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DEEPANJANA PAL
CULTURE MULCHER

Deepanjana Pal is books editor at DNA

Rx contemporary indie tunes to keep mid-life crisis at bay

Sky Rabbit

he other day, I got an email from a friend suggesting I come to a gig by a post-punk electro-pop act called Sky Rabbit. Almost nothing in that sentence made sense to me even though I know the meaning of each of those words individually. The universe had just presented me with a portal to that other world where the average is 24 and where "post-punk electro-pop" has meaning. I sent an affirmative reply, festooned with exclamation marks.

Of late, I've felt mid-life anxiety breathing down my neck. It began with a friend of mine sending me this message: "If you were Alexander, you'd have expanded your empire to cover half the planet and be dead by now." Which made me feel quite good about not being Alexander, but also made me aware of the intellectual clock that was counting down to the point when I would lose the cultural pulse. It happens to everyone, at one point, we turn into the Old Folk, the ones who just don't get 'it', who wrinkle their noses because the contemporary isn't what it used to be in our time.

Music is a good indicator because of how dynamic it is and how idiosyncratically we respond to it. For example, I've never understood the charm of live concerts. Why bother to watch a band live on giant screens if you can see them "delayed live" on YouTube? I think it comes from belonging to a generation that didn't have a culture of gigs, but did have access to televised concerts and music videos. Now, not only do we have Slash, Pink Floyd and Shakira performing in India, there's a bona fide Indian indie music scene.

o there I was, in Mumbai's Blue Frog, pretending I was, like almost everyone else present, in the rosy flush of the mid-twenties while Raxit of Sky Rabbit sang, "Yes, it's a joke." That's a line from one of Sky Rabbit's songs. Another is "Who's Your Daddy?" The lyrics, once pieced together after being stretched out of recognisable shape by the lead singer's elastic drawl, make no sense, but I liked the band's mellow sound. There's a languidness in their sound that softens the usually harsh and synthetic quality of electronic samples. It's unpretentious, easy listening and while I could think of a number of bands whose music sounded similar, Sky Rabbit didn't sound like copycats.

I’ve never understood the charm of live concerts. Why bother to watch a band live on giant screens if you can see them “delayed live” on YouTube? I think it comes from belonging to a generation that didn’t have a culture of gigs, but did have access to televised concerts and music videos.

Most people in the audience knew the songs. Some danced while mouthing lyrics, most bobbed rhythmically, a few canoodled. A girl squealed and bounded up to someone to give them a hug, not ceasing the bouncing motion even while hugging and exchanging pleasantries. One man was probably a little hurt that his girlfriend wasn't responding much to the caresses he was lavishing on her bottom and had eyes only for Sky Rabbit. If only he'd known that he was passionately groping, not her, but her bag which rested on her hip. I suddenly felt like I was at a school party in a friend's parent-less home, trying to listen to the music despite all the drunken activity around me.

The familiarity was reassuring because there was no mistaking the fact that I was at least a decade older than most of the people in the crowd. If not anything else, my head-bobbing was out of sync. But it didn't really matter because all of us were responding to different elements of the music, and that was fine. We were, to misquote Thai street marketers, same-same but distinctive. On cue with this epiphany, Sky Rabbit sang, "West will be east, east will be west; setting sun will rise, rising sun will set; round and round we'll go; but I, I become I." And whaddya know, the lyric made perfect sense.

 
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