and blues, enthralling the crowd. They are indeed a very pleasurable band to watch, with the whole line up doing their bit the only way they can do them- brilliantly.

For some sad reason Rock Ethos never saw Culminant (thrash metal), taking stage as their drummer and the second guitarist turned up late. The wait was quite some trouble for the few who’d come to watch the event early, and thus, another good band lost out on another good opportunity. Tsk tsk.

Then came Ec{c}entric Pendulum, the six-month new, old school technical/ progressive/ thrash death band from Bangalore. You must’ve read about these guys on Headbangers India earlier. The group, actually, almost-supergroup, features musicians who have been part of Inner Sanctum, Extinct Reflections, Spitfire and Asylum in the past. The group also released their EP during Rock Ethos. Performance-wise, they put up a 30 minute set of assorted technical metal, mixed with a sort of awkward non- headbangable time signatures. The group members know their music, and the skill was pretty much apparent. They could have been tighter, but then again, they’re relatively new. And surely one of those bands that will make it big. Keep an eye open!

Ston’d took the stage next. These guys have been gradually climbing up, and recently nearly hit the peak by making it through the finals of ‘Saraang’ and being judged by Opeth. The vocalist was as brutal as ever (he would’ve done great… in fact, better in a brutal death metal band if you’d ask me).
The drummer was efficient, but he needs to tighten up his act a bit more. Both the guitarists, however, played some delicious riffs and the bass lines were significant and sat well into the songs.

Other bands for the day were the “bigger” ones. Illuminati, another fun-rock group were extremely tight. The vocalist, as he always does, set the stage on fire (sorry for the cliché, but he really did!). The chemistry between band members made them play well, have fun, and give the audience a good time as well. The band’s new guitarist did a good job with the backing vocals as well. A round of applause please.

Galeej Gurus went up next. They’ve been around for a while, and they have their set of fans who follow them around. They are kinda old and been-around-for-too-long to be judged, if you know what I mean.

Kryptos! What else can you expect from one of India’s best ever bands. We all love these guys, and for obvious reasons. With every show, Kryptos only gets tighter and much much better.

Mumbaiites Infernal Wrath were the surprise package for the first day. Most of us had last watched them perform at IIM-B and when compared to that, this set at Rock Ethos was very different. The music was very Indian-classical influenced, and backing vocals added a very mystical feel to the entire show. The band brought out some non-conventional instruments, accompanied by extremely non-conventional, yet interesting sounds. Infernal Wrath threw in a couple of acoustic numbers too. And all this before the blast beats began. After that, it was just plain heavy. A great end to a great day one.

Day Two began with Catalyst taking stage. The band is very tight, deriving influences marginally from Nightwish, among others. They could do with some lessons on stage presence though. Not that it would mean a lot of headbanging or rolling on the floor riffing. But then again, who would they display more energy for? The 50 people odd crowd in the blistering heat?

5 AM were 9 hours late, playing at 2pm in the afternoon. (That’s a joke, by the way. Thanks Arpan.) They were pretty slow to start off, but I guess that is what happens if you’re playing your first show in 8 months. They also brought with them a keyboardist, only for this show. Lead guitars could’ve been better though. A mix of progressive and alternative rock, this band certainly has places to go, with more shows in a smaller span of time, hopefully.

Next came Abandoned Agony, a bunch of ‘machas’ playing brutal “dead” metal, as I-don’t-know-shit-about-metal-or-anything-else weirdly dressed emcee Divya classified them, belted out some heavy originals and got the crowd back on their toes. A few more well rehearsed shows and this group too should make it big.

Other bands that performed were Shamans, Theorized, White Noiz and Slain. From what I know by experience, these above mentioned bands have always delivered when asked to and have made a lasting impression on everyone and anyone who watched them. Theorized have been working hard, and it really showed. Slain too was as tight, as involved and as lively as ever. A mention of vocalist Judah’s “Raise your Mother GIVEN hands in the air”, though. Fantastic improvisation on that one.

Divine Connection was next in queue. They are a gospel rock band from Nagaland (which is in India by the way, so they’re not “Chinkies”). Brilliant and tight would be an understatement for these guys. Putting them in the show was also a good decision by the organizers. Just when they were about to finish, the clouds opened up, making the whole thing seem like an actual Divine Intervention. This is about when the crowd got restless and started chanting “as*h*le” for no apparent reason.

The rain played spoilsport for about half an hour odd, but luckily, a rock concert doesn’t have a pitch inspection and super soppers being plied. Motherjane took stage while the rain was still on and mothered the living day lights out of the crowd, which had been soaked to the bone by the unrelenting rain. The PA was cut off, but the sounds from on stage amps and speakers was still way better than the sounds DNA has been providing us Bangaloreans over the various concerts. “Broken” and “Chasing the Sun” were by far the crowd’s favorites on that Sunday evening. Writing anymore about a band of Motherjane’s stature is undermining their talent and their dedication. Criticizing is out of the equation and praising the quality is far out of reach of my capabilities. Our weirdly dressed, weird being, however, came out, and appreciated the “mushing” going on in the crowd. (See, she just HAD to prove that stupidity came naturally to her.)

Bhayanak Maut, the band from Bombay, descended upon stage amidst chants of Baiju, the lead guitarist of Motherjane. Our Bombay brothers, of course mistook it for something else and were a bit taken aback. Again, weirdly dressed weird being, introduced Rahul of Maut as the “Drum Machine” we all were waiting for. BM started off with “Habemus Paapum” but unfortunately, the song ended with Venky’s string breaking. The Drum Machine broke into a drum solo, with Vinit chipping in on his bass. The band resumed in 5, and were a little loose, given the disruption to their set. The new addition to their band, a second vocalist, Sunny from Amidst the Chaos, was following Vinay, growl for growl, note for note. It probably needs a little more getting used to, as one is more inclined to see Vinay take over the stage with his menacing and really awesome stage act. The band, clearly though, didn’t have one of their better nights.

Myndsnare, as mentioned in the beginning, were fast, brutal, technical and tight, all in 10 minutes. This, with KP spending most of the day wearing a neck brace. Their set list ended with the cops belting out some music of their own. Being bribed isn’t enough, they have to get free red bull too.

The show organizers must be appreciated for the concert. It’s tough to organize a free show at such a magnitude and one must be very thankful of the fact that Buenos and V&P sounds have created one of the legends in Bangalore’s rock/metal music scene. Kudos to the Buenos team for having spent so much time on an event that will, in the future be their ticket to fame, if not already. Arpan and VT have to be acknowledged along with Vishnu of V&P for their unquestionable commitment towards the cause of live & original music in Bangalore.

Up those horns, mothers.

-Psychobabble and Arun

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