Bangalore Open Air brings metal back to the city

Metal is back on the map, courtesy the resilience of fans and festival founder Salman U Syed

Updated - March 31, 2023 05:00 pm IST

Published - March 31, 2023 03:21 pm IST


Mayhem | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

One of the misfortunes that befell metalheads in India was the postponement of Bangalore Open Air, the country’s only music festival for heavy music, back in March 2020. With the uncertainty of the pandemic looming large, it’s now only three years later that festival founder Salman U. Syed has been able to plan a comeback worthy of its ninth edition.

Taking place on April 1, the lineup includes legendary Norwegian black metal band Mayhem, American modern metal act Born Of Osiris and Dutch death metal veterans Pestilence all making their India debut. Among the Indian acts on the lineup are city-based stalwarts Kryptos and Dying Embrace (who will be bowing out of live performances, making this their last stage appearance). Hyderabad/Bengaluru thrash/death band Godless and Kerala-origin thrash metal trio Amorphia complete the lineup. Abbas Razvi, the bassist for Godless says, “It’s the one event that all of India’s metal fans look forward to.”

Bangalore Open Air concert

Bangalore Open Air concert | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Even accounting for ticketholders keeping their passes from 2020 (and told that it would be honoured), it was a surprise for Syed that Bangalore Open Air officially sold out tickets this year. The founder says, “What we’re grateful for is that people held on to tickets. The spirit of the festival was kept alive through those fans. I have a certain capacity and can’t hold more people. We’ll probably sell about a 100 production holding tickets on the day of the event. I never expected so many people to turn up for metal, to be honest.”


Pestilence | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It’s been the longest that fans and organizers have had to wait to put metal back on the map in a big way, considering Bangalore Open Air has seen its years of struggle as well to sustain. The timeline is such that from March 2020, the event was postponed to June 2020, in the hopes back then that the pandemic would subside. Syed exasperatedly still notes, “Who knew the pandemic would last more than two years?” After a lot of instability for live music, they had originally set a date for December 2021, which Bangalore Open Air was unable to honor due to unavailability of international headliners.

Names like Kryptos are familiar on the BOA lineup, but it’s only the second time Godless are back on the big stage. In fact, they performed at the previous festival edition in 2019 as well and Razvi counts it as one of their top three gigs of all time. Now, they have got their debut album States Of Chaos from 2021 to perform and Razvi says the band will record their performance with a multi-camera setup to release later. “We’re going to play a lot of new material and we have a second guitarist (Siddhartha Ramanathan) on stage specifically for the show,” Razvi adds.

Born of Osiris

Born of Osiris | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bangalore Open Air 2023 takes place on April 1, from 1:30 pm onwards at Royal Orchid Resort & Convention Centre. Limited tickets available at the gate.

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