I was having a straight-up crap week last week for no apparent reason.  And then on Thursday night I grumpily dragged myself off to Furtados for the Metal Meltdown and…it was GREAT.  It instantly cured my bad mood.  I’d forgotten that a metal show – the screaming, the ear-piercing-ness, the headbanging, the moshing, the unadulturated earnestness – could be so refreshingly and cathartically testosteronic (yes that is a word, my computer told me so).

Bands at Metal Meltdown were Blind Image from Chennai, System House 33 and Chronic Phobia from Mumbai, Purple Blood from Trivandrum and local band Kryptos – my favorite! – fronted by the awesome Nolan.  (I got the show lineup from the FB page so if it changed my apologies).  HERE’S a video of Kryptos.  And HERE’S a video of (I think?) Purple Blood.

It was HOT. I mean the bands were and the space was, I was sweaty and was trying to avoid everybody else’s long sweaty flying hair also.  I was surprised that Furtados didn’t mind the (admittedly small and relatively tidy) mosh pit that started in the middle of the store since there were glass walls and hanging instruments all around.  I wanted to be like, ‘settle down kids’ but restrained myself.  HERE’S a video.  And it was so loud that the sound on my camera distorted, sorry.

in the pool at summer storm

Next night was Summer Storm pre-party at Zero G.  I guess it had some behind-the-scenes issues and got way behind schedule, but the idea of having the band on the edge of an empty pool and the mayhem contained within the pool was a good idea.  I’m not gonna lie, the night only seemed to get off the ground sporadically – due I think in part to the issues with scheduling but also due to some of the longest sound-checks known to mankind.  Nothing kills momentum like 20 minute pauses between 25 minute sets.

Despite that I think props are due to the organizer of these two shows: Salman of Infinite Dreams artist management.  It’s not that easy to get shows together with a bunch of bands from all over the place and things can and will always go wrong.  But it’s important that someone cares enough about the scene to try and make shows come off and to make space for local and regional bands to be heard.

And then I didn’t go to the Lamb of God show. But I heard through FB status updates that it was really amazing except for the normal police damping down of the mood. Bloody noses, sprained ankles and voices lost from screaming…a successful metal show.  So glad everyone has now recovered from the bitter disappointment of BSB. Which reminds me…

I have a beef with people (not specifically related to these shows, but generally) for whom everything is “gay” this “fag” that.  What’s the point?  We get it, you’re not gay, and apparently you don’t like gay culture.  Well, since that’s kind of how I feel about straight culture, I’ve decided to start using “hetero”  (as in heterosexual) as an insult.  It shall mean un-ironically square, self-important, macho, banal & uninterestingly retrograde.  Let’s see if I can make it stick!

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 7:29 am  Comments (4)  

some Indian rock history, part 2

I’VE BEEN reading Rock Street Journal back issues all week. Eight years of it, from 1994 to 2003 (skipping parts of 1999) but, you know, THOUSANDS of pages.  RSJ was started independently by Amit Saigal in 1993 and was the only magazine devoted to Indian rock music for the 15 years before Rolling Stone India arrived in 2008.  In the early years RSJ covered international bands predominantly with some short features on Indian rock bands; in the early 2000s it focused on more Indian bands.

It’s been illuminating (and dusty) reading.  The mid-late nineties were when a lot of the people I’ve been interviewing first got into rock music, and when a bunch of big international acts like Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, and Slash came to India, and when Indus Creed sort of took things to the next level in terms of “making it” internationally (or made a valiant attempt to do so, at least.)  The articles on local and international bands are fascinating for me – they’re giving me a sense of context for the interviews I’ve done, an idea of the historical trajectory of the scene, and some clues to understanding the central place of 1970s and 1980s heavy metal bands in the inspirational repertoire of Indian rock musicians.

Advertisement for Coca-Cola and MTV sponsored song contest, 1996

Also I could go on and on about the symbolism of the advertisements (mostly interesting for my own research), the various contests to win guitars, tee-shirts, or the chance to make your own music video (the one advertised on the left requires that you send in a tape of your song along with a recording of you humming the Coca-Cola jingle, and the winner makes a music video courtesy of MTV India)…but I’ll save that – as well as an interpretation of “bhaizone” over here – for the dissertation.

I’m looking to RSJ not as the final word on the development of the rock scene but as part of a complex of discourses, sounds, images, and histories that together make up the life of rock music in the country.  To that end the editor’s letters, letters TO the editor, and the “classifieds” section of RSJ have been really great to read – occasionally diverting, or somewhat mysterious, or amusing, or just cool.  So without further ado, some quotes:

from the June 1996 issue, reporting on Banglore’s Halcyon festival: “The next night [of the festival] was to feature a rock show but with the ban on professonal bands still in effect in the state, the rock show got going minus a pro act.  In a show of camaraderie, various artists from the competing bands came forward to join together on stage for the promised concert.  However the United Nations show was a total disaster, ending in a hailstorm of chappals and abuse!”  What ban on professional bands??  Can someone enlighten me? And haha, a “hailstorm of chappals and abuse.”  That’s the way to express displeasure with a show!

Indus Creed and Slash at 1996's MTV India relaunch party in Mumbai

From the February 1996 issue, after MTV’s initial ignomious retreat from India RSJ reports on their semi-triumphal return, which draws Slash to the launch party to ‘jam’ with Indus Creed.  Mr. Peter Jamieson, then President of MTV Asia, states that that they’re not going to back down from a battle for viewers with upstart Channel V: “It’s like a soldier returning home to find that someone else has moved in to look after his wife and kids.  We want our India back.”  So THAT’S a touch bizzare. And to my ears kind of offensively patriarchal.  Plus, using Slash as a Trojan horse, seriously.  There hasn’t been a GNR video on MTV in what, 10 years? Someone, and really I’d love to do this project, could write a great study of MTV’s rise and fall and revamp in India…

From the March 1996 issue, a report of a show with the band 13 AD at Rajendra Maidan in Cochin: “The show had to be stopped by the police due to the unruly crowd who seemed to have come to create chaos rather than enjoy the music.  The police resorted to ‘lathi charge’ to subdue the crowd, all of which was caught ‘live’ by the hovering MTV crew.” …What? Just…what??

From the February 1995 issue, reporting from Mokokchung, where a “Rock Shock Show” featuring the band Abiogenisis was organized by the anti-drug society of Nagaland:  “Brief speeches on drug abuse were delivered between sets, and the concert wound up at around 9:30 pm.”  Haha! sounds like a PAR-TAY.

from article on managers in the rock scene, 2003

I came across a bunch of familiar faces, including in this picture from 2003 from an article on managers. Guru with short hair (is that a mug shot?) and a really young Vijay.  A teenager!  I don’t remember exactly what I was doing when I was 17 but it wasn’t planting the seeds of my music empire.

Also, some great classifieds (all bolds in original):

“I, Vineesh, LEAD GUITARIST from Kerala have all equipment that a rock band lead guitarist needs.  I wish to join a rock band. Please contact [address].”

“WANTED: Kris Kristofferson tapes in exhange for Doobie Brothers or Black Sabbath tapes.

“WANTED FRIENDSHIP from Guns and Roses fans. Write to : Guns and Roshen, [address]”

And looking for a pen pal:  “HI.  My name is K. Yomong, and I’m 17 years old.  I have a special interest in ROCK MUSIC and in reading the Rock Street Journal.  You can write me: [address]”

Metallica and Alice in Chains chord chart

Heartfelt! Love it.  I can imagine all the guys I know now in Bangalore as teenagers (and really there really weren’t many women in there as far as I could tell) poring over RSJ.  Maybe learning how to play from the chord charts and lyric sheets included in the mag…

Published in: on May 8, 2010 at 11:49 am  Comments (4)