Disenfranchised in India, The Riot Peddlers and The Nameless
Fellow Border Movement contributor Bhanuj Kappal once wrote about the dearth of hardcore punk bands in the country, despite the city having all the necessary ingredients for a legitimate hardcore scene. Among these ingredients Bhanuj lists, “ugly, over-crowded urban spaces; a rich surplus of police brutality; and a bloated, stagnating mass culture dominated by the bean counters of Bollywood.”
While I relate to his urgency and have long envisioned our city’s capacity to host a hardcore surplus – ad hoc venues, crust punk kids in tattered jackets spawned from a metal background, clambering on-stage, shouting out the lyrics before they take the train back home – the band he was highlighting was, in fact, a joke.
The Riot Peddlers are the first band in Mumbai to wear the hardcore punk tag so vehemently. Yet, the same brand of antipathy can be expressed by sticking two fingers down your throat. Their music is uninspired: dull agro-riffing (even on a three-chord diet), and comically offensive lyrics that, in turn, stick like nursery rhymes. Take for instance “Platform No. 3” that could have been an anthem for ‘those kids taking the train back home’ but begs for attention, like the bench-notes of a 13-year old, to no real release.
The band is also one of the most sensitive I’ve come across, with their entire inner circle taking a ferocious stab at anything that resembles an honest opinion and questioning if people understand the music, as if people didn’t have the internet. The entire package left me disillusioned, and I questioned if we would ever have a hardcore punk scene that would stand on its own strength.
There’s now news that the Riot Peddlers and “Platform No.3” have appeared on a new compilation Disenfranchised in India, which tracks fourteen punk rock bands around the country. A fair share of these fourteen rarely get promoted on our online media, so I listened to them intently. I decided to brand this underrepresented selection of bands The Nameless. The album, which pits the Riot Peddlers together with The Nameless, is released under Tripwire’s CT Records.
From last to first, Messiah from Delhi deserves the first honorable mention for being one of the oldest punk bands in the country. Their song “Hey Johnny” from 2005’s The Antidote is as purposeful as it sounded back then, spiraling its listeners into a frenzy with its repeated namesake: “Hey Johnny, what news/ You win, I lose.” The Scratch Cards, along with the Mavyns-esque Jeepers Creepers featured earlier on in the disc, would have been decent alt/rock-n-roll additions to another compilation, but here they’re just fillers.
I Quit’s “Far Away” is the only pop punk effort on the album, executed with an awkward melodic charm, reminiscent of once-melodic-punk-crooners Rufio, and well as the more reserved half of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtracks. Darjeeling’s Da Primitive sticks to its guns, playing rife ska punk with seismic riffs on “Me and My Wise.” 7 Degrees feature the title track from their Be The Change EP and carry Gandhi’s acclaimed mantra forward with an infectious riot. In true Krautrock fashion, their portrayal of a new world is dark, low-tuned and full of resentment.
And now the most astonishing additions for me as a listener: Blakhole’s “Human Cattle” and Tritha Electric’s “Fish Market”. The former is a rabid crust/powerviolence effort captured in a highly reverberant space for which the raw vocals and furious blast beats sound ten times fiercer. The latter has classically trained frontwoman Tritha playfully miming Indian women in a fish market over hard-hitting distorted fuzz, eventually breaking into a soft song at around the 2 minute mark – then launching right back into tremolo-picked punk mayhem, steady chord stabs, and on..
Safe to say you will find your heroes in Disenfranchised in India, and here’s hoping the entire revolution depicted here by the Nameless from 200-500 rpm will drown out everything in between.
written by Gaffer Wolf