Prime Edition

ARJUN S. RAVI
OUT OF TUNE

Arjun S Ravi is the editor of Indiecision (http://nh7.in/indiecision). He believes in brutal honesty, and thinks your band sucks.

Razz reopening was a throwback to true grunge days of gigs

Razz signboard

ast week, legendary Mumbai club Razzberry Rhinoceros opened its doors after a gap of four years for a gig. The gig was an announcer party for the lineup of the 2011 edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender (Basement Jaxx and Imogen Heap have been announced as headliners for the festival this year, with more big names promised soon). The gig itself featured performances by a whole bunch of artists who'd graced the shakey stage at the venue in its heyday and included the likes of Warren Mendonsa (of Blackstratblues/Zero), Chandresh Kudwa (of Freedom), Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy (of Scribe), Sidd Coutto (of Tough On Tobacco/Helga's Fun Castle) and a whole bunch of Razz regulars.

{
Amit Gurbaxani perhaps described it best as a “band incubator”. Scores of bands played their first gigs in the city at Razz. Scenes like extreme metal and punk grew

Now if you're not from Mumbai, you're probably unaware of the impact Razz had on the independent music scene here. Even as late as five years ago, there were basically two clubs that bands could perform at in the city — the erstwhile Not Just Jazz By The Bay (now rechristened Pizza By The Bay) and Juhu Hotel's Razzberry Rhinoceros. Bands that wanted to perform in Mumbai would either have to play at these venues or at college festivals and other battle-of-the-bands competitions like Independence Rock. These competitions demanded heavy creative concessions from bands, who would tailor their sets to include covers and more uptempo songs that would be better received by impatient college kids. So the only band showcases that happened in Mumbai happened at one of the two venues I mentioned earlier. Often, Not Just Jazz By The Bay would force bands to play three-hour-long sets that were heavily cover-driven in order to entertain their dinner audiences. I remember watching a pop rock band at the venue once that had to repeat a whole bunch of their songs in order to have enough material to play.

Razz was the only place in the city where bands could be themselves. Amit Gurbaxani perhaps described it best as a "band incubator". Scores of bands played their first gigs in the city at Razz. Scenes like extreme metal and punk grew, courtesy their two biggest propagators Sahil 'The Demonstealer' Makhija and Rishu 'ennui.BOMB' Singh who promoted a majority of the events at the venue. Now-popular bands like Bhayanak Maut and Demonic Resurrection cut their teeth at sweaty gigs here with bad sound.

Most events at the suburban venue featured multiple bands on a Thursday night, with each band performing for about 45 minutes to an hour. Kids from all around the city would show up to see everything from alternative rock to death metal. Razz represented the scene particularly well. In terms of being a gig venue, it was, at best, a shady dive. The gig going process at the venue was almost ritualised. The kids would show up at around the scheduled gig time (gigs invariably started late), and the time waiting would be spent consuming various inebriants in the parking lot of the Juhu Hotel or in the lane parallel to it. The show itself would be pockmarked with technical issues, but that never stopped the kids from moshing with a mission. The few kids that could afford it would pick up available merch at a stall (I say stall, I mean table) outside the club's door after the gig. Some promoters would prepare fanzines that had interviews with bands, reviews of albums and, occasionally, stickers, and would distribute them at their gigs. The scene finally had a place, a physical location, to come together. By the time it stopped hosting gigs in 2007, we had replaced it with several other venues. But in terms of being an icon, this was the closest we've got to the Western stereotype of an underground music scene, popularised in films like 24 Hour Party People.

The reopening of Razz for the Weekender announcer party saw scene oldies come together to reminisce for the first time in years. The performers played Razz classics like Fear Of The Dark and Smells Like Teen Spirit. Even though I was rocking a 102 degree fever, I just had to jump into the moshpit.

 
iTv Network : newsX India News Media Academy aaj Samaaj  
  Powered by : Star Infranet