bye bangalore

WELL, WELL. I seem to have run off in the night, leaving the blog high and dry.  What can I say, it’s a love-hate relationship with this thing.

So…my research period is finished and I left India mid-June, leaving a pile of stuff behind and carting a huge pile of stuff back to Cali – about 25 kilos too much stuff, according to Thai Airlines.  In a misadventure worthy of the sucky-travel hall of fame, the unfeeling desk agents at Bangalore airport (I’m talking to you, Vikram. Thanks so much) dismissed my pleas for leniency and not only charged me a 6500 Rs overage charge for extra baggage (no suprise there) but then coldly and unrelentingly made me unpack all my stuff on the floor of the airport and then fashion a sort of cocoon of cellophane around the extra books, boots, carvings, underclothes, teabags, jewelry, which was then ROLLED by me, much to the amusement of other travelers, back over to the desk. JERKS.

Anyways, home safe and sound, reunited with my long-suffering boyfriend, I’ve spent the last month moving back into my chaotically disorganized apartment, shopping for a new car (being carless in Los Angeles – no me gusta), seeing family and friends and adjusting to being back in glorious, cool and cloudy Cali, while also quietly pining for thalis, autorickshaws, monsoon, fresh coconuts, kingfisher, banyan trees and friends and musicians back in B’lore.

It would be great to be able to do a grand summing-up of my time in Bangalore and my thoughts on the music scene, but I’ve never been one for summations.  I’ve always figured out where my ideas are going as they’re in the process of going there. So I’ll start writing the dissertation that draws from this research in the fall and perhaps one day soon will start to have some (hopefully) intelligent things to say on the topic.

All my thanks and a salutory virtual toast (of Old Monk) to Lounge Piranha, Parachute XVI, Bicycle Days, Kryptos, Wolfpack, Retronome, Galeej Gurus, Thermal and A Quarter, Raghu Dixit Project, Drones from the Turbine, No Safe Word, Demonic Resurrection, Parousia…and Guru, Julia, Abby, Shalini, Ganesh, Ananth, Priya, Bryan, Dhruv, Bushra, Karthik, Chris, Rajeev, Arjun, Vijay, Salman, Sahil, Sowmya, Karan, Nolan, Nathan, Matthew, Gowri, Amrit, Abhi, Avril, George, Kamal, Guarav, Ashish, Rajesh, Divya…every other charming and helpful person I met in India – I couldn’t have asked for a better, more fun and more productive trip.  Thank you so much.

Finally 12 photos of lovely India, unrelated to music:

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Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm  Comments (2)  

hindi zombie movies and brass knuckles

OH BLOG, how neglected you are.  I’m winding down here – I’m leaving India in three weeks – and blogging is low on the list of finishing-up type things I have to do, but I wanted to post about some of the stuff I’ve done in the last couple of weeks.

Parachute XVI at Hard Rock Cafe Hyderabad

I just got back to Bangalore from Hyderabad and Mumbai – I went with the band Parachute XVI to Hyderabad where they played HRC and were great, as usual, although I was in a near catatonic state of tiredness that night, and was unfortunately photographed by some nightlife website looking as though I had come back from the dead to attend the show.  I’d say the band was valiant in the face of the somewhat stifling atmosphere of HRC.  The club does this thing where they send around a score card to rate the band as the band is playing which is TRULY THE LAMEST THING IN THE WORLD (even though Parachute, I gleaned, rated quite highly). I’d like to rate you, Hard Rock Cafe, how about.  On a scale of 1 to 10 for distasteful corporate machination and sheer plastic opposite-of-rock-music-spirit you rate a 9.5.  You get the .5 because you pay the bands at least.

eating dinner in mumbai with my new favorite book

From Hyderabad I went on alone to Mumbai to do some interviews and see some shows, but mostly got caught up in being a tourist in that weird, beautiful, carnivalesque city…I went to art galleries, ate fancy meals and drank champagne, traipsed around the waterfront, shopped in Chor Bazaar where I bought a poster of an eighties Hindi zombie movie and some “antique” brass knuckles for the boyfriend and then got heat stroke and almost passed out on a pile of gramophones. An elderly gentleman had to fan me while a kid ran and got me water. Tres dramatic.  Anyway I was glad to get back to Bangalore and, frankly, am not totes convinced that Mumbai has anything over B’lore in terms of the live rock scene.  Save perhaps the later curfew and Blue Frog.

Speaking of zombie movies and brass knuckles, there was a killer show in Bangalore last night – rockabilly/punk band No Safe Word opened for Lounge Piranha at B Flat, one of my favorite venues. I’ve written about Lounge a bunch – so, briefly: solid set, faithful cadre of fans, and can’t beat them for consistency.  To me they will always be the band I think of first when I think of Bangalore indie rock.

No Safe Word is from Chennai and this was their second show (I think) in Bangalore. Karthik from Bicycle Days turned me onto them and I was instantly smitten.  I was raised on doo-wop and Sun records (fanatically collected by my dad) and was a teenage goth and those influences combined with a liking for punk and living in southern California (where rockabilly thrives) equals me being totally in love with No Safe Word.  And as my friend Priya noted, their band name is pretty unbeatable.

Musically they’re tight and have a sangfroid that’s alluring as hell.  Lead singer Kishore shambles about the stage with an edgy magnetism, a style that’s kind of… Iggy via Screamin’ Jay via Lux Interior (minus a fetish or two) with splashes of hardcore, sixties surf rock and torch song. It’s dark and sexy music reeking of the inimitable psychobilly stench – simultaneously perversely buttoned-up and feverishly emotive. But even better, their songs are enticingly catchy. And they played a cover of Billie Jean that made it ooze like it was abusing cough syrup.  HERE’S their Myspace page.  And HERE and HERE are vids of last night.  If you missed them yesterday No Safe Word will be playing again at Hard Rock on the 17th of June.

Published in: on June 5, 2010 at 7:08 am  Comments (5)  

METAL

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)  

growing a grassroots scene

waiting for the sun to go down at the mushroom cloud fest

I’M not 100% sure what “grassroots” means in relation to rock music, though I throw the term around a lot.  Both politicians and art people talk about things being “grassroots” and generally I’m suspicious of dynamics that transect both art and politics (propaganda, e.g.).  When I use the term I think of it as everything I like about rock music (jamming with friends, teenagers making zines in their bedrooms, DIY shows) and nothing I don’t (mtv, big record labels, etc). The term is probably functioning as a straw man for me – it’s facile thinking about a complex issue: the issue of money, profit and commodification in relation to creativity and musical community.

mushroom cloud fest

But I can’t shake the idea that there is something, some meaningful vector, within the idea of the “grassroots music scene”…I think it has something to do with preserving the sense that making popular music is creatively satisfying and worthwhile – in a world where the word “satisfaction” tends to be prefaced by the word “consumer,”  and the idea of worth more often than not is about capital.  That scene is about listening to amateur bands and new bands, it’s hearing music in parks and at open mic nights, it’s doing your first few shows and getting paid in beer rather than money, and it’s about recognizing what the idea of marketing your “product” has in the life of a band – working around it and in full recognition of both its possibilities and its problems.

In Bangalore there are now open mic nights happening frequently around the city, and several platforms for newish bands to play.  The Mushroom Cloud Festival had some fairly established bands (Parachute XVI) and some newer (The Bicycle Days, Drones from the Turbine, Clipped Wing Satellite, and Cactus Lepers) and was put together by the Live Gig team.  Mushroom Cloud was a great night that took a lot of work on the part of the organizers and the bands and I hope there are more shows like it…see some short videos of the bands HERE and HERE, HERE and HERE.

I don't know who this guy is but I like his style

Rolling Stone and Ballantine’s sponsored an open mic last week that I attended. There were acoustic acts, a nice cover of a great old soul classic (see video HERE), a craaazy metal band doing really strange and original ‘melodies’ over thrash-y drums and guitars (see video of them  HERE and remember – screwing around with sounds is what the early days of your first band is for!) Wrapping up the evening was the band K.A.R.T., which is made up of some established musicians on the scene.  They were clean, exciting, and their singer, whose name I don’t know *Sherin Jacobs* was really quite mesmerizing (see video of them HERE).

KART

The audience for the show were kind of great and supportive.  The mid-size venue was packed and people were generally attentive and respectful of the bands…and none of the TVs were showing cricket so that was helpful.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 7:14 am  Comments (1)  

bangalore experimental

LAST WEEKEND I saw three local bands I’m very fond of: Parachute XVI at HRC, and Lounge Piranha and Bicycle Days at B Flat.  I’ve  written about all three of these bands before.  They, along with Drones from the Turbine (and I’m sure several other bands around town that I have not yet heard/heard of) seem to be slightly and gradually – and maybe somewhat purposefully – gelling into a particular sub-genre within the larger Bangalore rock soundscape. Variously termed experimental, post-rock,  alternative, or psychedelic, a couple of these bands and some others will play Saturday’s Mushroom Cloud Festival at Suburbia. I’m thinking it’s gonna be a good and fun day of interesting music. See a good Bicycle Days video HERE.

I’ve been mulling over the dimensions of this particular emergent sub-genre for a while. I’ve hesitated to partake in the dreaded practice of genre-defining because so many musicians here have expressed that they find it limiting and/or artificial –  that it makes static the flexible process of making sounds.  And the three bands I saw last weekend do have very different sounds: Parachute – maybe because of members’ heavy metal backgrounds – have a classic Bangalorean hard rock foundation under Ananth’s Jimi-reminiscent, psy-blues solos. Bicycle Days’ spacey, phased sound effects support Karthik’s resonant vocals and sometimes spare instrumental layers; LP’s fuzzed melodies enhance Kamal and Abhijeet’s indie-plain vocal delivery…in short all are particular, specific and immanently aesthetically satisfying.  And what these bands have in common sonically is, then, up for debate.

I guess in the past (in bands I was in in Brooklyn) it felt like being aligned with a particular genre was useful, (if of peripheral concern most of the time) because of community. Opening for friends’ bands and then having them open for you, having mutual fans, working together to put on shows…that’s beneficial – and not just a marketing ploy or a facile definition.

Published in: on April 14, 2010 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Slain at HRC…and my love for early 1990’s Metallica.

Slain at Hard Rock Cafe

SLAIN, THE Bangalore-based power metal band who played at HRC on Thursday night, is pretty great.  They play really well, their performance style is exciting, and I really enjoyed their stadium-rock- centric set list.  They’ve won a bunch of competitions and generally seem to have been big men around the scene since they started out in 2006.  This is the first time I’ve seen them play (I missed them at October Fest somehow) and I’m looking forward to hearing more of them.  HERE’S their Facebook page.  HERE’S a video of them covering Bon Jovi, and HERE’S another video of a pretty kickass guitar solo.  On Thursday night they played a combination of covers and originals – including the Metallica song “Enter Sandman.” As that song’s arpeggiated opening guitar line kicked in I was grinning like an idiot…for whatever reason it’s been years since I really listened to it and it was kind of a revelation to hear it again live, so to speak.

When was 13 or 14 I went through a brief Metallica phase.  It was a Johnny-come-lately kind of fandom, initiated by my purchase of the band’s 1991 black album – that Billboard number 1 eponymous record of power ballads that alienated so many of their rabidly dedicated thrash-metal fans and started Metallica down the path of mainstream success that has culminated (or reached its nadir, perhaps) in the group’s present identity as middle-aged, Napster-suing, group-therapy attending, modern-art masterpiece-purchasing, horseback-riding shadows of their former hardcore selves.

Metallica in 1989 (yikes skinny jeans)

Too harsh, maybe?  Incipient-yuppiedom notwithstanding they’re still musically revered as one of the seminal bands of the genre and rightly so, I suppose.  They (especially with the black album) changed the sound and generally widened the appeal of metal.  And every album they’ve released since the black album has gone to number 1 on the Billboard charts, not that that means much regarding musical quality.

I was a poetry-reading goth girl into mopey-dramatic –  rather than angry-dramatic – music, but I used to listen to the black album at an obnoxious volume, lying on the floor in my bedroom, moodily brooding over whatever it was that eighth-grade me had to brood over, reveling in the operatic sincerity and the melodic opulence of the ballads, the hyper-masculine (yet oddly vulnerable?) growl-singing of James Hetfield and…17 years later and I still get a bit of a thrill from that album.

I’m dwelling on some ideas about the “life” of a pop song and of pop idols (I use the word pop loosely here, as in “popular culture.”)  What kinds of power – affective and emotional power – maintains within a pop recording even with repeated listenings? What changes take place in our listening as we return to old pop song loves? Why it is that listening to the Beatles is an almost completely emotionally bankrupt experience for me now (it has something to do with their songs being used on commercials, as well as the uber-glorification of everything baby-boomer by the boomers themselves and how just so very sick of all things boomer it has made me.  Particularly about how amazing and wonderful Woodstock was – let’s be done with that forever, please.)

It’s subjective, I know.  But that’s the point with popular culture, right?  The experience of it is subjective but it’s shared; it’s commodified and deeply emotional (those aren’t necessarily opposed, of course); it’s mediated but even the mediated experience is powerfully immediate.  It’s of its particular time and place (Beatles, Liverpool, 1964,  Fela Kuti, Lagos, 1974) but it travels effortlessly and weirdly unchanged or else completely reworked and differently-meaning through time and space. It’s about memories but it’s also about the future – about aspirations and visions of who we might like to be.

Well anyway. HERE’S a video of Metallica playing Enter Sandman in 1991.  A hundred-thousand Muscovites can’t be wrong, huh?

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 10:12 am  Comments (1)  

some musings on representation and research…and the weekend’s listings

I’VE BEEN thinking a lot about the difficulties of representation through ethnography – the responsibility that comes with delving into people’s lives, their work and their music and then writing about them, representing them in writing.  Making music can be a highly personal affair and the motivations and meanings of it may not always be communicable or translatable in an hour long interview.  I’ve recently been on the receiving end of a journalistic interview myself (with a very charming and interesting writer) and had the experience of seeing my research represented through someone else’s words.  It was eye-opening in the sense that it made me recognize that in the interviews I’m doing in my own work I need to continue to strive to be aggressively committed to listening as fully as possible to what is said to me, what’s left unsaid,  to what’s asked of me, in addition to the music and the lyrics I’m recording nightly.

As I come into the sixth month of research I’m trying to take stock and to get a sense of where this dissertation might go – I’ll be spending another one or two years of my life writing the diss itself – but I don’t think I’ll ever stop being interested in it or trying to educate my students about this topic, wherever I end up teaching. Three years ago when I embarked on this work I was coming from a background of study in three areas: the cross-cultural collaborations or musical sharing between India and the west; the politics and problems of commodification and consumerism in relation to musical culture; and the study of popular music, primarily local rock scenes. In 2007, when I came to Bangalore for a month (on my way to study Hindi film music in Mauritius) I was struck at the outset by two things – the creative commitment of the bands and music people I met in Bangalore and the fact that in the absence of a large audience or support from the national popular music industries, rock performances had often come to rely, at that time, on corporate sponsors.  Today in my research I’m struck by so many other things other than corporate sponsorship (much of which has dried up in the face of the global recession in any case) but that initial visit directed the project at the time – through the books I read, the classes I took, and ultimately the grant I wrote that brought me back to Bangalore in 2009, “Rock Brands/Rock Brands: Performance, Mediation and Commodification in Bangalore’s Rock Music Culture.”

It is in no way unusual for corporate sponsors to stage and underwrite popular music performances anywhere in the world, I’d suggest; but in my research what I wanted to understand was what types of effects such collaborations might have on a scene like Bangalore’s and how or if the symbolic connections between rock music, consumption, and transnational media may or may not have shaped the dimensions or direction of the scene.  Throughout my last months of research, though, and in talking to many open and interesting people my focus has shifted somewhat – to try to understand not just the industry, but what Bruce Lee Mani from Thermal and a Quarter recently called an “ecosystem” of rock music in Bangalore — the musicians, students, fans, writers, the platforms, gigs, pubs, pub owners, the media and the corporate sponsors who all, in different ways, contribute to a scene that is distinctively and particularly of Bangalore, even while it is connected through people and networks to scenes in, for example, Shillong, Delhi, Mumbai, New York, London, or Oslo, etc etc. In that sense I wonder if perhaps playing rock music is something of a metaphor for understanding some aspects of being a particular type of Bangalorean in the globalized city/world of 2010. Being a rock musician here is in some ways like being a rock musician anywhere (the practices, processes of song-writing, the struggles of collaborating closely with other musicians) while it also has issues and meanings that are specific to Bangalore and its politics and culture.  To play rock music here involves, I think, being aware of and attuned to the transnationally recognizable repertoire that is rock and roll and popular music, while also following personal inspirations and motivations  for making particular sounds – whether metal, fusion, or classic rock; whether partaking in the distinct pleasures of singing a Pink Floyd cover song or performing experimental original music; whether the lyrics are in English, Kannada, Malayalam or Hindi, whether using Indian instruments, didgeridoos, the classic rock lineup or a combination of all of those.

So anyway…some musings.  There are some good shows coming up this weekend and I’m gonna try and hit them all.

Thursday 4/1: Slain at HRC

Friday 4/2: Whiplash Psychedelic rock fest at BMSC

Saturday 4/3: Chilly Potato at Urban Solace

Saturday 4/3: Blues Before Sunrise at Kyra

Sunday 4/4: Pseudo Code at Legends of Rock

Hope to see you there!

Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 7:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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