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Deccan Rock’s Second Edition Feels the Heat

Low attendance, last-minute cancellation mar much-anticipated metal festival

Deepti Unni May 31, 2011
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Photo: Deepti Unni

Deccan Rock 2011 promised to be way bigger than the first edition held in 2009, headlined by Dutch metal band Textures and Viking metallers Amon Amarth. The line-up gave weight to that claim, with 19 bands across 11 countries squeezed into two loud days (May 6-7) to be headlined by iconic Polish death metal band Decapitated and Swiss industrial metallers Sybreed. But the dismal attendance ”“ little over 500 people over two days ”“ dampened the proceedings no little amount.

Day One began in the style of most shows in India ”“ late. The show opened with Hyderabad slam-grind band Shock Therapy and old school metallers Shades of Retribution but it was Chennai’s Escher’s Knot that got the festival’s first moshpit going with their tight set and a strategically placed Meshuggah cover (”˜Humiliative’). Cochin hardrockers Evergreen, the misfit in the extreme metal line-up, nevertheless got the crowd grooving and providing the unintentional chuckle when they dedicated Louis Armstrong’s ”˜What a Wonderful World’ to the cause of global warming. Bahraini thrash pioneers Motör Militia whipped the small crowd into a frenzy and laid the groundwork for the band of the evening ”“ Spain’s Violent Eve. Few metalheads had heard of this experimental metal band before but the mini-stampede at their merch stall post their annihilative performance meant that they’d made a lot of new fans here. Perversely, Violent Eve stole much of the thunder from headliners Sybreed, who played to an abysmal 30 people ”“ by the band’s own admittance, one of the worst shows they’d played in years. The Swiss band, already jetlagged, were driven to exhaustion by the oppressive 46-degree heat and vocalist Benjamin Nominet dropped the mike twice during the band’s performance. “I almost passed out twice during the show,” he said later. “I’ve never ever encountered this kind of heat before.”

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Day Two began on a bleak note as a couple of bands backed out of the festival ”“ Delhi’s Artillerie and Hyderabad’s own Sledge. Bengaluru’s Abandoned Agony opened proceedings, followed by IIIrd Sovereign, whose lack of stage presence left the crowd a bit cold. Mumbai’s Devoid ripped into the growing crowd with their set, their party favourite ”˜Beer Song’ getting the loudest cheers. Sri Lankan black metal band Funeral in Heaven, complete with corpse paint, kept the crowd engaged as did Lebanon’s Inner Guilt. But the evening only really began to take shape when UK metallers Cyanide Serenity took the stage. Vocalist Travis Neal goaded the audience into breaking the barricades and coming right up to the stage and what followed was the smallest stage charge in history. Dubai death thrashers Nervecell took the crowd’s momentum all the way as they played tracks from their latest album Psychogenocide. The band had only landed the same day after an exhausting South East Asia tour but seemed happy to be back in India. “It’s always great to see the enthusiasm here,” said guitarist Rami Mustafa. “But we can’t wait to play Mumbai again.”

Headliners Decapitated took the stage last and played to a comparatively sizeable crowd of about 300 people. The Polish death metal band sounded massive, thanks mostly to guitarist Vogg and drummer Krimh and previewed tracks from their upcoming album Carnival is Forever, including the incendiary ”˜Homo Sum.’ “It wasn’t a bad show,” said Vogg later, “but we’d love to come back and find out if it can get better.” The show closed to the litany of “We really expected more people” but hopefully that’s something that will rectify itself at the next Deccan Rock Festival.

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