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By Chowdhury Rashaam Raiyan

For our generation of teens living in Dhaka who are literally forbidden to 'enjoy' life, due to the current situation of our country, underground concerts actually give them a safe, uncomplicated way to actually have 'fun'. Moreover, they have provided a platform for new musicians to blossom, by giving them a chance to actually go on stage and perform in front of a crowd.

Organizing a concert is loads of fun. One fine morning, some really bored person (usually a teen) wakes up and gets the bright idea of organizing a concert. So he sits down with a bunch of other kids, discusses the idea and before you know it, a name for the concert comes up. Then, they runaround town looking for sponsors. If lucky, they are given loads of money, if not they are just get stuck with the added responsibility of begging and pleading (bargaining) with bands to reduce costs even if it is by a mere 1000 takas. Fixing and booking a venue is something that involves a lot of thinking. Russian Cultural Center, All Community Club, DBC and recently, Fu Wang Bowling Club are the popular venues. After all, location does play a part in the success of the concert. The task of finding a sound system provider has to be fulfilled and then employing security personnel is a must. Someone gets busy designing the posters and the tickets and then before you know it they run to Nilkhet for a printing press. If the date is finalized, it gets printed. The posters are pasted all over Dhanmondi, Gulshan, and Banani. Walls of schools or busy intersections or even walls of coaching centers and fast food restaurants are filled with such posters. The colour black seems to be 'in' for posters nowadays. The day finally comes, and they go to the venue around 12 noon. You fix up duties and decide who is gonna stand where. Usually one or two organizers are present wearing their 'organizer' ID and about six or eight volunteers with 'volunteer' ID. Then at around 3 or 4 the gates are opened.

When you go to a concert you usually buy the tickets from the two volunteers sitting on a table. Beware, they almost NEVER have change! Tickets usually cost between 150 and 170 takas. After passing through a range of security checks, (where your cigarettes, lighters, matches and sharp objects tend to get confiscated), you'll find yourself entering through bunch of volunteers, which gives a pretty uneasy feeling. One tears the ticket, the other puts a stamp on your hand with ink and not even five seconds later someone is checking your hand for the stamp to see if he can let you in.

Inside it's usually pretty dark, with a few lights coming from the direction of the stage. The proportion of girls is usually a lot less that of boys, but you'll still be surprised by the numbers that are actually present. The boys and girls come in all sizes, shapes and colours, and some of their attire would shock members of the older generation. From wild hair colours and outlandish hairstyles, to body piercings and tattoos to unusual outfits like punjabis teamed with jeans, and quirky accessories like cowboy boots, masks, and bandannas, there's no dearth of variety. Black is the most popular colour for outfits of concert-goers. Concerts usually end by late evening, but packing up afterwards takes a little longer.

The atmosphere in the green room (which happens to be extremely small in most venues) is well, nice too. Something is always happening there. Band members rush in, keeping their instruments, some manage to find places to sit and chat a bit about random things, volunteers and security personnel are constantly busy trying to keep fans out. Somehow a few manage to get in and they are periodically thrown out. Stacks of water bottles are usually kept here, and it's funny to see how quickly they disappear.

I think the worst thing about these concerts is the unavailability of food. I mean, a can of Coke costs 50 taka at the Fu Wang Club! There you are screaming, jumping up and down, walking around the whole place, and in the process getting pretty exhausted and there's no food! If you're lucky you can go out eat and then come back in but in the process you might miss the performance of your favourite band.

And then again, I think that the best thing about underground concerts is that there is direct contact in between the 'stars' and the 'audience'. The band members (even the popular ones) usually walk around in the crowd, enabling fans to actually talk to them and creating a very nice 'happy' and 'content' atmosphere. And when one of the 'big guns' in the business, like Aurthoheen, Artcell or Black, make an appearance onstage at these concerts, as they frequently do, the crowd energy knows no boundaries.

The most popular and frequently performed songs at underground concerts are probably Master Of Puppets, Enter Sandman, Chop suey, Smells like Teen Spirit, Toxicity and Fear of the Dark.

Popular alternative bands of underground concerts in alphabetical order:

Aashor: Their covers, including that of Nickelback's 'How you remind me' are pretty good, and their own tracks including 'Shunno' and 'Maya', have been getting a lot of attention from audiences. Besides, people love Aashor because they do superb covers of Audio Slave and Creed.

Bivishika: This is an extremely junior band but I honestly love their performances. Their Dinbodol hit Mohakaal is a song that everyone loves. There were many who were actually upset because they didn't perform Mohakaal at a concert. They manage to do great covers of Linkin Park, Audio Slave, Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Nowadays they perform one of their own songs, which will soon be released on the Aguntuk 3 album.

Breach: This band does the best covers of Korn in Bangladesh. They also do great covers of Rage Against the Machine, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Their own track, Shada, a purely alternative song is a hot favourite at concerts. Other tracks like Boshonto, and Shopno are also really popular. People say that Breach is the 'next best thing' waiting to happen.

dNA: This is one band who manages to pull off both metal and alternative songs with equal success. They do great Iron Maiden, Linkin Park, Dream Theater covers. They have a great song called shopno, which is obviously really faatafaati at concerts.

Fulbanu's Revenge: This is a band that is totally different from other bands. They have this 'unique' image going for them. Their Wonder World covers are appreciated by all. Then of course they do great covers of Toxicity, Smells like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, Felicity I guess the list just goes on. I think that their vocalist has an amazing voice, and can sing any type of song at any scale.

Nemesis: Zohad has a great voice and manages to pull off really nice covers of U2, Coldplay, Pearl Jam and Dire Straits. They were accepted into the music scene with

good covers of Pink Floyd. Their own song, obocheton gets everyone in the mood. It has this really catchy characteristic, which gets people to sing along with loads of fun. I wonder what's up with them because I haven't seen them in a pretty long time.

Hey, it's a universal fact that different people have different music tastes. I'm more on the alternative side so I like performances of bands like these. The truth be told, popularity of underground concerts greatly depends on the hardcore metal bands too. People line up in front of the stage and head-bang, enjoying themselves. I feel like I have no right to judge or write about metal bands because I wouldn't be able to give a true picture. I know that people are crazy for bands like Reborn, Kral, Stentorian, Scarecrow, Void, Birodh, arbovirus, Vibe, 666 etc…Maybe next time someone who knows what to write will enlighten you guys with how joss these talented bands are at concerts.

Ps2 Game Review

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The greatest game of our time!

By Niloy

Rockstar North has finally unveiled Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the audacious sequel to Vice City, which was released in 2002. San Andreas takes all of the things that you knew about the series and expands on them in every way imaginable. Without a doubt, this is the magnum opus that Rockstar has been building towards. They have learned from their mistakes in the gameplay department and they have finally unveiled a game that is every bit as good as we had imagined it would be. There is so much to do and to explore in this game that I couldn't possibly go through it all. The game, for a novice, will take more than 100 hours to just scratch the surface. With three cities and a massive countryside, the world of Grand Theft Auto has finally hit the pinnacle. This is the best game of the generation so far by a mile.

As you know, GTA: San Andreas takes place in the fiction state of San Andreas which consists of three main cities the Los Angeles-based Los Santos, the San Francisco-based San Fierro, and the Las Vegas-based Last Venturas in addition to a large amount of a lot of countryside, which enables San Andreas to eclipse the size of the already-massive Vice City. Each of the three cities pretty accurately reflect their source, so you'll find many hills in San Fierro and the signature fog and gang violence in Los Santos while Las Venturas has a never-ending glow of neon.

The story takes place in 1992. Your character is Carl Johnson (Young Maylay), who has returned to Los Santos, his hometown, to pay his respects to his mother, who was gunned down in a gang hit. He is also out to reconcile with his brother and old friends. As soon as he leaves the airport, he is met by two crooked cops that give him a not-so-welcome return to the city (voiced superbly by Chris Penn and Samuel L. Jackson). The story evolves from there. This story has characters that are very intriguing and very three-dimensional. CJ is a bit easier to identify with than Tommy Vercetti was and the characters, while stereotypical (what isn't?) have strong character development and we start to feel for them. We start to feel their plights. Other characters go from crime bosses to conspiracy theorists and all of them have .this personality about them that makes us want to hug them with open arms. This is the best story of the trio because it is very passive with its characters and it allows us in and we can connect and care about them, which was something we couldn't do with Vice City or GTAIII.

The replay value is off the charts. Rockstar North did their homework and they added a more real-life feel to the game by making your character work out and eat. You can also buy clothes, get a haircut, and play auto mechanic. Yes, you can still steal cop cars and taxis and do the usual requisite missions there. The hidden packages have been replaced by graffiti marks. With a can of spray paint, you can mark your territory for your homies, which is a fun idea. The one new feature that I found amusing was that you can break into other people's houses and force them to give you all their money. Some will try to play hero and some will try to avoid getting their skulls cracked open with an aluminum bat. Added to that you have dozens and dozens of missions spread out over there cities, making it an experience that will take you more than a couple of weeks. This game could take months just to take in the whole game. I dare not reveal too much more because I will be taking the fun away from you, the gamer.

As always, it is entirely possible to get through San Andreas by simply completing the story missions which are received from points in the map. The missions range from completing simple drive-bys and getting your gang back on the map when you enter Los Santos, to much more complex and interesting ones later in the game. The game makes it a little easier to perform these missions as you'll know exactly what to do and when to do it. The story mode should take something like 50 hours to get through for most gamers, although if you play solely the story and don't take all of San Andreas in you could drop around 10 hours from that number. But, you will only complete about half of the game. Additionally, this number could spill into the hundreds if you take your time and cause mayhem in the many cities. The number of time also extends if you partake in the vigilante missions, optional races, robbery missions (all you need to do is hop in a van at night), dating missions (which typically require you to take a girl out to eat without upsetting her), dance missions (DDR-like rhythm games), and even a fully-functional game of pool complete with its own physics.

A main update to the series is the new RPG-like levelling up that CJ goes through. As CJ, you need to eat to stay alive (but not too much that you'll become obese), work out to become more athletic and stronger (which will make you more powerful in combat, and nimbler and more enduring while running) and give you abilities like being able to climb fences. Additionally, CJ can get better at driving cars, motorcycles, and bicycles and controlling airplanes (you can also parachute off them!). Getting better gives you more control over the vehicle. Another transportation method in the game is the swimming, which is new to the series.

The visuals aren't that much of an improvement from Vice City, but that shouldn't bother anyone. The visuals don't have as much pop-up or slowdown as they did last time. The environments look less cartoonish and have a more flowing feel to them. The environments are well-reflected by the sun and the moon. This can cause your character to get blinded by the sun, but that seems to help with the atmosphere even more. Only qualms is that there are small problems and the visuals are still mediocre, but considering what you're seeing it sounds like a moot point.

The music has the early 1990's feel written all over it. There are plenty of radio stations and you would think that all of them would be playing Nirvana. Thankfully, it is not the case. At first, your radio selection will be limited, but as you explore the other cities you will get a taste of all different kinds of music. The talk-radio shows are as irreverent as ever, with all kinds of pointless chatter filling the airwaves. The sound effects have been improved, especially with the cars. They sound more realistic and it doesn't sound like a new car all the time.

All in all, this is one of the most entertaining games I have ever played. That is saying a lot. It is so deep, so much fun, and it has almost nothing going against it. Hell, they even added a co-op mode. You and a buddy can go and bag some gangsters. The depth and the fun never stop. Just when you thought there is nothing more that could be done, they add a new twist to the table. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will likely be the best game of 2004 in a runaway. It would take a lot for a game to be as good as this one. The bar has been raised for all games of this generation. San Andreas is a true masterpiece.

Sites Unseen

By Niloy

There has been 152 crop-circles in 2004!
Crop-circles! A mysterious phenomenon. Are the made by alines? Or are they made by tall people disguising with strange cloths and masks? Who knows for sure? All we know that there has been 152 crop circles of far this year!

Mustard Gas Party
Haunting and mysterious. These photographs, mostly in stark black and white, capture the mood of desolation and despair in abandoned modern ruins. With their peeling paint, crumbling ceilings, and shattered glass, these buildings may offer a message -- if so, it's a cryptic one. The anonymous photographer of this site offers no explanations, just enigmatic titles. Maybe we're just supposed to appreciate the beauty in the geometry of "Macy's Narrow Access" or wonder at the technical skill of the creator of this site. If you find the ravaged ruins a little too unnerving, cycle through "Portraits - 2003 to 04" for some unusual portraits of real folks. They're just as mysterious.

William F. Eisner Museum of Advertising & Design
When they're not annoying, they're just plain lame. And they're everywhere -- interrupting our lives and distracting us. But the Eisner Museum goes beyond the hype of advertisements to find the entertaining, the evocative, and the beautiful. Its online collection of historical pitches and plugs from Japan and the U.S. is varied in its content and approach to selling the unsellable. The Burma Shave ads, long a staple along U.S. highways, provide the gentle humor. Japanese "pin-ups" provide the "sex." And Boris Artzyhasheff's illustrations provide the whimsy. Throw in innovative designs from the automotive industry and a collection of album-cover art that ranges from its humble beginnings in 1939 through the psychedelic '70s, and you've got a pretty eclectic assortment. Try it -- you'll like it!

A collection of Unexpected photography
FILE Magazine publishes images that treat subjects in unexpected ways, very unexpected ways.

Bella Feldman
Artists work in a variety of mediums -- it's not all clay and marble. San Francisco-area sculptor Bella Feldman uses the medium of steel to express herself. And like most artists worth noting, Ms. Feldman's mix of creations aren't easily labeled. Visitors to her site can decide for themselves whether "anxious" (as one critic remarked) best describes her "War Toys" exhibit -- small metallic objects that bear a striking resemblance to modern military gear. Other exhibits are similarly intriguing. "Flasks of Fiction" aren't suitable to drink from, but this lack of utility makes them no less beautiful. Nobody knows better than we do about the long list of artist sites competing for attention. Here's one that's definitely designed to fascinate.

Extreme Ironing? And these guys are serious!
Ironing to the extreme! Where else to iron your beloved garments than on the top of a mile-high snow-clad mountain? So the next time you go mountain climbing, pack an iron and a ironing board with you!

Know how to lace your shoes? Here's 22 way to lace 'em up!
I didn't know the complicated art of lacing shoes until I was 12. Pity, if I knew about this site then, I could have learnt the art much earlier!

That's all for this week. If you need to contact me for anything, mail me to niloy.me@gmail.com


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