Year In Review: Best Live Performances of 2014
We list the artists that made headline festival shows worthwhile and turned up the energy at club shows
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Mahindra Blues Festival, February 15th and 16th, Mumbai
We’d like to rewind to this performance year after year if we can. The Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Mahindra Blues Fest was, by far, one of the best shows hosted by the Mahindra Blues Festival since it was launched in 2011 in Mumbai. Slide guitar hero Derek Trucks and vocalist Susan Tedeschi led a 10-member ensemble that kicked off our year with some brilliant Southern blues. Yes, we’d like a seven-track encore including “Midnight In Harlem.”
John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension
April 5th, St. Andrews Auditorium, Mumbai
The real mark of a musician is when he never considers himself bigger than his band. Jazz fusion guitarist and pioneer John McLaughlin teamed up with Gary Husband on keys, who also sat behind the drum kit to add to the clamor with Mumbai-based drummer Ranjit Barot and bassist Etienne Mbappé. The band might be different, but McLaughlin’s message of peace and love remains the same, performing from their 2014 album The Boston Record to a full house.
Watch the entire 4th Dimension concert here.
Control Alt Delete: The Metal Chapter
June 1st, Blue Frog, Mumbai
With a challenge of a tagline like ‘Survive This!’ annual crowdfunded gig series Control Alt Delete was an indie exercise – they took over Mumbai’s Blue Frog, hosted eight bands [kicking off proceedings at 5:30 pm] and 850 metalheads in the audience and raised over Rs 2.5 lakhs from their pay-what-you-want entry. Mumbai witnessed rare performances by the likes of Delhi tech/groove metallers Undying Inc. and Pune experimental metal band Noiseware and circuit regulars like death grind band Gutslit and thrash/groove metal band Zygnema mobilizing moshpits from start to finish. People did indeed survive, and they’ll be expecting even more from the next edition.
Watch the P-Man Music Files episode on Control Alt Delete: The Metal Chapter
September 20th, Bonobo, Mumbai
Just when we’d thought we’d have to wait longer to catch a fantastic new Indian band, we made it to Bengaluru electronic music duo Klypp’s show at Bonobo bar and restaurant in Mumbai. We’d also given up on Bonobo’s sound set up – we’ve heard some brilliant artists lose to the sound at the venue, but event management agency Krunk from Mumbai worked their magic and Klypp played one of the best electronica sets we’d heard all year, followed by another memorable set by Your Chin aka Raxit Tewari [from electro rockers Sky Rabbit].
Ziro Festival of Music 2014
September 25th – 28th, Ziro Valley, Arunachal Pradesh
Whoever traveled 20 hours for a festival is right to expect the world from it, and that’s the kind of high that Ziro Festival of Music’s new super-sized four-day third edition gave us. From the mesmeric folk music of Nagaland’s Tetseo Sisters to Delhi singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad’s laidback acoustic rock starting off in the noon that made way for heavier, dancier hooks from Delhi rockers The Superfuzz to Nagaland indie rockers We the Giants and Mumbai rock band Indus Creed, Ziro had its programming down pat. The best move was opening its gates to locals [who were equal parts curious and in the festive spirit] in Ziro, making it free entry for the first day. With a great mix of music and setting, Ziro is on its way to becoming one of the better destination music festivals, rains and mucky grounds be damned.
Watch the Ziro aftermovie by Pepsi MTV Indies here.
Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator
October 15th, Blue Frog, Mumbai
It’s not very often that a band opens proceedings at their own album launch. Mumbai guitarist, producer and vocalist Donn Bhat had two other artists including Delhi electronica duo Teddy Boy Kill [who also launched their album, Dead Pixel] and Mumbai hip hop/dubstep act ViceVersa on the bill, but decided to be the nice guy and warmed up the party for the other acts. Bhat played mellow, moody songs from his just-released album Passenger Revelator with Teddy Boy Kill vocalist Toymob aka Ashhar Farooqui supporting him on stage, proving that he didn’t need a big band to start a party.
October 30th, Blue Frog, Mumbai
Mumbai’s drummer Aditya Ashok toured the country with his drum and bass moniker Ox7gen, but what he did with his live set took Indian electronic music to a new place. Ox7gen Live’s debut show in Mumbai involved the scene’s best vocalists being on point – from Siddharth Basrur to Rachel Varghese, alt rock band Spud In The Box’s vocalist-keyboardist Rohan Rajadhyaksha and pop rock band The Colour Compound’s frontman Rohan Mazumdar. Ashok was also accompanied by guitarists Donn Bhat and Bradley Tellis [also from The Colour Compound], and despite the packed stage, Ox7gen Live was sans technical glitches and showed just how energetic electronic music can be.
Watch Ox7gen Live’s Mumbai set. Watch the second part here.
The Inspector Cluzo
November 6th, Blue Frog, Mumbai
What does one make of a two farmers who are fighting agriculture corporation Monsanto with soulful, punk-infused rock ‘n roll? Guitarist/vocalist Malcom Lacrouts called upon the dinner crowd, saying “The food is terrible anyway” and went on to diss everyone from EDM producer David Guetta to bassists and the city of Paris [“We’re from France but not from Paris.”] For anyone who’d never heard of the band, The Inspector Cluzo went on to win over audiences across the country at the NH7 Weekender festivals, drummer Phil Jourdain dancing atop his kit and playing a solo while Lacrouts dismantled it one piece at a time. If you wanted entertainment, then The Inspector Cluzo had it.
Watch The Inspector Cluzo’s India tour diary
Bacardi NH7 Weekender, November 22nd, Laxmi Lawns, Pune
While some gigs from the Pune edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender made it to our forgettable list, this one will stay with us for a long time. Theater director Roysten Abel delivered yet another genius production in Manganiyar Classroom. Helmed by children of Manganiyar musicians, this piece surpassed “Another Brick In The Wall” for some of us. Pink Floyd can step down please.
Watch a snippet of Manganiyar Classroom live in Pune
Vieux Farka Toure
Blackberrys Sharp Nights, December 11th, Tote, Mumbai
We’d said it before and we’ll say it again – it was such a shame that Vieux Farka Touré’s Mumbai show was an invite-only event. The Malian guitarist and vocalist brought all the fire and light to stage as he sang, played his version of the blues and did a dance duet of sorts with his bassist. “Aigna,” which features Derek Trucks on Touré’s album The Secret, was the standout track from the show that wound up after midnight.