Mood Indigo hosted the West Zone eliminations of Livewire at Mumbai’s Hard Rock Café on Tuesday, December 6th, amidst the comings and goings of many youngsters, eager to watch and support their friends and fellow musicians on stage.
Some notable trends that perpetuated the existing stereotypes that evening:
- Bands with keyboards definitely sounded better. Cases in point : Block a Bus, Spud In The Box.
- Any time you saw a 5-string bass and ESP guitars on stage, it was certain the band was going to play metal.
- More flashier equipment didn’t necessarily mean the band sounded better. After all, playing good music is an effect of genuine talent, not expensive guitars.
Band 1: Block A Bus
Being the first band up on stage, the singer was understandably nervous and inaudible most of the time. In fact, the lead guitarist – who was the back-up vocalist, sang way better. The bassist seemed to be the only one enjoying himself, but the bass was a bit too fuzzy. Besides playing some mellow and upbeat originals, the band’s finest moments were when they played a cover of Red Hot Chili Pepper’s ‘Can’t Stop’, throwing in some reggae-ish chops, a half decent guitar solo with some wah-wah and muting effects. On the whole, Block A Bus needs to practice more, and work with a better sound.
Band 2: Grasshoppers:
Another band that just didn’t have the right coordination between rhythm and lead guitars. A general lack of coordination, inconsistent tempos and way too much bass were some of their downfalls. On the plus side, the guitarists employed some interesting riffs, but everything else seemed to be really put down by the vocalists’ generally jarring style of singing – it seemed as if he was trying too hard. Their moment of redemption – the very last song – ‘Purple Beat’.
Band 3: Grimmortal
The minute they approached the stage, one could tell they were going to play some brutal metal. Clad almost entirely in black, including their instruments, featuring a scruffy ‘don’t mess with me’ look, Grimmortal’s music was a general assault on all senses.
The lead guitarist showed a lot of promise, playing blood-curdling riffs and chaotic solos, while the drummer seemed hell-bent on breaking the drum set (the techie came in 3 times to reset the high hats during their 20 minute performance). Growls, windmill style headbanging and songs titled ‘Tormented,’ ‘Fatality,’ ‘Resistance’ – made their image seem more convincing than contrived.
Band 4: H2H
In comparison to the others that had played, this band looked more seasoned – their maturity was evident from their well put-together sound, yielding expectations for better, more polished music. Good interplay of rhythm and lead, echo and sustain effects, but too much gain at times. While they were much more laid back as a band, their music was that much more focussed and cohesive.
Band 5: Existence Failed
Seeing more black T-shirts and black guitars, it was no surprise that this was another metal band. In fact, the singer actually announced – “I don’t see much metal here! But it would be nice if you all head bang with us”. It was good to see a more animated stage presence, for once, the drummer didn’t indulge himself with just scissor beats and double bass. The other instrumentalists displayed some technical tricks and treats – a guitar solo with finger picking and tapping and an intricate bass interlude with slapping and spanking.
Band 6: Spud In the box
The band with the most number of people on stage – 2 electric guitars, 2 vocalists – one with an acoustic guitar and the other playing keyboards, along with a bassist and a drummer. They all looked like tweens, but quite honestly, their youthful energy and fresh sound was precisely what we needed at the time.
Probably the most well-coordinated band yet, considering how each instrumentalist was able to stand his own and make himself heard. Their dual vocals were well timed and paced, and they made a good use of effects on both, keyboards and guitar. Their songs ‘Lens Life” and ‘Make A Wish’ really showcased the rich harmony of vocals and keyboards. This band drew by far the loudest applause from the audience, as even the waiters paused in their tracks to clap.
Band 7: What Google Can’t Find
They tried to play melodic hard rock, but maybe their name was an indication of why they remained undiscovered yet. Despite wielding flashy guitars – a Blue Jackson Flying V and a jet black Ibanez with heavy distortion, their guitaring and use of effects were choppy at best. However, the vocalist was by far the weakest link. To add insult to injury, they even played a pretty sad rendition of Rammstein’s ‘Mutter’. Maybe it was just not their best day.
Band 8: Last Ride Home
Featuring interesting hairdos, this was yet another young band – in fact, most of them didn’t even look like they had reached puberty – atleast, based on the vocalist’s voice – which was barely audible. The drummer and the bassist showed promise, but the lead guitarist seemed to be indulgently playing in a world of his own, losing track of the tempo while soloing. On the plus side, they had some good hooks and their music was generally melodic. Their’s was a generally modern sound, featuring post-punk screamo influences on ‘Face your fall.’
Band 9: Modern Mafia
Finally, a band that put a little more time and effort into their image – sporting ties, vests, hats and suit pants – and with the vocalist actually trying to amuse the audience using different accents (especially while playing ‘Arnie’) and engaging their attention. The band was generally more dynamic, with a modern pop-rock sound. The guitarists were well coordinated, with well timed solos and subtler effects on lead guitar. The singer’s voice was well fitted for their kind of music. A well conceived instrumental played towards the end might just be successful in swinging the vote in their favour…
Band 10: Funk The System
The highlight of this band – a talented bassist, who impressed the audience with his effortless fretplay and excellent slap-tap techniques. Though the music was energetic, the vocalist was by far the weakest link, especially in his attempts to weave melody and screams together – and otherwise, he seemed out of breath. Overall, a well put together sound with interesting riffs and muting, but too much distortion and overly loud guitars seemed to be killing their sound at times.
Band 11: Hoodwink Circle
This band seemed to be flouting all the rules for this competition – they seemed anything but ‘semi professional’. Everyone was considerably older than their counterparts in other bands, and their equipment was definitely flashier and more sophisticated. The lead guitarist was clearly influenced by Zakk Wylde, using the signature black and white bulls eye painted Gibson and displaying similar lightning-fast guitaring, replete with pedal-work, bending and stretching. On the whole, the band enthralled the audience with amusing anecdotes and a very polished set of songs. The vocalist’s rich baritone and a generally guitar dominated setlist were enjoyed by all.
Band 12: Summerpint Junkie
A band that seemed to start off quite well, praising the prog-rock movement in India and overall, that slowly but steadily spiralled downhill. They had a well balanced sound in the beginning, with a good lead guitarist, who, despite some flashy displays didn’t delve into overkill. The music was atmospheric, ethereal at times, featuring a decent use of echoing and diminished sound effects. But after the first song, their more aggressive numbers just didn’t come in as strong, as it seemed that their songwriting wasn’t all that great – it could have been more refined – especially on the songs ‘Tired Blood’ and ‘Placebo’.
All the bands who played that day were judged by Melroy D’Mello (who seemed completely out of control) and Shekhar Mohite of Split and Rahul Hariharan of Bhayanak Maut, all three of whom even played an impromptu cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ before announcing the results:
Tied at #4: Existence Failed and H2H
#3: Modern Mafia
and the winner of the West Zone Eliminations for Livewire…
#1: Spud In The Box!
These bands will get to compete in the National level Semi Finals, on the 17th of December, at IIT Powai along with qualifying bands from the other zones. The top three bands will get to open for Karnivool on the 18th.
strong>Video Credits: Jeet Sawant