Well, I thought I’d write a post called “The Incident Chronicles”, but it turned out to be too long, and too full of irrelevant prejudices and inside jokes. Well, then, I’d write about the best part of this fest: The semi-pro and pro-nites.
Semi-Pro Nite was on 16th February, a contest for the best semi-pro band. A couple of years ago, such a contest would have been chock-full of GnR, Aerosmith and popular hardRock/heavyMetal numbers, but this one was replete with originals.
I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but the contestants were all musicians, not too many performers. The first two bands didn’t really catch my attention. The third one was NITK’s very own Phlegmingo, with Karthik Murali on the vocals [“What’s up, NITK?!!” “Wateh! Man, you LIVE here!”], too excellent for words, Swarit on the keyboard, Tanay, the lead guitarist, and Pakjum on the bass guitar. I’d listened to a couple of their songs, and so was singing along for Deja Vu, which IMHO is a rollicking number.
I left soon after that, and returned for The Galeej Gurus, who were the semi-pro band showing the rest how to perform. Man, they are good musicians and even better performers. All of them have this guys-next-door sort of appeal [save Mathew Harris’s accent..] around them,and it works in their favor. It was a short performance, less than an hour or so, but headbanging for that period of time resulted in what I call Post-concert stress, a condition where you feel just fine after an energetic concert, but wake up the next morning aching all over.
I would have taken loads of pics of Matthew and Nathan Harris [the lead singer and the bassist, they’re twins, did anyone notice?], but I’d taken so many shots of Phlegmingo and the hostel that the battery had no charge left in it. Like Prince Philip says in Blackadder’s A Christmas Carol, “D-Daaamn”.
Pro Nite. Someone was talking about “The Raghav project” opening. I figured it was The Raghupathy Dixit Project, formerly known as Antaragini. And it was.
What an opening they gave… Raghu Dixit started off with “Hi, we’re the Raghu Dixit project, and we play only original music, so…”. The crowd behind me started booing the dudes on stage, but after a couple of tracks, were yelling “Raghu-bhai aayache!”
And the girls next to me went berserk over the guitarist. Yelled and cheered him so much that Raghu Dixit said, “For all those dying to know, that’s Anirban on the guitar there, and he’s slightly single!” Here’s a pic:
The drummer was completely obscured by the drums, and the best I could get was
The berserkness went even more berserk that Raghu Dixit called a few girls on stage, [needless to say, I was one of them… would I miss an opportunity to shake hands with the winners of Radiocity Live? Oh, and btw, I was one of the very few singing along] for the last song, for which an M.Tech from NITK played the tabla [Bhavani Shankar, plays really well, I’ve heard him when he played for SPICMACAY’s Aradhana]. I finally got a shot of the flautist, here it is:
Couldn’t shoot the other guitarist, the one with the cool pony. He was right under the lights, and too far away, couldn’t get a good enough angle, and the lighting and the smokescreen colluded in making sure I never did get a good enough pic that wasn’t too dark.
After a short break was Indian Ocean. We were expecting some youngish IITians, but all we got was oldish IIT-KGP/Cornell dudes of whom one was increasingly temperamental. Asheem Chakravarty, the tabla player, said at the beginning that their music is very less of halla-shor, so people doing halla-shor could keep away.
As I’d predicted, they started off with Brahma Randha Parama Sukhadam. Within minutes, the crowd was humming “Naraa naraa…”. Next was Jhini, from the eponymous album. Apparently, it was written by Kabir. It’s a mellow number, and I guess it’s quite popular, most of the crowd was singing along, and not just the refrain.
The leadsinger Rahul Ram’s a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University [I should have clicked pics of people after they heard that from me]. He’s also got an awesome voice, and his guitaring is dreamy and sounds lovely.
Next, they played Bhor. Asheem Chakravarty told us before they started that when people hear this song, their first reaction is to clap along, and that he would prefer it if the crowd did that toward the end of the song, not as soon as it began. And we kept our word.
Folks started clamouring at this time for the more popular numbers like Bandheh from Black Friday and their trademark Kandisa. [I, on the other hand was yelling for Desert Rain.] They began playing Bandheh, and I began shooting a video of it. It seemed to be coming along well, with the voices of Rahul Ram and Asheem Chakravarty AND the crowd, when Mashaal to my right asked me to stop shooting. I wondered why, and spoiled the shot badly, when I saw the Inci con also making gestures to me to stop shooting the video. After the shot was spoiled beyond redemption, Mashaal told me that Asheem Chakravarty’s shortsighted, and camera flashes disturb him, and so… Hell! I knew that! I wasn’t using a flash, and now the shot was spoiled, and what’s better, my camera was running out of charge. Darn, wish I hadn’t taken so many shots of Anirban.
We never could get a look at the drummer, he was hidden behind the drums. The (other) ladies went berserk when he came up to the front for some adjustments. Amit Kilam, he’s also the flawless flautist.
A couple of songs later was when I noticed Susmit Sen, the acoustic guitarist. He was right above where I stood [front row as usual], and had been pretty low-key throughout. He looked like he was there to deliver a lecture, with that neatly combed hair.
Somewhere towards the end, I noticed his guitar. I haven’t seen many like this, someone tell me, are they popular? It doesn’t have a body, only a frame.
They played a really long number, with lots of innovative drumming, and Asheem Chakravarty played Rahul Ram’s guitar in a very novel way. The length and relative monotony of the number ensured that people walked away. All the girls around me moved off, and, uh, well, I had to, too. People were yelling for Kandisa, and after the lengthy number, the band announced that they’d be playing their last song. Tuna and me sung along for that one, Kandisa [We’ve listened to it so many times that we can sing it in our sleep, even though it’s in Aramaic, same language as The Passion of Christ].
Kandisa Alaha, Kandisa Ehsana
Kandisa La Ma Yosa
……… And we were done.
They hadn’t played my Desert Rain, but, um, that’s okay! The long wait was over – I’d been waiting for this concert all year. And they didn’t disappoint one bit. The icing on the cake was The Raghu Dixit project, an unexpected treat.
And I suppose the only place where I can enjoy a rock concert alone in the front row is the wonderful place that is NITK. When Parikrama had performed here two years ago, they said that it was “wonderful that there are girls enjoying this show in the front row, not many places where we’ve seen that happen”, and that “the men are cool people too, for letting the girls do that”.
Well, I might not consider the men cool people “for letting us do that”, but my respect for them has definitely increased on seeing that they ensure we don’t have a problem enjoying the concert. Hats off, I might want to say, but that’ll only sound ironic.
Can’t wait for Inci-08!
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