An electrifying rock concert | Sunday Observer
Temple of Apollo: Rock mania

An electrifying rock concert

23 July, 2023

Some of the finest names in Sri Lankan rock took the stage at Temple of Apollo: Rock Mania on July 8 at Excel World, Lake Edge. The show was electrifying right from the start, with fans eagerly gathering to witness the sound checks. Unlike recent years when rock shows were confined to pubs and restaurants, the venue provided a suitable setting for a proper concert.

True to its name, the stage resembled a shrine dedicated to the Greek god Apollo, complete with pyrotechnics, dazzling stage lights, and an imposing 8-foot tall Abominable Snowman. A crowd of over 200 rock fans, donning their black band t-shirts, filled the venue, head-banging and clamouring for encores.

The opening act was the Sinhala rockers, Local, who delivered a memorable performance filled with politically-charged Sri Lankan anthems. Greg, their drummer, added a touch of flair with his cowbell. Their renditions of Gasoline, a cover of Paradisey, Tharukey, and the powerful Sunakaya invigorated the crowd, setting the stage for a night of moshing and screaming.

After a lengthy hiatus from the Sri Lankan music scene, veteran rocker Dylan Perera made a triumphant return, supported by a seasoned ensemble of drums, bass, and guitars. He performed four originals, including the fan favourite “Puff, Puff Pass.” Dylan turned up the volume with an epic heavy take on Gunadasa Kapugey’s Sumano.

Stringfield followed, captivating the audience with their metallic melodies, thanks to Kisal’s guitar skills. They kicked off with a chuggy number about a lover trying to mend a failed relationship, and a song about a storm that ignited the mosh pit. Stringfield’s diverse influences were evident through their excellent synergy and lyrical play. The highlight was their final song about anti-colonialism, accompanied by the resonating sounds of traditional drumming and powerful “fight the power” vibes.

Whirlwind, the pioneers of ‘Sri Metal,’ stormed the stage with Misha’s superb frontman energy, inciting the crowd to raise their fists and make horned hands. It was a special treat for those born in the 80s and 90s, taking us back to the glory days of Rock Saturday and Rock Company. It’s hard to believe that Whirlwind will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in just two years, but we’re thrilled that Misha and the gang can still deliver their best, making the crowd rave like beasts with hits from their ‘Wednawa’ album and songs like Mindbender and Horizon.

Mihindu Ariyarathne (Nemesis) took the stage next, belting out some of his classics that had the crowd singing along. It had been a while since Nemesis’ TNL onstage days when they won the title for ‘best band’ in 2008. Mr. Ariyarathne elevated Rock Mania to a fever pitch, showcasing his prowess as a solo artist. We definitely want to see more of him at rock concerts!

Kasun Kalhara and Indrachapa Liyanage then appeared on stage, bringing a different level of chemistry and antics. The atmosphere turned nostalgic with classics from the 2000s like Walakukwee Nil Ahasey and Natasha. Indrachapa’s vibrant aura and energetic stage presence gave off a “Lankan GG Alin” vibe as he bounded across the stage with a water bottle and microphone in hand.

The metalheads from Negombo, Genetic Fallacy, brought the night (or should we say midnight?) to a thunderous close, electrifying the crowd with their brand of Death Metal. Fallacy’s dark and foreboding sound reminded us of the peak of the Negombo-Gampaha scene ten years ago, and we hope that this standout performance signals a revival.

And that wrapped up the night. The black-clad metal youth of Sri Lanka can look forward to a vibrant music scene if we continue to have shows like this every month (or even every week), as larger venues become available in Colombo to accommodate the burgeoning rock community.