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Independence Rock XXIII (Day One): Zero’s Swan Song

By Azeem Banatwalla | September 28, 2008

Split Magazine: Independence Rock

Independence Rock. The name strikes a chord with all those who call themselves rock fans, and quite rightly so. Arguably India’s biggest, oldest and best marketed rock show returned to Bombay on August 30, 2008, leading to the same old mix of great music and police interference that we’ve grown to love and hate, respectively.

But this year was different. It had to be different, given the highly publicised disbanding of India’s premier rock act, Zero. So, this time, it was more a case of ‘Goodbye, Zero’ rather than ‘Hello, New Talent’. But, sometimes, that’s alright. It made for a pretty decent show, with some great music, and one electrifying performance by, in a widely shared opinion, the greatest Indian band ever.

Following a decent performance from Delhi’s Another Vertigo Rush, Silver from Pune came to I-Rock with a decent reputation and didn’t disappoint, playing all their originals including the very catchy “Feel the Heat”, which got the Bombay crowd moving (and, for reasons that baffle me to this day, moshing). The vocalist displayed phenomenal range, and the band had a great energy about them. Just about enough to bag this year’s winners trophy.

Black are one of my personal favourite upcoming bands, and Bombay’s representatives electrified with a host of their originals, including the oddly named “Carpenters Don’t Fuck”, and a song that I absolutely love, “Field of Thought”. I’ve always found Black, with their grunge and Pearl-Jam-ish sound, to be one of Indian rock’s biggest underachievers, and despite their best efforts, this year was no different.

Having travelled all the way from Aizawl, the Scavenger Project came up on stage to many a jeer from the Bombay crowd; and I can’t blame them — given the fact that the band seemed to have a ‘rapper’ who was more of an announcer and a prop. God knows how many band members they had on stage, but I guess they could have thrown in one more and called themselves Slipknot. Their music was average at best, with an Alter Bridge cover and a few originals.

Finally, Rainbow Bridge from Chennai could honestly be described in two words: homosexual and drunk — and I can only hope the former was induced by the latter. The vocalist seemed to think he was performing at a gay pride parade, but the lesser said about that, the better. The band’s music, in all honesty, wasn’t that bad. Fruity as he was, the frontman did his job well with some strong vocals and great guitar work, as Rainbow Bridge displayed a good mix of funk and rock ‘n’ roll, although their frightful attempt at Indian classical fusion did little to endear them to an already disgruntled crowd.

Split Magazine: Independence RockAfter the competing bands were through, there was a buzz around the crowd which told you just what a majority of them had paid Rs 220 to see; and they went berserk when Demonic Resurrection took to the stage as the only death metal act of the evening. Demonic proceeded to showcase a few of their newer compositions, along with their classics like “A Darkness Descends”. It was a solid performance, although the Demonstealer has had better days on vocals.

Finally, though, it was time for the big moment. Zero proceeded to set up on stage, and when Rajeev Talwar’s voice echoed around the ground, saying “Lights out, please”, we knew we were in for a treat. The lights did go out, and Zero got going with “Mariachi”, undoubtedly the performance of the night, when Rajeev went out of sight for the first, slow part of the song, came charging onto the stage in a half-tuxedo, belting out flawless vocals. Zero have always been known for how comfortable they are on stage, and this time was no different. You would have thought the band would be somber or nostalgic given that it was their last ever performance, but not a chance. They were here, as Zero have always been, to have fun. “Mariachi” was followed by some of their other popular songs, including the instrumental, “Christmas in July”, “Hate in E Minor”, “Not My Kinda Girl”, and “Ayaya”.

Where, you may ask, is “PSP 12″”? 10 p.m. deadline ring a bell? Yep, just as the band were done performing “Ayaya”, you could hear Farhad Wadia sitting at the back sending frantic instructions to the stage, along the lines of, “Tell them not to stop, if they stop, we’re fucked”. The message, however didn’t reach the band, who took a breather for a few seconds before launching into a hurried “PSP 12″”, but the damage was done. The sound was cut before we could hear a single chorus of “Standing by…”, and the show came to an abrupt end, thus ending the reign of the mighty Zero. The band took their final bows, and you couldn’t be blamed for leaving Chitrakoot with a sense of nostalgia, and what-could-have-been.

I-Rock XXIII, yet again, is a case of what could have been a great show, if not for the cops showing up to shut “those uncultured rebels” up at exactly 10:01 p.m. I was left with a bitter pit in my stomach at not having got to see one of my favourite bands ever play undisputedly their most popular song, because the Bombay Police, who can take up to two hours to file an FIR, couldn’t spare us two minutes to experience what is essentially an Indian rock anthem.


2 Comments. Post Yours Here.
  1. September 28, 2008, 8:04 pm skar

    We did sing PSP”, I think that was (almost) as good as them playing it.

  2. October 22, 2008, 11:00 pm Dreadlord

    Hi guys,

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    Now Rolling Stones and IIT Roorkee bring to you Wargasm 2008 The Rock Night…….

    This October 23rd to 26th come Rock at IIT Roorkee with Prestorika and Half Step Down and see rising bands fight it for the top spot as in the Rock Prelims Mary Jane Green Fields…

    For details see http://www.thomso.co.in/mjgf.php

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