The year 1994 , the year that i became a teenager ( a big step forward). Full of energy and a rebel without a cause, I guess every teenager is in his/her own small way. It was always my habit to hangout with guys elder to me, and one such friend (They were more like idols to a stupid teenager trying to act cool) once told me , now that u r a teenager its about time we make you a man , lets introduce you to ROCK Music and an experience called Independence Rock. All excited I told my mother that i am going for a rock show and being ignorant about what rock music was, she had absolutely no objections ( sometimes i hope she never had found out what rock music was or what goes on in a rock show).
Two bus rides, a train travel and after a kilometers long walk from Marine lines station we finally reached Rang Bhawan, the ultimate venue for a rock show that ever existed in India. For someone in school , looking at the Xavier's crowd was like being in playboy mansion , surrounded by Hugh Hefner's picks of the season. All the rock fans in running screaming, singing in their traditional IROCK outfits , torn/faded/dirty jeans, mostly denim blue and with a black colored rock print T-shirt on top. I wondered whether it was the official dress code for this event and whether i will be let in since i was wearing a normal T with jeans. Nirvana and Kurt Cobain were at an all time high that season and invariably you could see a lot of Cobain and Metallica's on the T shirts. It is quite interesting to observe the body language of these guys. The heavier the music the music that you listen to more the attitude and pride in your walk. A guy with Slayer would definitely look down on a guy wearing a Jim Morrison T shirt , a look that "Get Lost u wannabe". After years of exposure to this cult even i have developed the attitude of looking down on guys who would listen to nu-metal /alternate rock, i guess continued exposure to the environment invariably transfers the attitude disease to you.
Like all other places in Mumbai you always have to stand in long queues for anything , be it a movie ticket, or your railway ticket. It was a pleasant surprise to see a long queue for tickets, I said to myself god damn, I didn't know that these many guys lived this lifestyle (even before attending the show, just at the venue gates I had started believing that this is not a form of music but a lifestyle). Standing in the queue we could hear the bands playing inside. The crowd screaming and singing along. The sound of electric guitar was exhilarating, the sound of the drums making my heart pound faster and faster. It's difficult to describe the feeling, one has to actually visit and experience the feeling.
We stood in the queue and then my friend pulled out bottles of thums up from his pocket, and offered everyone a swig. Thums up never tasted that way and then i was told that it was thumsup + OLD MONK , god damn since that day thums up and old monk have become the official drink for all rock shows. No matter how much money we have or if there's a hotel nearby , invariably we end up drinking on the road and that too OLD MONK. Standing in the queue there was only a 20 feet wall that stood between us and the venue, a wall protecting the insane already inside the show from the wannabe insane outside.
On entering Rang Bhawan we were welcomed with the best abuses that a crowd can shower on any band. Apparently the band had taken some time to do their sound check and the restless crowd had started chanting Bhe....od Mada ....od start the fuckin music. Wow i said, people on this side abuse in hindi too.
The air was filled with smoke of all types, from cigarettes to J's to the white smoke used as special effects for the stage. Under the main spotlights, the laser lights, the smoke takes the most weird colors and probably for me this was the best example of teamwork , the organizers contributing the lighting technology and the 2000+ crowd contributing the smoke hehe
That day had one of the best bands in India lined up to perform their act, Agni , Brahma, Pentagram and Parikrama. The time demanded that every band plays the best covers. Bands were not ranked based on how good their original composition was but purely on how well they covered Metallica, Deep Purple etc. That day all the bands were amazing with their work (i did not have any prior experience to compare). Songs like Alive , unforgiven, one, another brick, highway star, smoke on the water, paradise city, jump, even flow etc were covered by these bands. I will refrain from getting into the details of all the tracks played , for the fear that i will run into 100 more pages of text.
End of the show , as usual Farhad Wadia made a promise that the next IROCK will be bigger and better , and i would say that he has kept his promise year after year. What followed after the show was a long walk back to Marine Lines, but this time with really tired legs, a throat dried because of all the smoking, shouting screaming, clothes drenched in sweat and most importantly a neck that had never felt heavier and this painful. I guess headbanging does take its toll on the entire body. What seemed cool back then had now turned into endless pain.
14 Years have passed since that day, times have changed but the enthusiasm has not. IROCK venue has shifted from Rang Bhawan to Chitrakoot, We have jobs as senior managers in multinational companies, all of us are earning enough to afford a nice visit to expensive restaurants or even a 5 star hotel, but till date when it comes to IROCK
- The same friends call up , doesn't matter if we haven't spoken for 6 months but 2 days prior to IRCOK they will call
- We end up drinking old monk and thumsup , that too on the road no matter how much money we have
- The screaming , trying to sing louder than the band never ends
- end of the show we all end up with neck pain. Back then we cursed the college and now the bosses at work because with the hangover and pain we still can't miss office the next day