Today’s Special – à la carte

June 21, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Posted in Bengaluru, criticism, music | 2 Comments
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Bonjour!

“Tout ce que dit en français, des sons de classe” – ‘Anything said in French, sounds classy’ – Monsieur. Abhishek, Circa 2009.

Well, enough of dillydallying.Yesterday, Akshay and I, had been to the Fête de la Musique, at the Alliance Française de bangalore. A cozy place, and a Cultural hangout for the French, in Bangalore. We had no clue of the lineup, and I, had almost thought that it was the ‘Galeej Gurus’ who’d be performing.

I saw the calendar, and it said “Today’s Special“. And that, was the name of the band. Band names[ and songs] mostly come out as as the aftereffects of drunken revelry. [ Considering that this band cites whiskey and beer to be some of their driving influences, my guess isn’t that far-fetched 😛 ].

And needless to say, it’s a decent pun as well. I suppose they get stuff like, ” And Ladies and Gentlemen, Today’s special performance is by well, Today’s Special”, all the time. Much like when there was this bunch [including Frank Noon], who called themselves The Next Band“. [ And the Next band is ……] , or even better, this group that performed at Decibels at Saarang 2009. It was simply called “The Previous Band“. Man, the confusions.

‘Today’s Special’ was listed in the lineup for Saarang as well. I couldn’t see the entire Decibels event, hence must have missed them there.

Anyway, about yesterday’s performance. Absolutely loved it. Primarily funk based music, and the fact that they can dabble in with a bit of metal as well, makes them extra special.

Today's special

Now, that’s some branding. Bound to impress.

Here’s what the band has to say about themselves.

We are a Bangalore based blues rock band, mostly into classic blues, blues rock and retro hard rock, with an added flavour of funk.We cover songs of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Phish and the likes, and also compose originals that fall in the same taste.”

Some would call it confusing and disoriented that they have so many influences, but the fact that they switch easily between these at will in their tracks, makes them versatile, I feel.

The Band’s line up [ I picked this from the website, I’m sure about at least the vocals and the bassist], and my opinions about them:

Aditya : Vocals – Roaring, High voice at times, which suits the retro style very much. Could do a semi-growl if need be, I guess. The lyrics are very much set to the swing style [ Elvis -like ], and this chap sings fast-paced as the style demands.

Dhruv : Guitars -Very Naice, Sir. Nice techniques, the sweep Picking was awesome, and the riffs were very distinct.

Sathwick : Drums – Brings the song into picture right from the start. The bass and the drums combination is probably the signature of this band, from what I could make out from most of their numbers.

Shalini : Bass – Let’s get out the most obvious fact first. A Female bassist? Yes, that’s something really rare. Unique enough to feature an independent wiki.

Ok, once the whole hullaballoo and temporary jaw-dropping was done, we were actually in awe of her performance. One hell of a bassist. And as I said just two lines before [ were you noticing?? ], the bass+ drum intros defined the course of the song.

Yesterday’s performance featured originals like “Aloo Tikki” and covers like “Hush – Deep Purple“, and “Woman – WolfMother“. The wolfmother cover was nearly identical, and the highlight of the gig, for me.

One minor complaint is that once I tried to some post-concert searching for this band, its tracks and lyrics, I was thoroughly pissed off.

It’s a pain googling for them. Try some innocent search term like “Aloo Tikki Today’s Special”, and a hajar Tarla Dalal like cooking sites pop up.Aargh. With a little Search engine kungfu I could manage to find their myspace page, and some two tracks. Seriously guys, A Blog comes for free these days.

Kindly to be setting one up soonly. Thank you.

Akshay pointed out yesterday that Rock n Metal music seems to have dried up in Bangalore for the past few months, what with absolutely no gigs of interest happening.

Genetically mutated concert organizers, Please take note.

Times of India – Bangalore Festival

October 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Bengaluru, Carnatic, Ethics, humour, music | 2 Comments
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I have been appreciative of The Times of India with respect to two aspects so far.
•Newspaper in Education (N.I.E)
•Providing hosting space for R.K.Laxman’s awesome offline cartoon strips.
I add one more to that illustrious list today. The TOI Bengaluru Festival.

The PR guys at TOI have been spot on, while conceptualizing an event of this scale. They have gained lots of public goodwill for sure.

Sunday evening featured a fusion concert by U.Shrinivas on the Mandolin, Steven on the Keyboard, and Sivamani on anything that could be remotely called as a percussion instrument.

This was my first visit to Palace grounds ( surprising, yet true ). I realised its ginormity first hand, by landing on the opposite end and doing a complete circumferential tour.

The only means of entry were the generous free passes given at TOI venues, which unfortunately I didn’t have. I was waiting for a friend who apparently got enticed by the Bangalore traffic, and would turn up late.

Seeing me wait at the gates, a kind Police Maama let me in. I assure you, this was not a security lapse. It must have been my very innocent looking face.
The free pass system only exists, to keep a certain degree of vandals out of the venue ( The ones who are really lazy not to get passes ). True audiophiles ( such as yu-know-whu) should be let in without such formalities.

The host, a Ms. Rachana Bharadwaj,was greeted in typical boorish fashion, as is now synonymous with beautiful emcees. A cultural evening, did you say?
Shrinivas took centrestage, Sivamani to his right, and Steven to his left. The spotlight however was to change directions in a while.

Shrinivas began with a smooth Jazz piece, with each passing note creating a delightful sensation. Mandolin is a classy instrument, and He, having reached the pinnacle of perfection, can do such fascinating gamakas on it.
The second piece was even better. He was forced,however, to make it an interlude, as Nature decided to improvise.
Intensely ironic, the rain did fall in torrents.

I, being, of the vertically challenged variety, wasn’t even able to see the artists before. The rain proved to be quite useful. Many Pseduo-interested people, and not-so-enthusiastic Old Uncle-Aunty pairs decided to flee. And I chose to use this opportunity to go to the very front.

The artists, being wary of their instruments, stopped playing. Finally paying heed to the crowd chanting “Shivu, Shivu”, Mani decided to show us a tiny subspace of his vast repertoire of Percussion knowledge.
He began with a huge Suitcase, and the audience went crazy. This was to be the defining moment of the concert, with audience demanding an encore at various times, just by shouting ” Suitcase, Suitcase “.

Deciding not to tease the audience further, he went back to the drums. This time, aided by a DJ playing Kannada songs in the background.

Songs, like ” Baanallu Neene,Buviyallu Neene”, etc. The crowd went insane when he started ” Huttidare Kannada Naadalli Huttabeku”, and rightly so. And by the crowd, I mean myself as well.
Some idiot deciding to be a supreme-idiot, hurled some obscenities about Dr.Rajkumar. The police took good care of him. Surprisingly, the chap was a Kannadiga. Troubled times, these.

We were absolutely drenched in the rain, and yet we were dancing to the tunes of Humma Humma. Such was the magic in Sivamani’s beats.
Many of my friends are majorly repenting for not having attended this concert. Poor Souls.

Eventually, it stopped raining. The artists started a three layered piece, with the artists trying to blend into each other by the end of each cycle. Shrinivas was wickedly quick, and it became kinda tough to follow, yet melodious to listen.
Steven’s keyboard was making majestic soaring sounds, that seem to balance the tempo created by Siva’s beats.

The last piece of the concert was an improvised version of Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram, with mandolin being the ruling instrument.

Rachana seemed to have forgotten that there were artists other than Sivamani on the stage, but she seemed too excited to care.
Siva announced Shrinivas’s name eventually, and the crowd cheered in unison. He also thanked the audience in kannada, speaking about ” Raagi Mudde” etc, and we were naturally pleased.

Siva continued, this time with bottles, watercans, the Daayan of a Tabla, some pots, and everything else he could lay his hands on. It was just ama-jing. In the coming few days, if you find me percussioning random objects, don’t be surprised.

Too bad, I can’t make it to Shivkumar Sharma’s Santoor concert. Do visit it, if you have the chance.
The pass may be free, but the event shall be priceless.

Thanks again, to the Times of India, The Bangalore Police ( for letting me in, and for controlling the unruly crowd), and most importantly to the artists, for having given Bangalore a dreamy rainy evening to remember. ( and to Rachana, for being so pretty ).

Cheerio,

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Choti Si Baat…

July 20, 2008 at 1:30 am | Posted in arbit, Bengaluru, Carnatic, criticism, humour, nitk, travel | 4 Comments
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Disclaimer:- This post is not a review of this Amol Palekar movie. Which happens to be one of my favourites, btw. It however deals with a similar aspect of life.

Claimer:- Too much fundae_putting for a very small issue. Excusus Maadimus.

Location: A semi-posh hotel in the heart of Bengaluru. Woodlands a.k.a Woody’s it is called.

So here I was, happily staying at this hotel [ albeit at company’s expense, but don’t ruin the moment ], which is supposedly famous in B’ lore for its breakfast. Not many star hotels can boast about that.

Aha, if that’s not enough, there is one more USP to this place. At all the dining venues, this mallu-run hotel plays Carnatic Music to give that xtra aambience effects.                  Yes. Good-ol’ Classy stuff that sits well with most of the senior Tam folk who seem to form a majority of the customers here [ and with me as well – if you still didn’t get the point ].

I think this must be an corollary/extension of that experimental research that, cows gave more milk when exposed to western classical music.

In the mornings, they play Mandolin Shrinivas. The same CD every day. I still liked it.

At dinner, for some weird reason, they play death-note Shehnai/saxophone. Morose funeral-ish stuff. I didn’t quite get the funda, but since the food was quite good, I didn’t bother much.

Well, enough of bitti publicity. Back to core issues. Or the lack of it.

So, one day at the breakfast, the hotel features the Southie menu filled with awesomeness, the Idlis, the Vadas, dosas…. and also some mandatory nuisances like the Upma [ a.k.a Uppittu. as if an alias changes the hideousness ]. And being a devout member of the caffeine cultus, I order a coffee as well. Wait, let me rephrase.

A true-to-Bengaluru-tradition Cothasian fresh, piping hot, delicious cuppa coffee, with a frothy layer as a visual bonus.

Ya, it was something like that. I’m a bit restrained with appraisals.

It was of course sugar-free, to suit the oldies. So, I take the  semi-crystalline, semi-powdery sugar sachet, and pour it down. It made a small hole into that layer, sinking in slowly. Maybe I was already high in anticipation of the coffee, or maybe bengaluru’s   early-morning cold had excited my mind, in either case, this sight brought a smile to my face. I assume the classy people around me thought I was some downmarket crazy oaf. That is, if they hadn’t already thought of that, while I came to have the breakfast in my pair of jazzy bermudae.

To me, however, it reminded of old cartoon characters. When they used to fall out of planes, or space, or anywhere else… Dropping through columns of white clouds, making appropriate look-alike cut-out holes in the process.

Maybe I’m imagining a bit too much. “Much ado about nothing”- ing about a petty issue.

Signing off with a recent chat with Akella. [ Expletives included ]

Me : Hey, I found a house in Wilson Garden. Pretty neat. And near as well..

Akella : So, when are you shifting to a proper house?

Me : Wtf, this house is closeby, has a maid, and a TV as well.      You can’t get properer than that.

Akella : No, I meant why are you staying in a Garden?

Me : You Whore.

Some people never change…

And that is good…

And that is all…

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