Most of the bands that I love and hope to see have either disbanded, are on a hiatus or are too niche to come to India. Thus I was pleasantly surprised when the organisers of Big 69 announced that Carcass would be playing at the festival. To be honest, the complete lineup of bands was full of renowned international acts (Carcass, Sikth, Fleshgod Apocalypse and Hacktivist), established Indian acts (Undying Inc, Zygnema) and some promising upcoming bands (Escher’s Knot, Plague Throat). I was stoked that I would finally get to attend a METAL festival. However circumstances (by circumstances I mean fellow 8eight8 writer Shantanu Lal) allowed me to only see Fleshgod, Kryptos and Carcass, all of whom played on the first day of the festival.
First of, I have to say that the festival could not have been held at a better place. Richardson Cruddas is as an old abandoned factory and the place is so metal that it has literally rusted. There 3 stages- the Pepsi Mtv Indies stage, the Redbull Tour Bus and Harman Live Arena. Fleshgod Apocalypse kicked off the proceedings on the Harman Live Arena with the song “Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon).” I hadn’t heard much of Fleshgod before attending the concert but nonetheless I really enjoyed their set. Their energy throughout the set was great and frontman Tommaso Riccardi was excellent in engaging with the audience. As is the case with most foreigners who come to India, Riccardi had managed to pick up how to abuse in Hindi quite well and even made the crowd shout some as chants. They followed up the intro with “The Deceit.” The guitar work was extremely tight throughout and all the solos were spot on. A lot of the bands with symphonic/operatic elements aren’t able to reproduce their sound live but Felshgod lost none of their production value, even if they played with the help of backing tracks. Further songs that I liked from their set were “The Pathfinder,” “The Violation” and “The Forsaking.” The only gripe i could have with their set was that the vocals and drums were turned up too loud in the mix which made it hard to hear the guitars and the bass. Unfortunately the band had to cut their set short as drummer Francesco Paoli fainted through a song. But the band showed their professionalism as they performed one last song and closed out the set.
Next up was Kryptos on the Red Bull Tour Bus. I had never heard the band and was planning to skip it in order to get something to eat. I decided to stick around for the first few minutes and was immediately hooked to their sound. Its not that their sound is very unique or something fresh, but I love old school heavy/thrash metal bands. Kryptos have been around since 1998 and they are one of the true leaders of the metal scene in India (or so Shantanu told me). Their set was a mixture of old and new songs and they even had time to cover Judas Priest. I really enjoyed “Starfall” and “Nexus Legions.” I liked them so much that I vowed to check them out once I got home. They were pretty tight on stage and managed to compensate very well for Fleshgod’s early completion of their set.
The anticipation had built up quite a lot as Carcass took to the stage with the song “1985” off their latest album, Surgical Steel, playing in the background. Jeff Walker, the gentleman that he is, opened up by saying “Hello Mumbai, we are Carcass from England and we apologize for what our countrymen did 200 years ago.”They kicked off their set by performing songs from Surgical Steel, including “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System,” “Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12” and “Unfit for Human Consumption.” I was slightly disappointed that they had chosen not to perform “316L Grade Surgical Steel.” The band was extremely tight on stage and possibly even sounded better than they do on the record. Guitarist Bill Steer wowed the crowd with some face melting solos. Their set was not without incident as a fight broke out in the mosh and a person randomly started breathing fire (true story). The band then switched to playing some older songs from Symphonies of Sickness and Heartwork to mix it up. Fleshgod and Kryptos were both extremely tight but Carcass was on another level. The drummer Daniel Wilding is a crazy, insanely talented guy and was the star for Carcass. Their sound was also better mixed as I could clearly here Jeff Walker’s driving basslines.
The lighting and stage production was top notch. To compare, it was much better than NH7 2012 when I saw Megadeth. The sound system used was high quality and overall the festival seemed to have been efficiently organized. The food and drinks were priced reasonably; unlike other festivals and events which usually charge 2-3 times the actual price. Paying a hundred bucks extra will not stop me from seeing my favorite bands but these are small things that make the overall experience much better for a festival goer. Unfortunately I could not attend the second day as I was really looking forward to seeing Sikth. One of the negative points of the show was that the construction of the stage was such that people who were not in the middle had their view obstructed by some scaffolding.
Overall though, it was an awesome experience as the festival had some great performances by some great bands. Credit should be given to the organizers as the festival was a great success. I hope that this is the start of something good and look forward to attending it again next year. Let’s just hope that nobody faints this time.