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We Must Take care of India’s Abysmal Lack of Stay Venues

A Kolkata venue no longer too lengthy within the past coming wait on to life highlighted how the country is in dire need of extra locations where bands can high-tail up on stage and thrash it out

Shunashir Sen
Jun 03, 2022

Let’s accept to the point of this text appropriate on the outset. Here’s one of the crucial things that in actuality stunts the expansion of Indian neutral track – a woeful lack of venues for live gigs. You almost definitely can literally depend them on your fingers, despite which metropolis you would very effectively be residing in. There are Mumbaikars who mute mourn the loss of life of Blue Frog, though the resurrection of AntiSocial has a bit eased the trouble. Delhiites oscillate enjoy a ping-pong ball between The Piano Man Jazz Club and Depot48. Other folks in Bengaluru ranking everybody’s sympathy thanks to their Cinderella-hour curfew restrictions. And as for Kolkata, let’s no longer even accept there. Let’s neutral appropriate articulate that the save is enjoy a village with dried-up wells with regards to live-track venues.

That last sentence would perhaps sound harsh but sadly, it’s neutral appropriate, though one of Kolkata’s dormant locations – Princeton Club – flickered wait on to life when ambient/prog-rock band aswekeepsearching played a gig there no longer too lengthy within the past. The last time that musicians had performed on the pain used to be in 2018. Nonetheless for a decade earlier than that, it had served as a alternative to the hegemony of Someplace Else, a venue in central Kolkata that’s been a gleaming mild for live bands since 1997, but is now a shadow of its venerable self. Princeton Club – with its gig series referred to as Jamsteady held weekly on Fridays – had equipped track junkies within the metropolis’s southern half a gamble to accept their fix. Nonetheless then the curtains dropped four years within the past, and the stage had been engulfed in darkness ever since.

So, there used to be an comprehensible air of enjoyment tinged with nostalgia when the doors opened for aswekeepsearching’s live efficiency. Familiar faces (everybody in Kolkata looks to know or no no longer as a lot as know of everybody else) caught up with one but any other on the out of doors smoking condo forward of the track began, and on the bar inside of, where the drinks are mute as unbelievably low-label as they stale to be. Gradually, as the band began to rob the stage, a limited army of die-hard followers congregated appropriate up on the entrance, most sporting sunless T-shirts and jeans, and some carrying backpacks that indicated that they hadn’t long previous wait on home from school but. They are the flag-bearers of successive generations of Kolkata youth who’re dedicated to rock track, but whose faith has been examined by the scarcity of alternatives that’s plagued the metropolis.

Photos: Soham Matilal

If truth be told, your total crowd used to be packed with these who exemplify the odd Kolkata target audience. There used to be a heart-historical man sporting a white shirt and beige trousers pulled up by suspenders, who looked enjoy he belonged to one of the crucial metropolis’s colonial-era clubs but regarded equally at ease in a save packed with school youth. There ranking been musicians who’re proficient sufficient to accomplish their label in any other metro, but who remain as local heroes within the save of their birth, selecting a life of comfort over the fight and the rat skedaddle that, articulate, Mumbai entails. There used to be one lady who is winding up her greater study in London and is wait on in India for her vacations – she had brought her sister, brother-in-law and even her mother to the gig for a honest family reunion. After which there used to be the lone ranger, a huge-fan of forms who immersed himself in his ranking world when the gig started, persevering with to head-bang so hard that at one point, a girl attempting to evade his wildly flowing shoulder-dimension hair gave a bring to mind real distress that read, “Is he OK?”

The answer is that he used to be extra than OK. He used to be in actuality having the time of his life, and that brings us to the point of this text. How unfair is it on this huge-fan that he can surely pain free the attain he did simplest once in a blue moon? There are a pair of different track venues within the metropolis, notably Skinny Mo’s. Nonetheless the acts that these locations cater to are of a particular diversity. They match the jazz or singer-songwriter mildew extra than bands that thrash it out on stage with three guitars and a drum kit. And the fallout of the form of self-discipline is that local rock bands are dying enjoy a particular person thirsting for water when marooned in a desolate tract. That holds no no longer as a lot as partly neutral appropriate for the total other principal cities within the country (we are in a position to study this text up later with a comprehensive checklist of live track venues across India, as an instance how woeful the number in actuality is). So, riddle me this – how is the neutral-track ecosystem expected to grow when it lacks the mandatory infrastructure of bringing an eager target audience below the identical roof as the bands they are wanting to listen to?

It’s an uphill fight with out a doubt. Venues and promoters will argue that it’s extra label-efficient to program a solitary DJ than a paunchy-fledged band with a pair of participants, especially if they are from a particular metropolis and desire flight tickets plus lodging. They are able to even provide the cop-out excuse that electronica artists expose an even bigger target audience than rock acts or even hip-hop crews, and that jazz has persistently attracted a area of interest crowd anyway. Nonetheless in doing so, they’d fail to esteem that ought to you point one finger at someone, there are three other fingers pointing wait on at you. It’s of their hands to ranking a conference where track aficionados ranking a wretchedness of masses with regards to attending live gigs. That’s how bands will also accept a gamble to ranking on their craft, and there’s particular scope for enchancment on their half too (think at it this attain: the possibilities of an Indian indie act headlining a global track festival are as far-fetched as the Indian football team making it to the World Cup finals). Nonetheless finally, our point remains.

If income margins are all that the alternate’s wait on-discontinuance movers and shakers are running after, then they’d as effectively admit to being Shylocks extracting their pound of flesh than being the Florence Nightingales of the indie scene.

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