The day had finally arrived. Anyone who regularly goes to concerts knows it to be a painful experience right up to the time the main act takes the stage. And this was no exception. Rock in India started at about 2:30 in the afternoon with the Indian Professional bands playing first in a side stage after which the main acts of Machinehead and Megadeth would take place. Now only the real Rock fans know to appreciate Indian rock bands. And for all those, it was a feast on that day as about 7 well known bands performed all their hit singles. Now before I get into the details of the show, let me tell you something about the concert as such.
Now as in any concert, it was a NO SMOKING area. Yeah right! The only thing you could see there at all times was smoke! And for the first time in India, a rock concert had alcohol being sold in the arena-courtesy Royal Challenge who were the main sponsors for the entire event! So all those who wanted to get high and headbang to glory were in for a treat. Well at least that’s what I thought so! Because only after I realized that there was ‘other’ stuff in use to get high, did I understand why there was that different smell to all that smoke around me! My good friend who had accompanied me to the concert stabbed me to the ‘stuff’- like he always does. And throughout the festival, the crowd was very violent, with a hell lot of unfriendly pushing and pulling, with all of it culminating in one of the most violent mosh pits that I have seen! And that’s as much as I wanted to say about the concert as such. So now lets get on with the bands and their performances.
1) Casino Blues: So first up was Casino Blues. Apparently they had won some competition and had come all the way from Assam or something. Ok so they started playing their originals with not much of a stage presence and that really got a section of the crowd who were already drunk to start hurling abuses at the band members-both verbally and with gestures. But well, the band members couldn’t do much could they? So they just continued with their songs. They must have sung some 4 of their own. They were not bad. But I believe they are still beginners in the field of professional music and need some experience playing on stage. Notwithstanding the crowd jeers, they began to play “Where the streets have no name” by U2 to end their stint. Like I said, I would like to see them some 4-5 years from now.
2) Prestorika: I guess that’s the name of the band (or is it Perestroika?). Anyway, I had heard a few of their songs before and I liked them. I don’t remember too much about their performance apart from the fact that they were a lot heavier than Casino Blues and the crowd obviously seemed to like that. They responded with the first mosh pit of the day where a drunk dude got his shirt torn pretty bad and was happy about it! Their music was good and they had a nice stage presence. The crowd definitely liked them.
3) Junkyard Groove: Now this was one band that I was really looking forward to. I had heard a few of their songs previously and had also heard of their good stage performances. And I was definitely not disappointed. Their originals were really melodious to hear and even better were their stage presence. It was like seeing a really experienced band play on stage. They got the crowd to actually sing along their best original-“Its OK”. Now that is something that doesn’t happen all the time with Indian bands!
Lead Vocalist (to the silent crowd): “Hey common man! Say something. Say We love you, Once more, Fuck off! Say anything!”
The band really got a big ovation from the crowd which was really sizeable in number.
4) Motherjane: Ok Motherjane was very easily the best of all the Indian bands that played on that day! Now here is a piece of information hard to digest: All the band members are from Kerala and are staying in Kerala! So what you have here is a ROCK band comprising full of Mals! Now I never knew I would live to see that day! But I have and I am glad for that! Motherjane, I believe is the band that has the true potential to make it big on the international stage. Their music is a blend of rock and classical. And the best part is that it doesn’t sound incongruous at all! It would be very easy to see these guys on the street and dismiss them off as just another horde of Mallus.
But make no mistake! These guys are good! The lead vocalist was a smart looking chap with the voice anyone would die for! And the lead guitarist! I mean, if you actually saw this guy somewhere, you would think this guy was some sort of a rustic Mal. But there he was on stage with his guitar and his cooling glasses playing these mind blowing leads in classical style like a GOD! I just loved his attitude. It was like he was saying: “I am a Mal. I ROCK!” Never saw that one coming! He was my first qualified candidate for the “Cool Mal” image! Mindstreet was the song of the entire evening which got the most crowd participation and cheers! They also played a few other songs. But there was this one song during which the guitarist had some problem with the amp and he had to actually fix it during the song and before the lead started. So here is this guy, fixing the amp during the song with his lead coming up in a few moments, fixes the amp, and then goes on to play the best solo of the evening! Now if you know which was the song that he played, please let me know. I just loved that piece!
All in all, Motherjane was the best Indian band to perform that day!
5) Thermal and a Quarter: Ok obviously no introduction is required for this band! Everyone knows TAAQ. I had just gone out as they started to play. I guess I didn’t miss out on many of their songs. But even though I was very much in the arena for all their show, I don’t remember them playing Jupiter Café. Now if they did, do let me know. I was really looking forward to that. But they played their other songs and a couple of unreleased ones from their new album as well. Like I said, I wasn’t there for the entire performance but as far as I could make out, the music was definitely good!
6) Millenium: Now that was a band that I hadn’t heard at all and I wanted to see what music they played. Apparently these guys have been around for a lot of time and have released many albums. They basically played real hard metal prompting the crowd to go on a mosh rampage. I did like their music and would like to listen to them sometime. They had a great stage presence though!
7)Pentagram: Ok frankly speaking I am not a great fan of this band. Largely due to the predominant electronic sound that they have. And as this was the last band before Machinehead, I went over to the other stage where Machinehead and Megadeth would be performing. And I really didn’t pay much attention to what was going on there as everyone were already jostling for space around me.
Now I had frankly not been listening to them before I learnt that they would be coming down here. And even after that, I found their music too hard for me. But it was a totally different scene altogether at the concert. Once Machinehead came on stage and started hammering through their numbers, I saw this huge mosh pit next to me and I was so fuckin tempted to go mosh myself! I almost joined them but my friend pulled me back just in time! But looking back now, I wish I had moshed then. But there was no stopping Machinehead. One after another their songs started getting harder and harder. Lead vocalist Robert Flynn spoke a lot to the crowd about how they had never dreamt that they would be coming to India when they started off and stuff like that. And then he went on to say this: “Someone around here in the crowd is smoking an enormous amount of Marijuana and it is all coming over here! Way to go man!” Now that was something!
It was a true headbanger’s dream come true! That was officially the best growling I had ever heard! I guess that is what you would call Professional Growling! Machinehead was just simply too fuckin’ heavy and too fuckin’ good!
Ok first things first. This is not the same old Megadeth. There is no Marty Friedman. Get that. And no Glen Drover. It was only Mustaine from the original lineup but I will not underestimate the bassist James Lemenzo and drummer Shawn Drover were already seasoned Megadeth members. But I really wanted to see how good the new guitarist Chris Broderick was. Mustaine had a lot of great things to say about him prior to the concert. Anyway, they came on stage at around 9 in the night to some deafening cheers and straight away screamed into “Sleepwalker” from their latest album. Now I might not get the entire order perfectly. So just let me know if I am wrong. And after Sleepwalker, they began one of my favorites “In my Darkest Hour”! The intro riffs were damn good but was disappointing were the sound systems. I was really surprised with the lack of sound volume in the first place alongwith the complete absence of the vocals and the lead guitars. However I enjoyed the song thoroughly and then they screamed into A Tout Le Monde one of my other favorites. I think they played the original version and not the one in their new album but I couldn’t make it out clearly- what with Mustaine making the crowd do the singing. Again, I could not make out the lead guitar at the end of the song which was really disappointing. But then the sound improved when they screamed into “Skin o’ My Teeth”.
At that time I knew that they would be belting out only their hit numbers. So then followed Hangar 18 and Symphony of Destruction! It was then that I remembered that seeing those songs being performed live by Megadeth themselves was my teenage fantasy and it was really hard to believe that it was happening in front of me! I headbanged to Hangar 18 and Symphony of Destruction to my complete satisfaction! Frankly speaking, I went hysterical when they played those songs, acting like I was out of my senses! Anyone who had seen me at that time would have surely got concerned about my mental state. The sound had improved a lot by then and I was able to hear the solo clearly. But what I was disappointed was with Chris Broderick. I mean he was the lead guitarist but Mustaine was playing most of the solos. Even in Hangar 18! Now I have no doubt about Broderick’s ability to shred and play any Megadeth lead, but he never was the highlight even in the solos! Anyway, I don’t know when exactly but I clearly remember the intro to Tornado of Souls and heard the crowd go wild. I love that song and that lead as well! And then they played “Washington is Next” from their new album. The crowd was headbanging again when James went into the bass of “Peace Sells But who is Buying”. But one song that I was really waiting for all the time was TRUST and as James gave the bass intro to it, and as the drums picked up and the intro lead came up, I saw myself getting hysterical yet again! The lead is clearly the highlight of the song and Broderick played it to perfection! I just loved that one moment in the middle of the song when it went complete silent and then next moment Broderick is ripping through the lead. That one moment, I felt my fantasy fulfilled! I just loved TRUST!
I was really expecting them to play She-Wolf or Secret Place but instead they went into Burnt Ice from their new album which involved a lot of shredding and it was good. “Before we end this tonight, we would like to just tell you how much we liked being here….And we will be back!” and then the guitar screamed HOLY WARS! That was exactly the last time that I went hysterical that night! Headbanging to Holy Wars was something that I thought would never happen. But there I was headbanging myself till my neck hurt. But again, I was really disappointed that Broderick didn’t take the stage and instead it was Mustaine all the way even in Holy Wars! Not that he was bad but a lead guitar is a lead guitar and he is the one who should be providing the style to the performance. Like I said, I do not doubt Chris’ ability but I just wish he had played a more active part in the concert. And so there it was! They had performed 12 of their hits in just over an hour. It was surely a short performance but one that was packed with a lot of energy!
And all I cared was that I was there when Megadeth came to Bangalore and I headbanged to Hangar 18 and Holy Wars! Now that’s something I can tell my grandchildren about. So if any of you had been to the concert, do leave a comment about your experience there.
PS: My good friend and I were supposed to get drunk at my home as my parents were out. Forget the booze, we didn’t get anything to eat in the first place and had to satisfy our extreme hunger with Cucumber and Carrot!