Skrat Launch their 4th Album - Bison

And they’re back… bold, boisterous and with a whole lot of bounce ( sounds like a darn shampoo-conditioner). Skrat, the three-piece rock outfit from Chennai is back with ‘Bison’, their fourth album. Staying true to Skrat’s distinct style music that ensures you’re head banging from the first note, Bison is a slightly darker album from their usual fare. The album follows the story of an anthropomorphic character called General Bison, who awakens from his slumber when the chaos of a world without the ‘Queen’ hits his vineyard. He sets out with his army, along Chaos, Raptor and Yipikaye ( my favourite name).

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The album starts out with a very ominous bass riff on Chaos, and quickly has you head bobbing and screaming ‘May Day, somebody stop me before I go’. The groove carries on into songs like Raptor, Wake Up and Yipikaye.  Skrat gave us a taste of things to come with Fireworks ,which was released a few weeks before the album launched. Very reminiscent of the vibe of the title track from their Queen album, the song has some of the best writing on the album. Vineyard is a departure from the typical Skrat heavy sound to a slower melancholic mood. Red Ox Hide offers a more disco-esque feel. The concluding and title track, of the album starts off with a slower mournful mood that moves into the darker belligerent tone that’s present throughout the album. 

Bison is one of the strongest lyrical albums that Skrat has put out yet. I got onto the Skrat bandwagon with Big Bad Guns, and if one were to listen to all three albums, you’ll notice a significant leap in terms of both the music and the lyrics. Skrat have done a great job with Bison in evolving their music without alienating the older crew (which is one of the songs on the album) and introducing themselves to a whole new audience. Bison plants itself as one of the top albums of the year ( so far ).     

Here are some of the pictures from their launch gig at the Humming Tree, Bangalore. My thanks to the band and the team at THT for allowing me to shoot.

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IndieMarch 2016 - Day 1

IndieMarch was back bigger and better than ever! And Day 1 did not disappoint. I’ll be quite candid in admitting that I was looking forward to Colour Haze play live from the day I bought my tickets. But all the acts in the build up to the stellar set from Haze were fabulous. The F16’s have gotten a lot tighter in terms of their sound and stage presence since the last time I saw them at NH7. A few of the songs were new to me as I’ve not been keenly following the band, but this gig was their best that I’ve seen. Diarchy, one of the new acts I heard at the NH7 Weekender last year didn’t disappoint, barring a broken snare drum which cost them some time and caused some of the folks who were hearing them for the first time to walk away and check out the other acts. Probably a little more focus in terms of occupying such blank spaces could help this two-piece stoner rock outfit with their stage presence, something the likes of Amrit from Live Banned never had a problem with. That entire bit aside, what the band should probably take away was the fact that despite the technical glitch, Stefan Koglek from Colour Haze stayed and watched the band throughout their set.

F 16s

Diarchy

Stefan looks on as Diarchy plays

I caught the last song of AsWeKeepSearching, dressed in black (almost like techno DJs). As the sun set and we waited to check out the Manganiyar Seduction, we caught some of the songs from the gig by Parekh and Singh. At this point, all I can say is interesting sound and I’d like to check out some more songs of theirs before I can (or should) pass judgement. The Manganiyar Seduction, riveting as always, though lacking in terms of the energy that was there in the previous gig of theirs. 

AWKS

AWKS

AWKS

Parekh and Singh

Manganiyar Seduction

The penultimate act for the evening was by one of my favourite indie bands, Skrat. Another systematic high-energy set from the band… it’s almost second nature to them now. I’m yet to see them have an off-day.

Skrat

Skrat

Skrat

Finally, at a little past 8:30 in the evening, the band everyone who was at this festival was waiting to see took stage – Colour Haze. Playing songs from across their arsenal of albums, the band was one of the tightest I’ve seen. (German engineering I guess). Haze powered through an almost 90-minute set that left the crowd wanting more. I still can’t recollect how I came across this band a couple of years ago. And they weren’t on my list of must-see bands as such, but it was an absolute joy to watch them play live.

Colour Haze

Colour Haze

Colour Haze

Colour Haze

Colour Haze

Colour Haze

Control Alt Delete 9.0 - Nine bands, one great evening

I'm writing this post after almost a fortnight after the gig happened, but better late than never. The renowned DIY gig Control Alt Delete moved cities to Bangalore for its ninth version. Held at The Humming Tree in Bangalore on the 16th of January, Control ALT Delete 9.0 gave audiences what I personally believe was the best line-up I've seen at an indie gig in quite some time. Upping the ante from last year and brought together nine bands for what was a spectacular evening of indie music.

When the gig began at 5 pm, the venue was already packed with over a 100 people, and this number just grew through the evening till eventually the venue could take no more people. Unlike a lot of other gigs, the audience didn’t comprise of just the usual gig junkies like yours truly or friends of the bands playing who leave once the gig was done. I found myself next to a trio of women who didn’t know any of the bands, but stood rooted front and center from start to finish, very enthusiastically asking me about the band and the songs they were playing. 

This was the crowd at 5 pm for the first act of the day. Sriram TT from Skrat and Tails on Fire is a total scenester checking out all the bands with the crowd.
The first band up on stage was Bangalore's only band on the roster, RushLed. Relatively new to the circuit, the band had original numbers to present. A clear case of nerves was evident throughout the performance but kudos to the band for standing and delivering. This act was followed up by the Chennai rock outfit - The Broadway Addicts. Presenting material from the debut, No Act along with old-school punk from bands like the Stooges, this three-piece outfit really got the evening rolling. A lot of folks who I spoke to agreed that while the band sounded great, the long silent intervals between songs where the vocalist was either drinking water or saying something utterly pointless was a tad annoying. Great sound nonetheless.

Rushled

Rushled

Rushled

The Broadway Addicts

The Broadway Addicts

The Broadway Addicts

The Broadway Addicts

I'm not the biggest fan of the post-rock genre and very few bands have put together material that makes me want to listen to it over and over again. Unfortunately, the third band of the evening Mushroom Lake isn't one of those bands. Unfortunately, most of the band sat down or stood rooted to the spot. It was evident that after the cracker of a set from the previous band, this was the band a lot of people chose to step out for a smoke, take their loo breaks or grab something to eat. The music didn’t do enough to match the mood that had been set in the evening. Bringing the house down was the high-energy riot-inducing band Punk on Toast who got the mosh pit going for the evening. Staying true to the punk rock theme of being angry, with everyone from the BJP to Salman Khan, Punk on Toast had everyone screaming and head banging. 

Mushroom Lake

Mushroom Lake

Punk on Toast

Punk on Toast

Punk on Toast
Following them was Aswekeepsearching who're all the rage in the post-rock scene right now. What sets the band apart from a lot of their peers in the genre is aggressiveness and heavy drumming (which is why I like this band) which is sorely missing with bands who tend to have long-winding seemingly never ending repetitive notes being played. The crowd was treated to a special guest appearance from Sunneith Revankar of Bhayanak Maut fame (all hail!!!) on AWKS closing number B-303. Making his Bangalore debut, Achint Thakkar's self-titled act played his version of alternative-electronic music from his debut album Shalimar. While a lot of the purists frowned on the excessive dependency on backing tracks and samples, they ignored the good work being done on the bass and violins. All this didn't stop Achint from putting together a set that had everyone in the house dancing away. I thoroughly enjoyed the groove and was dancing myself. (Shocking! Do not tell my friends that I dance, I'll never hear the end of it)

Aswekeepsearching

Aswekeepsearching

Aswekeepsearching

Sunneith from Bhayanak Maut helping out Aswekeepsearching on a B-303

Achint

Achint
Bringing in some old school waltz and jazz influenced music was Delhi rocker's Peter Cat Recording Company. who played a lot of songs from their older material. They were followed by the other Delhi-based band of the evening - Superfuzz. While I had heard some of their music post them winning Channel V Launchpad way back in 2007, I had never seen the band play live. So expectations were high. What started out with new old-school garage rock tunes such as 'Future Baby Mama', the band soon moved into a disco-esque vibe (very reminiscent of the kind of music Ganesh Talkies are doing) with ' Message from the Stars', and got the entire venue dancing away. Bands like Superfuzz and Achint proved that live acts can still get people to dance and go crazy. (PS: I danced to this band's music also)

PCRC

Superfuzz

Superfuzz

Superfuzz

Superfuzz
The closing act for the evening was from one of my favourite bands, Skrat. Kicking off with my favourite, 'Shake it off', the band powered through their wildest set ever with stuff from both their previous albums and introduced audiences to 'Wake up', a song that would feature on their next album, Bison, out some time this year. The crowd had gone chaotic with mosh pits and other bands crowd surfing and bringing back all the rowdy scenes of live acts we've grown up seeing in the bygone era of MTV. I did have to tolerate the girls next to me gushing over front man Sriram TT. Otherwise, it was among Skrat's top three best gigs I've been to.

Skrat

Skrat

Skrat

Skrat

Skrat

Skrat
Control Alt Delete 9.0 is the finest example of "where there is a will, there is a way"! And a big slap in the face of all these new acts who complain that there's no "scene" in India and that EDM has taken away the crowds. The independent music movement is still alive and kicking, and sometimes moshing. All you need is good music, and people will come to listen to you. The nine bands that played this evening at a gig that had absolutely no corporate sponsorship is an ode to that. Kudos to the organizers and the bands!

Note: All the pictures are my property, so don't use it without prior permission.