The tabla trio, backed up by a harmonium saw a solid setlist of explosive music at Opus on Friday night. Originally with four percussionists and known as Tabla Ecstasy, this gig featured only 3 tabla players and a harmonium. The word is derived from the Sanskrit word meaning taal (metre) and laya (tempo).
After being scheduled to start by 9, they went on stage much closer to 10pm. The crowd seemed out of place for the type of music, or it might have been that the music was out of place for the venue, but that was just my initial vibe. Once the group took stage, Rushi Vakil, the composer and frontman of the group, spent some time explaining the intricacies of the tabla. Using vocal notes as a comparative example, he portrayed the versatility of the tabla as not merely a percussive instrument, but as something that resounded notes too.
After exhaustively explaining the nature of crowd energy and vibe reciprocation that they were feeling, they finally began. The monotony of just two instruments was soon forgotten as the crowd slowly began to hear various layers of sound shared between the trio of table players.
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As they settled into the gig, the crowd too, began to unwind. Opus’ Goa-like venue, with low-lying sofas, tables and pebbles strewn around was a peaceful ambience for a Carnatic-Fusion act. With intense jugalbandis and fast-paced tabla solos and duets, the sound was perfect for a family-dinner night out. Several groups of people kicked back, enjoying their drinks, while feeding energy to the troupe on stage.
The sound at Opus was fairly good. I was surprised as the mics for the tablas had to be very precisely set to amplify beats, yet not receive large quantities of feedback sound. For three tablas, this was thrice as difficult, but there were no “white noises” and the sound was perfectly dynamised, with the harmonium rising above the percussive backdrop.
For a band that has played several shows abroad, I was maybe a tad disappointed that they did not attempt to deviate into other styles of playing, or different instruments. There was a little monotony to their sound, albeit complexity too, but they did manage to pull off one hell of a show!