This one is going to be difficult to write, given that my already-rusty memory is further dulled with 3 nights of consecutive hangovering. But I will try. For what else is this life for, but to try.
Shekhar was the first one of us to get to Delhi. He was so eager to meet all his Delhi friends, he left a week early. Nigel and I got in on the first day of the festival - 22nd. Gary and Aviv got in sometime later. And Woody came in the morning of the show - on the 24th. We'd pre-booked 2 hours at On-Stage (a 3-story musician's mall in Delhi) but decided against doing it. Instead, we just hung around in the guest-house and worked out the set with Woody.
I was particularly in good spirits because Aviv was letting me use his 25-year old Artist Series Ibanez for the gig. The guitar (affectionately called Pomfret) has a sustain half-life of 500,000 years and really sings. Shekhar was seen walking in the chilly Delhi afternoon hand-in-hand with Jean. Aviv and Priyanka rolled and smoked joints all the way. Nigel was Nigel. The thing that I remember the most that afternoon in the guest-house was how clear and powerful Gary's voice sounded to me, after so long. It felt right to be there with these 4 guys.
We left for the venue in 2 batches. Our soundcheck was on at 4:15, post Something Relevant's killer set. Armed with Rahul's (Medusa) GT6, Aviv's Artist Ibanez and a yellow Fender pic, I felt ready as I'd ever be. Soundcheck was such a blur - as always. We sound-checked on various songs, and the levels seemed to sort themselves out easily. The stage sound was brilliant! We, it seemed, were going to enjoy this gig - with only a can of Red Bull to spur us onwards.
Since the last few shows, Split had been working on a set where the energy built up - from quiet and slow to loud and paced. However, at Eastwind, we had to rethink this strategy. We needed to hold people in our stage (there were two others - Scribe and Helga's Fun Castle playing around the same time we were) and so decided to start with a bang. Build (Higher)! O yeah! I really like playing this song - it's relatively simple to play and makes me want to break something.
The songs seemed to follow thick and fast. The crowd began to build up inside the tent too. Split got the best turn-out I'd seen so far at the RSJ stage, but don't take my word for it. I was watching from 11 feet up in the air. Steep.
Aviv's opiate solos, Shekhar's solid bass and Nigel's solid, clear beat sounded great on stage. Possibly the best stage sound we've ever got. But it was Garreth who was sounding completely incredible. I didn't watch him much, but I sure could hear him all over. For my sound - I was pretty pleased with it too. Nice solid crunch from the Ibanez, driven past the GT6, multiplied by a Marshall combo. Sweet, sweet.
My House, Fat Oaf, Isn't It Strange, Don't Wake Me (beautiful sax from Woody), Belief, Holy Ghost Machine Gun and finally (we almost didn't get to play this one) Pig Society.
Post gig Gary got interviewed by a channel (don't know which) and then, the band, by TV 18. Vikram, who was interviewing us asked us if we named the band Split as a reverse-psych maneuvre against further band break-ups. Pretty insightful dude.
We just chilled after that. Hung around. Watched some other artists. Karsh Kale, Leni Stern, Shaa'ir + Func (tech-glitchy set) and some others. I'd been bumming free beers off Sidhu and Vishy and was nicely buzzing - talking to Heena from Gibson and Smriti from Eastwind, when, for the first time in 3 days, I felt the Eastwind ground go quiet. And I knew it had ended.
We headed to an after-party about 2 hours later. It was nice, but not completely rocking. Maybe this has something to do with the free-booze counter shutting after 12:30. Scribe, Demonic R, Split, Menwhopause, DJ Blot, Dhruv Ghanekar, Anal Funk - they were all there.
Post a grueling 2-hour drive to find food, we finally retired. But not before tucking into ham sandwiches. Crash.
The flight back was less eventful than I imagined it to be. About half the Boeing was loaded with Mumbai's music-scene. The pilot made some inane speeches to wake us up. The burger was dry. Something funny happened - as soon as we landed, before the flight had stopped taxiing, Dhruv got up and pulled open te overhead bin. A pedal-bag slipped out and landed on the aunty sitting below. Her screams were terrible - like someone was out to kill her. Her husband almost beat up everyone around him in a Hulk-rage.