It was 'band aid` in Chennai
The June Rock Out finale at the Unwind Center last week featured some of Chennai's leading bands. The organisers plan to have such shows in Bangalore and Mumbai next year.
THE RAIN gods seem to turn up in the Chennai division turn up like bad coins. True to character, they invited themselves to a couple of June Rock Out (JRO) shows this year. But the twilight sky in June on Friday this past week had the promise of a "dry" evening. All the same, presentiments of a downpour persisted, for rain gods are a law unto themselves. You never know what to expect from them. They do their unexpected act at the unexpected hour. But, for once, they exhibited a sense of occasion by staying away from the St. George's School Grounds that evening, which marked the end of the month-long JRO 2002.
Once again, the organisers applied themselves to the invidious task of frisking the rock fans, not for tools of terror, but drugs and alcohol. Sound engineers were busy tuning their gizmos to the right pitch. `Rockniks' would soon be deluged by sound. To be more precise, it would be a ricochet of sound waves off the four corners of the arena. "The audience would be treated to a four-way barrage of sound. The capacity would be a minimum of 90,000 watts," explained Bhairav, production-in charge, V&P, pointing out what was in store for the jitterbugs.
After the customary how-do-you-dos and handshakes, one got to talk to John Christian, the tutelary authority behind the young crowd that seems to run the Unwind Center. He speaks about the cause. "I pay Rs. 50 for the Live 1o1 shows. When I am for business, I am 100 per cent for business. When I am for charity, I am 100 per cent for charity. We need to generate money from within our own country." Then, about Indian musicians. "In the United Kingdom, the best musicians are Indians. Our musicians are more talented than they get credit for. One of the objectives of the Unwind Center is to give Indian musicians a leg up."
Looking at the "rockniks", who were milling around the venue, you got the impression that most of them could pass for sophomores from the IIT. Surely, eighty per cent of them were yet to see their thirtieth summer.
Hardly had the gig begun with a string of originals from the Cochin-based band, Mother Jane, than the crowd started swirling and swaying. Their album `Insane Biography' descants upon the alienation and disillusionment, which have a ubiquitous presence on the mindscape of modern man. One of the songs, Soul Corporations, takes a dig at religions, "which are intent just on getting their market shares" and are not free of the chicanery that is the hallmark of economic empires. Another song, Prison Walls is about "how we limit ourselves". They also performed cover versions of Metallica, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater and Megadeth.
Mother Jane is steered by Suraj Mani on vocals, Baiju on lead guitar, Rex on the guitar, John Thomas on the drums and Clyde on the bass.
Baiju and Rex, with their shoulder length manes, were banging their heads with vehemence, even as their fingers flowed deftly on the strings.
Mother Jane made way for Bacchus from Chennai. The band comprises David Pascal, Mario, Ranjith , David Fernandez, Sanjeev Rai and Prithvi Chandrasekhar.
David Pascal electrified the evening and had young rockniks "crowd surfing". For the uninitiated, you are crowd surfing, if people lift you over their heads.
Pascal's rendition of Val Halen's Jump tweaked the crowd into a frenzy. Later, he led the crowd into a trance with the mesmerising Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd). Your lips move but I can't hear what you are saying/ When I was a child I had a fever/ My hands just felt like two balloons/ Now I've got that feeling once again/ I can't explain you would not understand/ This is not how I am/ I have become comfortably numb.
When Bacchus set the pitch to Jon Bon Jovi's It's My life, the audience went into shivers of ecstasy. "It's my life/ Better stand tall when it's calling you out/ Don't bend, don't break/ Baby, don't back down/ It's my life/ It's now or never/ I ain't going to live forever/ I just want to live while I'm alive/ It's my life."
The band also performed cover versions of the Eagles, Nirvana and Metallica. The show tailed off with a rendition of Pink Floyd's The Wall.
At the soiree, one noticed volunteers wearing T-shirts which cried: The U.S. has Woodstock, the U.K. has Monsters of Rock, and India has June Rock Out.
One could not help wondering if Unwind Center would really want JRO to be identified with a concert like Woodstock? Woodstock had different connotations for different people. To some, it was a byword for drugs and alcohol. Unwind Center has been doing a commendable job, as it has been campaigning for "clean rock" for four years now. Later, Saroop Oommen, coordinator, Live 1o1, said Unwind Centre would organise such annual rock events in Bangalore and Mumbai.
"But those shows would not be called June Rock Out," he added.
In rock-starved Chennai, a show like JRO could easily parade as the biggest head-banging event, but will it be able to garner the same honour in cities like Bangalore or Mumbai?
One can score one's greatest victory only when one meets one's greatest challenge. Unwind Centre's greatest challenge is waiting in Bangalore and Mumbai. And, probably, its greatest victory too.
Unwind Center has instituted "Rock Unwind for the Future" (RUFF) awards for Indian musicians.
The awardees for the "Rock Year 2001-2002" were selected by a panel of judges from the Unwind Center, and through a nomination survey on the Internet through www.Youth.Sify.com.
The RUFF award for "Contribution to Indian music" went to Louis Banks. Candywalk, by Orange Street, which is a Delhi-based band, bagged the Best Album award. The award for the Best Song went to `There's no time" by Strange Brew, a Pune-based band.
It was decided by the panel that the "Best Musician of the Year" award should go to an "all-round" musician (ie, someone who is an instrumentalist, a vocalist and a song writer as well). Bruce Lee Mani - of the band Thermal & A Quarter from Bangalore - was seen as fulfilling that criterion.
Send this article to Friends by