The concept of rock music is quite alien to most Hyderabadis. And the turnout
for the Shiva concert at the HPS grounds only proved the point. Unfortunately,
the show turned out to be a damp squib even for the true rock fans.
The minute I heard the two comperes on stage, I made a silent promise to myself
never to touch the event managers Entice even with a 25-foot pole. Imagine advertising
a 22-year-old band as 'legendery' (even if you ignore the wrong spelling) on
the biggest posters and the passes! The male compere needs an extensive course
in the nuances of the English language - his bloopers would've put Mr. Bush
to shame! He informed us that the event was co-sponsored by 'The Times Of India
Today'. And once he asked everybody to 'applause' the band, we knew we were
in for a long night! And this guy was a former Mr. Hyderabad!
Some things never change. After paying an exorbitant ten bucks to park the bike
in some quicksand, I rushed in so as to not miss any of the great 'rock fest'.
Heaven forbid that should happen. The party kicked off eventually an hour late
- at 8pm. After the inescapable inanities of the comperes, Sledge came on and
the distortion riffs on the sound check sent the metal freaks into a tizzy!
This was what they were there for!
The best metal band in the city was a worthwhile opening act, but they probably
raised the expectations of the crowd too high. The guys in the crowd wearing
black T-shirts with band names and death-motifs on them (yours truly included!),
along with assorted body piercings, jumped for joy when they caught the riffs
of 'Children Of The Grave' by Black Sabbath.
Sledge kept the rhythm going and the Metallica bells tolling. Heavy metal ruled
the night for all of 45 minutes with the lead vocalist Avinash freaking out
on Sabbath's 'NIB' and their own composition 'Caught In The Crossfire'. After
a passable Rage Against The Machine number, Sledge rounded off with some Sepultura
and the classic 'Paranoid', where lead guitarist Prabhu showed the crowd what
he was made of. Anjan on the bass and Suman on the drums supported these guys
well. If you are interested, you can check out their site - sledge666.com. We
sure are gonna hear a lot more of these guys in the months to come, trust me!
The real fun and games finished with Sledge. It was drummed into our heads by
the comperes that we were going to be amazed by the 'legendery' (if they were
being paid every time they said this word, they'd be rich now!) band Shiva from
Calcutta - or Kolkata, as the event managers tried hard to be politically correct!
Shiva spent nearly half an hour getting their equipment in order - naturally
this led the crowd (if you can call 150 people for a rock show that) to believe
that they were in for something special from the 22-year-old band. The letdown
could be compared to Sachin getting out on 0 in his farewell innings.
For a rock show with many hard rock fans around, it was a crime of monstrous
proportions to start with Bon Jovi's 'It's My Life'! Yes, the rock uninitiated
jumped around, but what's the point? No wonder Shiva was booted out of the Great
Indian Rock Festival for the very same thing. Probably this was the reason for
the passes stating very categorically that 'bottles are strictly prohibited'
- Shiva could've started a bottling company with the number they amassed at
the GIR festival! It was only the tolerant Hyderabadi crowd that allowed them
to play on. They moped around in the same vein for another 30 minutes or so
with some recent Santana and even Toto's 'Africa'!
I guess it's true what they say about first impressions. Even some Bryan Adams
and Guns 'N' Roses failed to enthuse the crowd, which was now further thinning.
I guess Gavin DeCunha hasn't been singing too much of late - his lackluster
voice didn't do too much by way of convincing people of his talent. It was only
around 10pm that they started playing music more from their time than ours.
But then rock is eternal, and somebody should have told them that!
As the beginning strains of Pink Floyd's 'Comfortably Numb' wafted through the
air, there was this small but noticeable surge of people towards the speakers.
That one moment was so heartening to see for a rock fan - may the tribe increase
in our good city! Then the suddenly inspired band went on to Dire Straits and
lead guitarist Steven Rebeiro continued from where he left off in the previous
song. The guitaring was excellent, but seemed a little out of touch and wasn't
as close to perfect as it should probably be.
The chants of 'Floyd, Floyd' picked up and even 'Another Brick In The Wall'
couldn't quite satiate the audience's thirst for the classics. Sadly, by now
most of the knowledgeable crowd had left, disgusted with Shiva's pandering to
popular taste. Rock will never be music of the masses, and if you call yourself
a rock band, you should have the guts to stick to it!
With general crowd enthusiasm flagging (except for those in 'high spirits')
Shiva played some Eagles and Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water'. Then came the
most 'fun' part of the evening. As soon as they went onto Nirvana's 'Lithium',
the crowd decided that enough was enough - a large number jumped over the barricades
in front and went as close to the speakers as they could. It was quite nice
to see that the organizers had the sense not to force people back, and to let
them have their fun.
Well, as all good things, all bad things too come to an end, thankfully! We
pranced around to 'Roadhouse Blues' by the Doors and that ended the 'festivities'.
There were a lot of fireworks throughout the evening, and that I thought was
a smart idea - of course, except for the times when they misfired and exploded
too close to the crowd!
Oh yes, I almost forgot! 'Talking AIDS is stopping AIDS' was the theme of the
show, and the comperes tried very hard to talk about it at every opportunity
they got. Naturally, the testosterone was all over the place when the admittedly
attractive Sharon had some advice to dispense concerning the usage of certain
rubber products! The major sources of hilarity for the evening were the witty
comments one heard when Sharon decided to share with us how she would like to
'do it'! Rock hard man, rock hard!