Bengaluru Gets the Boiler Room Experience
The second Indian edition of Boiler Room x Budweiser ‘Discover What’s Brewing’ came to the south’s favorite venue The Humming Tree, with an audio-visual experience
Is Boiler Room the ultimate endurance test for electronica fans? The webcast gig series that goes around the world – and first visited Mumbai in December last year as part of the Budweiser x Boiler Room ‘Discover What’s Brewing’ series – is a nonstop party featuring some of the most intelligent producers. Plus, it adds to the experience when the fans and air-conditioning go off whenever it wants to.
At their Bengaluru stop earlier last month, Boiler Room was hosted by The Humming Tree, it’s rooftop level providing some relief for a constantly shuttling crowd that couldn’t take the heat downstairs and settled for the atypically warm weather up top, but realized they were missing music they may never experience live again. The main draw,like many of Boiler Room’s cutting-edge presentations, included exclusive India appearances by Canadian producers Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones playing a b2b set and the dance and music-incorporating set from American artist Jlin and Bengaluru dancer/performance artist Avril Stromy Unger in what turned out to be a scorching closer.
As for the Indian artists picked to spin, it was an indicator of taste makers in the country’s here-to-stay electronic music circuit. Two record labels – Bengaluru-based Consolidate, and Mumbai-based Knowmad were repped by hip-hop/electronica duo Aerate Sound and producer Kumail, respectively.
And it wasn’t even a competition or proving ground as such, although both Aerate Sound and Kumail did seem to get a case of the nerves as they kicked off proceedings. With new releases to spin – Aerate Sound’s debut album Only For External and Kumail’s own From Blue to You EP – the artists had their own crowd to cheer them on.
Aerate Sound wavered in their flow, preferring diversity in tempo rather than an all-out bounce-around set, inviting rapper Smokey the Ghost on “Plead” and “Down Baby Down.” There were a few technical issues for Joe Panicker behind his deck at first, but they manage to navigate well, having their moment to get everyone dancing to the sublime “Train J.”
Kumail had worse luck. Although he stuck to a surefire set of reggae, hip-hop and deep electronic music, he found himself staring at his laptop while he suffered two sound outages, with stage techs gathering around to remedy the solution. Everyone seemed more exasperated than the Mumbai producer, though who plodded on with a smile – getting a supportive nod from Knowmad co-founder Aazin Printer. He takes a while to build up, of course, but makes short work of bass music, diving deeper, teasing the crowd’s excitement, riding a tribal beat and steely clicks throughout the set, lifting spirits with a remix of 1974’s “Weed Specialist” by reggae artist Big Joe.
It’s the perfect sort of segue for that makes way for Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, who dove into more hip-hop and dancehall territory, occasionally swerving into intense, shimmering high BPM tracks that clearly sound out who’s in charge of the dance floor. With a 3D visual projection to serve as masks, Hawke and Jones delivered what was an impeccably sharp set aimed at electronic music die-hards.
Taking that intensity to the next level fell upon Indiana producer Jlin, who straight off proved she was the booming, intense, undefeatable best at the game. Without a fair bit of compression that struck experienced ears as a distraction, there was still a rattling amount of bass that that was shaking everything up. It seemed unending, as Jlin matched every turn of the knob, every pull-back of the beat and progression by contorting her face.
If that wasn’t entertaining enough, Avril stepped on stage to make Jlin’s music every bit apocalyptic, the Indian drum samples and shehnai-like portions piercing ears as she moved chaotically on stage. This was interpretive dance meeting esoteric electronic music, but made every bit surreal from the stark red lights and Avril’s expressions.
If you remember one thing about Boiler Room’s India shows, let it be the intensity, one that matches up whether you’re watching a live feed online or at a venue, taking in people’s reactions and of course, the occasional phone camera and overused finger gun’s poking up in the air.