Rock Saturday 4 – Bringing together Sri Lanka’s Rock bands
The latest of edition of Rock Saturday was organised by the Suriya Brothers and held on the 27th of July 2019 at CR & FC, Colombo, Sri Lanka. It boasted a pretty impressive line up of 9 bands – Elorath, Story, Silence of Loud, Abyss, Sacrament, Man Till God, Whirlwind, Stigmata & Paranoid Earthling. The bands included Sinhala and English rock which was a good thing as there are few events that mix the two.
The event was supposed to start at 4pm but sadly commenced only at 6.20pm which was quite ridiculously late. Anyhow the bands were all well oiled and raring to go. Elorath was a Sinhala rock band and had an interesting sound though the vocalist at times was a bit off pitch. Story was very good and again had a good vibe. Silence of Loud was again another Sinhala rock band with a good guitarist and delivered a performance with a lot of punch and good guitar work. However at one point the vocalist chose a rather off pitch trajectory which was disturbing to me but later he got back on track with the other songs.
Man Till God is a new band on the scene and their songs were diverse and the guitar work was very impressive. From a few intricate solos to odd time signatures, the songs were varied and interesting to listen to. Abyss was its usual powerhouse of growling vocals and more heavy sounding guitars and bass, more in the style of Lamb of God. One of the guitarists was in a gas mask in keeping with their Slip knot style of presentation.
Sacrament was impressive too again with good guitar work and impressive vocals where the main vocalist transitioned from growls to normal and back again effortlessly.
Whirlwind delivered a super performance – this was the first time I had heard them though they have been around for a while. Their performance was tight, slick and the guitars were clear and crisp, delivering a punchy set with a touch of that old school heavy metal rocking. They performed a song called White Raven dedicated to the LGBTIQ community and later the frontman said, they don’t care about religion, caste, creed or sexual orientation and what matters is heavy metal and the music which unites all people. It was a very powerful performance and very impressive. The songs were diverse, the guitar solos were on point and it was pure energy and SriMetal as they call it. The best was their last song Mindbender which was literally, mind bending.
Stigmata delivered a surprise for the evening by performing with only 4 members as they had decided to continue without a rhythm guitarist. There was much speculation as to who the “new” guitarist was going to be but they delivered a powerful set with just one guitar. The songs were heavy – Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown, Forgiven Forgotten and they delivered Spiral Coma to prove they don’t need a rhythm guitarist. However I felt there were times when the base melody was missing and the fullness given by the rhythm guitar and the combination they used to have of lead and rhythm, was not there. My personal favourite was Alyssa which is a new song dedicated to frontman Suresh’s pet pooch Michi, with time signatures that are a bit unusual. Overall it was a strong performance and will pave the way for a new sounding Stigmata.
The final performance for the evening was by Paranoid Earthling. They too delivered a tight and strong performance with a lot of colour and flavour in the music. The most fascinating for me was to see the lead vocalist with insulation tape all over his body but this he is known for. The songs were diverse and they were clearly a well oiled machine and were slick and different to the other sounds of the evening. More grunge style but still enjoyable. Few guitar solos but nothing too much to talk about. Their anthem ‘Fuck the Police’ they delivered with panache although they had been relegated to the last slot which took place well past midnight.
The performances of all the bands was strong, on point and I was impressed with the guitar work which I felt has been lacking in some of the other bands I have seen perform over the years. The audience was a circulating crowd but it was a very appreciative one and people had a really good time. The Suriya Brothers must be commended for their efforts in keeping the scene alive and for organizing shows on this scale which give many of the bands the much needed exposure to new audiences. However the one thing that irked me was the time taken to start. I predicted 4pm would be 6.30pm and sure enough that’s what it was. People were exhausted and the performers would’ve been too, having to wait for so long. I hope this doesn’t keep happening coz it’s no longer funny, it’s quite ridiculous.
But overall it was a very good evening, exhausting but exhilarating.