Heavy Metal Bang Galore!!! Heavy Metal as a break from daily life in India

Bang Galore!!!
Bang Galore!!! | Photo: © Patrick Hain

What does heavy metal in India have to do with Germany? How is the scene organised on the sub-continent? And how can attendance at a concert in Bangalore soon become a family outing? A review. 

Heavy Metal: This sub-culture has been continuously developing into a global phenomenon since the 1980s. At first glance, India still seems like a small island on the world map, but an in-depth look at the scene reveals a world full of fanatical, enthusiastic aficionados, musicians and fans, who, dressed in black (of course), make a pilgrimage to the many small events throughout the country.

Whereas concerts in Delhi tend to take place at the club level and only individual international bands have performed here, Bangalore has become the Mecca of the Indian metal scene. Prominent performers such as Slayer, Metallica and Iron Maiden have already taken to the stage here. A large number of Indian bands make up the Indian scene and are celebrated frenetically at concerts. Bands such as Kryptos enjoy considerable success in the international arena. They do not, however, emulate their role models from the early European metal scene, but develop their very own, Indian influenced way of playing this type of music. Yet for fans and musicians alike, it is more than just the music. It has become an attitude to life that relieves the pressure imposed by Indian society.

University graduates with well paid jobs

Unlike the European fans and musicians of the early 1980s, who were often from the working class, a majority of the Indian musicians and fans come from the upper middle class of the country. They are university graduates with well paid jobs.  When talking to them they constantly reiterate that it is not about the aggressive content of the lyrics, but more about releasing tension and frustration, a kind of break from daily life in India. Speaking for many fans, Nolan Lewis, singer of the band Kryptos says, “If I hadn’t discovered metal, I would probably have become a criminal or something like that.”

The scene sticks together and organises concerts. Concert organisers are often fans who try to put up festivals with a minimum amount of funds or through crowdfunding. Thanks to the idealism of individuals, there has been a festival in Bangalore for the past couple of years, attracting bands from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore and other countries. The Internet plays an important role here. Concert dates are announced on Facebook, fans can purchase music and fan items that are difficult or impossible to obtain on the Indian market on online shops such as Metal Masala.

Metal as a family outing

The mood at festivals or concerts is absolutely positively charged, people talk to each other, information on bands and concerts is exchanged and there is wild, wild partying. Contact between fans and musicians at these events is by far much closer than in Europe, for example. Almost all band members mingle with the public before and after performances. CDs are sold, autographs given, contacts made and heads banged.
Teenage fans are often accompanied by their parents. While sons and daughters rattle their heads in front of the stage, cups of chai are being savoured in the cosy far end of the location. Metal as a family outing.

Support from Wacken

What does all this have to do with Germany? Many young Indian musicians claim to have been heavily influenced by the German metal bands of the 1980s. The names Kreator, Sodom, Destruction appear on tunics and shirts. The Bangalore festival is sponsored by the organisers of the world renowned Wacken Open Air. The Wacken Road Show helps Indian bands perform in Germany. The Goethe Institute in Bangalore also keeps organising metal concerts and brings well known German bands such as Kreator to India.
And then there are the fans. A group of German metal fans from Delhi has been regularly flying to Bangalore for a couple of years to experience their favourite music there. They have developed good contacts and friendship with local musicians. This is also about the famous "break from Delhi." And it is not just the clean air of the city that contributes to the good mood....after the Bangalore Open Air 2015 at the beginning of June; people are already thinking ahead to 2016.