October 1st, 2005. The day had arrived. I-Rock XX. After several events and a cancellation of the show, I was only too happy that the Woodstock of India was taking place. Maybe the venue may not live up to the Gateway of India, but the music would be the same, and with more open space, probably the pit would be bigger! The day lagged on, my mood swings were like a roller coaster. Kartik (known here as rocking_devil) called me up and we decided to meet at the gig. He said he would be easily identifiable, being tall. ****, was I to realize later that yes, that would be the case. I got in two more people to attend with me. We left our homes at around 4, and took a train to Andheri. Got into an auto, and we were at the Chitrakoot Grounds by 5:30. Black t-shirts everywhere, with the logos of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot easily being the choice of the crowd. Pretty fewer turnouts till now. I met up with some old friends, we chatted till 5:55, when Farhad Wadia came up and announced that we could enter. The lines moved in and we went in. Pretty big venue. Bhayanak Maut was on the stage. Yeah, this was a surprise to most of us, as they were not part of the original lineup. But to me, this was a good thing. Spotted the Demonstealer, Saahil taking his rounds, ensuring everything to be ok. Also spotted a dazed Schumann (Vayu’s Bassist) near the sound-desk. Why is it that he looks so into his own world before any show??? I went straight up to the barricades. Furtado’s and Counter Culture stalls at the back of the grounds. I met up with Pradeep & P-Man (PDV) as well as Rajeev (Zero). After getting my hands on a bandana, I again headed towards the stage. Bhayanak Maut started their sound check. The bassist looked damn young compared to the rest of the band. Vinay was looking pretty up. After a word from Mr. Wadia about the sponsors, BM was introduced as replacement for Prestorika. (****, no Megadeth!) They kicked off things with their famous original, “Invitation To Bleed”. I was surprised, as only two of us in the whole crowd knew the lyrics to this one. The other guy was the band’s friend, handling their camera too. Love this song, got me fully warmed up for the pit. A real good opener. They then followed up with covers of “Black Label” (Lamb of God), “Elicit Se Nois Rot”, “11th Hour” (Lamb of God) and “People=****” (Slipknot). The pit was well formed, with people who actually knew the lyrics to the songs. Nice. I-Rock t-shirts were being thrown out into the crowd. I managed to get my hands on one, and so did another guy, on the same shirt. After a long fight, the other guy won. F’kin sad. Nice set. BM was totally well received by the crowd, and was damn good, as I had expected. Vertigo came up on to the stage next. I’ve never heard of ‘em before, so they were new to me. The crowd had started to fill in. Posers galore, with “MC/BC” gaalis in the air. Vertigo had a keyboard-ist, whose sound check was “Fear of the Dark”. That got me a bit excited but they started off with an awful cover of “Du Hast” (Rammstein). The then covered Metallica’s “Sad But True” with really, umm, improvised leads, which were totally not well received. They also covered “I-E-A-I-I-O” (SOAD). They had one original, “Believe”. The lyrics were plain stupid, and in the middle, the singer started off with a Hindu mantra. It did go with the song, but somehow, didn’t click for most of the crowd. I felt that the song was a cross between “Sad But True” and “Du Hast”, with similar riffs and keyboards. The crowd booed them off the stage. The next band up was Hyderabad’s Sledge. I was eagerly looking forward to their set, as I’d heard their album, “The Desert of Souls” and knew that they would indeed, kick ass. Farhad Wadia introduced them as “Scribe” first and then made another goof-up as he said that they were from Bombay. Their sound checks done, they started off I with a song, which I didn’t get. Moshing paradise though. They covered “Cowboys From Hell” (Pantera) and then they played “Liar”, an original. Nice. I liked it. Powerful vocals. Nice leads. My neck muscles had already started to revolt. They then ended off with Slayer’s “Skeleton’s of Society” which was a well-done cover. I liked Sledge. They were a tight band, and yeah, for an outstation band, they did earn the respect of us Mumbaikars. Joint Family was up next. I’d heard a lot about this band. Their gigs have got great reviews and everyone who’ve seen them live said that they were damn good. I was wondering why the vocalist was wearing a schoolboy uniform, when he said, “We’ll start off from where Bhayanak Maut left off” and the band started off with “People=****” (Slipknot). By the way, after Sledge, I got myself a good position on the barricades just in the center of the stage, and was there till Zero’s gig. What surprised me about Joint Family is the bassist. He’s got a damn peculiar style, with his hands on the fretboard from top. They also covered “Dig” (Mudvayne) and “Blind” (KoRN). Good to hear 3 originals from them, though none of them were to my taste. I’ve never really liked nu-metal. These were “Life’s A Bitch”, “Drummer’s Advice” and a softer song, “Change”. Hmm… pretty ohk stuff, nothing to good. As Siddharth Coutto walked on to the stage, two people started off, “Smoke Some Ganja” chants. Yeah, Helga’s Fun Castle were here. Probably the most popular of the 5 bands in the quest to win I-Rock XX, they were eagerly being looked forward too. I saw Rajeev and Saahil come down to watch them, and so did 2Blue (Vayu’s vox). I had a chat with Sledge’s sound-setup guy (the surd with the Pantera t-shirt). He said that he didn’t like HFC all that much, and well, I said I didn’t like Sledge all that much. Thankfully, he didn’t get the counter-remark. HFC’s bassist was having some problems and they took the most time for the sound check, but then, finally, started off with “Suck My Kiss” (RHCP). A nice cover brought me back into the softer realms of Rock. “The Marching Song”, an original, followed this. A really great live-song. Sidd spotted me, as I was probably the only one who knew the lyrics, and gave me the thumbs-up. He then started off “Smoke Some Ganja” by introducing it as “a song dedicated to the most lied temple” and the crowd went wild. Reggae-rock, as I call it. Damn great song, maybe the next best crowd favorite after PSP. They then did Mr. Fancypants, another original. HFC ended of with RATM’s “Bulls on Parade”. Here, Sidd came down into the crowd, and came right up to me to sing the chorus lines… Nice show… But I still felt that Sledge or BM would take home the crown today. As Vayu started setting up their act, Farhad Wadia came out and talked about the gig, why this might be the last I-Rock ever (oh-no!) and then talked about the winning act. He asked the crowd for their opinions and most of us said “HFC” or “BM”. However, he said that the winners were not from Mumbai. “Sledge” came into my mind; I knew that they had won. But, surprise, surprise, the judges selected Pune based Vertigo! We were stunned at the decision, and immediate “MC/BC” shouts rang in the air. Nice comment from Farhad though, “I don’t **** my sister nor my mother” as Vayu took centrestage.