Social media-fuelled speculation finally came to fruition when the “good people of India” were made aware of The Aristocrats’ tour of this country, in support of their album Tres Caballeros. Guthrie Govan (guitar), Bryan Beller (bass) and Marco Minnemann (drums) will play four shows in India, the one in Kolkata being Chapter X of The Festival.
Not without reason, Kinjal Bhattacharya, founder of The Festival, says there are a number of reasons that can be attributed for such a scenario. Sponsors, few as they may be, aren’t interested in international concerts. “Often, sponsorship translates to having to dole out VIP passes of the equivalent, which ends up making no sense at all. Brand managers in other metropolitans hound organisers to be associated. Kolkata, however, is yet to catch up,” he said.
Free passes are sought after by fans, musicians, sponsors and authorities. “We try to turn down people politely, but at times we have to succumb to pressure from administrative departments, a trait that won’t change very soon,” he added. According to him, ticket sales covered 70 per cent of the expenses, while sponsorships barely managed 10 per cent.
NH7 Weekender&’s treat in 2015 with The Wailers and Megadeth had upped the ante; with fans expecting things to look up. However, Kolkata was initially dropped — or so the line-up announcements seemed to convey — from the main itinerary that includes progressive-rock giant Steven Wilson, only to be handed a single-day five-act event. Nucleya, Papon, Fossils, The F16s, and Parekh and Singh take stage on 24 September. Wilson sees himself travelling to Shillong in October and Pune in December as part of the multi-stage festival.
“With the Weekender format gone from the city, our team will be the only one struggling to bring international acts to the city,” Bhattacharya said. But of more immediate concern, The Aristocrats play at Rang Durbar, Swabhumi, with tickets still up for grabs .The other venues, however, sold out as quickly as they came.
Govan and Marco worked on Steven Wilson&’s 2015 album Hand.Cannot.Erase, while Beller and Minnemann undertook rhythm duties for the G3 tour, while Govan was with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. This familiarity isn’t banked upon by the trio, given that it was a one-off gig that clicked and prompted the formation of the group.
Each with their skill and versatility lending to the sound, categorising their output to a particular genre becomes not just unnecessary but also risky, given the ire that aficionados would be keen on throwing around in order to pledge their longstanding allegiance to the band.
Despite being on tour to promote the album, those in attendance will be exceptionally keen on Govan&’s tracks, given his immense popularity. Tracks from Erotic cakes, including the popular Fives, Wonderful Slippery Thing and Waves will be highly anticipated, in addition to others from the band&’s repertoire, such as Bad Asteroid and Culture Clash.