Gigs mean different things to different people. Ask the Shakey Rays how their Friday evening show in Bangalore went, and they’d probably tell you it was a bit of a nightmare. They blew an amp, broke strings on both their guitars at the same time, were losing their voices from excessive touring (this was their third gig in as many nights), and struggled throughout with the sound on their monitors. The crowd, on the other hand, saw it differently: for them, the Rays swung, and swung like hell. The on-stage mishaps weren’t anything more than convenient fag breaks; the guitars rang clear as bells outside, and no one could be bothered with a missed note here or there. The band were pushed into playing three encores, and the loonies dancing up at the front only got loonier as the show rolled on.
As every right-thinking person knows by now, the Shakey Rays are going on tour and will be descending upon Bangalore shortly. This is great; so great, in fact, that my first reaction to the news was to drink up all the beer in the fridge and spend an entire evening listening to various different cover versions of I am the Walrus. Now, at casual glance, these two things seem unconnected, but anyone with half a rock ‘n’ roll head will understand that the time has never been more right for running around the flat going “goo goo goo joob”.
There’s a small homemade revolution brewing here right under everyone’s noses. In the past year, three improbable little records have come out of Chennai which knock a modest, but significant, hole in the otherwise very sensible view that nothing good is ever going to come out of this country the way it’s going. These albums – Tunes from the Big Belly by the Shakey Rays and Curious Toys by Harsha Iyer, both débuts, and Dead Loops from Adam & the Fish-Eyed Poets, a sophomore – make up an oddball trio: in an industry lorded over by over-privileged brats playing the superstar to crowds conditioned to not erupt in outrage when yet another too-well-known-for-their-own-good rock group shows up and condescends to them and insults their intelligence by hawking triteness and bloat, these three stand by the backdoor, looking smarter-than-thou and refusing to make friends.
There are still skid-marks on my floor, and a man-sized hole in the wall through which I crashed backwards a week ago when, without warning, the Shakey Rays and their début came home to stay. And an ill-mannered, snotty dolly-bird of a début she is too, drapes her legs over the end of the sofa, smokes on the toilet and her clothes are a state, but she knows how to sweet-talk and makes big, dreamy loved-up eyes, and I fall for that every single time.