Date: Friday, August 8, 2008
Time: 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Location: Club Nuovo, Taj Samudra
I apologize for this review being two weeks late but to use a hackneyed phrase, better late than never so here goes.
I looked forward to this gig from the day I saw their first evasive advertisement in a Sunday newspaper which simply said ‘888’. I looked forward to it so much that I planned a lot of other things around this gig rather than the other way round. There were two reasons for this, one being Thriloka. The other was HollowPoint Halo (HPH) whom I had never watched live (except for a tv appearance a long time back) but about whom there has always been a lot of hype, if I may put it that way. And there was the added bonus that my exams had finished two days ago and so I was eagerly anticipating to be musically spoiled. I’m sorry to say that it didn’t exactly go according to plan.
The opening act was Powercut Circus and in all honesty I was not expecting anything great from them because I saw them perform a while back and wasn’t impressed by them. So my plan was to get to the gig around the time the second band would play but as it is with gigs, it got delayed and Powercut Circus started playing a few minutes after I walked in. And I’m glad I was able to catch their set because they completely changed my opinion about them.
I’m not very familiar with their songs (though I did recognize Red Spit and Arrack Attack) and I must say their set started off very well. I liked the fact that while their music was for most part technically unchallenging, they were constantly experimenting, especially the vocalist who had vastly improved from the last time I heard him sing. Maybe it was the venue or the fact that the audience was still pretty thinly spread out by that time but either way, I was able to observe the vocalist better and he is a much better singer than I initially took him to be. There was a very nice texture to his voice and the use of the pedal and the megaphone only enhanced it.
This band would have more potential if they would push themselves a bit further and explore their style because towards the last ten minutes or so of their set, I found their music to be redundant. But it was a job well done as the opening act and they set the appropriate tone for the gig.
Next up was Thriloka and at the risk of sounding subjective, I need to state at least once that I love these boys. If their own gig Almost Acoustic showed that they are ever evolving, then their set at Regenesis showed the adaptability of their music and talent.
While their lineup was the same, they had opted for an electric guitar and an organ for this gig and it changed their sound to a great extent. I believe it was different to the usual Thriloka sound (though I’m open to correction here) and was more in keeping with what their set was leading to; HPH. Due to a variety of reasons I couldn’t keep track of all the songs they played, a task made no easier by the fact that the song changes were seamless. What I can say for sure is that they had the complete attention of the entire audience and those who had watched Thriloka before as well as those who were seeing them for the very first time were mesmerized alike. It was a superb set which included some fancy drum work by Harshana Gallage and the band had good chemistry as well.
One of the shortcomings I saw in their performance was that though the bass line could be heard better this time, it was still capable of going unnoticed unless you strained your ears. I still can’t help feeling that the Thriloka experience is not complete without hearing all of them properly. And from everyone I spoke to later that night, it was evident that the only shortcoming most of them found was that the set was not long enough.
Next came what was supposed to be the climax of the show, HPH. And what an anticlimax that was after the excellent buildup by Powercut Circus and Thriloka. First of all, I don’t believe in paying money to listen to more cover songs than originals. I understand why bands need to play a few covers and there have been several covers by bands such as Paranoid Earthling which I have immensely enjoyed. But playing cover after cover is ridiculous, especially when the event description says, “Re-birth – a renewal of everything that lies at the core and a reinvention of all that surrounds and encapsulates it. When we started out as a Collective of artistes, 4 years ago, we wanted to experiment, we wanted to engage people and, most importantly, we wanted to enjoy the creative process. That still remains true today. Of course, we have changed, we have fought, we have braved and we have faltered, but one thing that we have never done, is submit…”. HPH needs to seriously rethink their vision (and I don’t mean change it to ‘we are a Tool tribute band’) or show evidence of an actual creative process because even their original songs sound like the covers.
Marsh Dodanwela has a very good voice but he has to realize that if he is to attempt the kind of music they play, he would have to put much more strain on it which would mean more vocal training. He sounded very weak at certain points. And although I don’t want to use the same adjective twice, ridiculous is all that springs to mind about HPH taking the Maynard tribute a tad too far with Marsh singing several songs while standing behind a screen. There was nothing in his voice to hold your attention and towards the end of their set, the noise made by audience members chatting to each other was increasing rapidly.
HPH was a disappointment and I was not alone in thinking this. Had not the other two bands been as good as they were that night, I’d have considered Regenesis as a waste of my time and money. HPH was greatly overshadowed by Powercut Circus and Thriloka and while there may not have been such a stark contrast had the gig been solely HPH, it would still have been apparent that HPH was not walking the talk. Rather than marking the rebirth of the band, this gig marked its demise and hopefully they take necessary steps to remedy the situation.
All in all, I’d still call it an average gig because the two opening acts almost made up for what the other lacked and would have completely made up for it if their sets were longer. I just hope the rest of the gigs in the coming months would be better than Regenesis.