TOUR REPORT | INDIA
Pacifist, Dirge, Celestial Teapot
Our friends in Indian hardcore band Pacifist recently announced that after a few years off, due to COVID, shows were back on and they had headed out for a few shows with equally insane band Dirge and Celestial Teapot. Instead of just announcing the tour for the dudes in tow, we asked if Sid, vocalist of Pacifist, could do a more personal write-up about the entire event. He was definitely unsure what this entailed, but a few days later came up with this beautiful write-up of the entire experience with photos and links to the people involved.
If you haven’t heard Pacifist or Dirge or Celestial Teapot, you need to fix that shit asap.
How It Went Down – New World Order
ft. Pacifist, Dirge & Celestial Teapot
I’ll have to admit, I haven’t done this kind of thing before. This isn’t going to be a gig review in a journalistic sense – because there’s no way I can write this from a neutral observational point. But I suppose that was the point Unite Asia wanted anyway; a heartfelt note coming from someone that lives, breathes, and is embedded in the music. Thank you for this, Unite Asia!
My name is Sid & I sing for a hardcore band called Pacifist, based out of the city of Mumbai, India. We played a twin-city set of shows with our fellow acts Dirge (doom/sludge) and Celestial Teapot (post-rock) on the 24th & 27th of April. I write about these shows, what transpired before to the events leading up to the event and after.
Top: Dirge, Bottom: Celestial Teapot
It’s been over 2 weeks since the conclusion at the point of writing this, but it’s been a lot for us to sink in as an experience. These gigs have seen multiple cancellations and ominous near-misses – all three acts were originally billed to play together in March 2021 and have attempted rescheduling this show on more than one occasion. We’re kinda grateful it finally happened – big ups to our promoters Nikhil & Himanshu (4/4 Experiences) for setting it up with the last remaining venue (antiSocial) for live band music in our cities.
L – poster by Ruhail Qaisar / R – poster by Zake Graffiti
The first stop was my hometown Pune, the place where I started out being in bands & playing rock/metal since 2012. It was an unexpected Sunday night of about 200 odd people – it’s the biggest crowd I’d ever seen in years for music like ours! The place was buzzing by about 9 PM and Pacifist went on first. The vibe was electric to say the least – a vast majority of the audience watching us play for the very first time, watching with rapt attention and breaking into applause after every song!
A glimpse of the Pune venue – the recently opened antiSocial
Photo Credit: Ankit Virdi
Dirge played second, bringing their brand of heavy doom/sludge and absolutely crushing it on stage with an incredible light show to go. It’s been a privilege to see them grow over the years, from their first-ever show in Pune back in 2014 to where they’ve come 8 years and two LPs after. This upcoming second album is going to really put them on the map & I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.
It felt good to be back in the spaces where we belong, and we all walked away from the show happy and only more confident in ourselves.
Celestial Teapot, the local favorites, closed the show with their atmospheric post-rock set with a lot of fanfare & friends cheering them on in the audience. It felt good to be back in the spaces where we belong, and we all walked away from the show happy and only more confident in ourselves.
Photo Credit: Soham Joshi
But the highlight was gonna be the homecoming show in Mumbai – one that had been a long time coming for all three acts. The last show we’d all played was between two to three years ago – and that’s a long period of time for any musician, especially given how Mumbai is a big city for all things music, culture & entertainment linked in the country. We were slightly nervous given weekdays are not usually the choice of nights people step out to party or watch a gig, but the crowd didn’t disappoint on that fateful Wednesday.
Celestial went on first, warming the venue up as Pacifist followed up with our usual fast & heavy set, which featured the Greyscale Dreams EP, the 2021 singles as well as three new unreleased tracks that we’ve debuted live. While the Pune gig was a lot of sparks flying & incredible fun, I think we were sonically really in our element that night and we’ll fondly remember it as one of our best nights ever as a band. We sounded amazing thanks to our bud Varun Patil (guitarist in Dirge) who mixes us live. The adrenaline stayed on hours after the set even, while I watched Dirge slay it on stage with their incredible wall of sound courtesy Pritesh Prabhune & mesmerizing lights courtesy Sachin Lele, who handled duties for all three acts.
Top: Dirge, Bottom: Pacifist
Photo Credit: Anuj Mehta
It felt amazing to play to a crowd full of fresh faces and old allies alike, to shake so many hands & exchange hugs, to remember how all of that felt again. The sheer physicality of it all was something originally deemed impossible, in the wake of how this virus spreads & works. We are one of the rare few bands that managed to tide through the pandemic, putting out two singles, a set of shows & receiving unanimously warm responses everywhere we went. We survived, and people appreciated us for sticking to our guns & making it happen in 2022.
Coming from one of the countries that’s been badly affected by COVID in the last two years and running, it’s kinda unspoken but understood that the landscape of playing live music has been altered in our part of the world. While our Western counterparts have seen the ebb & flow and fight different battles, with the greater financial risk of touring & cancellations due to the coronavirus, things are more dismal here, politically & economically.
The struggles of being in a band has amplified in recent years, with the biggest festivals in the country canceling multi-city events, music-linked businesses like live venues & event promoters winding down, or catering to just commercial club music, to ultimately seeing fellow bands & musicians moving to greener pastures. I speak for myself – cutting back on the cost of living in cities like Mumbai, moving back to my hometown, preparing for all emergencies & outcomes, and priming myself to adapt & improvise to a new chapter in life. It’s been rough, to say the least.
Many have come forth to thank bands like us for surviving this crisis & still making out of it playing shows & releasing more music. While I appreciate the support, I have a slight nuance to add to this point. I don’t think survival alone is worth celebrating over – it’s when you see music thrive, when people take time, and effort, and passionately endorse your music to the world, letting people know this stuff matters. When you see community bond, people sharing values, and creating experiences we all can remember & reminisce and tell ourselves that yes, we made a difference, we provided the alternative to those that were looking for it – we were there, and we made it happen. That’s the kind of patronage that will make gigs like this worth celebrating, and the only way things can stay sustainable for bands like us.
We want to play more shows like we did in 2018 – early ‘20. We want to hit up more parts of the world, and open doors to play shows where there were none earlier. That’s another challenge that gets harder for bands like ours with this pandemic, but we’re still counting on it to happen someday. Like most Asian bands, we want to be seen and heard by the global community. It’s happening, slowly and steadily, and we’re working our way to it.
Like most Asian bands, we want to be seen and heard by the global community.
You’re gonna be blown away when that Dirge full-length drops later this year. And I can assure you, there’s a lot Pacifist has to offer as we work towards our first LP in earnest. We’re here to reclaim our spaces, remind people why our music matters, and why gigs will never die.
Keep on fighting the good fight.