The North East of India comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Nagaland and Tripura have a rich cultural tradition of music and dance. The British came and many in these regions converted to Christianity and embraced western music as well. Perhaps the two factors combine into making the North East a fertile ground for the genesis of rock bands since the 60s when rock music came into its own across the world. Music lovers and creators in the North East followed suit and formed bands that have rocked Indian hearts ever since. It is no secret that while the rest of India was lagging behind in this genre of music, the North East led. People still remember old time greats like Lou Majaw and The Great Society. Today we have rock bands with virtuoso performers. Their works reflect heavy metal, classical rock, grunge, ballads and soft rock with each group having its own signature tune and a huge following of aficionados. It may be a bit unfortunate that they are not getting the exposure they deserve given the Indian predilection for all things foreign. Here are a few from the large number of bands popular in the North East.
Lucid Recess, Guwahati
Formed by Siddharth and Amitabh Barooa, two brothers, Lucid Recess is typically alternative metal rock going heavy on electric strings that sear your soul to accompanying beat of heavy bass. Formed in 2004, Lucid Recess has tasted success and won the Toto Award for Music in 2011. Angst underlies soul searing guitar play and has the audience vibrating in tune to their fast pace riffs or swaying to their hypnotically rhythmic slow paced ballads. Their notable titles are EP Carved and Engraved Invitation. If India had top of the charts music shows on radio stations like they used to have in the West, Lucid would undoubtedly hit the top five on a regular basis.
Tipriti Kharbangar is the soul behind Soulmate ably supported by Rudy Wallang, a mean, mean guitarist who can turn your brain to jelly. Fused with Tipriti’s soul searing raw vocals, their riffs reach out deep into the darkest recesses of your mind and make you feel alive all over again. Soulmate has participated in numerous domestic as well as international shows with their performances drawing rave reviews from fans at the International Jazzmandu festival, the Mahindras Blues Fest and the Mosaic Music Festival. Their opening performance for Carlos Santana when he visited India in 2012 was one memorable, satisfying gig you should never have missed. Lovers, jilted or otherwise, will love the bluesy notes of Soulmate.
The trio of Daniel Langthasa, Ratan Bordoloi and Dipak Borah formed Digital Suicide and Indian rock fans will forever be grateful to them. What they bring to the stage is virtuosity and versatility. A rock band, you could expect them to play the same old rocky beats treading the metal or grunge path, but their class act mixes rock with disco so it is never a dull moment. You could sing along with them when they bring up nostalgic numbers back from the 70s and 80s, vocals melding with guitars all underlined by heavy thumping bass. If there is an Indian Hall of Fame for Rock, they would be up there with the best but since there is not, it is gladdening they got a place in the Great Indian Rock 2010 which is perhaps the closest.
Girish and the Chronicles
Rock from ACDC, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin had distinctive signature styles, something so audibly absent in today’s rock, which is more like a formula mix performed by zombies dipped to the gills in meth. In this scenario you have Girish and the Chronicles formed by Girish Pradhan. Their signature style is vintage hard rock with scorching heavy metal riffs inspired by Guns N Roses and Skid Row. Perhaps they could also turn to Uriah Heep and Kiss but you never know. Anyway listening to Girish is like listening to Brian Johnson of AC/DC: a ripsaw going through your brain. Thankfully, they did not stick to cover versions and have delivered some of the best original heavy metal works in 2014. If their work is acclaimed it is with reason, they are up there with the best, maybe world class.
If you want your feet to get Saturday Night fever listen to Boomerang, a rock group based in Aizawl. This band specializes in nu metal, rap and blues, all mixed together in a heady cocktail. The group members believe in free play which translates to do your thing. Well, doing their thing got them name and fame as they opened fro Lamb of God in 2010 and for Korn in 2012 as well as a spot at the Great Indian Rock. Theirs is the kind of music that appeals to teens: full of foot stomping energy.
These are only 5 of the dozens. Worth a mention are Alobo Naga from Nagaland, the first band to feature in the Top 10 Countdown list of International Music Channels, no mean feat, capped by being winners of MTC Europe Music Award for Best Indian Act in 2012. North East rock would be just as incomplete without mention of Plague Threat from Shilling, a three piece class act of heavy death metal with international acclaim known for their track An Exordium to Contagion. A fine and much appreciated band is Magdelene based in Mizoram.
Are girls lacking on the rock scene in the North East. You bet not. The Vinyl Records are making people turn in their grooves and this is an all girl rock band. Afflatus from Meghalaya is another all girl rock band. The Tetseo Sisters are proving to be quite popular blending rock with Naga Folk. Apples is another all girl delectable rocky treat with retro style rock marked by funky guitar play. Vivace, Hurricane Gals, Blue Corn, the Chosen…you name it, these girls are there giving boys a good run for their money.