“Fete de la musique” or the festival of music if you please organized by The Alliance Francais of Madras hosted a rock show yesterday. This is a brief recount of the same.
I like rock music and I like the rockers of old who interspersed great music with some vocals that ranged from the silly, to thought provoking to simply bizarre. However bands of late have found that metal is the best way to fame and they create noise of varying intensities and cause aching eardrums, not to mention a splitting head ache.
Now I do try to visit rock shows for two reasons; One, the chance of seeing live acts and two the chance to hear some home grown bands coming out with their own comps, hoping fervently that one day they may be the next big thing. Anyway I was invited for this show by my friend Mario who was the bassist of the band that opened for the visiting band from France. Being a Sunday and also being a non-ticketed show it was worth a look in so I went with a small group of friends.
The opening act was No Idea, one of the more promising bands from India and one of the better bands from Madras. Their crowning glory was winning the Great Indian Rock Festival, which gave them a foreign gig and a lot of media coverage. Fronted by one of the few female vocalists they are a promising bunch. They played what they called a preview of their forth-coming album and it made for an interesting mix. A few comments about them:
• Any lingering doubts about how they got their name were dispelled yesterday when we realized that we had no idea what the band sang. Whatever few vocals were there, were drowned completely by the music.
• The band had lost the crowd even before the show had begun. The fact that the venue was changed at the Nth hour and also that it was a sit down show robbed the concert of any energy whatsoever. However any showman must play to the crowd, here No Idea did not have any idea about getting the crowd on its feet nor did they attempt to do it with their music.
• The drummer for some reason was not into the flow. I kept getting a sneaky feeling that he was missing a beat or two. And there was a pause in between a song that looked so unplanned that the members gave each other a weird look before recovering to play again.
• The lead singer was fidgety and looked out of place every time there was a guitar interlude, which must happen with monotonous regularity if you watch any band today. I suppose it is the formula for music making. She just kept fidgeting with her long hair, which I suspect, is kept long to keep her busy. But to give her credit she does sing well.
• The wise cracks that the lead guitarist attempted fell flat. The lead singer gave a yelp on stage which we later found out was a giggle. Some where down the line these people have forgotten that stage presence can make or break a performance. Here it did not make the performance.
• Though No Idea is one of the few bands that actually use a keyboard, the keys were missed and I felt that they should have been highlighted a lot more. Maybe the fact that Shane, the keyboardist was known to me or maybe I just like to hear the keys, I felt that the keys were shortchanged. Like wise Mario had very little chances to show us what he can do on the bass guitar. I enjoy short interludes where the various members of the band get a little time off to show their stuff on stage. This helps the omnipresent guitarist / vocalist / drummer to catch their breaths and recharge themselves.
• One of the songs they sang / performed was “Mug” it’s a song about a drunk who is trying to figure out the colour of the mug!!!!!!! At least that was what we inferred from what the guitarist wisecracked. My friend David wryly remarked that the song must have been actually written in the bathroom. Come on No Idea, you can do better than that. If you cannot do politically correct songs that talk about world peace, brotherhood, love or anti-drugs then just play music. Having honed your skills at the Unwind Centre, which promotes a smoke, dope, alcohol free rock environs, much more is expected from you. And yes they also sang “Flavour of the month” which was highlighted as a song for all those who change girl friends monthly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
• Despite all this, if they sounded good it was because they do have good sound. Pity it was not appreciated by the few who gathered there. They play a mix of a few styles / genres that an expert may find a specific name. Personally I find them a mix of new and old rock and a good blend at that. Maybe with a little more work they can sound better. I look forward to the album where technical wizardry will compensate the flaws of playing live.
All in all the first hour was worth the drive, though the fact that no one asked for an encore showed that they could have done a little better.
Mademoiselle K was the French band that played next after a short break. Fronted by a mademoiselle, they started off with some weird vocalizing / humming. I was hoping that it was just the sound check and thank fully it was. They started to play with a bang and they rocked!
Wearing leather pants and boots the lead singer had attitude and tonnes of it and she let it show at all times. Now let me just give a brief description of the band; a female lead vocalist cum lead guitarist, a rhythm guitarist, a bass guitarist and a drummer made up the band.
The drummer deserved special mention, he was very laid back and he had a lot of flair, constantly twirling the sticks he kept us entertained as well as backed up with some great drumming.
A few comments about the show itself:
• The first apprehension coming after No Idea was the vocals. Knowing that they were a French band, we wondered if we would first hear the vocals and if we did will we understand. Our French is passable at best. All doubts were simply blown away in a matter of minutes, the music was rocking and the vocals simply didn’t matter.
• The band showed that they were performers, first they got the crowd on their feet and next they urged them to clap and enjoy the show. When the crowd was getting lax the vocalist actually screamed “Move your F*@#%^& A!+” and the crowd did. Finally the scene resembled a rock show, probably the fact that the French were in big number and they got into the flow immediately.
• The music rocked primarily because the balance was well done. I noticed their sound engineer spending a lot of time setting up before they started and the result showed, you could pick up the various instruments and you did not feel overwhelmed by any. Also the energy was very high, when two guitarists go face to face and try to outdo each other on the guitars it is such a pleasing sight to see and it enhances the viewing pleasure when the music is good by itself.
• Yes they did have room for interludes and I was really impressed with the bass player, with a beard & a laid back attitude he looked the quintessential software geeks you see often, however he actually strummed the bass guitar to a maddening crescendo. It was good to see and hear.
• Towards the end the band actually went down on their knees for a long musical interlude or song, whatever they may call it, it first silenced the crowd and then it slowly built up into a rocking crescendo, so much so when the band were back on their feet they were greeted with a thunderous ovation.
• And yes the band was politically correct if you do pardon those free flowing expletives, they sang among others a song called “ASD” an anti drug song. Coming from France it was heart warming.
• They ended their show but the crowd did not stop applauding and they came back for yet another F@#$%^& French song that was a grand finale.
PS. One of the most enduring sights of the concert was one rock aficionado who had brought his 3-4 year old kid for the show. The kid had both hands on her ears and she gave us a disdainful look as she tried to understand what was going on at the Fete de La Musique.