Gig Review: The Best in Indie Run a Riot at Control Alt Delete 9.0
With a diverse lineup and stand-out performances, Bengaluru found out exactly why the crowdfunded gig series has been a hit over the last five years
You know a gig is going to be packed when over a hundred people show up for the opening band at a bright 5 pm on a Saturday evening. That’s exactly what organizers of the ninth edition of Control Alt Delete were counting on when they moved the crowdfunded gig series to Bengaluru this year, hosting nine bands from across the country on the billing at the city’s most popular venue, The Humming Tree on January 16th.
Just as they had recovered their spending and more with a packed house at Pune’s High Spirits CafÃ© last April, and later at the Metal chapter in Mumbai in June, Bengaluru turned up and loosened their purse strings. So much so that the venue shut doors as early as 8 pm, when electro/world act Achint made his Bengaluru debut.
While the only local band, indie rockers RushLed were surprised at the turnout, we could tell they had a case of debutant nerves starting off with songs like “Things are Gonna Change” and material off their debut EP In Love and Out of Time. However, their stage debut still managed to impress with a sound reminiscent of American indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie and Parachutes-era Coldplay.
The rest of the gig’s schedule played out as an experiment in how one’s ears can handle range ”“ from the abrasive edge of Chennai punk rockers The Broadway Addicts to the Indi-pop throwback of Achint and the post-rock intensity of Aswekeepsearching. Bengaluru got a taste of not just what a crowdfunded gig is like, but also the talent that organizers like to pick.
The Broadway Addicts threw in material from their debut No Act and covers of The Cramps as well as The Stooges, sounding as recklessly punk as possible, bum notes and all. What followed was musical catatonia ”“ from the mesmerizing seemingly never-ending psychedelic/post rock band Mushroom Lake [sounding every bit accurate to their 2014 release Live at the Regional Theatre] to the full-blast, moshpit-starter punk set of Punk On Toast [with frontman Aditya Naik dissing on everyone from actor Salman Khan to saying “Fuck you BJP” before kicking into “Modi-fied”] and slipping back into Aswekeepsearching’s emotional yet aggressive material that closed with “B-303,” featuring Sunneith Revankar [from Mumbai metallers Bhayanak Maut] on vocals.
Achint may have brought all his energy to his Mumbai debut ”“ violinist Ajay Jayanthi led his own fanbase to cheers on songs like “Komal,” “Impression” and “Last Dance” ”“ but the reliance on a backing track and samples was evident enough to have mixed responses from the packed crowd.
Of the final three performances of the night, the two Delhi bands ”“ rock trio Superfuzz [now with drummer Shardul Mehta on board] and psych rockers Peter Cat Recording Co. ”“ pretty much jammed their way through a 45-minute set. While PCRC were promoting their 2015 album Climax, they stuck to set staples from their debut album Sinema such as “Clown on the 22nd Floor,” “Love Demons” and “Happiness.”
Superfuzz, on the other hand, discarded nearly all early material and performed love-bug garage rock tunes such as “Future Baby Mama” and “Take a Chance on Me.” The rest of the set was pretty much three 10-minute improv jams on songs like “Orange Rind” and a trippy disco throwback cover of “Message From the Stars,” by English synthpop artist The RAH Band. Frontman Sanchal Malhar later told us, “We want to take that dance crowd away from all those DJs.”
The night closed with the raucous rock from Chennai’s Skrat. Being the ardent scenesters [frontman Sriram T.T. gushed about coming in at 5 pm to catch all the bands], they ran through “Tin Can Man,” “Smoke a Cigar” and “Stomp” as well as new metal-leaning material like “Wake Up,” from their upcoming fourth album Bison.
In true Control Alt Delete style, there was a bit of crowdsurfing on by the time Skrat were closing, like a victory tradition for bands and organizers. It’s no surprise that bands, supporters and fans from Delhi have already come calling for the next edition ”“ a natural progression if you will. But even before that’s done, Control Alt Delete can rightfully claim to be the DIY gig that has ensured online clicks translate into massive attendance by indie music fans.