Sunday, November 20, 2005
The Day the Music Died
I call it legacy. Have witnessed the crusades since time immemorial. Have been there since the beginning and hopefully shall survive to behold the rise and fall of the time-changing, life altering show of our times. Ladies and gentleman, bystanders and onlookers, Roman, countrymen, eunuch and even animals…….. I wish to proclaim the power Julius Caesar commanded over his empire and let the one thing I love and trust the most, murder me with treachery. The deceit of Music.
I have often searched for the creed of existentialism in music. Have romanticised too much about a single composition. Have cried cold nights, spent idle summer afternoons exploring the sounds and drinking in the beauteous craft of a melody. The disorderly chaos, the strident strumming of strings, the wash and wail of the organ, the rage of the drums, rolls and pile driver snare, the demure tambourine, the shrill clarinet, the hypnotising harp, keeping time…………..
Have lived through the agony and ecstasy of this crazy lil thing called Music. But just like an infidel, unfaithful lover; the screeching shrills rape all senses with a callous ferocity of bad sounds, tearing the reef of waves of harmony. And you can’t even surf on them.
So while I carry these thoughts driving down the wide Chandigarh lanes approaching Symohony-2005, the stark reality hits home. History repeats itself yet again. Same performers, familiar sounds, the same ole crap, the same mistakes, the same torture. They say, a leopard never changes its spots. And this year, it got even worse. Thought of writing something different, but decided to repeat the same ole crap all over again. Sadly, this is one thing you wouldn’t wanna do again, but let me say this as subtly as possible…..
Here We Go Again!...
Ever since my ears were exposed to the callous sounds of Slayer, I had been awakened by the anonymity of the voluminous and fiery havoc, they could wreck upon their worshippers. But this was a sacrilege of a different kind. With equipment in tow, these kids fashioned timeless rock anthems in their own style and called it improvisation...........Nah! I would just call them flaws, misses on the beats, a hit on the wrong notes, taking the key when there ain't any.
How would you like to hear 'Tonight Tonight,' being carried to a high pitch in a ne- Alka Yagnik voice? And where there is the smell of sarson da saag, there are some whose die-hard Punjabi nature never fails to surface. Embedded deep into their sub conscience, it just needs a way of expression. On the penetrating Axle pitch of ‘Sweet Child O Mine’, the very full throated screams turn into clamorous and inevitable Balle Balle Bakra Calls, Sardars are so famous for.Being a journalist, there are a lot of unavoidable elements one has to face. And there ain't nothing worse than being hit on by a bunch of flimsy rock stars. Battling between English, Punjabi and Hindi, one asks for your number, a second sizes you up and a third intriguingly comments on the rhythmical quality of your name. At this instant, I don't know whether to take it as a compliment or an insult. The one and a half hours of screening barely 4 of the 45 performers, I even witnessed the horrendous murder of a tune I've held dear for ages. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by the bards who 'Indianised' the song with a half drum set and an unplugged acoustic Barista guitar, with the fresh orange name tag still stuck. 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Kurt Cobain is midway possessed by the ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Rotuine’, as he solemnly turns into Eddie Vedder 'Alive.' This year there were some good Rabbi renditions too. Somehow the sardar's weird ass comments kept ringing in my head. "Have you ever seen a sardar play a guitar?" Yeah right, if I had a nickel for every time somebody said that, I'd be forced to be a compulsive beggar. But then came some school girls in neatly pleated skirts form Simla guiuded by their teacher and blew the arena apart with 'I would do anything for Love, but I wont do THAT!' Believe me they just did it all and more. The supersonic killer whale like screams did nothing but more damage to my sensory organs. "Hearing Impaired," is how I would've described myself. Had it not been for a young girl's inexplicably resonant and perfectly melodious interpretation of Shakira's 'Underneath your clothes' I would have passed out. Just wanted to cry out of pure joy and hug that damsel, "Thank you for saving the music."
But then what do I know about music? I may not be acquainted with the technical engineering precisions, having never been on stage. But I do know what sounds good and does not. I steal a glance with my friend sitting in a morbid state, as I wait for my shutterbug to arrive. She takes out her Discman and plugs into ‘How to Dismantle a Time Bomb.’
The headlining act was seen hours later after the evening wrapped up, nearly 5 hours overtime thanks to much credible time mis management, backstage throwing some air guitar riffs to the ones who are in dire need to find their inner music. Why backstage? simply because the man never got to get up and flex a chord on stage. "He was awesome. Such an amazing performer. Can't believe he got sidelined by all those stupid kids," averred the one spark in the whole show who made my stay there all worthwhile. Had it not been for him, my faith in good music (and men too) would've been shattered by now. So lucky to have him play more than just music for me. Sigh!
The night faded out, the director finally set cut and the sound system finally held its breath. Really makes you wonder though.... With such glorious musicians taking centre stage, we are sure to witness the birth of a new genre. 'Scum Rock.' And it’s all happening on an Autumn Afternoon in Chandigarh.