Festival Report: CultFest 2015
The first edition of the Bengaluru festival, headlined by American death metal bands Cannibal Corpse and Suicide Silence, almost got rained out but gave fans their money’s worth
April 11th, Manpho Spectrum Ground, Bengaluru: Just as American deathcore band Suicide Silence frontman Eddie Hermida asked the crowd to raise their middle fingers to the sky during “You Can’t Stop Me” when a storm was building up, some of us knew what was coming up – yet another rain-jinxed festival experience in Bengaluru. We’d seen it a month ago at the music and arts festival Emerge, although it let up by the time headliners, alt rock band Alt-J got on, and also affected major metal gigs in the past such as Bangalore Open Air 2013, Rock N India with thrash metallers Slayer in 2012.
A crowd of over 1,500 metalheads including those who’d traveled all the way from Mumbai, Delhi, and the North East to attend CultFest proved that nothing would stop them from having a roaring time. When the rain moved from drizzle to full-blown downpour, people took cover in the nearby tents, but when the opening strains of Pat O’Brien’s guitar kicked in on “Scourge of Iron,” everyone rushed out to witness a short, yet intense set by headliners Cannibal Corpse. After cruising and bruising through a couple of songs, frontman George Corpsegrinder Fisher said, “It took us a long time to get here, but now we are here and mother nature can’t stop us.”
Among the opening bands – pre-gig competition winners Delhi prog metal band Pyramids battled a few sound issues with almost no soundcheck time and delivered a pretty brutal set, while Abraxas ripped through a repeat of their set at the Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2015 in Mumbai last month, but Shillong death metallers Plague Throat got the loudest cheer, proving that no stage is too big for the three-member band.
With a 20-minute change over for before Suicide Silence took to the stage at a fairly early 6-30 pm, about a thousand fans milled around the grounds, picking up food, beer, a game on XBox and some merchandise. Although the Cannibal Corpse t-shirts never arrived, most metalheads had their own, with fans comparing just how vintage their CC merch was.
Quite a few Suicide Silence fans wore their allegiance as well. While Cannibal Corpse frontman Fisher might have said he has no problem with other metal sub-genres like deathcore, which is considered to be pioneered by Suicide Silence, fans of CC did have a dash of disdain for Suicide Silence, although no one was too vocal about it during the California band’s set. There was no one heckling as Suicide Silence made their way through songs like “No Pity for a Coward,” “Wake Up,” “Unanswered” and their party jam, as vocalist Eddie Hermida called it, “O.C.D” and “Slaves to Substance.” Hermida made sure he incited the pits enough and was happy with the results, as their groove heavy breakdowns left very few standing still. The band signed off with the hit “You Only Live Once” and Hermida announced that their Cultfest set it was the best time the band had in their lives.
Cannibal Corpse, however, let their music do the talking, even if heavy rain meant they played for less than hour. It certainly felt as though the organizers weren’t adequately prepared for rain during the festival, with the stage not having cover from the sides, and risking a hazard with all the electrical equipment on stage. Only food and drink coupon counters, merchandise and food stalls were fully covered at the fest. While some took cover the medical tent near the exit, almost everyone stayed put at the stage as Cannibal Corpse belted out songs such as “Disposal of the Body,” “Kill or Become.” Undeterred, some fans even rolled around in the sludge as they moshed,which were occasionally breaking out at different spots in the crowd. Closer to 9 pm, Corpsegrinder made the disappointing announcement of the band being down to their last two songs, while they had at least an entire hour’s time left. But when they kicked off with “I Cum Blood” and followed it up with one of death metal’s flag bearer “Hammer Smashed Face,” everyone sung along. The band surprised with one last parting gift for India, with another classic, “Make Them Suffer.”
The blistering set finished, Cannibal Corpse spent a while longer on stage, throwing waterbottles, towels, guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd. While some had good reason to complain about getting a raw deal, catching only half of a regular Cannibal Corpse set, most were still reeling from having witnessed one of the biggest metal bands in the world.