Score Night this Friday was in spirit, somewhat 80s – a girl band that swears by rock (and not the expected pop or acapella) and a hard rock act with leather jacket attitude after. Going by the pre gig buzz, things looked promising and it was definitely one of the better Score Nights in terms of turn out.
A Little High, A Little Low
High Heels & a Shotgun started the show at around 8.35 pm with own compositions and then a couple of covers. With 3 guitarists, 1 vocalist and a drummer (the only male member), they sounded fairly full. Props for presentation too! Everybody looked smart (boy bands, take note).
Sort of nervous, not very memorable tunes, drowned vocals but a forgiving and even engaging crowd hung onto their every antic. This was party because they had a dedicated posse and also, people are sympathetic to girl bands.
There was one ‘angsty’ own composition where the band really had fun (especially the guitarists), one track with a violin cameo but the best of the lot had to be the cover of Cecilia. Susan, lead vocalist, sounds almost synthesized. Her vocal texture is throaty, smooth but not gut-kicking enough. Being a rock band’s vocalist involves a lot of throw while sticking to notes. They switched to acoustic mode for some covers like KT Tunstall’s Black Horse On A Cherry Tree (which was mediocre) but went full throttle with Slither. This song by Velvet Revolver used to be so badass and brutal when it came out. I’m yet to see a band that does justice to this song. And yeah, this rendition didn’t change that.
That said, these baby steps aren’t going unnoticed and unappreciated. Gathering a bunch of girls, coming up with artwork and a smart name is something that surprisingly, very few ‘girl bands’ have been able to do. I remember the WCC western music acapella group and even a little band called Soul Sistahz who showed a lot of potential, but never really got out of the college circuit. It isn’t easy to form a girl band and get it to work and I cannot say this emphatically enough. Now for some guidance and some serious honing.
I liked their acoustic set better but I wouldn’t discourage electric attempts. My suggestion would be to try more Carpenters, Roxette even No Doubt. Get a playlist that does justice to all the elements – the toughest predicament for any band.
Grey Shack Got Some Groove!
I had a chance to check out Grey Shack at Kyra (Bangalore) a couple of months ago and at the most, I felt their performance to be neat but not that exciting or memorable. So honestly, I was not one of the over enthusiastic hooters in the crowd doing the ritual pre gig ‘Woohooo!! GREY SHAAAAACK!’. It was uncharacteristically chaotic after High Heels got off the stage. And in minutes we knew why. Skrat’s viral video was on the projector! I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this at Sathyam as part of the trailers. Using resources smartly is an art in itself and these guys are definitely pulling all the strings they got! And they have a lot of that, considering the enviably strong Chennai base.
The brouhaha died down to Rohan Sen’s thunderous sound and without much ado, Grey Shack brought on their first track. And from that second, I was in for a revelation. There was energy, vigour and this zest to bring the roof down. And there was that undeniable confidence of being on home ground. When a band knows from the moment go that everyone in the crowd is rooting for them, it evidently translates into an uninterrupted 1-hour set list of brilliant showmanship. AND MUSIC!
The second track had a distinct reggae dimension and enjoyable drumming progressions; the third track was almost grunge rock; unexpectedly heavy. After that, things slowed down a bit with an interesting collaborative cover of a track from the Into The Wild OST. The band’s friend Arita Sarkar lent some Hindustani nuances to it. Things then picked up again with another friend’s (Nrithya Randhir) inspired composition (or was it hers? Too much pandemonium to decipher). Gonzo, which I’ll admit I didn’t immediately take to when it was going viral, sounded loads better. Several plays have made the band deliver the track more confidently & with a lot more swag. One Night Stand was well received and my favourite for the evening, Dirty City, featured some delectable bass licks & a face melting solo. Every track was strong and a few of them even lingered as hummable.
The memorable cover was AC/DC’s Long Way To The Top that had an enthusiastic audience singing along and things got wildest with the last track. There was even a moment of silence for the audience overpowered the band!
Some Epic Moments
- An over enthusiastic feller got ahead of himself and shouted to lead singer Rohan to ‘take off your shirt’. Sen handled it in good humour and no, nobody got a peek of what lay beneath. (rumour has it that he pulled a Salman & MORE at the after party but hush, we ain’t no gossip mill).
- Midway, a European girl got onstage and took the mic. Our mild surprise was articulated by Sen (‘this is a first at Score Night’) and as we expected her to gush about the spirit of rock booming on exotic Indian grounds so unexpectedly yet so well, she topped all our imaginations by saying – ‘has anybody seen my phone?’
For the record, no a first (Boys of Albatross, that memory still hasn’t wither-ed).
Grey Shack: What’s The Good Word?
I don’t know if it was magic in the night, but in one word this gig was tight. What constitutes real band appeal – Image? Audience bonhomie? (let’s humour the optimistic) Quality of music? I think its common sentiment. That sort of resonates and gets you your target audience and some loyal fans.
Rohan Sen, Vinay Ramakrishnan, Vikram Vivekanand & Madhav Ravindranath are not poster boys. Which is a good thing. They can sing about stuff like lusty liaisons and elucidate the female form in all forms while mystery 21+ seductresses & cougars, stir their drink naughtily, revel & most importantly, believe. Spare us the teen heartbreak, angst and rebellion for some very manly music. They take their music seriously and whip up some good stuff while still maintaining familiarity – which like Skrat, they work to their advantage. This is a tricky asset though because obscure indie vibes have quite an appeal too (The Fish Eyed Poets come to mind).
Individually each element is a powerhouse and the best thing is they aren’t all that uptight – Rohan Sen with his adorable stage spasms move, Madhav with his impromptu twists (and operatic ‘la la la la’s – yeah, we heard you mate), Vinay with his child-in-a-candy-shop levels of enthusiastic drumming and Vikram… Well Vikram is the quintessential guitarist. Too cool for school, brah. Keeping it all in, just tipping the head for the ladies. cool shades emoticon
Watch out for their album that’s out this July. Lets see if the energy can be contained yet alive on MP3! And don’t miss the next Score Night – going by the online traction, Muttu Sandhu & TWKC seem determined to make it one legendary show!
PHOTO CREDITS: AMBARISH
Catch some more high res photos from the night on Facebook!