It was an evening of passion and urban angst, and a whole string of classics with Grey Shack
It’s eight forty-five on a Friday night at B-Flat but the house is still empty. A moment later, though, the crowd rolls in and almost fills the place up. The evening saw a morphing of rock-and-roll into hard rock from the late 70s and early 80s, as captured by Grey Shack.
A mashed-together jam steadies the band on their eight feet. You can tell that Vikram Vivekanandan spends a lot of time getting his guitar to sound just right, as often as he riffs on what might be Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the greatest licks of all time. If the overdriven guitar sounds like a heavily loaded machine, Rohan Sen’s gravely vocals sound like a throttling engine and together they make up the dynamo of the band. The machines are held in place by Vinay Ramakrishnan, who brings the 90s into the equation with some Carter-Beauford-styled smacking of skin. Forming a firm matrix, Conrad Simmons may have had just a couple of months to pick up from where the last bassist left off, but you couldn’t tell unless you were told so.
Sen jokes about the long journey the band have made to be with us tonight, “…all the way from Chennai,” and the crowd welcomes them. They shift into a darker side of their sound and the ghostly reverb on the phased guitar makes the uncanny notes float tensely from an electric organ. “You know you love me, you know you can’t.” Not lingering there, they toss us right back into the upside of their disposition with ‘One Night Stand,’ waking up the feel with which they first appeared on the college circuit, back in 2007. The refrains are raw and good-natured. “It’s cliche time,” Sen explains about the next one. “It's time to stop thinking and be the change”. Vinay’s perfectly tuned and timed clamour keeps the pace going. A heavier sound takes over with repetitive riffs laid out on head banging grooves.
The popular album covers decking the walls flare out when the band plunges into a medley of sing-alongs. It’s easy to spot Rolling Stones, Bruce Sprinsteen and Deep Purple tonight. A souped-up ‘Day Tripper’ turns into ‘Purple Haze’ and sure enough, there’s a Jimi Hendrix album right at the centre. When ‘Proud Mary’ starts, we’re certainly headed towards the spirit of a beer fest. A moment later, they lurch straight into the ending chorus of ‘Hey Jude,’ just before a little bit of ‘Hush.’ Back to originals, ‘Dirty City’ shells out ACDC’s influence on the band’s sound: “Ain’t no sunshine in the city… She’s got no rules today, She can take you all the way.” We’ve reached the last song and it’s the title track of Grey Shack’s recent album, summing up the essential ideas you find here — churning oneself out of urban stagnation, moving on, and “Stepping Outside.”
Of course, there’s ‘one more’ song that finally ends with a never-ending run of climaxes. It’s clear that Vikram could keep soloing all night for the rest of eternity, but it’s nearly 11 in Bangalore.