Bangalore has set the stage for live music - DNA

Published: Monday, Dec 20, 2010, 9:27 IST
By Shruti Goutham | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Bangalore has a thriving live music scene today. And most bands are giving the audience original music instead of just covers of the greatest hits blasting on radio and television shows. But this change, a welcome one too, has taken a long time to come.

“When we started out initially, event organisers insisted we play popular covers,” reminisces Kamal Singh, guitarist/song writer/ vocalist for the nearly six-year-old band, Lounge Piranah (LP). But LP wanted to play their own music, and, since venues were limited, the band found itself pleading with the city’s early pubs Mojos, Pecos and Styx to let them perform. “Unlike then, today there are a host of venues that open their floors to live gigs and that’s a change for the better,” Singh declares. “In fact, any new restaurant in the city invites bands to perform to draw clients,” he smiles.

Prominent city musician Raghu Dixit agrees with Singh. He says: “When I started nearly ten years ago, bands and musicians had to work towards creating their own performance arenas, and pull an audience. Now, it’s a lot easier — thanks to more venues and also the Internet, which is a great tool for promoting one’s music.”

Karthik Basker from the band Bicycle Days, a newer entry, talks about how until a few years ago, venues like Maya, the bandstand in Cubbon Park and events like Sunday Jam were the only options that bands had. He remembers watching Lounge Piranah perform at Maya and religiously attending Sunday Jam, organised on a larger scale back then, checking out the numerous bands that performed. “But bands today have A-class venues that are acoustically treated — like B-Flat and Kyra — certainly a good thing, but I miss big, free events like Sunday Jam (now held at a Planet M or the likes),” he says.

Dixit recounts how avenues like Sunday Jam contributed to his band’s success. “I owe everything I am today to Sunday Jam. An event like that offered an avenue for amateur and upcoming bands/musicians. But today, most venues want acclaimed artistes and that leaves out novices,” says Dixit. This is why, Basker, too, believes that the way forward would be to have many more large-scale events — with free entry to all — to further enliven the music scene.

However, Dixit is optimistic: “There are numerous competitions that the city hosts. Winning in one of them assures one a record deal and also calls for performance. And who can forget the biggest platform one has access to today — reality shows?” he asks.

Singh though is of the opinion that the town certainly has a very vibrant music scene today, and that musicians and bands have access to platforms and money. He stresses, that the audience should be wiling to shell out money to watch a gig: “Guitar strings, too, need to be routinely replaced; and that costs money.”

Today, Basker says, “there are so many more gigs in the city. We have outstation bands and city bands performing regularly. There are a lot more genres, and a lot more experimentation, too. And the audience is more open-minded.”

Singh points out that while covers are still in, original music is appreciated by the city audience and organisers are more than willing to allow that. Singh says, “when we began rolling out original tracks, people began to lap it up,” adding, “it looks like everybody was waiting for something original. And today, we see a host of bands going all out with their own numbers.”
Play on, is the verdict of the city audience.