“Mumbai isn’t an easy city to host gigs in,” says Arjun Ravi, co-founder NH7. “You have to take hazaar licences and still cops will stop you for any random reason.” This has been the case for decades now, driving artistes to perform anywhere but Mumbai. While venues such as Blue Frog and Hard Rock Café have helped the course, the city still lacks an open-air arena. The next year will see destination gigs gaining more popularity, feels Ravi.
“People don’t mind travelling a couple of hours to catch a gig. For instance, 50 per cent of the audience at Pune’s NH7 Weekender this year were Mumbaiites,” he adds. Apart from issues with licences, the problem with Mumbai is that it comes with a whole lot of traffic, pollution and city commotion. “In the case of a destination gig, it is all about the ambience. Organisers make sure people can come and chill at the venue all day long if they want — there’s something going on all the time.”
According to Ravi, Pune is likely to become a hotspot for music in the coming year. While Mumbai still has no Hauz Khas (Delhi’s music hub where DJs and musicians hang out) equivalent, maybe Pune will get one in the coming year.
Music in the city
While Ravi sees the Guns N’ Roses act, a one-off for Mumbai, Channel [V] VJ Manish Makhija, believes that it is a sign of good times to come. “International acts have realised that we are a country of one billion consumers. We are not completely naïve to music, we understand it and are definitely opening up to more and more acts,” he says. With Slash, Norah Jones, LMFAO and Swedish House Mafia (SHM) visiting the city, he may be onto something there.
Keith Menon, organiser of Ragasthan (which was held this year in the dunes of Rajasthan), hopes to launch an urban music fest in Mumbai in 2013. While he managed to get people to travel to and rough it out in the deserts of Jaisalmer, he wants people to enjoy music and the arts in an urban space as well. “I visualise it as an underground festival, held in Bandra perhaps, the way they do in Europe. The idea is to publicise by word of mouth only so we can ensure freedom of expression. I don’t want it to be part of a fad, but an evolving people-inspired event,” reveals Menon.
Lots more electronica
“A lot of genres are being introduced here steadily. Earlier there was only pop and rock, but now there are so many different types —trance, dark psychedelic, dubstep – everyone laps it,” says Makhija, who’s extremely excited about attending electronic dance music (EDM) band SHM’s performance in mid-January at the Race Course.
“The one genre that will be more popular than ever next year is EDM”, he continues, citing the popularity of Shaiir + Func and Midival Punditz’s unique sound. Deepti Datt, Contrabass Records, whole-heartedly agrees. According to Datt, EDM has already begun infiltrating popular, mainstream Indian club-culture. It’s an exciting time for electronica in the country, she says.
Devraj Sanyal, lead singer of metal act BRAHMA, managing director, Universal Music, “thinks three to five years ahead of the game.” Early in 2012, Sanyal, who believes EDM is the sound of the future, set up ContraBass, a sub-label of Universal Music India dedicated to electronica.
The record company has an impressive list of upcoming releases for the next year. “The seriously scientific genre-bending audiovisual collective B.L.O.T.
(Basic Love of Things) are releasing their album SNAFU. Akshai Sarin’s innovative album Connected is releasing next year too. The album jumps across genres with complete glee, pop in a moment, running back to EDM-momma & Funk-daddy in another. Lost Stories is working on an album,” lists Datt, who hopes the next year will see female DJs in India come under the spotlight. “I would love to see some of the wickedly talented women EDM DJs, composers and producers come out of hiding. India will be a lot more fun if the girls come out to play and represent on the consoles (you know who you are — are you listening?”
The American hip-hop and reggae star achieved Bollywood star status after Singh is Kinng. He’s finally performing in India during the course of a day-long party.
AT: Amanora Park Town, Pune
ON: January 11
SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA
Their first trip to Mumbai might have been jinxed, but this EDM trio hasn’t given up on the city yet.
AT: Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai
ON: January 22
RedFoo from the Party rockers’ band will perform the duo’s most popular numbers.
AT: MMRDA Grounds, Mumbai
ON: January 23
Somebody that I used to know made it to everyone’s playlist. And come February you can listen to him perform live.
AT: Blue Frog, Delhi
ON: February 6
Those who missed former Guns N’ Roses guitarist during their Mumbai tour in November, can rejoice.
AT: MMRDA Grounds, Mumbai
ON: February 16