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The Shakey Rays got no love in Pune

The promising Chennai band delivered an impressive performance despite the poor turnout and a horrid sound set up

Jolene Fernandes Jul 06, 2012
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The Shakey Rays perform in Pune. Photo: Jean Joseph George

The Shakey Rays, July 5, Hard Rock Cafe, Pune: After a successful debut show in Mumbai with an impressive crowd, The Shakey Rays from Chennai were let down by a dismal turnout and disastrous acoustics in Pune. While poor sound has been a long ignored snag at HRC in Pune, the lack of an audience was an equally worrying factor for the band. Repeated and increasingly frustrated requests from vocalist Dhruva Gautham to the sound engineer at the venue to correct outputs resulted in little positive difference. To top that, not many were familiar with the band’s music (All of maybe three members in the sparse audience, including the writer of this review, had heard of the band’s debut album) pointing to other concerns ”“ lack of promotional skills and a virtually inactive online presence ”“ The Shakey Rays would do well to take a leaf out of fellow Chennai musician Harsha Iyer’s book. 

Released independently on their Bandcamp account last year, The Shakey Rays debut, Tunes From The Big Belly received rave reviews. Strong songwriting backed by proficient musicianship and clever narrative lyrics ensured that not one song on the album could classify as mediocre. Gautham is an able frontman perfectly capable of even making light, funny banter between songs busting the stereotype of young indie bands with awkward, shoegazing bandleaders; Vikram Kannan is a gifted guitarist who shares vocal duties with Gautham and drummer Niranjan Swaminathan can deliver an energetic, expressive performance. 

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At gigs, The Shakey Rays attempt to perform their r ’n b infused rock ’n roll songs like a bluesy garage band, adding more soul and noise to the songs as opposed to the Nineties low-fi aesthetic that is heard on their debut album. Their set list at HRC mostly comprised songs from their debut with a couple of hummable songs from an upcoming sophomore effort. With a slightly shaky start on their set opener “No Secret”, The Shakey Rays slipped into a more comfortable place as the set progressed, sounding as effortless on stage as on their recordings. With the album highlight “Queen Bee On The Radio” out in the first half of the set, they had the more melodious “Down The drain And 8 Floors High” and “Sleeping In The Back Of Her Car” after the mid-set break taken to accommodate what seemed like a burger eating competition (for the audience and not the band, much to their disappointment or rather annoyance since their set was interrupted). When the band returned, we hoped that they would perform “Hard to Understand”, a beautiful track that almost sounds like a tribute to The Beatles, but they held this one back. The Shakey Rays also performed two excellent renditions ”“ one of the Frank Sinatra swing standard “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and a stellar set-closer of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.”

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Key tracks ”“ “Down The Drain And 8 Floors High”, “Sleeping In The Back Of Her Car”

The set list:

“No Secret”

“Let’s Build A Home”

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Frank Sinatra)

“Queen Bee On The Radio”

“Pretty Little Liar”

“I’m Gonna Catch That Train”

“Loaded”

“Down The Drain And 8 Floors High”

“Everything starts with a New Beginning”

“Sleeping In The Back Of Her Car”

“Drifters”

“Who Do You Love” (Bo Diddley)

 

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