Four days after having seen Rupa and The April Fishes perform live, I decided to go to Blue Frog once again. This time, however, the atmosphere was at the opposite end of the musical spectrum.
The space previously occupied by Safa’s upright bass and Mischa’s cello was now replaced with a tower of amps, while the stage floor was besieged with serpentine wires and cords of varying girths and colors.
Just as I was taking into account this infernal transformation, Shadaab Kadri, looming high and wielding an electric guitar while personally supervising the sound checks that evening, welcomed the photographers and myself, with a manic burst of power chords and a maniacal smile to match.
While I was frantically trying to soothe my popped left eardrum with my pinky, he beckoned to us:
“Give me just a few minutes, guys. I’ll take you and the bands to the conference room as soon as I’m done here.”
“Sure man, take your … “
* KKKKEERRRAAAANNGGGG!!! *
The resounding reverberation of this mammoth power chord from Axeman Kadri caught me completely off guard, and in the process, popped my left eardrum as well. Complacency sank in slowly, now that my ears became acclimatized (read as numb).
But this wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Arjun Dhanraj (of Nerverek and PRS Guitars), who was sitting right behind our booth, calmly reading his newspaper, prophesized wisely – “This is going to be one hell of a night. Just you wait.” We were moments away from finding out…
THE SUICIDE REPORT
The first band to perform that night was Norway’s Social Suicide, who had been flown to India specially to play 4 gigs in one week. In fact, they were scheduled to fly back home only a couple of hours after playing for us.
One would think that these Norwegian musicians, hailing from the land of Vikings and Black Metal wouldn’t make much of a conversation – but quite honestly, Bjarte (guitarist) and Marius (vocalist) were as laid back and placid as could be.
Black Metal and blonde babes, they explained, was not all that Norway had to boast about. There were many other bands and genres that were actually quite popular in their homeland, citing diverse influences like The Comeback Kid, Turbonegro and Ill Bill.
When asked about their feelings about touring in India, Bjarte graciously admitted that they couldn’t even compare themselves to the technical prowess and the on-stage enthusiasm of the Indian bands they have seen and played with. “We have Indian food in Norway… but its not that great. I really like everything we’ve tried here, except that I cannot take the spice levels,” remarked Bjarte. On the topic of spice, both guys exclaimed that they were quite enamored with Indian Air Hostesses (my guess: Kingfisher!).
But don’t let their off-stage charms fool you. Social Suicide’s live performance is nothing short of an assault on all your senses. Marius jumped right onto the floor, running up to the audience, taunting and encouraging the audience to mosh and make some noise. The sonic booms emanating from the drummer’s corner along with aggressive riffing and gnarly bass lines were successful in getting the younger audience to prance around the floor in frenzy.
On a comical note, a slightly mature group of patrons, who had decided to celebrate one of their birthdays at Blue Frog that night, didn’t take too kindly to the atmosphere. One dignified lady couldn’t hold back her disdain and requested the waiter to do something about ‘this infernal din.’ Criminal, I tell you.
The next performance was by Mumbai’s very own Goddess Gagged. Excluding the lead vocalist Siddharth Basrur, a veteran in the local Rock n’ Roll, the rest of the band-members are but tweens.
Combined synergistically with Siddharth’s acquired experience and the passion of their youth, Goddess Gagged are a force to reckon with, as they break musical barriers, bringing in influences from bands like Periphery and Karnivool, along with their own signature touches.
Guitarists Devesh Dayal and Arman Menzies, along with bassist Krishna Jhaveri and drummer Jeremy D’Souza combine mathematically precise beats and moody melodies with panache that seems unrealistic for their young age.
Back stage, Goddess Gagged is a group of down-to-earth goody-two-shoes types, with most of the band still struggling with maintaining regular attendance in their respective colleges.
“I have a History test tomorrow…,” says Arman,
“… And I have a test in English” chimes Jeremy,
“… But its ok, its only at National College anyway.”
Considering their sincerity for music, maintaining a 0.74% attendance is easily forgiven. That being said, the band mentioned that they DO have FREE downloads available on various sites now, and that they have a music video coming out sometime at the end of October.
Unlike many other bands with record labels and endorsed instruments, Goddess Gagged has invested their own blood, sweat and tears into independently recording their debut album, which will be released during the NH7 Weekender Festival at Pune in mid-November. Having seen them perform their entire new album live, I know I certainly will jump the lines to buy it. Won’t you?
Last, and anything but the least, we met up with Scribe, who have very recently been nominated for the MTV Europe Music Awards for Best Artist (Worldwide). And what do they have to say about it?
“How do we feel about it? I don’t know. Our popularity scares us.”
“We’re quite modest, actually. We play 7-string guitars, but we’re quite modest.”
All jokes apart, these are musicians who take music very seriously. Initially quite committed to inducting within India their own brand of hardcore, their music has evolved over time, dragging in various local and cultural influences – “I love Pav Bhaji” (don’t we all?) and “Dum He To Aage Aa”, as they learned from their mistakes over the decade.
Scribe is militantly against conformity; openly eschewing the prevalence and bandwagon jumpers at large, they enjoyed a good laugh over tattoo-happy sycophants (at this time, Prashant, the lead guitarist, could be seen pulling down his sleeves).
When asked about their influences and their incorporation of technically challenging musicianship, the band is united in their militant nonconformist views and their emphasis on creativity. Vishwesh, the full bearded vocalist, prophetically proclaims – “Just pay attention to what we do. Stand at ease, but pay attention to what we do.”
Scribe, a band with a purpose, and more importantly, a sense of humor, made a dramatic entry on stage, with the dholak-driven ‘My Name is Lakhan’ playing in the background. Immediately after, Vishwesh began with with a deafening roar, backed by Srinivas’s thumping bass lines and Viru’s thunderous drumming.
With chaotic guitar solos interspersed between aggressive riffs, the entire stage was a scene of immense activity, as all the band members practically exploded on stage, giving a free rein to metallic madness of monstrous proportions.
“Actually, we’re all just good actors,” mentioned Prashant (Lead Guitar), during the interview.
“The real talent lies backstage – the main person who is in charge of playing the tapes and setting the loops,” added Akshay (Rhythm guitar) and Srinivas (Bass).
At the stroke of midnight, as we finally emerged from Blue Frog, ears ringing but otherwise miraculously unscathed otherwise, I couldn’t help but agree that Arjun’s prophecy had come full circle. One HELL of a night it sure was.
Camera Credits: Hiloni Kapasi, Paritosh Kapasi, Shresht Poddar
Special Thanks: Shadaab Kadri @ Blue Frog