FESTIVAL REVIEW: BANGALORE OPEN AIR 2016
Unlike the US or several European countries, India isn’t a nation where huge metal concerts happen almost every weekend. Small gigs happen regularly across our cities, but when a large-scale metal show does happen, it sees metalheads from around the country come swarming down. Among these festivals that act like heavy metal concerts, Bangalore Open Air is one that has made a name for itself in the Indian metal scene, flying down popular metal bands like Kreator, Dark Tranquillity, Iced Earth, and many more. This year, the festival got Canadian heavy metal band Skullfist, Egyptian/US death metal band Nader Sadek and the Polish death metal legends Vader to Bangalore to perform for fans, several of whom had traveled from other cities to witness this spectacle.
The event, now christened G-Shock Bangalore Open Air, employed a large, grassy area in Royal Orchid Resort where a stage was put up, always guarded by the on-looking Ronnie James Dio on a banner above. The moment one walked into the venue, a sense of ease prevailed, and the location felt very cosy despite the mammoth sound and a surging sea of black-clad metalheads. With Vader on the bill, the Indian bands that opened the show must have felt accomplished for doing so, introducing the crowd to what was in store for them later on.
Providence, from Mumbai, and popular local band Inner Sanctum began proceedings with their heavy music, warming the crowd up, who were slowly getting into the groove of things. With Providence drummer Aaron Pinto and Inner Sanctum drummer Abhinav Yogesh pummelling away on the drums, the intensity of the old-school-inspired ‘modern’ metal was tangible. With all bands using the same drum kit, the changeovers took some time, but Skullfist were up next and raring to go.
As the beer started to flow, the Canadian band turned the heat up with a traditional, energetic heavy metal set comprising the songs “You’re Gonna Pay”, “Head of the Pack”, “Get Fisted”, and many more. The crowd seemed to love these guys, who had brought their soaring clean vocals, epic guitar solos and frenetic drumming all the way from Canada and were playing a flawless set. The evening was still young and bright, and as Skullfist ended, an ovation was in order for the band that kicked major ass in a festival otherwise dominated by much heavier acts.
Now, it seemed like not much was known to the crowd about Nader Sadek, who uses different musicians to perform songs based on availability. However, once the band got going, their dose of death metal took over, and moshing and headbanging ensued. The major highlight was drummer Hannes Grossmann, of Necrophagist and Obscura fame, guitarist Thor Anders Myhren (Myrkskog, ex-Morbid Angel) and bassist Dominic Lapointe (Augury, ex-Beyond Creation), but guitar player Tom Fountainhead (ex-Obscura) was unavailable so Bangalore band Kryptos’ Rohit Chaturvedi filled in on the first few tracks.
After a jaw-dropping drum solo in the first half, Hannes Grossmann continued to impress the audience, and Nader Sadek ripped through songs from their ‘In the Flesh’ album with roars of approval from many fans who were just discovering them. With only Vader left, the metalheads waited in anticipation for the hell the Polish veterans were about to unleash, with chants of ‘Vader! Vader!’ becoming increasingly common.
After an ominous intro, Vader did just that, exploding into a barrage of tremolo-picked riffs, blistering double bass runs and death growls. The crowd, as expected, went berserk, seeing frontman Piotr “Peter” Wiwczarek in the flesh, as the pyrotechnics show in front of him gave him an unearthly appearance. With a gruesome background, anguish-soaked music, loud chants from the fans and incessant moshpits, Vader’s performance hit the mark and the headliners seemed to be enjoying themselves as well.
Performing tracks like “Go To Hell”, “Reborn in Flames”, “Triumph of Death” and many more in their set, Vader gave the fans a taste of old and new material as they prepare to release an EP ‘Iron Times’ and a full-length album ‘The Empire’ later this year. The performance was some kind of journey through the Vader years before they put out another effort in 2016, and the crowd seemed to enjoy the mix of songs as the Polish band ended things on a high.
As the premier metal festival of India, Bangalore Open Air put up a memorable show this year, with all bands on the bill gaining several new fans. A combination of clear sound, haggle-free organisation, intense performances and crowd response was the reason for the event’s success, as all the metalheads there wait eagerly for the announcements about next year’s edition.