No Era; Rajeev’s Wolfpack; Retronome

WELL it’s been a week filled with cover songs – a pleasurable week of Pink Floyd, Toto, Grateful Dead, U2, Rolling Stones, ABBA among many other bands…the pop pantheon was plumbed, re-imagined and revived with gusto. Some ridiculously good solos were played and some highly inventive revisions improved the standards.  And I embarrassed myself several times asking “what’s this?” about classic songs that any other self-respecting music writer would know.  In my own defense I think classic rock has been like the…sonic wallpaper of my life to the extent that I rarely differentiate between this and that unless I’m really attracted to a song for some reason.  Also, and this is something I’m quite curious about, there are some classic and older bands that are quite popular here that are not as much – or not at all – popular in the States   There’s something quite fascinating about the archeology of popular music in particular places – like, why this band, here, now, and not another?  Why Toto and not Chicago, for example?  U2 and not Coldplay?  Questions to ponder further.

No Era at Kyra

So No Era played at Kyra Tuesday night, and we – me and several other presumably cricket-obtuse people – were there to see them. No Era is a retooled lineup and the frontman, Noel D’Gama, has been playing since the 70’s, while his guitarist, drummer and bassist are all in their twenties.  This band was suuuuuper laid-back, and what with their laconic (I mean that in the very best way) stage presence, mellow vocals and some intricate guitar lines they occasionally reminded me of the Grateful Dead (not just when they were covering the Grateful Dead)…but like this one live album I have on vinyl that’s basically one long continuous song and is really good to listen to at twilight after a day-long barbeque with friends and everything is winding down and it’s just mid-summer. HERE’S a video of No Era.

I might seem like I’m kind of a groupie of certain bands because I post about them a lot and actually it’s true that I have been focusing on a few bands specifically – they’re bands that fall into the four or five genres I’m focusing my research on: metal bands, cover bands, fusion bands, what I’m thinking of as “experimental” bands, and then classic-bluesy bands.   And then there is the aspect of ethnographic research that is dictated by necessity and opportunity – some bands play more often, or publicize more widely, or the venue is familiar and close to home.  Recently I’ve been looking at cover songs – and the bands who play them – quite closely.  Next week I’m going to try to see a lot of newer bands at some of the open mic-type gigs that happen around the city.

Anyway, Rajeev’s Wolfpack played at Kyra on Wednesday.  This is their fourth (I think?)  show and the last one they’re playing for a while, I guess, or that’s what I heard.  It was intriguing to see the changes from their first to their fourth shows.  There were huge differences, basically – songs were more filled in, Arjun had some other-worldy solos and intros and generally everything was tight and meshed amazingly.  Avril Stormy Unger sang on one of Rajeev’s original songs and it was a sublime addition to the song. HERE’S a video. ***EDIT*** And I’ve done it again! Apparently that’s a Robert Plant song and not Rajeev’s.  Haha, I’m some ethnomusicologist.

Retronome at Hard Rock Cafe

Retronome played at Hard Rock Cafe last night and it was packed!  And really fun!  The cricket match was playing on a big screen simultaneously but it didn’t seem to distract people from the band…or else people were just multitasking well.  Retronome is a another band, like Parousia, who are just so solid and enjoyable to to watch – the crowd sings along to favorite tunes and the whole experience of going to the show is like being taken on a merry journey. HERE’S a video. And HERE’S another.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 8:58 am  Leave a Comment  

listings for march 22 – march 28

I HAVE no excuse for the failure of my show-going project.  No excuse except my own laziness and need for hibernation.  But let’s just move on!  Here are the rock shows happening this week…I don’t know yet which I’ll go to…

Monday: Bulls Unplugged at Opus (6:00)

Tuesday: No Era at Kyra

Wednesday: Rajeev’s Wolfpack (and friends?) at Kyra

Thursday: Retronome at Hard Rock Cafe

Thursday: Galeej Gurus at the Twestival at Opus

Thursday: Higher-On-Maiden, a Iron Maiden cover band from the UK at Kyra

Friday: Wili, the band that won MTV’s “Rock On” at Vivanta by Taj

Friday: Friday Night Live at Urban Solace (open mic)

Saturday: Saturday Jam at Bangalore Central (6:00 onwards)

Sunday: Sunday Groove at Urban Solace  (open mic) (4:00 – 7:00)

Sunday: Blues before Sunrise, a bluesy classic rock band at Kyra

Sunday: Live Gig at Legends of Rock – band TBA (7:30 – 9:30)

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

day…I don’t even know anymore: live gig; gowri; retronome; blueprint (almost)

WELL I almost achieved the im…plausible…the impractical.  And as it turns out, the impossible.  I tried to see four shows in one day in a town where the doors open at 8:00 and close at 11:00 on the dot.  So I got a sunburn, I subsisted for 10 hours on a unholy roller-coaster of coffee and beer, supplemented by Mojos’ ultra-salty popcorn, and I turned up at the last show of the night just as they were loading the amps out the door  – drat!  But I tried.

Bicycle Days album artwork

Show one:  The Live Gig at Indira Gandhi musical fountain.  Props to Shalini for being my buddy during this first afternoon leg of the jaunt – it was hot, she had to call me three times because I had a hella hard time finding the fountain, but we got to see The Bicycle Days, a second of the Innerskin set and a trio of other metal bands whose names I missed…and a guy playing harmonica.

The Bicycle Days were weird, fun, and interesting…one of the few bands I’ve seen here that use effects, laptops, etc to add to their trippy, jam-y sound.  HERE’S their myspace page. And really, check out these videos:  HERE’S a short video of their Live Gig set, and HERE’S another from the same show. Those clouds of smoke aren’t what you think they are.  I’m gonna write more about them when I see them next, playing with Drones from the Turbine this Friday.

Even though the Live Gig is a great thing – outdoor daytime music in a park mostly always is in my opinion – we had to beat it out of there because we were both dying from thirst…which we slaked through a long afternoon setting the world at rights (as a friend of mine calls drinking and talking philosophically) on Brigade road…then on to Indiranagar for the evening shows, and responsible Shalini off home.

Retronome at Take 5

At Take 5 Retronome were in the middle of their set when I showed up, and I only stayed for a couple of songs since I’m going to their show next week (the 25th at the Hard Rock Cafe) and I’ll write more about them then. Chris was his usual incandescently energetic self!  HERE’S a dark vid of the Take 5 show and HERE’S a link to a short clip of a show at Jimi’s a month or so back.

Gowri at Herbs and Spice

I then dashed down the road to Herbs and Spices to see Gowri, a fabulous singer-songwriter of the pixie variety…she has this clear, bell-like but creamy voice – played Janis Joplin, Joan Baez and the rest original songs.  There seems to be a dearth of singer-songwriters in Bangalore which is a shame…I love that stuff and could go hear Gowri play like every week.

The video I took didn’t come out, but HERE’S a link to a short vid of a show she did at Alliance Francaise a month or so ago – with Gaurav Vaz on bass.  Amazing.

Gowri at Alliance Francaise

So I now have realized once and for all that the weekly Legends of Rock Sunday show begins at 7:30 and ends at 9:00.  For future reference.  Sorry to have missed Blueprint – next time!

Published in: on March 16, 2010 at 3:59 am  Comments (2)  

day 10: parousia at hard rock cafe

Naveen Thomas Joseph of Parousia

I’M GOING slowly but surely deaf and it is all the fault of the Hard Rock Cafe.  Why must it be so loud in there?  And why does the sound system for live bands mush every instrument together so it’s like you’re hearing the music from the underside of a waterfall?  These and other questions I was pondering at the Parousia show last night, which was played to a full house – the usual hard rock cafe mixture of buttoned-up guys off work, tourists, metal kids and everybody else.

Parousia played a solid long set of progressive rock covers – virtuouso playing and singing by Ranjit Abraham on vocals, Jason Zacharaiah on keys and vocals, Bryan Richard on bass and vocals,  Jomon on drums and Naveen Thomas Joseph on guitar. HERE’S their myspace.  I guess they haven’t played out in a while, but it didn’t sound like that.  They seem like one of those warhorse-type bands where you could probably ask them to play any song and in like 15 minutes they’d have it down.

Bryan Richard and Jason Zacharaiah of Parousia

I’m exhausted today.  Too many nights going to bed at 2 and waking up at 6, plus a very weird night last night.  So this post is going to be reasonably brief.  In summation: band=so very good. Sound=bad. Crowd=rowdy and happy. So basically a successful show, huh? HERE’S a short video clip.

Okay time to nap. But this weekend! There are so many shows:

Saturday at Opus: An alt-country/americana band called The Golden Manor Medicine Show (that is such an alt-country band name)

Saturday at Opus at the Creek: Advaita, a fusion Hindi band

Saturday at Kyra: Rajeev’s Wolfpack

Sunday at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain: the Live Gig – no more Drones from the Turbine, but The Bicycle Days are playing with a lot of other bands.

Sunday at Herbs and Spice: Gowri (a wonderful singer/songwriter)

Sunday at Take 5: Retronome

Sunday at Legends of Rock: Blueprint, a “blues and classic rock band.”

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 7:54 am  Comments (4)  

day 7: rajeev’s wolfpack at kyra

Rajeev's Wolfpack

SO, YEAH, I obviously have failed at the 20 shows in 20 days project…but it’s not totally my fault! I lost my bank card and so was penniless for a few days over the weekend until Charles wired me $…which itself was also for some reason a giant project that took forever.  Anyway, since I’ve already failed at the 20/20 idea I figured I might as well give myself a break and try for 20 shows in 30 days…more realistic especially since some days there aren’t actually any shows, I think.  Something I probably should have realized before I began.

So Kyra.  I enjoy Kyra for all the things that are good about it – the stage, the space, the lights, sound, the drinks and the fact that it has music regularly.  That’s my two cents about it. I’ve been here about 8 times I think, and the waiters are hilarious – they think it’s so funny to try and tell me that I’ve won some kind of prize, like, almost every time I go there.  Which FYI guys, if you’re trying to pull someone’s leg it’s best not to stand in a circle laughing before the joke is actually done, you know? Kind of gives it away.  I have no idea why they think it’s funny but I’m getting to the point that I really do too.


Rajeev, late of band Retronome (who are playing a few times in the next weeks), has a brand-spanking new lineup, called Rajeev’s Wolfpack (link to FB page is HERE) with Ezra Ishmael on bass, Arjun Chandran on guitar and backup vocals, and Jyothis Balakrishnan on drums.  Rajeev, (HERE’S his solo project myspace page) like I’ve said before, has a really good voice, especially for slow ballads – the first time I heard him sing at Jimi’s I recorded myself going “holy crap” on the video, because I was so pleasantly surprised by it.  And also the girl next to me saying “wow he’s really cute.”  Yeah that doesn’t hurt either.  ANYway.  HERE’S a link to a short video clip of one of the two original songs that opened the set – called “Fallen.”

This lineup seems like it’s gonna be really solid – everyone plays really well and Arjun was pretty much wailing on some solos during the set – so classic. See a video of  “I Love Rock and Roll” HERE.  Even though it was a pretty cozy show – the best kind for a first gig with a new lineup – it did get kind of punkrock towards the end with a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit – a sped-up rollicking crashing cover that seemed real true to the original spirit of the song.

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 5:03 am  Comments (2)  

day 3: parachute XVI and lounge piranha at b flat

I FEEL very good right now.  Being at this show – and going to all of these shows – reminds me of a time in my life when going to shows every night and supporting people you liked was just…what you did. Before it became only a weekend thing because you have a day job or a thing where you have to convince your boyfriend to go with you to see a band that he thinks is maddeningly twee and he tries to tell you that you’ll really like a band who do grind-y screeching noise music wearing rat masks (that is a real show I was once persuaded to go to, actually).

I wish wish wish that I had better recording equipment for this because it’s kind of unfair to post videos where you can’t even really hear the sound of the band. But for now it will have to do.  And I screwed up last night and filmed a lot with my new ipod and the sound is complete garbage, so I can’t use those.

Parachute XVI

First off: Parachute –  they can really, SERIOUSLY shred.  They had the crowd eating out of their hand.  Polyrhythmic jams and Faith No More-esque operatic-type serious vocals…I saw them first at Rocktoberfest when I first got here but I had literally just stumbled off the plane and was in a jet-lagged haze, and also that venue was just weird and huge and like a barn.  This show was amazing. I had to crib this little picture from their facebook site as all of mine were just blurs. HERE’S a short video of their performance. And HERE’s their official site.  I didn’t really do them justice in this post at all, because I’m a horrible photographer and videographer…hope they’ll play again soon and I’ll get better shots.

Lounge Piranha

Lounge Piranha, what can I say.  I’m biased because I’ve liked them for a few years now, listened to their demo and album a bunch and I’ve gotten to sit in on a couple of rehearsals, pleasantly curled up and sweating in the corner of the hot little practice room.  There is just something about this band, for me…for one thing they are, like, extremely charismatic.  And diverse! Shoe-gazing or  jangly-dancing, mbira and didgeridoo additions, experimental dark and driving songs or tuneful upbeat melodies…yeah, they have a really interesting vibe. And George’s art (he does all of the band’s stuff and tons of other stuff too)…i’m  enamored.

A couple of really short clips of the show last night HERE and HERE to just give you an idea.  Observe Kamal’s truly rad Shonen Knife tee-shirt (which he made and which I want). You can’t buy chewing gum in Singapore.

Published in: on March 6, 2010 at 6:43 am  Leave a Comment  

day 1: galeej gurus at hard rock cafe

Oy. Kingfisher and menthol cigarettes (sorry mom if you’re reading this, I promise I only smoke occasionally) is the devil’s combination. I’m gonna have to pace myself, plainly, if I’m going to make it through 20 shows in 20 days.  Luckily I have just discovered that idly, sambar and filter coffee are an unbelievably good hangover cure.

But anyway, the show!  I’m so glad I went, because Galeej Gurus are so so good live and have amazing stage presence. They describe themselves as not fitting into one particular genre, but they do sound to me like a classic straight-ahead, blues-based, rock band with heavy riffs and a crazy amount of energy.  And they’re really tight and super entertaining.  I can see why they’ve won the recent competition that they did.  To read more about them and their accomplishments go HERE.

I have to say, too, that the Hard Rock Cafe is in a really nice building and I like that raised stage and all, even though the disneyland-like vibe there only really works for me if I’m in the mood for kitsch…which luckily I am quite often.  It’s also a really good place to watch drunken australian girls flirting super-obviously.  Giving whitey a bad name much? I don’t think we really need help with that…

Until I figure out why posting videos to this blog is insanely not working at all, you can see a short video of Galeej Gurus on my Facebook page, HERE.  And sorry about the sound.  I’m working on getting a better rig together.

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

I have a new mission

AND THE mission is…to go to 20 shows in 20 days here in Bangalore.  I know it’s uber-bloggy to set yourself a coy little undertaking and report on the progress, but I need to get off my butt and see more bands.  Lately my evenings have been chock-a-block filled with languishing, mulling, pining, and generally wasting time. I’ve been missing way too many shows (aside from a couple of great ones at Kyra recently).

I’m not limiting myself by genre or location – I just want to see as wide a variety of rock music as possible, discover some new bands, and get more recordings and a better sense of the scene. Plus it’s nice to go out and meet people.

So here’s the lineup so far, which has some holes in it…well it’s mostly holes at the moment…I’ll be filling it in as I go.

Wednesday March 3rd: Galeej Gurus – who I’ve never actually seen but have heard a lot about – at Hard Rock Cafe, opening for Saving Abel (a band from the U.S. I’ve never heard of, but then my tastes are somewhat puritanical)

Friday March 5th: Lounge Piranha and Parachute XVI at B Flat.  Love these bands.

Saturday March 6th: Saturday Jam at Bangalore Central.  I’ve been to Saturday Jam twice but for some reason there weren’t any bands there either time. Better luck this time.
**And since I’m missing Thursday night due to a prior engagement, on Saturday I’m going to go also to see Chromatix in the evening at Kyra.

Sunday March 7th:  Legends of Rock,  Sunday Night Live Gig.

Wednesday March 10th: Rajeev at Kyra.  Really beautiful voice.  New line-up, I gather.

Thursday March 11th: Parousia at Hard Rock Cafe.  Also heard a lot about these guys and it’s Bryan’s band!

Saturday March 13th: Advaita at Opus at the Creek

Sunday March 14th: Drones from the Turbine at The Live Gig at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain AND Gowri at Herbs and Spice

Monday March 15th: Bulls Unplugged at Opus

Thursday March 18th: Aum at Hard Rock Cafe

I’m going to try to write  about every show I see,  posting vids, pics and links, with the bands’ permission.

A caveat, though – I’m not a critic or anything and I’m not trying to write reviews of shows.   I’m not really interested in whether a band is “good” or “bad,” though that might sound odd.  I’m  just more interested in the reasons why different people make different kinds of music, and also what reasons people might have for thinking that certain music is “good” or “bad.” There’s a difference, for sure.  It seems obvious, though it’s often overlooked, that when one makes a “good or bad” judgment about music it’s usually a reflection of his or her own tastes, which themselves are often fairly limited and highly subjective (I know mine are) even if one has all the indie cred in the world.  And as ethnomusicologists we’re meant to listen to music on its own terms.  Which is what I’ll be doing at these shows.

If you happen to read this and know of an upcoming show in Bangalore, will you let me know?  Thanks!

Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 8:14 am  Comments (2)