The Arse Bandits played their first ever show in Bangalore yesterday. In a surprising overturning of convention, the nice restaurant that played host to them allowed dancing on the table-tops, even though use of proper cutlery remained mandatory: by the time the Bandits set folded up, several small riots had broken out all over the city, and reports of fires and looting are trickling in as I write this piece. V. Shivalingam, the whimsical tyrant who formed, and currently lords over, the band claimed he was “satisfied” with this outcome. The show’s organisers were last seen being rolled into an ambulance belonging to the Sri Basaveshwara Home for Spastics and Mental Cases. The ambulance is said to have crashed over a cliff on its way there.
The Arse Bandits are the age’s greatest success. They have been around – as every man, woman, and child knows – for six or seven years now, without having appeared in public even once. There is no photograph of them on the internet, nor any music (a four-track home demo of the Kinks’ Wonderboy available off Soulseek was recently proved to be a fake). Recently, various rumours had sprung up that they had finally set up a website; after some public confusion, a few deaths, and a section of the city’s elevated metro rail tracks crashing to earth, the Chief Police Commissioner was forced to hold a press-conference in which he emphasised that the ArseBandits.com site was the work of “mischief-makers” and “antisocial elements”, though members of the local administration had all been forwarded links for further “research”.
In other words, for years, the nation has lived in a state of deep mistrust. “You don’t know if your next-door neighbour is an Arse Bandit”, said Meena T. of Bangalore’s upmarket Jayanagar area. “The other day, I saw some schoolchildren watching a dog fucking another dog; this is surely the work of some Arse Bandits”. S. Sudeshana, a resident of Thanisandra (East) laments, “nobody is safe.” Last month, officers of the municipality, responding to the growing popular suspicion that the Arse Bandits were thriving amidst the good and decent citizenry, took matters into their own hands and hung a dead donkey from a lamppost. This is said to have put the ruling party at a distinct advantage in the upcoming municipal polls; however at least one party insider says that the measure – dubbed “rather drastic” by opponents – addresses the “symptoms, rather than the malaise itself.”
Thus, when the Bandits’ show was announced earlier this week over the social-media utility, BooB, things went into a frenzy. The deep cultural divide that splits the city in two was finally thrust into centre-stage, with a large college-going audience openly professing their love for, as one enthusiastic student put it, “edgy, yet somehow exquisite, pop music with a throbbing heart”, whilst conservatives reacted sharply, with several protest marches and hunger strikes bringing the city grinding to a standstill.
No clear news has emerged as of yet about either the Bandits’ line-up, or their style of music, or even how long their set lasted, although at least three people have admitted that it was “a little against our culture, truth be told.” An unconfirmed report claims they did a “rock-style” cover of Don’t Sleep in the Subway, though its veracity is doubtful. Sushma M.S. of Langford Gardens set herself and her two children on fire in the wake of the show; a note left behind says she couldn’t take the pressure any more.
The chief minister has announced a cash reward for anybody who can bring the Bandits to book; a new law in the process of being drafted will now force all pubs and restaurants to close their doors by six in the evening. Justice Katju of the Press Council was overheard saying, “it’s only fair.”