"We’d love for sponsors to put in money. But as of now we're just doing this for the love of music. There's no money angle at all," Arwen Magma.
July 20th saw a number of Indian bands come together to pay tribute to trash metal giants Metallica as a part of Garage Jam, a weekly, free-for-all live music event featuring Fundamental, Purple Revive, Kill The Kratos and Ways of the world. The event was headlined by Counterplot Theory and Thrash.
Garage Jam is run by Arwen Magma. He is the organiser, sound engineer, promoter and emcee and dons all these hats with remarkable ease and minimal help. Garage Jam takes its name quite seriously and has been organising events literally inside the Sonido Musicals’ garage. "We’re looking to go bigger and have more venues. Presently, we're supported by Sonido. They provide all the equipment and everything is top class," he said.
Mandeep who plays Bass for Kill The Kratos said, "Metallica has been one of the biggest forces in music. While my personal favourite is Megadeth, I wouldn’t miss playing at a Metallica tribute concert for anything. We heard that Garage Jam was organising this and immediately made ourselves available." Joel, from the same band agreed with his band-mate, "Metallica is all about high energy. That's exactly what we brought to the gig."
Energy was the most consistent aspect of the event. Despite the venue being small, around 50 metal-heads cosied up, head banging and cheering in unison. It’s a good thing Bangalore weather these days is as nice as it is. Ganging up in a tiny place like this one in the heat of July in any other city would have made things very uncomfortable.
The band Fundamental is made up of 13 and 14 year-olds. Their camaraderie was evident throughout their short, but very tight set. They knew exactly when they were working the small crowd and often gave each other a “they like it” smile. Young men of a few words, after their set, they told this writer in chorus that Metallica’s music put them in a trance.
The acoustics at the event were good. Despite the shortage of space, it wasn't eardrum-shattering. All the bands were pretty 'even-steven' in terms of quality, range and competence. The bands’ vocalists initially attempted vocal impersonations of James Hetfield (co-founder, vocalist and guitarist of Metallica) but soon came into their own to realise that the crowd was actually encouraging enough to appreciate them giving Metallica’s legendary tracks their own flavour. The headliners Counterplot Theory and Thrash delivered a combination of powerful vocals, matched by good guitar riffs and licks, heavy skin slamming by the drummers and competent low end duties by the bassists.
Metal fans have very few events in Bangalore. Did events like Garage Jam mean that they city was acknowledging the numbers of metal-heads?
"Most definitely," said Nikhil, a sound engineer from London. "I was milling around in London and doing a lot of stuff related to music. But I felt that the scene in Bangalore is changing and there is an increase in interest in metal music. I came back because of that," he added.
Christopher Simon, a metal fan disagreed though. He said, “Metal is as good as dead globally and the sad thing is that it is yet to take birth in India. These events are great, but there needs to be someone to fund companies like Garage Jam to sustain.”
Arwen summed up the metal scene in Bangalore, "We'd love for sponsors to put in money. But as of now we're just doing this for the love of music. There's no money angle at all. Bands don't charge us for performing. We don't charge them for the platform and marketing and Sonido doesn't charge us for the venue and equipment. It’s symbiotic!"