I often prided myself on being a music buff with a healthy gyan-giving-quotient. But recently realized that I’m absolutely ‘in the buff’ when it comes to certain kinds of music. A couple of weeks ago my good buddy, and on-the-surface-your-normal-overweight-Malayali, Jacob Ninan insisted that I need to go with him to see Brazilian metal band Sepultura live. The fact that he was going to pick me up, and drop me back, give me a guided tour, and that it was happening in Opus’ backyard so to speak, still didn’t seem more enticing than ‘facebooking’ (if googling is a word, this really can’t be far behind), but it’s always been one of those things that I have to strike off my list as ‘done’ (time to be realistic about these things-to-do-before-I-die business. Being Hugh Heffner for a day, or having SRK’s abs, are seeming very bleak).
Mr. J landed up home 2 hours before we’re supposed to leave, literally bouncing off the walls, in his bloody brilliant Cannibal Corpse T-shirt. He picked up tickets a week prior, and was behaving as if he was going to score with some 19 year old PYT.
“I’ve got something for you too” he says and handed me this neatly folded black Tee. I held it up for less than a gowda-second (that’s the new researched lowest measure of time. It’s the time Deve Gowda takes to change his mind) to find that it was an image of a naked woman, covered with blood, arms and legs chopped off, lying on something that looked like an operating table. Sheepishly I told J that it was rather nippy (absolutely no pun intended) and that I’d wear a sweatshirt instead. Later I was told (he must’ve thought he could make me feel guilty) that the shirt was from his prize collection. The album was ‘Reinsertion of Aborted Remnants’ and the band’s name was so creatively and aptly called Retch.
The car ride to Palace Grounds was an hour’s journey (isn’t that the norm to traverse 3 kms. in this city?) of death and gore and blood and murder. Stories that made Quentin Tarantino flicks look like they were fit to be aired on Pogo. Demented minds that could easily be on the Madrasa University’s visiting faculty and conducting crash courses (literally) for Osama’s jehadis. From thrash metal (contrary to what I believed, not all metal was trash), to death metal (J explicitly explained how Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ single-handedly inspired this genre, and how for their live gigs it would actually rain blood), to black metal (which had nothing to do with iron or lead or anything from the periodic table, but apparently an anti Christ, anti democracy, anti anything-that makes-sense-to-normal-human-sensibilities) to power, doom, gothic and nu metal, Mr. J was truly ‘in his element’.
Wish I had taken this trash course earlier. There was this time when I was asked to judge a ‘western electric’ competition at a city’s premier college fest. Three bands into the competition I got up and left telling the organizers that I didn’t have the requisite knowledge to judge a competition of this nature. All that those musically challenged (to be politically correct) bands did was simple: make as much noise as possible. The guitarists and bass players held their axes, bent over, hit the distortion and made noise. The drummers double pedaled furiously and made more noise. And the vocalists (if one can call them that) were hilarious, quite literally, howlers.
But as usual I’m digressing. We got to the venue a little after Sepultura started, and as we were running in Mr. J said, “Dude, now you will realize how much mayhem and havoc just three instruments can generate!”
What greeted us was a sea of devil horns (its that cult hand symbol that metalheads show their solidarity with), and long haired headbangers, and black, bloody, gothic tee shirts and body piercings and tattoos, and the sweet smell of mary jane (how do these dopes always manage to weed their stuff into any joint??) and moshing (some sort of demonic ‘free for all’ bash that happens in the middle).
But I have to say this. As far as the music was concerned there was some method in the madness. They weren’t musically challenged by any stretch of imagination (mentally challenged could be debated though). The guitar lines and the rhythm patterns were nothing short of stunning. Every song had a different feel to it (all within the ‘noise-growl’ genre of course but still with a lot of imagination). Mr. J stood patiently through it all explaining the little intricate nuances. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to figure out and get what this craze is all about. Far, far simpler in my book, to understand complex jazz chords and carnatic rhythm structures.