Concert: The Bangalore Open Air was for the educated metal head

The Bangalore Open Air (BOA) was meant for a cultured audience. The 3000-odd crowd was not nearly enough to pack the venue, but this was a place for the educated metal head. The absence of mainstream metal bands meant that the casual fan was weeded out. So, when Animals As Leaders flaunted its unique picking technique, it was well received. A flawless rendition at a Carnatic music concert is received with controlled applause, while the knowledgeable crowd here was a tad more expressive. At the end of a ‘kutcheri’, a ‘rasika’ may be inclined to discuss the beef between Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M. Balamuralikrishna over the use of the dissonant ‘vivadi raga’. It was not too much different at the BOA. On the lush lawns of the aesthetically appealing Jayamahal Palace grounds, two of my good friends sat with legs folded. A heated discussion on the evolution of progressive metal ensued. And no, they did not thrash out their differences in a mosh pit.

The ‘ven pongal’ was replaced by overpriced alcohol; the bands hyped the crowd with a “Are you ready, Bangalore!”, instead of intelligent introductions of songs which are to follow. Death metal band Demonic Resurrection, and prog act Leprous whet the appetite, and the anticipation ahead of the crescendo grew. If things got too much to handle, a short walk to the empty stage nearby brought respite. But beware, you could find yourself mocked by an eccentric artiste who does not handle rejection well. Many at the venue were aspiring musicians, who revere their gurus in no small measure. When Norwegian black metal pioneer Ihsahn took the stage, eager fans found invaluable learning, and grabbed it for their own use. It was more of the same with Dark Tranquility. The finale by old-school thrash metal act Iced Earth took the breath away. It was like a seasoned veteran — with age and experience on his side — teaching the youngsters a lesson on how to get it done. As the most popular band in the line-up, they enjoyed the maximum acclaim. A 50-minute set list ended too soon, and the night came to an end with a prayer to keep the metal season alive and well.