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Diary of a Madman #8: A Tribute to Blue Frog

On the verge of it shutting down, and possibly relocating to nether realms, Dr. Hex takes a walk down the Blue Frog memory lane

Riju Dasgupta Aug 29, 2016
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Dr. Hex performing at the album launch of Albatross' Photo: Prashin Jagger

Dr. Hex performing at the album launch of Albatross’ debut EP ‘Dinner is You’ in 2010. Photo: Prashin Jagger

If you expected a rant today, I am going to have to disappoint you. It’s a Saturday and I have very little work lined up for the weekend, which is always a good thing. I’m in a considerably good mood, further augmented by a bunch of Riot CDs that I purchased recently.  So let’s move on to something a little more positive. On the verge of it shutting down, and possibly relocating to nether realms; let’s remember Blue Frog.

Before I begin, let me remind you of the Mumbai metalhead’s tumultuous relationship with venues for live music. I remember my Frodo-goes-to-Mordor-like treks to Juhu about a decade ago to attend gigs at Razzberry Rhinoceros. Bear in mind that this was the pre-Uber era, and one had to endure the sweat and stink of Mumbai locals before stepping into the sweat and stink of a 100 metalheads. Then came B69, where a rickety stairway would lead you to heaven, if metal music is indeed your idea of heaven. I would like to believe that Nitin (Rajan, vocalist of Primitiv/Killibrium) and I, had a small part to play in the history of Mumbai metal thereafter, with our gigs at United 21.  Then came the Navi Mumbai era with Marine Center and Crazy Blue, and NWOCSM movement (New Wave of Complaining Suburban Metalheads), wherein jokes about requiring passports to attend these gigs were made. And then there were none. Venues I mean.

My point being, it’s always been an effort and a half to host shows in Mumbai city. Venues have come and gone. In such an environment, Blue Frog has lasted for an eternity. The first time I ever stepped into Blue Frog, was also my first gig at the venue. I was in a reality show (believe it or not) with my band then, called Workshop. We played to an empty house at 8 AM, in front of Vishal Dadlani, Monica Dogra, Randolph Correia and Bobby Talwar and performed a cover of a Madonna song (don’t look at me, those were the rules). Because of the reality show format, we’d had only an hour to prepare. So panicky person that I am, I was petrified of what we’d sound like onstage. But Blue Frog was such an amazing venue, that from the get go, I knew I had to just go out there, and just do my thing. We tore the house down, and the judges loved us. This jubilation would last a week, because the following week we were eliminated from the contest. Again at Blue Frog.

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Little did I know what an important role Blue Frog would play in my life thereafter. As much fun as my run with Workshop was, I wanted to start my dream project Albatross and take it on the road. In 2010, we would release our debut EP- Dinner is You.  Sadly, we were not a good live band. We were beyond terrible. Albatross released our album at Blue Frog, with an all-star bill featuring Nervecell (Dubai), and Devoid; and ****ed it up for ourselves.  We would keep getting better as a band, but wouldn’t be granted an opportunity to perform at Blue Frog another time, until much later. And much like any other jilted band manager, I’d harbor fury towards the venue and management for a long, long time. However, I must admit that I did attend a lot of shows during this period, and all of them were par excellence in terms of sound, production and overall audience satisfaction.

Over the next few years, Albatross would become a lot more cohesive as a musical unit and build up a following for ourselves. And then Sahil would invite us to share the stage with Reptilian Death at the album launch (also featuring Solar Deity) at Blue Frog. I’ve played a lot of shows since then, which have been completely outstanding, but that remains the ‘turning point’, so to speak, for all of us. We’d ascended a rank in the invisible and unspoken metal band hierarchy. This is a Bootleg recording of the show, but you can hear how incredible the sound was, even here.

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I’ve attended a lot of great shows at Blue Frog since then, and even played once more with Primitiv (fun show, sadly with no dramatic stories). Blue Frog was an integral part of the heavy metal landscape of the city, even though metal nights had stopped in recent times. I had the privilege of watching my old band Workshop play their last show at the venue, not so long back. Blue Frog is no more, but as is tradition, metal will continue at new venues. Metalheads collectively now throng to Hard Rock Café and Cult Lounge (Navi Mumbai has an incredible series of gigs happening right now entitled ‘Black Blood’).

So, while I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the venue (as I’ve had with music), I admit that I will miss Blue Frog.

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