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Festival Report: Control ALT Delete 11, Mumbai

The latest edition of the crowdfunded gig series ran into a slight disruption but emerged triumphant in their multi-genre independent showcase

Anurag Tagat Mar 18, 2019

Mumbai death metallers Atmosfear on day one of Control ALT Delete 11. Photo: Swaraj Sriwastav/Courtesy of Control ALT Delete

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Returning after a gap of two years, the fully D.I.Y. crowdfunded gig Control ALT Delete (CAD) ”“ now a multi-stage festival held across March 9th and 10th ”“ remained a great example of just how much can be accomplished by just banding together.

Never out of public memory, the festival raised well over the ₹5 lakh target, with contributions heading past ₹6.5 lakhs. With eight years of history behind it that took it from the smallest of rooms like B69 in Andheri to the now spacious Roaring Farm in Malad, CAD stay true to delivering an experience for any and every fan of musical talent in the country. They even pitched tents and arranged camping for the first time, and ensured that the set design and decoration was pleasant and not overdone or in-your-face.

Across five stages that ran from 3 pm until a little after 10 pm, the only worrisome sign at CAD was a noise complaint made by residents nearby, who claimed the music was disrupting students preparing for exams. Artists like rap-rock band Chabuk, rock band Runt, brutal death metallers Gutslit and J-trap producer Karan Kanchan ended their sets earlier than anticipated, even casting a shadow on whether day two would function normally. After a conversation with the residents and local police, day two’s schedule was pushed ahead and everything went off according to plan.

While day one had a lot of people show up early enough to the Mumbai 95 stage to have hip-hop artists such as 7Bantaiz, Bombay Lokal, D’Evil and Dopeadelicz feed off the energy of the crowd, the Synths & Strings stage found it tougher to draw people. The gentle folk of Arunchalese singer-songwriter Taba Chake and Bengaluru acoustic duo Beard of Harmony eased in the afternoon, while Kolkata singer-producer Plastic Parvati braved a few sound issues to be her outspoken best. Mumbai producer-guitarist Cowboy and Sailor Man took over with improved soundsystem quality, breathy and trippy ambient-leaning music. For a festival that does more or less curate a lineup as diverse as possible, you could sense CAD had a soft spot for ambient music, with day two’s Synths & Strings stage also featuring producers Riatsu and Meer playing comfort music.

7Buntaiz live at the Mumbai 95 stage at Control ALT Delete 11. Photo: Swaraj Sriwastav/Courtesy of Control ALT Delete

Over at the Sidestand stage reserved for rock and indie acts, Mumbai neo-soul quartet Smalltalk went along just right with the funked-up disco pop/rock of Kochi band The Derelicts, who made a memorable Mumbai debut. Death metallers Atmosfear kicked off the Survive This stage, playing from their debut self-titled album with incisive intent, followed by rumbling sets from doom/death metallers Primitiv and Bengaluru’s Eccentric Pendulum. Things got toned down just around then, including at the Sidestand stage for rap-rockers Chabuk and then, a delayed start for Shillong R&B singer Meba Ofilia making her solo Mumbai debut. She wasn’t entirely disheartened by the noise complaint, performing her latest song “Lady Bizz” with her live band.

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There were no buzzkills over at the Electric Jungle stage, however, despite the occasional temple bells resonating over the compound wall. Mumbai comedy collective Tadpatri Talkies kicked off with material from their album Bhookh and took the parody well beyond the tunes, from using samples of gunshots, the typical EDM klaxon and dogs barking all at once to hosting a fake awards show. Gari-B, Badboy Bandya, Gaurang Bailoor at the deck (even working with an accidental USB removal notification sound to add to the chaotic humor) and Aseem Chandaver spared no one, from Raja Kumari to Ranveer Singh and the Mumbai hip-hop scene at large. The laughs aligned just right with hip-hop, as New Delhi duo Seedhe Maut brought the hammer down right after, inciting a moshpit for “Class-Sikh Maut Vol II.”

(from left) Tadpatri Talkies’ Bandboy Bandya and Gari-B at the Electric Jungle stage at Control ALT Delete 11. Photo: Swaraj Sriwastav/Courtesy of Control ALT Delete

Perhaps Ahmedabad producer Mayur Narvekar’s bass blasting alter-ego Mossilator inadvertently profited from the noise complaint bringing day one to an early close, as he lorded over a sizeable crowd at Electric Jungle on day two. Shifted from the afterhours set to a prime evening slot, Mossilator shook things up, placed right between the retrowave dance tunes of producer-singer Dreamhour (performing his latest album VLLNS, with somewhat low vocals in the mix) and synth duo Flex Machina.

Chandigarh rock band That Boy Roby’s frontman Sangram Malik at Control ALT Delete 11. Photo: Dishang Popat

Day two had already started off with some heat ”“ both physical and metaphorical, from Hindi and Punjabi crew Aavrutti and major firepower from MC Azad and MC Altaf. The Mumbai 95 stage barely disappointed, considering they also had well-rooted acts such as DCypher and Beatraw, Raphopper’s madcap set and the incredibly powerful crew Swadesi, who even performed an encore of their protest song “The Warli Revolt.”

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Funk, soul, jazz and more came together to close off the Synths & Strings stage, featuring Shubhangi Joshi Collective and Ladies Compartment, while things got sprawling and weird (in that order) courtesy of post-rock band Across Seconds and Chandigarh’s That Boy Roby, who built up to a heady set, including material off their album Four Pair of Jeans that was totally warped. Just as the Sidestand stage mellowed out ”“ with rock from Raghav Meattle, psychedelic jams from Daira and spirited folk rock from Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Café ”“ the other stages were getting incredibly heavy.

The Survive This stage brought together gnarly post-hardcore beatdowns from Pacifist (who even dipped into Fugazi and At The Drive In covers), polished metal from Dark Helm (who stepped in for metal group The Silent Offensive’s live debut), hellfire from doom band Dirge and an all-out ripper of a set from Bengaluru’s Inner Sanctum.

As is the case with crowdfunded shows, the organizing core entrusted CAD’s success to Mumbai’s (and the country’s) gig-going public. At a time when the city is still trying to find its way to new spaces as the older, longstanding venues like Hard Rock Café Worli, Blue Frog and Antisocial have disappeared, it’s heartening to know that there is no hesitation in hosting and supporting talent.

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