Sunday, Shubha and I, along with Kishore Bhargava and his wife Jyoti, went to 180 Proof (supposedly one of the swankier pubs in town) to watch the group “Rust” perform. The specific reason being that Mrinal was performing along with this group. The “previews” I got from various places, including from Live Journal indicated that I would probably have less than a good time, especially since Mrinal warned me of over-use of distortion and other effects (which I hate).
However, we were pleasantly surprised. Rust (pot bellies and all performed way above my expectations, playing a set that sounded like it was put together by me and Kishore. The Doors, Police, Grateful Dead and *lots* of Pink Floyd!
The last one was a so so. As Mrinal had already commented, the overuse of distortion and other effects on numbers like “Coming Back to Life” was painful. They started the song with the CBTL lead part with full distortion, auto-wah and flanger, at which point I couldn’t help myself and yelled in frustration. Evidently, that registered, because the lead guitarist stopped playing, reached down and switched off his effects box, after which things sounded the way they should. They played it well, but the lead singer (Gopu, the DJ of 180 proof) clearly had issues with lyrics and timing on this one. And by the time they finished the song, they were half a beat behind, and were playing in time with a beat that was straight rock instead of the march-like beat that the original song is played to.
Apart from this murder, they did pretty well. Issues with the mixer desk resulted in some songs just being drowned by bad settings, which drives home the fact that the guy sitting at the mixer desk needs to know the songs and the group, not just his equipment.
Rust completed their set with Comfortably Numb, which they played well, but Gopu definitely wasn’t the right singer for this one (or was just plain beat). Not that it mattered – throughout their performance, Kishore and I were singing along at the top of our voices, complete with piercing whistles after every song (that had everyone staring at us). We clearly the loudest table in the place.
But all in all, this was a most remarkable performance. I know that these guys didn’t practice too much (and both the keyboard player – Mrinal – and the drummer joined the band just days before , but the band was tight, their timing was good, their song selection was near perfect, the Bass player was God in a small package, the guitarists did a competent job (apart from the overuse of effects , the drummer was solid as a rock and precise as a swiss timepiece, Mrinal filled the background nicely with his keyboard (especially on “Comfortably Numb”) and lead singer Gopu did a great job even on songs that he wasn’t too comfortable with.
One final word to the lead guitarist – the “Smoke on the water” start-riff is played choppy, not flowing. And “if you are playing it as chords, you are playing it wrong” (TM, R. Blackmore).
I’d definitely go see this group again if I can.
I was happy that Shubha enjoyed the evening as much as I did. We rarely go out as a couple, but this time I put my foot down, and Anjali stayed home with dog, cat, maid and the Skywalker family. Because Shubha and I have completely different musical tastes, I was a bit apprehensive about how she would take to this kind of stuff, but she enjoyed herself, which was cool. Also, because I didn’t have to behave like an adult or respectable dad, I was free to let myself go, which I most definitely did.
Mrinal’s entire family showed up as well. Babu Kalakrishnan is a great dad – giving his son all the freedom he needs to do “his thing”, rather than trying to clamp down and force him into a mould the way my father tried. After the gig, we spent some time talking to Babu and Girija (Mrinal’s mom) about their son’s activities, and learnt to our surprise that Mrinal has 10 years of classical music training behind him! No wonder this amazing guy is so good at just about everything musical he touches – whether it is drums, keyboards or guitar! Girija told us how they asked Mrinal what he would like to do (including studying abroad) and how Mrinal indicated that for the time being at least, he was happy doing what he was (studying Telecom Engineering at PESIT), while at the same time getting to explore his musical side.
Mrinal really has the best of both worlds going for him. I envy him.
Hmm, I wonder how he felt having both his dads there last night!
On other fronts, I saw “Star Wars Episode II – Attack of The Clones” on VCD. I haven’t been to a movie theatre in 15 years, because I cannot handle the fact that there is no pause button (I get migraines that kill it all for me). I am one of those guys who actually enjoys commercial breaks on TV – gives me a chance to close my eyes and de-tense.
IAC, SW:AoTC turned out mostly what I had expected reading various reviews. There is definitely too much mush in that movie, most of it completely unnecessary, and in fact distracting. The last 30 minutes of the movie finally feel like Star Wars again, in the mould of the original movies (not the pathetic Phantom Menace). For the first time, you get to see scenes that actually link into the New Hope/Empire strikes back/Return of the Jedi story arc, including an image projected from a device Christopher Lee holds towards the end, Darth Sidious, C3PO, etc. And of course Yoda. Oh man, that little guy sure shows a different side to himself, though I think the Bruce Lee impersonation was a wee bit overdone.
Anjali and I therefore turned out to love the movie for completely different reasons – Anjali loved it for the mush, and I loved it for the end.