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The Near No-Show That Was Metal Assault, Bengaluru

With noise complaints and alleged lack of permissions, police authorities prevented India’s best metal bands from taking the stage

Anurag Tagat Mar 07, 2016
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The Down Troddence performing at Metal Assault 2016.

The Down Troddence performing at Metal Assault 2016. Photo: Sairaj Kamath

If you’ve been following the buzz for metal gig series Metal Assault in Bengaluru ever since it was announced last month, you know two things: it promised some of India’s biggest metal bands on the billing, ranging from Delhi tech/groove metallers Undying Inc. to Mumbai extreme metallers Demonic Resurrection, among others. And, it barely had any promotion or updates going for it until the week leading up to the March 6th D-day. Organizers of metal festival Bangalore Open Air have planned Metal Assault as a monthly gig series, but announced a change in venue from indoor brewpub Vapour to outdoor lounge Pebble.

With tickets selling at a somewhat justifiable Rs 1,000 early bird and Rs 1,200 at the gate, metalheads from Bengaluru, Pune and Kochi shelled out for the lineup. This included Thiruvananthapuram thrash metal band Chaos, folk/groove metallers The Down Troddence [who earlier announced they were going on a year-long hiatus], thrash/death metallers Inner Sanctum, Kryptos, DR and Undying Inc.

Despite the shaky build-up, the gig promptly started at the promised 3 pm, kicking off with Chaos, who rampaged through songs off their upcoming album All Against All and old material such as “War Machine.” The Down Troddence too followed with a rager of a set. Of course, there was still a bit to lament ”“ bands only got time to linecheck for 10-15 minutes while the show’s sound engineer Nikhil Pai was repeatedly asked to reduce the sound levels.

Metal assault

Metalheads from Bengaluru, Pune and Kochi shelled out for the Metal Assault lineup which was shut down due to alleged noise complaints. Photo: Sairaj Kamath

At a sunny 5 pm, news of an alleged noise complaint stopped Inner Sanctum from getting on stage, causing the shutting down of the sound console. Soon, police were at the gate talking to organizer Salman Syed. Fans were made to wait for three hours before negotiations or talks led to the show being called off. Syed took to the stage to say that a retired judge made a complaint about noise levels reaching far past the main road to reach him, and the city’s Commissioner of Police N.S. Megharikh had been contacted about the issue. Just half an hour prior, Sanctum were back up on stage with signs of the gig back on track, albeit three hours late. But as drummer Abhinav Yogesh began checking his drums, a staff member from the venue asked for the band to stop playing and shut off all sound.

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With bands hanging about for hours on end [with no signs of an advance payment either], Metal Assault became a study in everything that prevents metal from flourishing in India. Pebble, which hosts regular electronic, rock and metal performances, avoided any more delay and asked Syed to pull the plug after authorities refused to budge on the noise complaint. A few bands alleged they weren’t paid and neither was travel booked until a few days prior for DR and Undying Inc.

Even with a high entry fee, a refund offer might be an obvious choice for Syed, but if he is to host another edition of Metal Assault [as about 150 hopeful metalheads gathered at Pebble still feel optimistic about], there’s probably a lot more stops to cover in terms of convincing venues and local authorities and presumably avoiding crowded locales. While noise complaints have plagued venues and gigs — metal and other genres — across the country, Bengaluru metalheads have had their share of glitch-free shows at indoor and outdoor venues. It’s why this episode is perhaps more disappointing for fans.

As Syed gears up to host the fifth edition of Bangalore Open Air [slated to take place on July 9th, 2016] with Swedish melo-death band Soilwork and Poland death metal veterans Vader, incidents of canceling gigs on the basis of complaints is something metal in India will have to live with and somehow circumvent in the future to survive.

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Update: Metal Assault’s organizer Salman Syed has posted about the evening’s proceedings, calling out the venue’s apathetic attitude towards his team during the event. Read here.

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