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What makes certain songs special is the bit of nostalgia associated with them – a state of mind that is intertwined with the moment when one hears the song for the first time, a memory that is relived on every subsequent hearing. Driving to the Euphoria concert last night, amidst the downpour, lighting, thunder, and frustratingly slow moving vehicles, I was at loss to remember any such association. I was never a Euphoria fan. At least not the kind that is willing to drive a good one hour (+45 mins courtesy inclement weather) on a Saturday night to make it to the venue in Hayward, CA. But here I was, on the road with two other friends who would rather have queued outside the theater to watch the latest Harry Potter movie. We were running late by more than an hour. We didn’t really care.

The crowd in front of the stage, shouting Eu-pho-ria in unison was surprise #1. The band had far more passionate fans than I had given them credit for. Surprise #2 was to come later, when the stagefront crowd chanted, again in unison, the lyrics word for word of what was to me one of their obscure songs, and I am not referring to ‘Dhoom’ or ‘Maheri’ here. For a moment it felt like being outmoded among the outmoded. I looked around. Many of those in the balcony section seemed less inclined, sharing a certain bonhomie that comes from not knowing, or not caring or both. We were the backbenchers of this rock concert; we of the cheaper tickets.

Dhoom, the song (also the album) that made Euphoria famous was released in 1998, and Phir Dhoom in 2000. They have had other releases since, and a new album due for release in 2010, but have remained largely out of the popular radar since their first few albums. The number of popular Hindi Rock bands (used as a broad term that includes Indian and Pakistani rock bands) at the turn of the millenium could still be counted with one hand, and Euphoria was one of them. They had their own unique brand of music that was distinct from their contemporaries – Junoon (sufi rock), Strings (pop-rock), Indian Ocean (indo-rock fusion). Unlike their peers, Euphoria appear to have fizzled out in the 2000s. Given their limited repertoire, I was unsure how Euphoria intended to pull off a 3-hour concert. They had performed in Seattle earlier this month, that had Parth in attendance, so that mystery was solved.

The roster of songs performed ranged from the Goan-konkani Galyan Saakli sonyachi to U2’s ‘With or Without You’, and included snippets of songs old and new, and others freely adopted from other bands. There were instances in the performance involving old hindi numbers where the electric-guitar wielding band saw itself momentarily downgraded to the level of the local annual-function orchestra. For most part the band held together well. Their guitar solos were good; their performance of their own songs quite spectacular. Euphoria’s lead singer, Palash Sen, managed to entertain and enthrall with his sheer energy manifest as singing, jumping, shouting, wise-cracking, and other stage antics without respite for 3+ hours. The audience seemed to have a good time, some more than the rest.

More than the concert, what I thought remarkable was the effort put in by the organizers into bringing this performance into fruition. Organizing the concert and the cumbersome details of it – posters, publicity, sound, venue, artists, ticket sales – take far more time than a group of people can fit into their post-work evenings and weekends. Therefore, a much deserved hat-tip to the AID (Association for India’s Development) volunteers in the Bay Area for putting this together. It was the cause, perhaps more than the concert, that made it worth the while.

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