The Ska Vengers launch their second album, XX

The 16th of July saw Delhi-based 'Ska' band , The Ska Vengers launch their second album, XX, at the Humming Tree in Bangalore. The evening started out with about two dozen people when Bass B'tards opened the gig, but the venue quickly filled up by the time Ska Vengers took the stage. Pumped up from the grooves of the opening band, the crowd was primed and set for Ska Vengers who kicked off the show with Vampire from their debut Lp.





Missing from vocal duties was front woman Samara Chopra, aka Begum X who was out with poor health. Accompanying frontman Taru Dalmia, aka Delhi Sultanate, on vocals were Talia Bentson and Meg Dsouza. The band's energy was at full throttle from the first song right to the end as they powered through songs like Frank Brazil, Shut your Mouth, Jail Mein, El Cumbanchero and other songs from XX. The band closed the evening with Badda from their debut self-titled Lp.




This was the second time I was seeing the band play live and they've gotten a lot tighter without compromising on the live performance or their sound. The album, which took 4 years to be put together, is a lot more mature in terms of sound, bringing together jazz and funk elements without compromising the overall politicking nature of Ska Vengers lyrics. If anything, that fire burns lot brighter and hotter now. 


You can buy the album from oklisten.com.

Vh1 & The Humming Tree Present: Blackstratblues & By2Blues

After inching through two and a half hours of traffic (why do I bother even talking about this problem any more in B'lore?), I finally made it to the Humming Tree to catch By2Blues opening the evening for one of my favourite bands from Mumbai, Blackstratblues. This is the third time I'm seeing By2Blues play live. This band is a classic example of how you don't need fancy electronics and (no pun intended) all that jazz to put up a good show. Keeping it simple the band had a healthy mix of covers from Eric Clapton, CCR and other crowd favourites along with some own compositions. The band had Shalini Mohan (from Lagori) accompany them on bass; and set the mood perfectly for Blackstrat Blues to take over the rest of the evening.







Starting off proceedings with The Happy Billy Song, Blackstrat Blues had the crowd screaming out requests from the first note. The audience were privy to some new material including a soft ballad titled Northstar which Warren dedicated to the missus; and a very trippy untitled number whose bass a drum riff were absolutely trippy and addictive. I could probably listen to just those two instruments playing that groove in isolation and not be bored. There was also a tribute to SRV and the band’s take on 12-bar blues (Check out my Instagram feed for a sneak peek)







The band powered through popular hits like Anuva's Sky, Folkish Three and The Universe has a Strange Sense of Humour. Having seen Blackstrat Blues perform for the seventh (or eighth ) time, it's very clear to see that the band have become really comfortable with one another, joking around between songs and having a good time playing with one another. Warren Mendonsa himself has become relatively verbose and spent a good amount of time between songs talking to the audience and sharing stories rather than rushing through the name of the song and the occasional thank you. That being said, he should never sing 'Sultans of Swing'. (An inside joke with the band that I didn't quite follow beyond the fact that it had something to do with a gig in Mumbai with Zero)





Talking about how he was inspired by The Beatles' song Here Comes the Sun, Warren moved into the penultimate song of the evening, Ode to a Sunny day followed by a very smooth transition into Renaissance Mission, the last song for the evening. This was yet another stellar gig from the band. Going by all the new material that was played, I’m looking forward to the next album whenever it’s out. 

Guest Column, LBB- 5 things to do in New Orleans for music lovers

In this article I write about the music of New Orleans, which is accompanied by dancing, at almost every corner. Here are a few things to do in New Orleans that’ll have you going back for more.

Click here to read the entire article online.


Here's a transcript of the article

The Big Easy’ aka New Orleans, popularly known for being the birthplace of jazz, is a haven for music and dance lovers. Most of the best music can be found in The French Quarter of the city. With live music and dancing at almost every corner, there’s just so much to do. Here are a few things to do in New Orleans that’ll have you going back for more.

Move over Bourbon Street….To Frenchman Street

As time progressed, the vibe of New Orleans that emanated from the great music on Bourbon Street got lost. While the fame remains, the best music doesn’t. Most of the good music has moved to Frenchman Street. While some clubs charge a small entry fee, most of them enforce a one drink minimum rule. My picks from spending every evening on Frenchman Street would be Bamboula’s, The Spotted Cat Music Club and d.b.a. You’ll also find your fair share of brass bands and folk musicians playing on the street with no one competing for space. That being said, catch the bands playing at Musical Legends Park on Bourbon Street.

Watch The Street Performers At Jackson Square

Right in the heart of the historic French Quarter is Jackson Square which during the day is teeming with street musicians, palm readers and artists. With numerous styles from folk music, contemporary jazz, brass and rap, you’ll find more than enough top-quality music around the park at Jackson Square where you can easily spend all day. If you like what you see and hear, don’t forget to tip the performers.

Any Time Is Good For Dancing

New Orleans brings out the dancer in you, even if you have two left feet. You’ll find couples breaking into serious dance routines at the drop of a hat. Whether it’s a club playing swing music in the afternoon or a music festival, or even a simple brass band playing on the streets at midnight, you can be assured there will be dancing. This isn’t limited to a few clubs, but anywhere in the city where there is music. Feel free to join in. You should definitely check out Maison, Mimi’s in the Marigny and the Blue Nile for an awesome dance experience.

Vinyl Souvenirs From The City

The Louisiana Music Factory on Frenchman Street is a must-go for any music lover. Keeping the tradition of the old-school music stores alive, the folks at the place can help you discover some of the fabulous music that defined the history and present of New Orleans. Don’t forget to check out the $3 vinyl boxes which have an overwhelming collection of jazz, rock, blues and many more genres.

Food And Drink At The Late Night Eateries

New Orleans allows you to drink on the streets, as long as you use a plastic cup. So while checking out all the music, do have some of the fabulous local beers and cocktails give you company. Beer enthusiasts will have a plethora of choices when it comes to craft beer, so feel free to experiment. My pick is the Amber and Purple Haze, both from Abita breweries. Don’t miss out on picking up Hurricanes from the local stores, a strong cold cocktail guaranteed to light up your day. When it comes to food, don’t miss out on the food trucks that offer you way more options than your brain can process. My ritual to end every evening was to grab a bag of beignets from Cafe Du Monde that’s open 24 hours.

The Aayushi Karnik Trio at Blue Frog, B'lore

The Aayushi Karnik Trio was in town this weekend and I finally managed to catch the gig after missing the last few owing to work-related travel. Playing at the Blue Frog, (not one of my favourite venues in town), the band started just a little before 9 pm. Kicking off with a Beatles cover of Across the Universe, the band powered through a relatively mellow yet tight set. Aayushi Karnik is one of those musicians whose sheer talent and ease of playing her music more than makes up for her comparatively shy and quiet demeanor on stage. And that results in a no-nonsense, no-banter straight up clean blues gig. If you can't figure out what I'm saying, check her playing Voodoo Child. Legsang Sherpa on bass was meticulous, and I rather enjoyed his work on an impromptu jazz piece the band played. I wasn't particularly thrilled with his vocal contribution though.  Sudhakar Prabhu on drums was in charge of keeping things tight and define the boundaries with which Aayushi is allowed to do her thing. I was hoping for a drums solo bit.

All the seats in the house were full and everyone enthusiastically cheered the band on. It was refreshing to see a simple stripped down blues gig after quite some time. That being said, I think the band needs to look at a slightly bigger sound, maybe the introduce a horns or harmonica section that augments the current sound.

PS - We had Luke Kenny in the house who was probably the most vocal in cheering the band on and screaming out for an encore. 













Windoze at Bflat

In the post below are some of the pictures I took of Windoze, who played at Bflat in Bengaluru. The band were joined on stage by special guests, Ananth Menon and Vasudev Prabhu from By2Blues, and Sylvester's fellow 'The Stage' contestant, Rupin Pahwa. 

















IndieMarch - Day 2

Day 2 of the IndieMarch festival offered another stellar line-up of bands. I walked in just as All the Fat Children had started their set. They definitely sounded a lot better than when I had seen them live for the first time late last year during the ‘Bangalore plays for Chennai’ gig. Heavy riffs and top notch energy on a sultry afternoon in Bangalore had a few folks reluctantly venture out of the shade of the trees to come up front to the stage. This band surely knows how to entertain a crowd with relatively easy to remember lyrics and familiar riffs. 

All the Fat Children

All the Fat Children
Right after the Fat Children was one of my all-time favourite bands – Parvaaz. The last time I had seen Parvaaz play was at a festival that had less people in the audience than I have toes. This eventually resulted in a lacklustre set. But today was a whole new day and the band delivered one of their best performances despite the sound from the adjacent stage creeping in. Folks present go to listen in to some of their newer material. Everyone who stood with me right on the barricade knew every word to every song (except the new ones) and unabashedly sang along.

Parvaaz

Parvaaz

Parvaaz

Parvaaz

Parvaaz
As I waited for THE band of the evening that I had come out to check, I caught a song from Dualist Enquiry and some from Agam, who seemed to be struggling to keep key and tempo thanks to the noise…yes, noise from the adjacent stage where The Cosmic Dead were playing. I’m not sure what sort of music it was that band played, but it wasn’t pleasing to my ears. Probably the only dark spot in the line-up for me.

Dualist Enquiry
Pangea! There really isn’t anything I can say about this band that hasn’t been said before. Powering through a tight set of all their classic songs including Women can’t Behave on buses to Epson Printer, and closing with Final Flight and a tribute of sorts to Creed with ‘Bread of Shame’. One of my friends who heard the band, and possibly heavy music of this nature for the first time was mesmerized and asked me where he could get their music. Pangea, time for that album we’ve all been waiting for!

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Pangea

Post the high-intensity gig by Pangea, I caught the last few songs from Avial, another of my favourite bands. Didn’t miss Nada Nada and Chekele, paisa vasool! I wasn’t too keen on seeing 65 days of Static, the closing act for the festival, purely thanks to my discomfort with most of the post rock/math rock scene. But I am happy I stayed and saw the gig. The band was quite alright and the gig was high on energy. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a fan, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Avial

Avial

65 Days of Static

65 Days of Static
IndieMarch 2016 offered the best line-up of bands to suit everyone’s indie needs. Barring a few areas around the variety of food and extremely-over priced liquor and mineral water, the gig was top notch and sets the ground for becoming India’s biggest indie gig. And with names like Colour Haze on the roster, it’s a matter of time before this particular music property becomes something of a cult-event. Kudos to the folks from Counter Culture for putting this together.

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

Blushing Satellite at BFlat Bar, with opening set by Tea & Snacks

I had heard about Blushing Satellite towards the end of 2015, and knowing the credentials of the band members, I was keen to catch the band perform live after checking out their three-piece self-titled EP. As luck would have it, the band played at the BFlat bar this weekend. This was one gig I did not want to miss. The gig started almost an hour late, and opening for Blushing Satellite was Tea and Snacks

The three-piece band comprises of singer-songwriter Mana Contractor, guitarist Vijayganesh Panchandhan with drummer Navneet Rao. The band stuck to their own 'jazz meets pop' version of popular songs from artists like Sting (Roxanne) and Ray Charles (Georgia on my mind). While Mana's vocals lingered around the higher octaves, the part that made me cringe a little bit were the backing vocals that weren't able to match. That being said, the set was enjoyable. Hopefully we'll get to see some original songs from this band before one can pass judgement.

Tea & Snacks

Tea & Snacks

It was a short break before Blushing Satellite took the stage with the usually reserved and serious Ramanan Chandramouli requesting folks to try and truly experience the music rather than spend time on their cellphones or talking among each other The band immediately got down to business playing songs like Flow, Rhythm and You before closing the set with songs off their debut self-titled EP with Finders, Arul and one of my favourite tracks - Maya

Blushing Satellite

Blushing Satellite


Arjun Ramdas

An audience with some of the best musicians of B'lore looking on

Blushing Satellite are a tight band that need to loosen up. Executing song after song like clockwork, barring a few technical glitches in between, all the members of the band are extremely serious on stage. But if that's what it takes to put together the kind of music they've made - so be it. The music of the band doesn't fall into any strict genre and grabs at elements of jazz, electronica, grunge and much more. Blushing Satellite are clearly out here to bring a completely new sound to the scene. You'll either love it or not at first listen. 

Karthik Basker

Deepak Raghu

Ramanan Chandramouli

Comprised of Karthik Basker on vocals, Arjun Ramdas on bass, Deepak Raghu on drums and guitarist Ramanan Chandramouli, Blushing Satellite came together in May 2015 and have been making quite the mark for themselves in the independent circuit. The highlight for me was the absolutely impressive work on the bass by Arjun. Overall, it's a joy to see a band bring a new sound and style to the scene, and that too one that makes you want to go back for seconds. Do catch the band at their next gig happening later this week on the 12th of February at The Humming Tree.

PS: Please do not use the pictures on this blog without authorization from yours truly

Guest Column - iheartblr.com - Interview with Ramanan Chandramouli from Blushing Satellite

I got to interview Ramanan Chandramouli from the band Blushing Satellite  before their gig at BFlat Bar in Bengaluru. In the interview, Ramanan spoke about the band's  music, plans for the future and his thoughts on the scene in Bengaluru.

Read the entire interview here

PC: Blushing Satellite's Facebook page

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.


Guest Column - iheartblr.com - Control ALT Delete 9.0 in Bengaluru

My interview with Nikhil Udupa, one of the founding member of the Control ALT Delete movement appeared in iheartblr.com on the 12th of January 2016. In the interview, Nikhil talks about how the gig has evolved over time, why they moved to Bengaluru and what to expect at the gig.

Click here to read the entire interview.


Quoted in the Economic Times

Yours truly was quoted in the Economic Times Bangalore print edition on 8th of January 2016. I shared my two-cents on the predictions for the music scene in India for the year. My thoughts were
that the Independent electronic music will exponentially explode in 2016. Indie music bands will go mainstream like we witnessed with the film `Detective Byomkesh Bakshy' last year. Good venues, brands sponsoring the shows, talent and an accepting audience ­ it's a win-win situation for this genre.

Read the online version here.

Here's a (slight poor) picture of the quote in print...