By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal
June 24th 2012, Palace Grounds, Bangalore, India: The Indo-German Urban Mela is a celebration of 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, a five-city tour that started in April this year in Mumbai, moved to Bangalore just a couple of days ago, and will be taken to Chennai, New Delhi and Pune. It’s an exhibition focussing on science, technology, business and performing arts. For metalheads, the Indo-German collaboration gave rise to the Wacken-powered Bangalore Open Air which took place nine days ago, and this Urban Mela gave us another such gig, this time featuring Bangalore-based old-school metal band Kryptos playing a set of tunes with Suidakra frontman Arkadius Antonik, along with Wacken Metal Battle India winners Zygnema as opening act. The entry for this event was free, and the venue was the hallowed Palace Grounds, host to bands such as Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Metallica in the past, and a place which is associated with great memories for every Bangalore-based metal concert goer.
I walked through the gates at around 6.30 PM, and as Zygnema were supposed to hit the stage no earlier than 7 o’ clock, I took some time to look around and observe the surroundings. German companies had their exhibits in little pavilion-type enclosures, and outside each of them I could see queues of attendees that were here purely for the exhibition and not necessarily for the concert. Then I went over to the concert stage area, where videos of past editions of Wacken Open Air were being played on the giant screen, in an attempt to warm-up the crowd for the bands that were about to play here. I think the size of the stage and the concert shed was perfect for this kind of gig, and made for an intimate setting.
Zygnema kicked off the show promptly at 7, with their brand of hard-hitting groove metal. They really put on a killer performance at Bangalore Open Air which resulted in them winning the Wacken Metal Battle, and once again they proved themselves as worthy winners. As a group, they have the strength and personality to carry themselves on big stages such as that of Bangalore Open Air, but last night they showed they’re not at all afraid to get into the crowd’s faces in a smaller setting. The response from the crowd was great, and Zygnema’s style of music really seemed to go down well with most people that stood to watch them here. I personally liked the songs with slower grooves more than the faster ones, because you could actually hear the melody in the riff, as opposed to merely the distorted guitars. For this very reason, my favorite tune of the set was “Theories Of Lies And Negation”. Overall, it was an extremely solid performance, and I have no doubt that these guys will own the stage at Wacken this year.
Even though the crowd response was very positive, while looking at them I felt as if they’d never been to a metal concert before. Not only during Zygnema’s set but throughout the gig, most of this crowd seemed to be made up of people who had simply stopped by to see what’s going on, and it didn’t seem to matter to them as to what band was actually playing. This scenario made things rather entertaining from the metalhead’s point of view, because it resulted in some truly WTF moments. People were handed balloons upon entering the Mela, and they were holding these up while watching the bands. Yes, balloons. Another awesomely funny sight was the ‘dance-pit’. Whenever people were instructed to ‘mosh’ or ‘move’, they started to form groups and do happy dances instead. And instead of headbanging, they were jumping up and down in a totally un-metal manner. But hey, the important thing is, they were all having a good time, so it’s all good.
At the end of Zygnema’s set, I decided to venture out to the food-and-drinks enclosure to see what they had to offer. I waited in the queue for about 15 minutes, but upon finding out that a generic soft drink was going to cost me 75 Rupees, I retreated back to the concert area in a flash. But there I was treated to a truly horrendous 10-minute period as some emcee-type dude came on stage and started calling up random kids from the crowd to come and scream into the mic. So once again I ran away from that area as far as I could, but sadly couldn’t find a spot that would allow me to not hear this dude’s nonsense. We don’t emcees at metal shows. Thank you very much.
Finally at around 8:10, Kryptos hit the stage among loud cheers, and played an excellent 45-minute set of old-school metal tunes. After a mid-tempo beginning, they really hit their straps with “Nexus Legion”, and never looked back or slowed down after that. Just like during Zygnema’s set, the crowd were having a blast, doing their jumpy dances and raising their balloons high. But having said that, there was a bunch of devout metalheads that occupied the first couple of rows and braved it out despite poor treatment by the security personnel separating them from the stage. Apparently these security folks hadn’t heard of a thing called ‘barricade’, and decided to form a human barricade on their own, pushing people in the front row away from the stage, just for fun.
Another thing that really bothered me was the cameraman’s stage intrusion. For the majority of Kryptos’ set, it was hard to tell who was the fronting the band: Nolan Lewis, or this cameraman. Without giving a flying fuck about the performing artist on stage, this dude took center stage and stood there, filming the crowd. The band didn’t seem to matter to him at all. For him it was all about the crowd. If you know me, you know that I’m a very peace-loving sort of guy (not in a hippie way), but if I were playing on that stage while this was happening, I might have been tempted to kick this guy’s ass. Finally, he moved to the side of the stage after about four songs, and it was only then that I could actually see Kryptos.
Soon after, Nolan introduced Arkadius on to the stage, and it was clear that Bangalore Open Air has really benefitted Suidakra in terms of their Indian fan base, because his appearance was greeted with the loudest cheer of the evening. He performed with Kryptos for the rest of the set. At first, I was finding it hard to hear the low-end of his guitar, but things improved as each song went by. The twin-guitar harmonies sounded crystal clear though, and that’s where he contributed most to Kryptos’ sound at this gig. As expected, they did a Suidakra cover. I’m not too familiar with the band’s discography to be honest, so I might be wrong here, but I think I heard the song title as “Dead Man’s Reel”. During the song, some girls appeared out of nowhere and started headbanging and jumping on stage, I’m not sure why. But anyway .. to end the set, they did two covers, AC/DC’s “T.N.T” and Metallica’s “Seek And Destroy”. I thought the Metallica cover was better executed, to be honest, and it was a fitting end to the gig.
In terms of the original material, “The Mask Of Anubis” turned out to be the crowd favorite, and overall, Kryptos put on a good show. The sound here at this venue was pretty solid too, and added further strength to the performance of both bands. Judging from last evening, it’s safe to say that Kryptos is a band Bangalore will never get tired of, and whenever they play, they will have the fans’ support.
So all in all, overpriced food, weird happy dancing and annoying cameramen aside, this was a cool gig to be a witness to, and I certainly hope that its success persuades the authorities at Palace Grounds into opening up the venue again for full-fledged metal shows.
Overall gig rating: 8.5/10