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Review |  28 Jul 2016 20:28 |  By RnMTeam

Gig Review: (Almost) The Great Gig in the antiSocial

MUMBAI: For a 'scenester', Mumbai’s antiSocial’s arrangements allow easy access to the performing musicians, unlike a Hard Rock Café or a blueFROG. Arriving an hour before #SOCIALive kicked-off provided the early birds an exclusive one-on-one with every member of the last night’s main act ‘Parvaaz’. The venue made out of 100 per cent reused materials had welcomed an act that creates completely authentic music ((not for the first time, though) through its classic rock influenced sounds.

Bassist Fidel D’Souza – the shyest of them all – often looked for the least populous corner of the venue to continue his introverted pre-gig routine, which also extended during the opening act’s hour-long set. Of all the members, only D’Souza stayed true to the venue’s name (and the cause). Mir Kashif Iqbal struggled to find his band-mates who could come to his rescue whenever surrounded by a dozen of young fans interrogating him with all sort of important questions – “What do your friends call you?” and “Where’s Khalid?” Mir wished he knew the answer, as Khalid roamed around the venue with a chilled Bud in his hand and the anxiety that grips almost every musician with rare appearances in Mumbai. Sachin (the drummer) made his first appearance only after the opening act’s performance from Delhi.

No complaints about the opening act Dhruv Visvanath’s performance whatsoever, however the difference in the two acts’ ideologies, sounds and musicality sort-of deprived it from the tag of ideal opening act for Parvaaz. Visvanath’s John Butler-esque display of guitar technique managed to impress the ones entirely unaware of his talent. With an acoustic guitar and recorded backing track to accompany the sound, Visvanath’s delayed set further delayed Parvaaz’s act, but the Mumbai music scene regulars knew how it worked, as they entered the underground space post-10.30 pm. With two of his most heard songs ‘Orion’ and ‘Redemption’, Visvanath concluded his set amidst deserved applause from the attendees, who – to be honest – could not wait any longer for the main act to open its set. And the Bengaluru-based band ‘Parvaaz’ obliged shortly.

Two minutes into ‘Gul Gulshan’ – third track from its latest EP ‘Baran’ – Parvaaz had declared the night would unfold with the regular set-list. Whoever had seen Parvaaz live (or its live performances on YouTube before) rejoiced with the fact. Known for its live sound, Parvaaz creates the vibe of a 70s-80s rock-n-roll band that only focuses on its music. The rest can wait. antiSocial’s conscious lack of visual arrangements for the night, and sober lighting effort complimented Parvaaz’s sonic identity. ‘Beparwah’ – the opening track off the same EP - followed shortly, and not a single pair of leg could help itself from moving to the groove. The attendees joined in a lusty chorus every now and then, but the response to ‘Dil Khush’ surely resulted into a reaction that justified the track name. Almost every voice sang along almost every line to this fan-favourite track off the debut EP ‘Behosh’.

Here’s a minute-long glimpse of ‘Ab Ki Yeh Subah’ shot by one of the attendees

The most striking aspect of the four members was how effective the understanding on the stage through their respective instruments came across. These were the same four members who spent the pre-gig activities, mostly separated from each other providing an impression of four strangers finding it difficult to adjust with each other, let alone the people around. But, on the stage, Mir – who looked for reasons to escape pre-gig from the spotlight – dominated the almost-two-hour set looking like a Greek God, specially born to play solos on an electric guitar. Mir relies more on dynamics than shredding (however when needed, for example ‘Dil Khush’ outro, Mir does not hesitate to shred the heck out of his guitar) for the solos, and although Parvaaz’s sounds demand that, it would not be incorrect to say that Mir’s dynamics and the approach – more or less – defines the six-year-old band’s sound. At times, it becomes difficult to judge what sounds better – the delicate Mir licks and the slides or Khalid’s unconventional yet-supremely-charismatic vocals.

The last ‘recorded’ Parvaaz’s live performance continues to remain the acclaimed ‘Transitions’ at Jagriti Theatre, and obviously, antiSocial could not provide the similar magnitude of sound precision, but the band left no stones unturned for trying so.

In their late 20s, the four musicians representing the band, at the end of the day, project a very innocent and sober persona. And that reflects through their crowd interaction between the songs. Khalid still speaks to the crowd like a beginner carrying extreme nervousness to the stage but all misconceptions die as soon as the vocalist returns to do what he does best. For what it’s worth, Khalid addressed the attendees about the concerning situation in Kashmir. “Let there be peace,” wished Khalid, and the fans joined his cause with a show of appreciation through unified applause.

Sachin’s pre-set disappearance act ended thirty seconds into the intro of ‘Beparwah’ with the pounding of the snare drum, an exercise D’Souza further carried for a different song at a different time. The drummer, for the entire set surrounded with the kit, acted as the bridge between the three distinctly pure sounds created by his bandmates. Parvaaz isn’t visually the greatest treat, but the imperfection speaks a lot about how the band (even six years later) majorly focuses on sound over any other element for its live performances. For the visual appeal, the band invested extensively in ‘Transitions’, so any arguments regarding the band’s lack of showmanship does not hold any basis.

Fidel’s simplistic bass techniques and approach usually goes unnoticed, and in last night’s case, the bassist could not create the similar response through his two-minute long ‘Dil Khush’ bass solo due to the underwhelming sound for his guitar. antiSocial rarely creates a situation like that, however Mir quickly joined the bassist to rescue him from the unpleasant two minutes.

The finest phase of the entire SOCIALive experience came through the last twenty minutes of Parvaaz’s set, as the band saved ‘Roz Roz + Baran’ and ‘Khufiya Dastaan’ for the last. For every Parvaaz composition follows a flawless progressive outro. Parvaaz lives in these outros. The four sounds come together as one in these outros. And the long build-up to these outros often ends into its comparisons with the Pink Floyds and Dire Straits. (Not that the band bothers about the parallels drawn).

Not often does the antiSocial manages to engage a large set of attendees till the very end, but the Bengaluru-based band’s loyal fan-following ensured the venue witnessed arguably the finest rock act since it opened the music arena in Khar. For the ones who waited dearly for Parvaaz to return to Mumbai were undoubtedly delighted with the experience, and the sentiments were echoed by the vocalist Khalid who declared the antiSocial gig to be “our finest performance in Mumbai.”