Tune in to Tamil rock

Kurangan’s latest concert at the Urur Kuppam had songs that everyone could relate to

Even as the keyboard starts playing the backgr ound, Tenma strums the first notes on the guitar and lead vocalist Kaber steps on to the “stage” in front of the temple in Urur Kuppam, Besant Nagar. Tamil rock band Kurangan is getting ready to perform in the series of events marking the run-up to the Urur-Olcott Kuppam Vizha. As Kaber belts out Tamil words to test the music system in his clear, powerful voice, the kuppam falls silent, the sea – just metres away – mutes its breakers. “We have done solo shows, but this is the first time we’re performing in the Kuppam,” says Kaber.

In a pre-performance chat, he tells how the genre is driven primarily by the guitar and the music speaks directly to the audience. “Tamil rock did not start as a movement like motown or punk-rock,” said Kaber Vasuki, the band’s singer and song-writer.

There were Tamil rock bands in Madurai during the 70s and the genre restarted in the late 80s and 90s with Malaysian acts such as Darkey. The early 2000s saw the formation of Tamil rock bands like Muttu Sandhu and Jhanu writing their own music. La Pongal was around, and Kurangan, formed in 2015, made a splash in the indie music scene of the city.

A venue system will help this genre grow, says Kaber. “Tamil rock must be mainstreamed,” he says, “That will give a voice to those who think and act differently from mainstream society.”

Kurangan’s compositions are written by Kaber, with no reservation on the kind of topics.

And, there are no movie songs. “Everyone can relate to my songs – about a bus ride, a walk on the beach, how society is structured. My listeners should feel connected to my music.”

They did, and how. His audience from both sides of Elliot’s Beach knew what he meant when he sang ‘Arasan Enbavan’, with lines that said a leader has to be an actor first. In ‘Porombokku’(wastrel) , a campaign song, he tied up the word with porombokku land to argue how it is a precious water-retaining public space. The crowd went wild when he took them on a beach walk and listed the eatables… and sobered up when he reminded them of what goes into the overflowing garbage bins . “Keep clapping!”he said, and the crowd obliged.

But it wasn’t all about angst and problems. Kaber’s punch-packed musical repertoire also had a softer, crowd-pleasing side – melodies of love and longing for his ‘Rasaathi’.

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 5:13:15 AM |

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