So while the rest of the country is laughing and poking fun about the National Capital Region being a national embarrassment and what not based on what the media and organizers are feeding them, I thought it was best to put on my headphones and listen to "Frantic" on loop. And boy does it suit the mood.
So they told us that the gates would open at three. My friends and I, one of whose cousins had come all the way from Mumbai, being experienced rock enthusiasts(or so we thought) left the house between 3:30 and four. It was a metallica gig after all. And because the F1 track was still teeming, the concert was to start much later in any case.
So we arrived, all charged, somewhat excited, remembering the good old days, how the first songs we picked up while we struggled with our fingers on the fret board were songs like the old "For whom the bell tolls" or which Metallica Album was the first one we actually bought.
We felt at home, because everyone around us, a large part of the crowd being from other countries(there were quite a few flags being waved around) and other states were essentially talking about the same stuff. It was a trip down memory lane, lots of nicotine and beer induced nostalgia. I loved it.
Then to me, something seemed off. The ticket counter was shut, there were no barricades in place around the entry points either. No private security men to be seen, just a few cops from Haryana police talking about how the future generations have gone to the dogs. So I lit my self another cigarette, chatted about how people we knew were waiting since 8 o clock on the morning, some as early as 6.
Then came the call, the gates were being opened. As we all walked, slowly, lumbering, smiling towards the gates, to our shock, there was very little if no frisking. Just a dude tearing out their part of the ticket.So while people were told to drop their bottles of mineral water outside, in went all the weed, cigarettes,lighters with their fluid, match boxes and who knows what. It was all chill. We walked in over what seemed like barricades that weren't assembled in the first place. I thought it was weird, but it made sense in the end.
So we all lounged about, all 30,000 of us, chanting for Metallica, some even for the openers. We noticed the screens that told us to wait a while and step backwards as they fixed the "barricade". We were all fine with that. Technical snags happen. Then suddenly things got weird. It wasn't the media trainee in me. Not the Sherlock Holmes.
There were three broadcast cameras that I spotted, you know the kind they use for sports,costing a few crores.... except none of them had and personnel around them. The sound booth was deserted. My spidey sense started acting funny. But then, I was just another Metallica fan, just another kid who's first song on the guitar using more than one finger was "Nothing else matters", so I was hopeful....like a child waiting for his ice cream.
And we waited. And we waited some more. So a few people around me rolled a joint or two. Some people just sat in their groups, talking about Metallica, music festivals...and some about Megadeth and slayer in hushed voices.
Then all of a sudden there's an announcement, two guys begging the crowds to step back two steps to enable them to fix a barricade. You don't need to be a genius to figure out what a douchy line that is. Let me rephrase, you can be drunk out of your minds and you will still read through that.
We waited some more. Then comes this american cunt, all orange county telling us how safety is paramount and some bullshit and how at this point the 'other' gentleman will explain.
"Metallica are presently in the hotel giving a press conference. They will perform tomorrow at 4. All the exits are open. Please reach home safely" is what he says.
So naturally like anywhere in the world, the most common reaction was, "What the fuck?" or "Fuck you!" or "Damn I have a flight to catch tomorrow". No dear reader, these weren't just delhiites or the people of Gurgaon and Noida who were pissed off, it was also the people waving flags of different lands, of people who had saved up money, taken a bus, then a train, and another bus to get here, people who had quit their jobs, told their bosses to fuck off, people who were waiting for months for this day. And rightly so.
Then the wanker on stage believes the audience to be a bunch of eight year olds.
"If you're like this, then there shall no concert tomorrow also" intersperesed with a few "toh kya hua, kal aajana"s and etc.
This is when the crowd, started chanting in union " Fuck you". And rightly so. Bad Public Relations has it's disastrous consequences. No one better than one of the country's premiere event organizers, who incidentally have managed quite a few Iron Maiden gigs before this. But surely they organizers knew that. They're the big ones after all.
So as we're going to and fro from the exit gates, which refuse to open even after 20 minutes of the announcement, something happens. People are up on stage it seems. What joy. Funny really. You can't set fire to fire proofed stage material. But it was worth watching them try. I was slightly edgy when I saw the stage monitors swinging, then the technical junkie in me made me realize how difficult it is to bring those things down. Still the swinging made all the audiophiles edgy.
So there were a few mike stands that went flying, posters that were stripped apart. But seriously, by now the smart ones in the audience( Or the media trainees who love their field and have common sense) knew that there was no way in hell that the concert would take place the next day. There were already rumors about Metallica being uncertain about certain things pertaining to the event and their reluctance before the gig... and blah blah.
So we managed to get out, walk a kilometer's worth and get into the car, play a few cheap bhangra numbers to get our moods up, spend an hour trying to get onto the main road, until I got one interesting phone call.
Apparently, there was a stampede at the venue. Utter chaos ensued I'm told. Some people were taken to the hospital. I just waved it off. Then I'm told about how Metallica is live on television giving an interview to a well known journo, an interview that takes two days of prep and booking. So while we were told they were in their hotel giving a press conference, they were actually very far away. It was all known. It all made sense.
Ticket counter shut.
Very few policemen.
Around 10-20 private security men, including the 'bouncers'
No frisking at all whatsoever.
The constant reminder of keeping our tickets safe and how we would need it later(Ouch)
The constant reminder of keeping our tickets safe and how we would need it later(Ouch)
No tech team behind the mixing desks or outboard
No people behind the cameras
No barricade that was assembled.
No sight of roadies, or the opening act, anything to suggest there was going to be a show.
Just the mammoth stage and a bright lights, that drew us all and kept us captivated like a swarm of moths to a lightbulb.
And now, this is what I get-
"We arrived in Delhi on Friday very excited and ready to play our first show ever in India at the F1 Rocks concert. However, immediately at the end of our afternoon press conference at a hotel near the venue, we were notified that there was a serious question as to whether the show could proceed with regard to the safety of the concert audience. And our first and foremost concern is always for the safety of you, the fans.
Once we, along with DNA, the promoters of the show, determined that there was a failure of a security barricade in front of the stage that could not be adequately repaired, the promoter reluctantly announced the postponement of the show until Saturday. Unfortunately, on such short notice the promoters were unable to secure a permit for a show on Saturday. Therefore, DNA announced that we would not be able to play in Delhi. Within the next 24 hours a notification will be issued by DNA regarding the process for full refunds.
We are deeply disappointed with this news as we were looking forward to our first experience in India as much as you guys were. Keep watching for updates here as additional details are determined and confirmed."
People will actually buy the fact that one of the largest event management firms specializing in music festivals could not manage to pay a few people off and get their job done. Boo hoo.
The sad part is, the band has probably seen real violence, concerts with the army being called in for security. But the media in this country has not.People do not know what it is like in South America or Indonesia...or hell even The United Kingdom and The States.
I was not on stage. I did not tear posters apart. I did not try setting fire to fire proof material. The police did not look at me on stage and walk away. The private security did not politely ask me to get off the stage and then dissappear. But yes I don't blame the few people there that did get worked up, because at the end of the day, being a fan is not a rational, calculated decision. It's a sentimental, emotional one.