Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Edd Fest '07

Iron Maiden Concert

A Different Trip

Quick hop down to B'lore for the Maiden concert. La Carnavale begins from 6 AM at the airport, where black Tshirts and ripped jeans start showing up in ones, twos, groups, and then overall dispersion all through the airport, piling into the early-morning flights.
Bangalore Airport is crawling with them.
MG & Brigade road is choked with them. All the pubs are playing hardcore and loud, and there is much experimentation with body art and facial hair.

Head down to the Bangalore Palace Grounds, where the gates open by three. The crowd is incredibly thick already, including some passed out on alcohol / grass lying around. We pick up some souvenir Tshirts; first part of the Rock Pilgrimage is done.

Inside, it's incredible. Close to 25,000 people from across the world have flocked in. I manage to sneak in a camera and matches, but the cigarettes get confiscated. Damn. The same cigs I will later buy back at a 50% markup outside the concert at the end.
There are people in Eddie masks, people high and people getting high, firangs, students (including a group who bunked their engineering finals from BITS Pilani to come and were prepared for the depression of their lives when they went back), inflated condom balloons, and thousands and thousands of Iron Maiden black tees.

First act - FTN (F#&@ The Name), the winners of the national Campus Rock. They play some originals, headbanging away, but the crowd's restive and responds with boos. D tries to lead the crowd in singing 'Papa Kehte Hain' but tapers off. They finally wind up with some Korn and move on.
Parikrama follows and they're good. All originals, including some superb violin jamming by Imran.
Followed up by the worst act ever (at least seen by me) - Steve's daughter, Lauren Harris. Obviously lip-sync'd, with 2 decorative creatures on guitar, posing, while Lauren pranced all over stage in too-tight-to-breathe leather pants against a backdrop of her own name. It couldn't go on, and it didn't; every time she would pause, the crowd, in perfect synchronization and rhythm, would scream 'FUCK you!' for almost three whole songs. Credit to her for not breaking down on stage, though.

Maiden comes on at eight and the crowd. Goes. Berserk.
The first few numbers are from A Matter of Life and Death, then they shift over to the classics - The Number of The Beast, Fear of the Dark (The entire opening of which I managed to get on video - me, live, there, in person, Fear of the Dark live, man... fuckin camera didn't get any sound, though), Run to the Hills, Iron Maiden, 2 Minutes to Midnight, The Evil That Men Do, and Hallowed Be Thy Name.

A 14-foot Eddie. A giant tank. No elephant, though, contary to the rumours... and just as well, coz it would have freaked and stampeded. Not that there was any shortage of stampedes; the entire Rs. 900 section smashed down the barriers and streamed towards the stage, while the Bangalore Police happily whacked away with lathis - to absolutely zero effect - and finally stood there, watching in a mix of bemusement, awe and frank incredulity. Bruce climbing the stage supports and sliding down from the top, racing up the backdrop, running... the crowd screaming... lights, smells, dust, and above all, above everything, coming from the air, up from the ground, through your ribcage and straight into your soul, the sound.

The front of the crowd had turned into a complete mosh pit. There were people completely stoned out of their heads... a guy weaving forward, glassy-eyed, holding up a cup of pepsi, mumbling "I'm following the glass, man... just following the glass... following... glass... so help me..." The air of the grounds was almost 100% grass. Blank, starey eyes, swaying bodies, faces streaming with sweat, fingers upraised in the rock salute, and everywhere, everywhere, one common expression in the eyes - an almost religious ecstasy. An I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-for-real-to-me look.

Pagan Religion is not dead. It's just the gods who have changed.
The feeling, the atmosphere, the efforts people take, the sacrifices they make... it's still very much alive.
And kicking.

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