Thursday, February 05, 2009

Concert Addiction

In my 19 years of existence I have come to realize that the one thing I truly enjoy is a good live concert. To hear artists unleash my favorite tunes almost sends me into semi-delirium. It's just an escape, a way of letting go - good live music is priceless. Matchbox Twenty is the the concert I enjoyed the most, not because they were awesome live, but because I love their music. I knew every song and sung along all night long. Robbie Williams comes a close second. Besides enjoying his music, he knows how to get his crowd going. Iron Maiden rocked Dubai out. Ali can tell you more but we were in the first friggin' row and they just blew us away. Eddie, Maiden's mascot, walked in half way through and that was especially special in addition to the friggin Maiden tank which came on later.

My first ever concert was Bryan Adams. It was seventh grade and knowing his ballads made you cool then. Obviously, going to his concert was a must, and it was definitely worth the cool factor. His music is sing-along personified.

Ali, yet again, inspired me to go watch The Scorpions - the German rock legends that sing the Guitar-Hero-classic "Rock You Like A Hurricane". They, though, rocked us more like a rugged storm than anything else. I also saw Jethro Tull, a contemporary rock band, and Remo, an Indian singer, with Ali. Our stint together of watching concerts was only beginning. Dubai Desert Rock 2005 hit us next. We freaked out over the banshee-like band, The Darkness, and got squeezed to death during Machinehead. We laughed at the fake-Dubai-goths who hustled up in front when Within Temptation came on and laughed even more at a couple of local Dubai bands - Nerve Cell and Juliana Down. I remember one of those local Dubai guitarist tried breaking his guitar after "oh-too-cool" a performance, but the stage people stopped him. Dubai Desert Rock 2006 gave us a Testament to some classic and diverse rock. Junkyard Groove, an Indian band, was the first band to perform and they made me real proud of the music that was coming out of my conutry. Reel Big Fish, a random contemporary band, amused us because of this one visibly fat guy who sat on the stage sipping a drink, expressionless and bored, throughout the concert. They are now, three years later, taking over Harendra's life. Three Doors Down were at DDR 2006 too and that concert will largely be remembered for the on/off stage love affair that existed between their lead singer and my great friend/big three-doors-down-fan Tejas. Stone Sour were pretty awesome too. Corey Taylor is friggin solid. Megadeth headlined DDR 2006 - I don't remember much about them, I kinda slept through most of that. I honestly was exhausted.

There is one condition that needs to fulfilled in order for me to enjoy a concert - I need to know at least some of their music. I would have enjoyed The Prodigy, Mastadon, At The Gates and In Flames if I knew their music. I doubt I would ever have enjoyed Lauren Harris though. Anyway, there have only been two exceptions to that condition to date - Sepultura and Naturally Seven. Sepultura is a heavy-rock Brazilian band that I had never really listened to. But they were so energetic and powerful live, that I will never forget how they sweeped me into their world for a good hour. Naturally Seven opened for Michael Buble in Austin and their a capella talents just bedazzled us into a burst of appreciation. Buble, himself, was quite the entertainer. I saw Matchbox Twenty, Alanis Morrisette and Mutemath the day after Buble in Houston and Bon Jovi and Daughtry a month later in April in Dallas. Chris Daughtry had a bad throat so that kinda messed up his performance. Maroon 5 and Simple Plan were next in line in May. The former kicked ass and the latter weren't as bad as I thought they would be. Oh and I helped organize and watched Penn Masala peform at our univerisity in March too. Spring 2008 was truly a concert-filled semester.

I don't know if this is coincidence, but I always try catching a concert when I travel. I saw Keane in Bangkok and "Bedshaped", their greatest song, did officially send me into a delirium. I was super-lucky to catch Metallica in Madrid and this past winter '09 and I got squashed at an Arctic Monkeys concert in Wellington, New Zealand. It's awesome observing different crowds. From Spaniards singing Metallica songs with the weirdest accents/word-formations to the ridiculous knowledge that some Thai people possess about Keane, concerts are truly memorable in some way or the other. One real bad experience was when I tried to watch a concert intoxicated. I was buzzed and it seemed all okay until my bladder betrayed me. Friggin' alcohol triggers the bladder to the extent you just cannot hold it in, especially when your standing in the first row, constantly hitting the railing. I think the Metallica concert is the biggest one I have been too - nearly 40,000 people gathered to witness the metal legends. James Hetfield was brilliant.

On the other hand, Rap concerts don't work - not because I don't enjoy rap, but because there have to be "live" instruments at a "live" concert, not some DJ booth that generates all them louder-than-loud beats. I rather stick to my headphones-rap rather than some loud and obnoxious c-rap. Flo Rida was pretty pathetic. It was all about him ripping his shirt off, shagging champagne onto the largely naive audience, screaming rather than rapping and making a fool of himself. Cherish, who performed at the same show as Flo Rida, were even more disgraceful. They were hot, but a bunch of pretty girls singing their only "good"/popular song in a ridiculous fashion isn't really a turn-on or a source of entertainment.

I saw The Killers this last Tuesday and Coldplay back this last November. Coldplay were awesome, as expected. The Killers were umm, mehh. Mr Brightside, (my and many of my friends' high-school song) was good - that's about it though. They could have done so much more with their stuff. It was a good concert, but not great. Nickelback are coming to Texas soon but we felt guilty buying tickets to yet another concert, how much ever I was so ready to. Anyway, next time.

All this concert-watching has put me on the cover of one documentary - Global Metal. Oh and I also play a 0.76 second cameo in it. That's where the picture is from, try spotting me. So yes, the one thing I truly, truly enjoy with all my heart is a live concert. I will keep watching them as long as I can afford to watch them. You should try it too.

P.S. Have you been counting how many concerts I have watched? 40, if you were curious :).

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Zeal + New Zealand

Yes. I haven't blogged in a while. Apologies. I should be consistent. Yes. It's not that difficult. I know. But it's the will that struggles. Excuses, excuses, but let's sincerely hope that this is a new zeal.

I went to New Zealand this winter break! Yes, very cool indeed. My roommate is from New Zealand and I stayed with him and his family for a great five weeks. If they ever do come across this, I sincerely thank them for taking me in. It was an amazing vacation and we did a lot of cool things which you might not want me to rave and rant about. So, I'm gonna make a compromise and talk about just one thing - Bungee Jumping.

We reached "Gravity Canyon". It was somewhere in the middle of nowhere in this city/town-like place in the North Island called Taihape. An 87-meter tall bridge stood in front of us. People were spreading their arms apart and jumping off this bridge with a bungee attached to their feet. Some screamed and yelled and others were too cool for all that. They bounced and bobbled in mid-air and it almost seemed too crazy to be true. Yes, I was scared. But my heart wasn't beating as fast as I thought it would. 87 meters is a long way down, but it seemed safe. The people before me didn't bust their ankles nor did they land head first into the shallow water, killing themselves. That seemed to be comforting enough.

I was sitting somewhere on the bridge, all strapped up, ready to fall under the force of gravity. I looked down. It was a long long way down. I know Dad's scared of heights, but it didn't pass on to me. For some reason, I was more excited than scared and I was loving it. To me, it was my first ever moral victory. I was actually being half-brave, right? The safety officer gave me last minute instructions and did her last minute safety checks. Everything was fine. I stepped up to the jump board.

"Three, two, one...bungee!" she said.

I took a deep breath, spread my arms wide open, smiled and without a second thought, jumped into the open. The three seconds of free fall went away just like that. I then dangled and bounced in mid-air, spinning too many times, and still somehow enjoyed the extreme nature of what I had just done. I then lay their hanging; upside down with blood rushing to my head, yet embracing this truly unique opportunity, unquestionably happy that it had all gone well. I was lowered slowly and the fifty-seconds long experience was over, all too fast. My heart must have obviously been beating way too fast to process anything. Sometimes excessive adrenalin washes everything away, even something you want to remember. The free fall is not even a blur, it's just a feeling I really want to go back to. Not because I loved it or hated it, but because I don't remember it. It just went by too fast. The feeling of accomplishing this relatively daring act seemed to overwhelm the experience itself. I felt bloody good about myself, but on retrospection I feel slightly incomplete. I want to do it again. I need to do it again. And the next time I do it, I'm going to make it a point to remember the air thrashing against my face, the blood bubbling through my veins and the sheer joy of the thrill erupting in my head, or whatever it actually feels like.

I have videos and pictures but they don't translate anything. It's one of those unexplainable feelings that you have to experience to understand. I feel that even the greatest writer cannot explain the thrill, because it's only when the reader resonates with the writing does the piece of writing seem beautiful. If you've bungee jumped, you might be able to relate to this. If you haven't, you must, and then come and read it again. Technology has made something so ridiculously extreme, possible, and in that, almost trivial. Embrace it before it's too late.

P.S. I am going to upload the video on YouTube and will post the link up here when it's processed. I keep looking at it, trying to remember what exactly I must have felt when I was falling. It doesn't really help though.