Gig Review: Rock in India 2009 (Bangalore)

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Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden

Indian metalheads have just returned from their Mecca.

‘Rock in India’ 2009 happened in Bangalore on the 15th of February at the Palace Grounds. This year was more of a ‘rock’ festival than the previous year, and had an equally good line up of performances. How good the bands were is another issue. However, it was a day of celebration of the heavy metal lifestyle and we loved it.

‘Rock in India’ is not just called a festival. Apart from the main concert(with two stages), there was bungee jumping, booze and a row of stalls that sold food, food, music and some more food. There was also a photo exhibition sort of thing (I’d like to know someone who went in there) and a tattoo parlour. Gates opened almost half an hour later than scheduled, and the bands started off at around 2:30PM.

First up was Slain, winners of Strawberry Fields ’07 and the country’s upcoming rockers. They were the Vonamor band, and won the competition that had taken place the previous day in Palace Grounds, beating favourites like Inner Sanctum and Theorized to the opening slot. Slain had some new originals in store for the evening (actually, afternoon) and put up a tight show. Dress coded as always, the boys were a refreshing start to the festival.

The winners of Campus Rock Idols, Abraxas, were on next. High on the influence of Lamb of God, these kids started the growls for the evening. They played a couple of originals and even covered ‘Hourglass’. They weren’t brilliant, but the kids had talent, and that was evident. And it is definitely a major achievement that they, being a metal band, managed to win CRI.

Then came Synaps. A band that has been around for such a long time shouldn’t be playing covers, let alone start the act with them. But of course, the guys played RATM and got the adolescents in the crowd attempting a moshpit. They even tried to get away by lifting Slipknot’s tactic of making the crowd “jump the fuck up” but hey! We’ve watched the DVD too!

Cyanide Serenity, U.K. based death metal band, were the next to perform. It seems to have become a trend for metal bands today to bring up Bush’s name, and this group too started off with an anti-Bush chant. Their stuff was decent, with a very Pantera-inspired vocalist and a real good drummer.  It was the band’s first ever show, and for that, they were great.

Our very own Kryptos came on stage after Cyanide Serenity, and boy! They ruled that part of the evening. Guitarist Rohit seemed to be melting in his leather outfit, but that was no spirit crusher. In the span of 20 odd minutes, Kryptos proved to us how they’ve gained all the international acclaim.

De Profoundis was next in queue, but after the previous act, didn’t really impress. The group was a little sloppy at parts, but impressed their own little fanclub who enjoyed the show standing up in front.

Lauren Harris a.k.a. the-chick-who-can’t-sing-to-save-her-life-and-is-getting-away-riding-on-her-father’s-glory, was up next. It’s surprising how bad she gets with each passing show. She has none of her father’s genes, and is just going around the world (on tour) making sure everyone knows that.

After one annoying performance, came another ghastly one. Brandon Ashley and the Silver Bugs. They had a dancing cheerleader on stage! That should speak volumes about their music too. Eardrum murderers.

A favourite of the evening was Parikrama. And they have reason to be so. The group has gotten better with age, and played a couple of brand new songs at this concert. The violinist caused an uproar of appreciation again, and the act was, in all, bliss after the Silver Bug circus troupe.

Finally, at 7.40 pm, the lights went off. Those who had been lazing around at the back hurried up to the front, and “Maiden! Maiden!” choruses began. And suddenly, the LCD screens near the stages came on with the trailer of ‘Flight 666’, the Maiden movie. Squeals and shouts got louder, and boom! ‘Aces High’ started the trip somewhere back in time. There is nothing in the entire world that can ever match that feeling of ecstasy (no puns here) you go through when you see your favourite band on stage.

And thus began the pilgrimage. One by one, the band belted out one classic after another. ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘2 minutes to midnight’ were songs we expected them to play, but the excitement multiplied when surprises like ‘Children of the Damned’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ came our way. Sound was a little disappointing because levels of guitars and vocals kept fluctuating. At times, I felt my singing along was louder than Bruce’s voice. Even guitars were at times, just about audible. Overall, sound was alright, but it should have been a little more balanced and also slightly louder.

‘The Trooper’ had to be part of the setlist, and energy bundle Bruce romped around on stage with the flag, driving the audience crazy. One will not understand the fanaticism unless the music is in their blood. The non-stop hit parade continued till 9.50 with ‘Wasted Years’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Rime of the ancient mariner’, ‘Run to the hills’, and of course, ‘Fear of the dark’ and ‘Hallowed be thy name’. They then led on to, like they have been doing in all their concerts, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Number of the beast’ and ‘The evil that men do’. The group concluded with ‘Sanctuary’ and disappeared, leaving the crowd craving for a surprise re-entry, which, by the way, did not happen.

The ‘Somewhere back in time’ tour truly brought back all those days of listening to Iron Maiden cassettes, much before most of us graduated to heavier metal. From start to finish, this particular band did not show any dip in energy levels. Our beloved mascot Eddie too made a robotic brief appearance on stage, and the entire bunch of aging British metalheads kept the entire pilgrim mass bobbing and jumping. Their stage presence, the playlist, and the feeling of having watched them again took a good chunk of us to heaven and back.

The show could have been a little longer, and with the fireworks as Bruch had mentioned, if not for our beloved cops. It is only in our democracy that we need to have spoilt sports in every sphere of existence. They were also probably the reason why the band didn’t stop to chat between every song.

But what can keep us going is that they have promised to return with the tour of their new studio album.  We’ve won their hearts, ladies and gentlemen. At the end of the day, all the aches and pains were worth it. The concert was splendid. We’ll see you at the next one, hopefully, soon.

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