The many faces and facets of Sidd Coutto and his unstoppable and inimitable songwriting prowess manifest themselves in a thoroughly entertaining night at Blue Frog Mumbai.
Since a young age, Sidd Coutto had this creative itch that no amount of scratching could relieve. Before you start getting perverse thoughts, let us remind you of the purposeful usage of the word ‘creative’. Sidd has been scrawling away numerous songs since the dawn of… well… himself, being one of those few people who were bent on defining their own destinies. In his case, we have seen how, over the years, he has been a part of and formed numerous musical groups – Zero, Tough on Tobacco, his own solo projects, and the latest addition – Punk Ass Orifus. Folks who have been listening to his music know that none of the aforementioned bands / projects sound the same, and such is the case for Punk Ass Orifus as well. Perhaps the only thing a lot of these projects have in common that Sidd is supported by his usual partners in crime – Gaurav Gupta on guitars and Johan Pais on bass – as he tries to take over the musical world, one genre at a time.
This time, Coutto and his Punk Ass cronies were joined on stage by Zorran Mendonsa on drums. We caught up with Zorran earlier, and he claimed that he practiced playing the drums for maybe 4 hours at Sidd’s place prior to signing up for this concert. And that was all the drumming experience he has had in the last 10 years (nagging other drummers in his studios notwithstanding). Regardless of the simplistic nature of POA’s drum beats, it takes more than a fly-by-night drummer to fill in and play along with the rest of the band; ostensibly, more than 4 hours of practice. But if you were to see him play, you would probably be thinking that Zorran was probably being modest (polite euphemism for lying?). Bottomline – whatever he says, the man can play. And play well he did, given POA’s simple sounding music.
PAO’s music is notably different, in the sense that the focus is more on the vocals / lyrics, than on the instruments. Sidd claimed earlier that he doesn’t really play the guitar that well (despite actually writing the music), but he was clearly dominating the scene with his onstage antics, as well as the sound with his bright red Gibson SG. It was only on some of the calmer songs that one could hear Gaurav Gupta’s Squier Strat (Ehsaan Noorani’s signature model) play the more intricate notes.
Nonetheless, PAO brought in other guests – Bobby Talwar on percussion and Warren Mendonsa on guitar (duh!) – and played a couple of songs together, where Coutto revealed the jokester within him – “This is a Mak song, everyone. This is a song of my people, the Ma-Ka-Paavs of Mumbai. If you have a lot of money, you get Remo Fernandes to play it for you!”
PAO ended their performance on that note and left the stage briefly to change costumes. Dressed in white shirts and tuxedos initially, the same people now took to the stage in a completely casual attire, with Sidd sporting some very colorful sneakers. Jai Row Kavi took up the drums and Niranjan ‘Pozy’ Dhar brought in his Gibson Les Paul on lead guitar. Now fully regrouped as Tough on Tobacco, the band played out a pretty good mix of old and new songs in their set list for the night, including the usual classics, such as their “Taxi song”.
Throughout the night, one could see how Tough on Tobacco is comfortable playing many different kinds of music – from rock-n-roll to reggae – there is never a dull moment, but not just because of Sidd Coutto’s animated stage presence, his emotive expressions, his swagger… the list could go on. The point is, while most of the ladies in the audience were very easily enamoured with the frontman, the gentlemen could be seen concentrating at the instrumentalists. For instance, Pozy Dhar’s smooth guitar solos and Johan’s groovy bass lines had the heads nodding, while Jai’s technicially proficient drumming made us wonder how he hadn’t sprained himself while criss-crossing his drumsticks in mid air or with his prolific footwork.
While the band in itself is quite musically tight, one cannot deny how it is really Sidd Coutto who steals the show, as he transforms his voice and tones from song to song. And he even kept up the trend of impromptu composition alive – this time making up songs on the spot featuring such obscure content as ‘yellow tops’ and ‘Nirma washing powder’. They even played a song with special guest Ken Stringfellow on Warren’s guitar – a ‘beautiful’ bluesy song about ‘crack whores.’ And despite numerous requests from one of Coutto’s ardent female fans to play the “laughing song”, Tough on Tobacco ended their performance with the notorious “Smoke Some Ganja.”
In all, Coutto and his all-star company ensured that the patrons were thoroughly entertained on all levels – lyrically, musically and visually. It was real pity that the venue wasn’t as packed as it could have been – but hey, if it was any consolation, they did announce that their third album would be coming out early in 2084.
Want to know more about what makes Sidd Coutto tick? Catch him on the next edition of The Score Magazine! And here are a few words from Sidd Coutto himself:
Photo Credits: Parizad D.
Special Thanks: Aditi and Zain @ Blue Frog