Thinking Out Loud

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The Circus- Funking India

Monday, July 19, 2010


He is one of the very well known faces of the Delhi-rock circuit, guitarist of one of the most exciting bands in the country. His band’s first full length is all set for an looming release. And on Saturday night he could be found in a loutish little room in Delhi, talking about his whiny neighbors.

He is Arsh Sharma of The Circus, a patchy and luminous group from New Delhi that is currently sopping in hyperbolic extol. Their debut E.P, "First Cut" (G&S), has been instantaneously — and very perfectly — hailed as a modern classic, even though it was only released as a special edition for The Great Indian Rock Festival 2009. Producer/ Pentagram Frontman Vishal Dadlani calls them his favorite new Indian Band. Revolutionaries Indecision.com labels them one of their top finds from Channel V’s Launchpad-III.


But despite this tumultuous, Mr. Sharma seemed unusually self-aware but not at all concerned as he sat backstage at the Bajaj Pulsar MTV Rockathon before playing yet another sold-out show in Delhi alongside biggies Parikrama and Them clones.
"My neighbors say, we've overdone it,' " he said, acknowledging the huge fuss about the band-now barely three years old.”And I said, 'Not like I care, but since you say so.' "
Fuss isn't really the right word to illustrate The Circus’ phenomenon, which began with sold-out local gigs and scratch demos passed from old fans to new ones. Record executives struggled to keep up; G&S eventually signed the band and released an E.P, "First Cut," which has ever since been- pretty much- talked about, throughout the country.


If only the music weren't so breathtaking, there would probably be serious recoil afoot. The Circus specialize in tidy but anthemic little alt/post-funk songs, impelled by bursts of guitar chords and invariable crisscrosses. In "F.O.P.S"(Full on Party Scene) the band hurtles through three diverse riffs — all wholly contagious — in the 30 seconds before Mr.Bhatia (Vocalist in Command) lets loose his halfway momentous voice and thick enunciation.
Then he does, and the song gets even better. Mr. Bhatia's lyrics are worth waiting for and often worth memorizing, too. He delivers terse, unassuming images of a semi-teenage world defined by contemplations and fantasies. And he has an uncanny way of evoking present day Indian youth outlooks while neither romanticizing it nor sniping at it.
Another song, "Japanese Rebellion” begins in the core of a go on sentence that arrests a person’s enthrallments about a Samurai.

“Feelings inside
Outside, shut
Open my eyes,
And you'll know that it’s sleazy.
Damn you samurai.
Damn you samurai,
You didn’t know how to swim through.
Damn your samurai,
Now that i can’t swim with you”



As the song erects to a grand climax, the story liquefies, the way day-dreams usually do. There's a very evident spark of random-ness in their music-as you might have noticed- something that gives them a definitive edge- a standout from the rest of the hedonistic nonsense omni-present in today’s scene.
With the large assortment of kids singing along, Mr. Bhatia's hesitant abstain sounded like a generation's uniting blubber.

Maybe it is. Unlike practically all of the post-rock bands that have riveted Delhi (or must I say, India) over the last few years, the Circus does not obsess over rock 'n' roll history, and they aren't evocative for an earlier musical era. They have rented from all those bands, but they have also done what era-defining bands are supposed to do: they have made all their predecessors seem — and sound — blissfully old. Part of that, of course, is the band's actual youth.

Also, eerie Bass-grooves delivered with ridiculous precision — is one reason why The Circus has managed to create waves all over the industry. (Yes, I do acknowledge Abhinav Chaudhury’s basswork as the backbone of the band’s ever-so-rapidly growing fame.)
"I just try to do my job" he said backstage at the MTV show. He couldn't quite explain why he has struck a chord( or perhaps a note:P) among the country's blemished (and, for that matter, no-longer-blemished) ample.

In India, the Circus's immediate future isn't in doubt: the band's debut CD will sell; the sell-out concerts will keep coming; the media coverage will only get more severe and more surreal. What is actually hard to predict though, is how this band will turn out to be with its approaching age. For if the madness continues- I for sure predict either a REVOLUTION or a RIOT.

Back at the Rockathon show, The Circus stormed through their exultant set, with fans singing along not just to the lyrics but to the guitar lines, too. After "Japanese Rebellion" was finished, the crowd kept shouting the words, which stood testament to how influential they’re getting by the day.
Owing to my mother’s infernal paranoid behavior I had leave before their last number, but as I taxied my way back home I couldn’t help but resist a listen to their now-very-popular number ‘Cover band’ -

“Hey,
Come figure out my game.
You asshole.
Wait.
With this kind of pay,
Won’t get home.
But wearing his gloves,
And i have been.
Somebody’s friend now.
And i have seen,
Somebody’s trend how,
It fades away with the scene.
So you do ask my soul "where you come and play?"
And you ask myself "its time to play?"
To play, duplex.
Come! They come at my "self",
They come at my hide
They come at my "self",
Slum! the slum in myself.
The slum by my side,
The slum in my head.
this slum is mine”

It’s hard to hate a new band so disharmoniously disparate to today’s current yield of could-bes and should-bes. What’s even more like-able about them is the fact they shower their songs in a blissfully poppish sensuality- and mind you their Poppish edge does NOT shit you with sissy lyrics and unentertaining sound frames, it’s something that only adds to their loud demeanor as a band.
Circus’s template for success is one that every promising RHCP or Incubus could do well to follow: work hard, practice your asses off, play tight, and write good songs --- the res will all take care of itself. And it indeed does.



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