Sideshow Bubba

There’s more to a rock concert than just vocals, guitarwork, singing, head-banging and black tee’s. Years after the concert, one might not remember who sang which song or when the concert was held; what one doesn’t forget are the quirky people who did something completely out of place. This is a post about a few of those people.

The Euphoric Caricature

Circa 2001 (or 2002): It was my very first rock concert. After a rendevouz with Astleviz and Gulnar at Mondy’s, Rohan and I went to Xaviers for the Times concert for peace or AIDS after a pitstop for beer. The place was already packed when we reached. Psychomotor and Brahma played songs that I no longer remember. Just in front of where Rohan and I were standing was a chappie whose silhouette would probably be described as almost-circular. He seemed most disinterested in the goings-on, and stood with his hands together behind him, his head still. Headbanging, I remember wondering if he was feeling as awkward about headbanging in public as I was. I looked around me to check if I was doing it right, conscious of myself and rather uncomfortable. Everyone else seemed blissfully oblivious to everything and everyone but the music.

When Euphoria came on to perform, they were initially booed because they were a ‘Delhi Band’. They began with ‘Dhoom Pichuck Dhoom’, if that is what the song is called. The large figure in front of my burst into life, dancing in a manner one would least expect to see at a rock concert. Much like a classical dancer, his arms waved as he swirled around. Briefly, when he stopped, his eyebrows moved up and down, and his arms reached for the sky, alternating, and his eyes darted in all directions. He was in some level of heaven that I could not, and probably will never comprehend, no matter how much I bang my head. What was really at once amusing and heartening was that hardcore rockers surrounded him and cheered him on, sometimes even joinging him in his dance. Maybe they were mocking him, maybe they were just enjoying anothers bliss. Whichever it was, there was clearly no ill intention, and they let the fellow enjoy his three songs and his classical dance before Euphoria switched to rock. It was very typical of Bombay, for me: a city of people who give you your space, as long as you allow them theirs. A city that cares, but sporadically. When they finished, the Euphoric Caricature vanished.

Kashmiri Topi

Circa Jan-Feb, 2005: Five or six concerts at the British Council in two months, and there he was, each time, this forty-something thin bearded man in an embroidered sleeveless jacket and a Kashmiri Topi. Clearly not his music, clearly not his type of crowd, but he was still there, smiling through the concerts and occasionally breaking into a bhangra movement in the midst of headbangers, each and every time. Headbangers from Delhi chose to ignore him.

The ESS EFF Jeans Brand Ambassador

Vinegar 28th May, 2005: I arrived for May Be Rock two hours late because I was waiting for someone who was to join me. 5’O’Clock, it seems, meant 7’O’Clock according to Indian Stretchable time, and the concert began with Medusa from Bombay. A veteran of many rock shows now, and completely oblivious to whoever is watching (who cares?I don’t), I took my place among the headbangers right next to the railing, where I stayed until four hours later, when the show ended. Before Motherjane took stage, the hairy compere whose bumbling strangely seemed a put-on, strode up too the mike and introduced the sponsors. After he said ‘And of course, SF Jeans’, an aged gentleman, smiling from ear to ear, walked up to him and took the mike.

“Hello” he said, with the abruptness that one usually associates with someone who doesn’t say ‘Hello’ too often.
“Hello” we screamed.
He paused. We waited. Then he began.

“SF Jeans” he said. And grinned.
“ESSS EFFF JEEANS” he repeated. “ESS EFF JEEANS” we cheered.

“ESSS EFFF JEEANS IS GOOOOOD” in a manner one associates with overenthusiatic Japanese businessmen or Karate teachers in tacky action flicks. I burst out laughing.

“ESSS EFFF JEEEANS IS GOOOOOD HAHAHAHA” he repeated, three or four times. I was too busy trying to not double up with laughter, to count the number of times he said this.

Finally, the compere managed to get him off the mike. He said something not unforgettable over the next few minutes, trying to amuse the crowd and allow the band some time to set up. Motherjane performed, starting with Iron Maiden’s Be quick or be dead. May Be Rock was the Motherjane concert; with respect due to the other bands who also perfomed, Motherjane owned. But back to our Brand Ambassador.

We were informed by the second compere, before Moksha took stage, that the ESS EFF JEANS brand ambassador is the owner of their showroom at Vasant Vihar. He waved, and promptly bounded up to the mike and after the perfunctory “Hello” + wait for response + “ESS EFF JEANS” + pause for impact + “ESSS EFFF JEANS IS GOOOOD HAHAHAHA”, we were infomed that it is the ONLY ESS EFF JEANS SHOP IN DELHI. After a few more Ess Eff Jeans’, the compere took the mike away, and gave away a few free discount coupons for the jeans already advertised. The contest for the free Tata Indicom phone failed miserably. Moksha performed three songs after which the first compere took stage again to give away the free phone.

The ESS EFF JEANS show resumed (I know this is getting repititive, but facts are facts) and finished shortly. The man must have been completely out, inebriated to the bone, because once Moksha began again, he returned to the stage, screaming ESS EFF JEANS. Not receiving much of a response, not even the sarcastic cheers this time, he patted the Moksha vocalist on the shoulder and reached out for the mike. The look on the vocalists face was priceless.

“Are you mad?” he seemd to ask, while continuing to sing. The ESS EFF JEANS man ignored the empty water bottles that were flung at him by the crowd, and tried his luck at on stage advertising again. He failed, didn’t notice the water bottle that bounced off his shoulder, and reached for the mike again. He was eventually led of stage by the second compere.

Unforgettable, don’t you think?


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  1. Hahahahahahaha, Of course. I remember the garba maniac. When you coming back dude? If not for a concert, then at least for a beer. Toto’s has begun to play s!ayer

  2. S!ayer or Slayer? I’ve heard S!ayer mostly in Baristas 😛

    Dunno, man. At least not for another year, I guess.

    The nosferatu and I were discussing yesterday, about how Delhi’s getting better and better vis-a-vis Mumbai, in terms of music and books. Pavement bookshops have shut, rock concerts have reduced…and LOTUS SHUT DOWN :O. In Delhi, this year has been a new high for concerts and the improvement in quality at Darya Ganj is unbelievable.

    Now all I need is a decent pub closer to home. O-)

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