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Gig Review :: Karnivool :: IIT, Mumbai – Dec 18th


Prog Rock Gods from down under, performing for the first time ever in Mumbai!


The very name of the band – Karnivool – which, we assure you, is not a bastardized Bengali pronunciation of  ‘carnival’ – makes people wonder aloud. Their reputation precedes their presence – or at least, that was the case throughout the last quarter of 2011, when Mood Indigo first announced that they were importing from Perth, Australia, a band of epic progressive proportions, purely for our own viewing pleasure.

I guess word got around far and wide, as fans from all across the country thronged throughout the IIT Mumbai campus, creating a temporary maelstrom of traffic before and after the concert.

And can we blame them? Karnivool, which has been around since 1997, has slowly but steadily been building up its momentum to reach its current scale and stature, by becoming increasingly adept at making by far some of the most original music in the progressive rock scene.

A relatively uninformed individual may be surprised at how Australia managed to cough up something so grand, considering its remote location and general lack of participation in global trends – musical and otherwise. Actually, these are the same people who, today, after having seen Karnivool play live, would never ever admit to having uttered such words. How and why the sudden transformation, one may ask.

Let us show you why. We were there. We saw it all. We saw skeptics and ignoramuses become die-hard fans overnight.


Before Karnivool’s performance, Mood Indigo was hosting the finals of their Livewire – Global Battle of the Bands competition on the main stage. This was a good way to warm up the crowd. The three finalists – The Hoodwink Circle from the West Zone, Turnkey from the East Zone and Verses from the South Zone – competed for a chance to represent India at the Global Battle of the Bands finals in Romania (the land of Alexandra Stan, Edward Maya, Inna, O-Zone and related. Ohhh the irony), in June 2012.

All three bands delivered their best; it must be said that they were inhibited by numerous problems with sound and equipment, the fixing of which took out significant chunks of their playing time, but well, these things have an evil way of happening right when you could do without them entirely. But more on Livewire later. Yes, LOTS more, coming REAL soon. All attention must be given to Karnivool right now.


Chennai’s Junkyard Groove opened up for Karnivool, playing an upbeat set of some old and some new songs. Ameeth Thomas was thoroughly entertaining as a frontman, and the rest of the band packed in a brilliant performance overall, though there were speculations afoot about the general state of the band’s state of inebriation, as Ameeth seemed to be walking at an obtuse angle towards the latter part of their set, while proceeding to take off his shirt.

It was good to see their new bassist and drummer clicking together well, but Junkyard Groove no longer have their signature sound from older days. Newer originals sounded good, but they seemed to be having sound issues, since the guitar’s tone was sub-par at best, despite Naveen being a really good lead guitarist.

Nonetheless, the audience had a good time singing the chorus to ‘Folk You’, because nowadays, it is cooler to cuss without really cussing. Implications and reading between the lines are in now. But once again, I digress. Don’t worry, this is actually all about Karnivool. Just scroll down a little more. There you go.


While Junkyard Groove was still playing their forced encore, ostensibly to buy some time, Karnivool’s sound engineer, Luke Willott, who is nothing short of a technical genius, was seen prowling around the sound console, shaking his head in sheer disapproval.

The moment his local counterparts stepped aside, Luke took to the control panel like a deprived mad scientist, fiddling around with the switches and knobs for a good ten minutes, until the creases on his forehead slowly ceased to be, and he seemed satisfied. He stole a cursory glance at the crowd around him, shook his head a few times, and went back to work. Remember this, readers, behind every great band is a very hardworking ground crew.

Were it not for Luke, we wouldn’t have been blown apart by Karnivool’s performance. Granted, a band’s performance is primarily based on how they play their instruments – but that is just the input. The quality of the output is the sole responsibility of one man, and one man alone. And this is precisely why Luke deserves a mention first.


Okay, that’s enough reading for now. Karnivool opened with – surprise, surprise –  ‘Goliath‘.

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And then they played this:

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Simple Boy’ was fun to watch live, because of this:

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After which, a dear friend of mine who couldn’t make it to the concert texted me and asked me if they had played ‘Set Fire To The Hive’ yet. Her timing couldn’t have been better.

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And then they played this (a certain conversational thread on Facebook will show how there are many different takes on the exact pronunciation of the name of this song):

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Karnivool then decided to relax the pace a bit. But that didn’t ebb any of the fans’ enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.

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We ‘all know’ the follow up. Well, those of us who were there. The rest of you, any guesses?

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Could they ever play a set without including this song?

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After that and ‘Fear Of The Sky’, they also played this ode to slightly older times. For a good reason.

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Then they played ‘Roquefort’ (like the blue cheese), thanked the audience and left the stage. As the lights were turned off, a huge cry of protest went up amongst the audience. The length of their departure made even the seasoned concert-goers doubt about the fate of the concert, especially since IIT Mumbai is known to be extremely particular about timings and power cuts. The clock showed 9:25 pm, which meant that there was still a LOT of time left… were we being shortchanged by Karnivool?


– The low ends of Jon’s bass cut through both guitar, along with Judd’s kickdrums.

– The electronic samples blended in very well with their overall sound, which was nothing short of kickass.

– They were tight to the 16th note, almost exact renditions of their albums – predominantly ‘Sound Awake’, which they were launching in India, but also ‘Themata’.


– The p.a. speaker’s columns were blocked with advertisement banners. Very lame.

– The delay of the live-footage being shown on the main screen behind the band was quite annoying. IIT could have done better, way better. Don’t they teach them proper engineering there, or is it all overrated? 😛

After what seemed like an eternity, which in reality was only 10 – 12 minutes at the most, Karnivool returned to the stage and played a couple more songs – “New Day” and “Change”, this time, setting off pyrotechnics which showered the audience with confetti, and ended their performance by setting off a spectacular display of fireworks.

And oh, we managed to run onto the stage after, and took back home with us some souvenirs – official setlists which we ripped off their amps. This we will be giving to some of Karnivool’s fans who couldn’t make it to the concert that night.


The Mood-Indigo Team, for their logistical assistance

Siddharth Raghunandan, for his technical input

Siva SBK, for sharing his pictures

NOTE: We apologize for the not-so-great pictures. When we requested Mood I to let in one of our guys, they said only 4 official photographers were allowed. Not to worry, they said, we will personaly dispatch great pics in 24 hrs, they said. 

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Also, our radar detected 11 odd photographers upfront. MoodI, Y U LIE?!

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