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Photos: Bangalore Open Air 2015

With three international India debut performances, the fourth edition of the open air metal festival in Bengaluru could have used a better turnout from the city that calls itself the metal capital of India

Anurag Tagat Jun 08, 2015
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Invoking Satan

Austrian blackened death metal band Belphegor’s frontman Helmuth Lehner at Bangalore Open Air 2015. Photo: Shashwath SP

It isn’t Bangalore Open Air until there’s a last-minute dropout – while German thrash veterans Sodom canceled their appearance at the 2013 edition, this year’s open-air festival in Bengaluru announced a few days prior that Shillong death metallers Plague Throat weren’t making it, owing to vocalist Nangsan Lyngwa falling ill. Of course, it’s not the same when an international band cancels and an Indian band drops out from the festival lineup, but it did bring doubt into fans’ minds about which bands would finally make it to India.

But Bangalore Open Air had a fairly successful 2014 edition, albeit it was not-so-open-air, held in the club venue CounterCulture – featuring above-par performances by Greek metallers Rotting Christ and German thrash metal band Destruction, among others. While a 1,000-strong crowd looked impressive in photos at CounterCulture, it was roughly the same amount who gathered at [thankfully] open-air Royal Orchid Resort.

BOA established that Bengaluru metal heads are crazy about extreme metal. While bands such as Mumbai grind act Gutslit, Dhaka metallers Orator and headliners like US-based black metal band Inquisition and Austrian death metallers Belphegor got the biggest response of the night. Meanwhile, Delhi groove/tech metal band Undying Inc. and Chennai’s prog-leaning metallers Escher’s Knot had a tough time playing to a smaller crowd. How else do you explain the crowd lounging about on the grass lawn while Undying Inc. were in the middle of their call-to-mosh song “Pit Mechanics”?

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When UK grind metal veterans Napalm Death took to the stage, they proved that no amount of growing old can stop you from feeling pissed off. Frontman Barney Greenway and the band churned through songs such as “I Abstain,” “When All Is Said and Done,” “Smash a Single Digit” and “Metaphorically Screw You,” among other two-minute grind blasts that were short and intense. Being British, Greenway did introduce the band later on “for etiquette’s sake” and added, “We’ve finally arrived [in India] after a few false starts.” Throwing in a cover of American punk band The Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off,” Greenway even took on some hecklers, telling them, “I love you too.” They finally gave in to fan demand and closed their set with “You Suffer,” the 1.3 second-long song [yes, the song is only a second long].

With next year’s headliners announced – Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork and Poland’s death metal veterans Vader making their India debut at Bangalore Open Air 2016 – it remains to be seen whether the organizers’ approach to announcing the lineup a year in advance helps ticket sales. It sure didn’t work this year.

Photos: Shashwath SP/Shutterbug Shash Photography

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