The day? Saturday, 28th January 2006. The place? Khar Gymkhana grounds? The event? Republic Rock. Hmm… something didn’t seem right.
When I first had gotten to know of this “free” gig, I was totally blown away. 4 of the best bands ever, and that too at a free show. Sweet. So, I had carefully gone out of my way to inform everyone I knew about this gig. And that was how the event turned a bit sad for me.
As it was a “free” show, I reached the venue one hour before the start, i.e. at 5 p.m. I was the first guy to reach there, well, atleast I thought I was. Went straight up to the entry gate, only to be stopped by the “Voluntiers” (yeah, seriously, that was printed on the badges) who demanded a pass. WTF? What pass? From where? “I don’t know” Hmm… So what did I do? Made some calls and waited… paitiently… when this gang of 3 people walk in with an extra pass, and I get to go in.
Alms for Shanti were sound-checking. I liked the sound-check. They had a Mridangam player with them, and the bassist was looking great. Oh and btw, I also got to meet Sidd Coutto, HFC’s bassist and Rajeev Talwar while they quietly made their entry. Surprise of the evening so far… Meghu’s new haircut.
Coming back… after a couple of quick calls to friends, I spotted Himanshu entering, and after explaining the situation, he took me to Anuj Gupta, who willingly helped me out with 5 extra passes. Sweet. Went back outside, waved the passes on the “Voluntiers’” face, and waited patiently for friends to arrive.
Once we met up, Goldwyn and me walked in, to find quite a stupid looking crowd. While he smoked, I went on to notice intricate details about the venue. Almost an I-Rock XX setting, with almost the same backdrop (except for the Spandan mention), the same Marshall amps, but a different drum-kit. Oh and btw, there were two halves for the audience… one the standing part (where we were) and another sitting area (being filled up by uncles, aunties, Chhotu’s and Pinkies… ouch!) The crowd started to fill in, and with the usual, customary hi’s and hellos, came some eating and drinking…
The show starts off with Helga’s Fun Castle. They were missing their drummer, Jai, who is currently infected with Chicken Pox. So, it was Sidd on drums and vocals, Meghu on guitars and their bassist on bass. They started off with an original dedicated to Jai, “Mr. Fancypants”. Right from the start, HFC wasn’t the same… after all, Sidd was not on the stage, and Jai’s drumming style is well, ir-replaceable. But, considering the facts, this was still a strong song. They followed it up with “For Spandan” (instead of Luke) and man, did we laugh… especially the free-styling Sidd does on the vocals. Next came “Fire” and then, “Sometimes”. Love that song. After a brief teaser came the first mosher of the evening… a beautiful cover of RATM’s “Bulls On Parade”… sweet, good warm up. They followed that with “SSG”, with the crowd singing behind as usual and ended their set with “The Marching Song.” A nice set, tho Jai’s absence was prominent.
The compere then announced the next band as “Prestroika”… Hmm… well, dude, one thing I know is that if you are gonna compere, please, please, oh-please, get your facts clear… He quickly changed it to the correct name, “Prestorika”. By that time, I got a call from Shubhank, to inform me that Siddharth, Atul and he were waiting for me outside. I went out, and got them in only to see that Prestorika had only one guitarist? Why’s that? The vocalist then tells us, “Hey, we don’t have our second guitarist today, so we’ll be playing a very small set.” Hmm… Damn. They start off with a rather long sound-check, which turned out to be a song called “Ctrl.Alt.Del.” Pretty ohk instrumental. This was followed by an original, from their new album out (Emergency – you better pick it up), titled “His Mission”. They then wanted to wrap it up by playing another instrumental whose name was something with “see”… (Didn’t get it). But they eventually wrapped up with another OC, “Sychophant”. Pretty tight band, but I want to see a complete performance once. Siddharth and me discussed the possibility of this band in the future… nice, bright one, according to us.
We had a small, one-man competition then, with some funny guy going on stage to sing some GnR number. He actually asked Alms for Shanti (AfS) to play for him… Well, if I was AfS, he would’ve been in the hospital now, with his two hands covering his groin with much anguish and pain on his face.
Coming back, the next band up was AfS. Impressive band. Always wanted to see them live, and well, this was my chance. They had a mridangam player with them, Rajesh, I think his name was. Well, they started off with a good OC, whose title I can’t seem to recollect. Nice song tho, and that’s all I care about. They followed this up with “For The Mahatma”, another OC, with well, a really cool sounding outro. That one had quite a few in the crowd surprised, but hey, it was a really great track. They then started off with some ad-libbing, with “Dhoom, Dhoom, Chak” or something like that which led into their cover of “Come Together”. Nicely done. The guitarist has a lovely 80s touch to his style, while the bassist is supremely talented. So too the vocalist and the drummer. They then did another ad-lib song, “Lahoom”… well; the most impressive part of the song was the lovely mantra recitation by Rajesh and the “bol-beats” by the band together. Also featured here was a small drum-mouth encounter. They went on to play their famous single, “Kashmakash” and ended the set with another OC. A damn neat set, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them live again on the 6th of February.
Well, the time was just 8:40 when Zero took center-stage. I was excited as hell. That meant atleast an hour-long Zero setlist. Rajeev came on, and after the soundcheck, they started off with “Hate In Em”. Love that song, and the pit that formed was huge. They followed this with “Old Man Sitting On A Black Porch”, another moshing song. Great heavens, the fire-breather was hot, and the pit hotter. I’ve been in rough pits, but this one was surely something else. Must’ve fallen down twice and my lower back was already gone. Loved it all, tho. Then Zero started off with some mellower tunes of theirs, with one sung exclusively by Meghu. (Leave vocals for Rajeev, Please!). By the way, Rajeev had this unusual accent today, especially when introducing his songs. Oh and, Varun was playing alongside Sidd, Bobby and Meghu today. Looks like they’ve finally found a replacement for Warren, that being two guitarists… (Hehehe…). They also played a brand new track, “I’m Not Alone”. I liked that one. Very unpredictable. Well, I don’t quite remember the order, but the songs that I heard next were “Lucy”, “Not My Kind Of Girl” and their version of “Come Together”. After this, they returned us back to Spain with “Mariachi”. Again, the pit formed was quite good. The crowd went nuts screaming for “PSP” but, they only got a small “MC/BC” song, followed by a really wild version of “La Bamba”. Man, gotta tell you this, the pit for this one was quite good too. They then did the moshing song of India, “PSP’ 12”, again, starting off with a slow intro and leading in to the powerful chorus. The crowd went nuts, and yes, the pit was great. Zero then concluded the show with another cover, whose name I can’t remember. A great set, Rajeev was really top notch with vocals today, and yes, I’m actually beginning to like the Meghu-Varun combo.
Post gig, and farewells later, (said bye to PDVs P-Man and Vispy), Shubhank, Sidd, Atul and me went off to catch something to eat. We ate at this really khopche-main Chinese joint, and discussed various crappy things. Nice. And then, we went home…
So, overall, the gig turned out ohk, the saving grace being AfS, Zero and my friends, with whom I had a lovely time. Best song, was well, “Kashmakash” and “PSP ‘12” while worst song of the evening had to be “Ctrl. Alt. Del.”. Wish that whoever the organizer was thought of organizing more gigs…