Those who appreciate Prog-Rock’s bizarreness are familiar with its dark lyrical themes, extended instrumental interludes, undulating time-signatures, ambient chord progressions and sampled synth loops. While Post-Rock shares many of these elements, much of it is instrument based, and I love every bit of its weirdness! This attraction to strange beautiful things has kept music that lies left of commercial drivel at the top of my playlist for as long as I can remember. This is also why I chose to attend a less crowded gig titled ‘Dream State’ on a Sunday evening over a friendly riot (a metal gig) that ran at another venue nearby. The three young bands that played at Blue Frog on the 17th of April displayed a gradient in experience but weren’t short on talent. That being said, I loved the three performances in bits and for different reasons.
First up we have, Elevate, a band hailing from the parched district of Thane. To begin, I want to commend them for the guts they had to perform covers by two of Mumbai’s best Bands. While their cover of Black Strat Blues’ Bombay Rain wasn’t up to the mark, attempting it is no cake walk, especially if this is your first gig in a year. They admit to being Warren Mendonca’s fan boys before they continue with a tribute to the master titled, Blues for Warren. The performance kicks up a storm when Shivam Limaye comes in with a Plini inspired run that was spot on with its closing minor 2nd dual string drawl. It flows into guitar lines that were well phrased, but shaky in places. What came next is a mix of 6/4 head bang worthy riffs laced with pre-programmed samples over an impressively unconventional arrangement.
As Shivam tunes up his black Schecter 7-string before they cover of Pangea’s Woman Can’t Behave on Busses, he faces much dreaded string snap. Conflicted whether to carry on with another song or wing it with a 7 (minus 1) string guitar, they decide to take the plunge. At the end of the cover, they politely apologized for the bloopers. Considering the style of music they make, they’re making the right choices with the covers they pick. Nevertheless, with Pangea, you have to get it right without any excuses.
While the use of samples shaped their sound heavily, a second guitar player would have filled up the gaps, leaving the samples to serve their ambient and synth needs. Again, while being somewhat unpolished, they brought an arsenal of technical detail into their performance, specifically with the use of live guitar loops to layer their interludes. The use of loops and programmed samples calls for thorough rehearsal efforts; drummer Nachiket Karekar effectively kept it together on stage with sharp attention to the click track. While their apparent awkwardness is characteristic of a young band, I do hope their future performances are a bit more seamless, both in terms of their presence and song flow.
Keep at it guys, you’re in the right direction! You should follow Elevation on Facebook.
Drawing Short Straws (Pune)
As Pune based band, Drawing Short Straws settles in for their set, I think to myself, ‘These guys look like a band.’ While they faced a few technical glitches before they began, they came in strong and kept it that way. While I was particularly drawn to the hints of Tool and A Perfect Circle in their sound, there was an immense display of talent by drummer Shreyas Iyengar. Not only did he display calm presence behind the pub’s Pearl drum kit, but with crisp hits on a well-tuned snare and an uncharacteristic control over song dynamics, he perfectly captured the essence of their sound.
It’s clear that Sunai Marathe paid good attention to his guitar’s tone quality along with a rational use of time-based and pitch modulation effects. Although they lacked punch and fell flat in places , balancing vocals with well written riffs seemed to come easily to him. Along with Siddhart Gupta’s punchy bass sound, the three of them pulled of a set that deserved a stronger cheering crowd. Their diverse choice in covers (Terrible Lie, The Mark Has Been Made-NIN; I’m Afraid of the Light-David Bowie) reflected the maturity they displayed on stage.
A backing vocal delivering drummer isn’t that a rare a surprise, but mic bombing the space between songs to announce Bieber and Gomez covers as your next song is short on humorous; unless you’re Scribe and you have a rep for covering pop songs. But I must say, I fell down laughing when he shouted, “SALEEENAAAA!!” before they began Terrible Lie (or was it another?).
Somewhere before 12 am they didn’t notice a frustrated looking Circle of Fifths standing by the stage before announcing a David Bowie cover to conclude their set. None the less their rendition of I’m Afraid of Americans was top notch.
Check out this performance of Limbo Live from the Console at Mehboob Studios.
Circle of Fifths (Navi Mumbai)
The stage seems oddly crowded as the final band for the night, Circle of Fifths steps on with a fair deal of impatience. Guitarist Tanay Kasera, teased the crowd with rounds of clean chord progressions—the names of which I could never guess— on his red Fender Telecaster before they started their set. As they begin their set, the crowd returns to the front of the floor drawn to the distortion filled heaviness the city’s scene so faithfully loves. It’s clear that they draw influences from instrumental guitar gods, Plini and Sithu Aye, whose sound is not only hard sound to emulate, but a challenge to perform. None the less, the band delivered an original set that was a technical mix of clean and heavy riffs with sporadic variations in rhythm.
To produce the dominating low end distorted guitar tone for the genre, down tuning six string guitars can leave you constantly on edge with tuning losses during performances. Strat’s and Tele’s I feel, don’t quite cut it when it comes to delivering such genre. But then again, it’s about the player and not the instrument and along with Kasera’s proficient solo playing, his fellow axe-man Vivek Singha, has just what it takes. While bass player Daanish Kabir politely spoke for the band in between songs ignoring a trolling crowd, his stage presence and playing reminded me of CHON’s Drew Pelisek.
Half-way through their set, they invite drummer Ishan Jadwani to the stage for an impromptu jam. A talented drummer, he delivered a drum solo that was to the last hit, spectacular. I managed to catch a bit of it on my camera. Check it out (Please don’t mind the poor quality):
From heavy riffs to clean interludes, their performance shows the talent possessed and the practice put in. However, they’re just on the threshold of getting it right both with sonic consistency and on-stage coherence and only time will tell how good they can get. Rolling Stone covered Circle of Fifths in this article, it also features their single ‘Aura’ the concluding track of their set that night. Give it a listen!
I hope the three of them get down to the studio to record and release the albums/EP’s they have been working on. People would like to listen to more of a band’s music before they attend their gigs.
Photo Credit: All photos taken from the bands’ Facebook pages