Bangalore, considered as the pensioners' paradise, lake city, garden city, pub city, silicon valley and so on, has retained only sillycon and pubs as i write this entry.

Lakes gone, gardens vanished and pensioners can no more afford to make a living in this city.
Anyways, I'm not writing anything about the above topics but about something else Bangalore is known for.
Take a walk on Church Street and chances are you must have come across couple of blokes who are members of a Rock / metal band.
Yes, not surprisingly there are nearly more than couple of hundred bands in Bangalore today.

Being a regular concert goer and front row headbanger most of the time I had come to realise it over the years that this city has a maximum number of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest fans than anywhere else in India.
Where as kids in their teens or 20s in other cities might indulge in mundane things but here the scene is different, the kids are studying well to get into software industry and also hooking up with buddies to form a band.

I thought it was not the regular scene but lately it has become so.
Every first sunday of the month Bangalore witnesses Levi's Freedom Jam (oops, Sunday Jam) where upcoming bands can go on stage and perform a set. A sizeable hardcore crowd turns up to see the stars (?) of tomorrow perform, some covers and many original compositions.

The point I am making here is about the way metal is represented in the media and the mainstream conscious, it is really negative. Come on anyone who thinks Korn, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and all as metal needs a 'metal 101' up their ass.
Bangalore bands for long have had prog hangovers earlier that ended up creating bored concert goers who in turn preferred to stay away from live scene (including myself), just recently the scene is welcoming some fresh talent with sonic brewtality that you can expect from the angry generation anywhere else.


Yes and no.

If the number of bands coming up is any indication, Bangalore might as well end up becoming another Gothenberg or Seattle for that matter.
But it doesnt have anything else that would help in becoming anything of that sort because there are some funda-metal things missing and that's what I am going to rant and rave about.

The Sound of Music
Play any song from Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, within a few seconds into the song you'd recognise the band or may be the song if you are familiar with that song.
These bands worked towards creating a unique sound not meaty hooks or memorable riffs.
This is something most of the bands today have lost sight of and right now it is about one guitar lick driving the whole song (think of many nu-metallers), this is sad.
You cant tell one song from another or there is no creativity involved. Everybody wants to play like Led Zep or Sabbath, but these people were not trying to be someone else but themselves.

This basic factor has created a major gap between bands and audience in Bangalore as well, earlier when the bands were indulging in prog excesses the audience had no choice to lap it up.
Dont mind me saying but prog is not thoroughly enjoyable music if it is less than brilliant or doesnt possess some amount of creativity.
Prog wave has swept the scene and now the ground is set for some fresh meat and it is a crucial moment where the bands and the audience have to decide whether to set the stage for clones or artists.

Anybody who has been a part of this scene has a fairly good idea about what I'm shaking my stick at.
Bangalore metal scene has evolved a lot over the years, starting from tribute outfits to cover bands and now at performing all original live sets, bands have come a long way.

So has the audience.

Bangalore has its lion's share of talented bands, some are immensely talented but were forced to give up the dreams of making it big in the music scene due to several factors that are quite obvious as usual.

In my conversations with some bands I came across a point that the audience are not so receptive to originals. There are several factors that decide this attitude and I dont think my ideas will ever be voiced at a proper platform to overcome the obstacles, that's beside the point.

Many bands gather some moolah from performing at many live venues, competitions, cutting down on booze and ciggies to finance their records and most of them have day jobs. They manage to release the records on indie labels and distro over a circle of cult following they have.

They might be honoured with a column in the local news daily and radio was never alive in this country (forget it), Music channels suck big time feeding crap all day and night.

Bands lose big in the bargain, the records never reach the wider audience since the major labels are least bothered about promoting Rock / metal as mainstream music, they are busy at tailoring manufactured pop artists.

This is a funny incident, I remember once walking through Brigade Road with a buddy who is also a metalhead, there was this stupid looking Channel V vj who was asking the crowd some mindless questions. I was stopped in the middle of the road by this certain vj, to his bad luck, and was asked who was my favourite indi-pop female singer (?).
(Smile, you are on TV!) I showed my middle finger and said they all suck, and a major chunk of the crowd cheered as I walked away.

My message to those bozos at the music channels was "We are not a dumping ground assholes, stop feeding us crap…"

Personally I dont give a fuck about image, this is something that record companies create to sell the records. The bands still remain the same, most of the metallers abroad look like some regular chaps except for those black metal dudes from Norway.
Otherwise Ozzy is a family man who puts on antichrist robe when he performs with Sabbath but that doesnt matter.
Most of the bands in Bangalore sport a clean image, they look no different from the audience!
At times you would be forgiven for watching a bunch of geeky looking dudes scaring the living daylights of the neighbours or something.

There are some bands from Bangalore that have major cult following not only here but also in major cities in India. They all sound like some other band, not like themselves.
It is easy to find a band that sounds like Slayer in Bangalore, or the one that is trying to ape Kreator, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden or Dream Theater for that matter.

Many bands kick some serious ass but what Bangalore needs is a good vocalist. There's a major scarcity of good vocalist and this is really important.
Last Sunday Jam there was this buch of young lads who performed couple of songs, in one he was singing like Dave Mustaine and in another he was like Tom Araya!
This is not a healthy development, it would have been a manna if it was just an isolated event but most of the times you'll hear bands that sound like a European or American band that we have grown up listening to.

Good music is not about hooks or riffs or some great lyrics but like I said before, is about the sound and creating a unique identity in terms of musical direction. If headbangability is the only yardstick for extreme genre of music, you'd find a hundred bands in here.
That's what Soundgarden was set to achieve, they were into big band sound of Led Zep but they were categorised as grunge since they happen to come from Seattle. That's another story altogether.

Well there are some people who still believe in the power of Rock n roll to make a difference and they are the ones who are still providing some platforms for fresh meat to grow on. Many concerts take place, it is actually less compared to the glory days of the 90s but still it is great to see someone's effort taking shape at the end of the day.
Bangalore metal crowd is a weird folk, they follow the bands in a fanatic manner and that's the reason many of the bands have a cult following. The followers dont miss a gig their favourite band is playing.
Music channels or record labels dont see it as a promising number? Well, that seems the criteria judging by the promotion these talents got from the media.

If it aint live, its dead.
Live scene Rocks but as long as there are no groundbreaking acts hitting the scene, it has the troubles of dying sooner.
Local bands have no choice but play as many live shows as possible since there are no record deals and stuff. It has led to a situation that you dont see the same band perform twice at another venue most of the time, and there are so many popular bands.
If everyone is popular, nobody is.

End of the tunnel.
Well this may be the end of the tunnel for the metal scene in Bangalore. There's always light at the end of tunnel. The stage is set with so many promises and potential to create a unique metal scene from Bangalore that can safely be called as Headbangalore!
By the way, this term is not my own, it was picked up from a metal compilation that was released a few years ago by local bands.

The music scene here has potential and strong audience base. Its not difficult to walk into a gig and find a crazy bunch of metal dudes headbanging their way to glory.

Well this might as well be a mindless rant from my side because when I started writing my post today I had no idea I'd end up writing about this. So it might come across as unorganised or directionless banter. The hell with that…

Its not too late for record labels and music channels to realise the potential this metal scene from Bangalore is offering.

I'll write more on this later…


2 Responses to “Headbangalore”

  1. Roy Says:

    Shocking! –roghde9p

  2. maxdiamond Says:

    what’s shocking dude?

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