- Date 2nd December 2012
- Venue Palace Grounds, Bangalore
- Bands Skyharbor, Parvaaz, Clown With A Frown, The F16's, Orchid, The News and Anthracite
- Event By Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields, this year was supposed to be the most majestic one of all. Held at the mighty Palace Grounds, this was supposed to be one of the more promising festivals of the year, as always. Over 50 bands competed over the first two days, leading to a grand finale of five bands competing and opening for internationally acclaimed Ambient Metal/Progressive Metal act Skyharbor and local rockers Parvaaz.
Though there were numerous big names among the list of 50 competing bands, the top five bands chosen seemed rather ordinary. It was surprising that bands such as The Family Cheese, a professional band that has even played at fests like Ragasthan, The Down Troddence, or even The Black Letters, winners of IIT Saarang’s rock competition, didn’t make it to the final round. Instead there was an array of mediocrity on display on the final day.
As was the case when bands were competing on the first two days, there was barely any crowd in when the competing bands were SCHEDULED to perform. A two and a half hour delay due to a delay in sound checks helped ensure that the bands at least had a few ears in presence at the venue, disinterested perhaps but present nonetheless.
First up was a band called ‘The News’. Recently having performed at a pre-party for the ‘Harley Rock Riders’ show, this was a fairly seasoned band and it was evident from the ease with which the vocalist handled the crowd. The band was quite tight, but one got the feeling they were a little too upbeat and happy for a crowd filled with black tees waiting for Dan Tompkins to tear that stage apart. But it wasn’t their fault at all; in fact they were quite good with their set and started things off well.
‘Anthracite’, ‘Clown with a frown’, ‘Orchid’ and the ‘F16s’ followed. None of which failed to create any impression on me whatsoever. ‘The Orchid’ had songs which were fairly cliché, as far as death metal goes. ‘Clown with a frown’, definitely won it hands down when it came to stage act but as far as music goes, I wasn’t really sold on the concept, but it was a fairly interesting one, to be completely honest. Maybe if the vocalist had actually been on-key, it would have actually helped. Just a thought!
The ‘F16s’ got off stage, and ‘Parvaaz’ came on soon after. This is an act I’ve never caught live before and I was thoroughly impressed. Though the Psychedelic-Sufi sphere isn’t one that I usually tread in, this band has definitely left me intrigued by the space. The vocalist was beyond phenomenal and the entire act was well balanced, sans any hiccups. They played most of the tracks from ‘Behosh’, their latest album and definitely, got the crowd well fired up for Skyharbor.
Skyharbor, has grown from a bedroom project to one of the biggest acts on the metal scene, worldwide. They last played in town, whilst opening for Lamb of God and it was incredible to have them back in the country so soon. Skyharbor has now grown into a fully blown live act, with Dan Tompkins and Anup Sastry being a permanent fixture. The dimensions these two add to the band is immense and this was what sets them so far ahead of all the other acts in the country, not to forget the absolute genius, that is Keshav Dhar.
They started the set with Dots and Order 66 and post that there was no stopping them. The mix sounded quite good, which was something that was lacking at the previous show and Devesh seemed to fit in with a lot more ease. He even nailed the solos on Catharsis and Celestial, to absolute perfection.
Their set was absolutely incredible, complete with the cherry on top, Maeva, which recently won the Rolling Stone Metal Award for Best Song. The end of their set left me craving for ever so much more. This is one band I can never get enough of. Skyharbor is an incredibly talented band and I cannot wait for the new album. I hope to see them back in India soon and would love to catch the entire Illusion album, and the new album tracks. In fact Bangalore got a sneak peek of one of the newer tracks at the sound check when Skyharbors set began, or at least what seemed like one.
P.S: As a Bangalorean, I must add the fact that, the extremely low turn out for the gig was extremely disappointing. No matter how many international acts come down, when fans don’t support festivals like Strawberry Fields, there isn’t a way to ensure this scene builds. Not to forget the trillions of people that claim to be hardcore music junkies/metal heads but cant bother to turn up for a free gig that happened in Palace Ground, and then complain about the scene, and how there aren’t enough avenues for bands to take music up professionally. What a bunch of hypocrites! Absolute disappointment!
To sum it all up; Strawberry Fields was an an amalgam of pink super-swag guitars, cheesy jokes by vocalists desperately trying to fit in, amateurly planned soundchecks(from the bands’ end), half naked bassists, two brilliant sets by Parvaaz and Skyharbor, an ocean of mediocrity and a total loss of faith in the local crowd.
Currently pursuing engineering at VIT, Vellore, Hari spends less time in the college and more time outside, either catching bands live or helping bands as their drum tech. Currently playing drums for a Metalcore band in college covering artists like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage etc.
He's also got a flair for sound engineering. Listens to a variety of genres ranging from Dubstep to Grindcore and Death Metal in his spare time, apart from blogging about his various encounters with music and is a die hard of Indian heavyweights, Motherjane.