…crooned Dhaval Mudgal, vocalist for Half Step Down, thus officially kickstarting the Eastwind Festival for me. Fortunately, the crowd preferred not to prescribe to the “girl, not guitar” philosophy, and there were no ugly (or otherwise) incidents involving women (for which the organizers heaved no small sighs of relief), something which Delhi crowds are usually (and incorrectly) associated with.

But there was a lot of “guitar touching”, so to speak, as musicians from across the country (and from parts beyond) swapped gear talk, tips and tricks, musical tastes and influences, and generally shot the breeze and had a great time, without the usual back-biting and inter-band rivalry. I guess it helped that the fest was organized by people who’re known to be polite, well-mannered, and thoroughbred professionals. It also helped that there were 250-odd musicians at the venue, with 3 bands playing at any given point of time, so the crowd was mostly kept busy scampering between the stage tents to catch as many performances as possible (which was a source of complaint, but perhaps the only one).

Before I go on to the performances, a word of congratulations to the organizers for pulling off a well-coordinated and largely hassle free festival. From what I could make out, everyone had a great time roaming around the large venue, drinking beer (surprise, surprise, alcohol on the venue. A possible first for an Indian festival – great crowd puller, this one), basking in the warm spring sunshine, and, yes, catching some of the best bands India has to offer.

As for the performances, I can very honestly say that this was the first time I’ve not found one reason to bitch about any of the bands. I couldn’t catch all of them (missed all of Day 1, and the first few bands on Day 2), but the ones that I saw, rocked! Every single one of them hit a 110% without a hitch, and I enjoyed every minute of it, regardless of the genre of music being played.
I won’t talk about every performance here (you could say I’m suffering from musical overload at the moment, and it’s Monday morning, so I got other work to do), but I will mention the ones that blew me off my feet.

- Myndsnare: The metal band from Bangalore that floored me back in ’04, when I caught them for the first time in Bangalore. More notably known for their drummer, Yasmin Kazi (Crowley’s Secret Musician Crush # 1, who is sometimes mistaken for a human tornado). This lady can make any drum kit (or drummer, for that matter) cry Uncle. She did not disappoint this time either. Nope. Excuse me a minute while I stop slobbering;

- Jalebee Cartel: Crowley sitting through an electronica set is highly unlikely, no? Well, I did sit through JC’s set, which, in my own admission, was excellent. A far cry from the confused mish-mash of sampler loops, which usually earmarks electronic in this part of the world, JC’s music had excellent movements, and a tight ensemble of musicians with a good stage act. Because, after all, it really doesn’t make a difference what sort of music you play. If you pull off a live set without any mistakes, you’re the hero of the day (Oooh! I’m a poet, and I didn’t even know it..heh heh).

- Soulmate: At some point of time during Day 2, Crowley hopped out of metal mode and temporarily slipped into the soothing world of De Blues. And who better to play the Blues than Soulmate, with Rudy Wallang’s searing hooks and ‘Tips’ Kharbangar’s (Secret Musician Crush # 2) husky vocals. These guys proved (and they always do, somehow) that a great blues gig pulls a bigger crowd than any heavy act. Also, a woman slinging a Telecaster like the way Tips does, has a certain, um, appeal to it ;-) ;

- Pentagram: Vishal Dadlani may resemble a grocery store owner these days, what with that potbelly of his, and yes, he may have gained notoriety as an emigrant to the Bollywood gang, but the man can still get the crowd jumping, no doubt about it. Pentagram truly lived up to their position as one of the elder statesmen of Indian rock;

- Thermal And A Quarter: No angst here. No heavy riffing. Just 4 happy guys playing good ol’ rock n roll (with some additives, yes). The evergreen kings of the southern band circuit rocked the joint as always with catchy lyrics (“He’s the ticket collector on the bullet train to heaven”) and song structures, hilarious on-stage banter, and a bassist dressed in his trademark mundu;

- Avial: Yes, my dear Kuttichaathan. Theez iz rok. Mellu rok. There’s angst here, and there’s heavy riffs here, and there’s screaming solos here. In a language most people in Delhi don’t know exists. Malayalam. Despite all this, the turnout to watch these guys was unbelievable. And why not? If you can get a goodly-sized mosh pit going when you’re singing stuff most people present don’t understand, then you rock. Zimbly just;

- Anterior: One of the three overseas acts on the bill at Eastwind, these British black-metallers were the talk of the town on Day 3, with headbanger upon headbanger, and a profane stage act, much in the style of John Osbourne, Esq., who’s an authority on profanities, most people will admit. Shock value in spades, yes, but what a performance!!!;

- Little Babooshka’s Grind: I caught these guys on the small open-air jamming stage that had been set up on one side of the venue. Within 5 minutes of tuning up for an impromptu jam, this bunch of howlers from Namma Chennai pulled a crowd easily matching that inside any of the main stage areas. It’s sad that this band, which made everyone present (mostly wandering passers-by) sing along and tap their feet for close to an hour, remains virtually unknown in Delhi. I hope some half-sensible event manager / record label exec saw them play. If there was one Indian act on Day 3 that deserved the spotlight, it was these guys;

- Motherjane: The big ‘uns from God’s Own Country, they’ve rocked Crowley from the minute he got his hands on ‘Insane Biography’, 4 years or so ago. They do it again, and again, and again;

- Shaa’ir + Func: A recent entrant in the national music scene, this quartet from Bombay plays an eclectic mix of mainstream rock, alternative, funk and electronica. It also features Shaa’ir (Secret Musician Crush # 3), who has a brilliant voice, but is also a stunner, in the dark-eyed, Kashmiri beauty way. Of course, the sight was a bit marred by the red leotards she was sporting, but well, she is from Noo Yark (via Bombay) – some things cannot be helped *sigh*;

- Them Clones: A rocking night of music is always expected from this lot of Saddi Dilli de Munde, and is always delivered by them, right on the button. Day 3 was no exception, but hark! What’s this? Line-up change?! Nikhil Rufus?!?! Where’s pudgy Romit on bass? Huh? Oh well, they hammered out Sindrome and The Bomb Song. Crowley’s happy;

- Parikrama: I shall rest here. Nothing more needs to be said. Except yes, the cops came to shut down the gig at 10 sharp, which meant that Parikrama’s set was cut short WITHOUT Rhythm & Blues. Argh!!! Not a good way to end Eastwind.

Besides these, there were several other bands which I managed to absent myself from (not voluntarily) – Cassini’s Division, Level 9, Junkyard Groove, several that I heard, but couldn’t watch – Demonic Resurrection, Artists Unlimited, Medusa, Leni Stern and Something Relevant. Some band was playing ‘Sanskrit Rock’. I couldn’t get the name of the band, but whatever they were playing was fun. There was also this bunch of 5 nutjobs (allegedly from ISKON) who hoarded the jam stage for close to an hour, chanting “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna"). Another band which was sorely missed by Crowley was Chennai’s No Idea, fronted by the delectable Ms. N. Sasidharan (Secret Musician Crush # 4).

Thus ended Eastwind, a brilliant way to spend a spring weekend, and I’m honoured and proud to have contributed to it. Eastwind contributed to my life as well. It got me (partially) out of the blue funk that I’ve been in over the past week…and it got me over my fear of needles…so much so that Crowley is now officially inked.

9 Scallywags have walked the Plank |:

I scribble here said...

Sounds like a hit. hats off to ppl who envisioned this in Delhi which is otherwise so infamous for music illiterates.
i shall make it next year, if at all.
and yes, the tattoo's hip.. always wanted one but chicken out at the idea of pain.

mistercrowley said...

@ Scribbler: Yes, hats off indeed :) as for the tattoo....not all that painful, really....just depends on where you get it done

Bhaisahab said...

Hold on a sec there matey. Is going bollywood such a pissant for ceaselessly toiling headbangers in the age of himesh reshammiya?
Dude, we need them in bollywood!

mistercrowley said...

@ bhaisaheb: welcome back to the blogosphere, o exalted dukaandaar..hehe....good to see you posting again :)

as for going bollywood...in Vishal's case case, is a tolerable move...i actually like the vishal-shekhar stuff....but, still, there's enough headbangers out there who will disagree :)

Anansi said...

And the ink says?

Could just see sic and

Mukta said...

The tattoo looks nice...and really expensive. I wanted to get one of a mermaid sipping a strawberry margerita. That was too expensive, so I thought I'll just settle for the margarita...that too was a little costly.

I think I'll just have to go for the fruit and its pips.

mistercrowley said...

@ anansi girl: It says "Sic itur d aspera"...some would call it cliched, I say, Up Yours :D

also....I must stop re-reading Stardust so much ;)

@ mukta: Erm...yes...it was expensive...but it's also rather large...going per sq. inch, it had to be a bit pricey....but I got a discount of sorts. And, yeah, I've noticed tattoo rates are higher in Bombay than in Delhi....come on over and get yourself inked here :)

oh lord...buy me a night on the town.. said...

since u hvnt mentioned east india co. ..im assuming u missed thm....i think they played on the first day...ws reading this post and recollecting some of my fav performances at eastwind and east india co. definately is up thr...do catch thm smtime if u get a chance...they r frm assam..

mistercrowley said...

@ oh lord etc.: Yes, I missed East India Co., but heard that they were pretty good. Will try to catch them whenever they're playing next in Delhi.