The small tea shop at the entry point of the Manaveeyam Veedhi, near Vellayambalam Junction, has for the past many years served as the evening meeting point of musicians from various city-based rock bands.
Known among this small circle as ‘booth’, this corner has been in the background of the rock scene in the city and has played a witness to its changes through the past decade.
So it was fitting that this place has now been transformed into a concert venue. On Uthradom day, the Manaveeyam Veethi played host to six rock bands as the city crowd were treated to their first experience of a street concert.
Titled ‘Uthradachinthu’, the gang of bands was led by two of the flag-bearers of Malayalam Rock scene – ‘Avial’ and ‘Pathayam’.
Supporting them were ‘Black letters’ from Kochi, ‘Jhanu’ and ‘Skrat’ from Chennai and ‘Coshish’ from Mumbai.
Traffic through this stretch which connects two major roads in the city was blocked for the day as rock fans from across the city converged here. The roar of the crowd did attract curious families who were out to see the ‘illumination’. The concert was in many ways a reflection of the changing musical tastes of Malayalis which has also brought about a new sound to Malayalam film music in the past two years.
The influence of the jamming sessions featuring these local rock artists in some niche television channels have also played its part in the change.
“A gig like this at such a major road would have been unimaginable till a few years back. The only avenue for rock music performances were the ones that were held as part of the college festivals. But now it has gained a wider acceptance and the mainstream audience have warmed up to it. Bands like ‘black letters’ have had their songs featured in Malayalam films too,” says Vishnu, bass guitarist of the ‘Pathayam’ band.
The concert which started off in the afternoon went on for close to six hours.
The only previous exclusive rock fest in the city was the ‘Moshpit’ festival way back in 2007 in VJT Hall which saw 10 bands performing and the ‘Trendkill’ festival held at a local pub a couple of years back.
“For the past so many years, Onam means the same set of programmes in the city. So we thought about doing something which would appeal to the younger lot. The response has been overwhelming today. This is just a start and we plan to make this an annual event. Credit goes to the Tourism Department too, for giving us all the support when we pitched this idea,” says Rohtih. L.T., one of the organisers of the event.
By the end of it, there was a strong feeling among the crowd that the street could become a permanent venue for such rock festivals on a regular basis.
As if to answer them, the Minister for Tourism A.P. Anil Kumar came on stage midway through the concert and announced to a cheering crowd that this event would be an annual affair.