Get high on music

Updated: Nov 08, 2019, 15:57 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A new gig property at a rooftop in Lower Parel shows how things are picking up for experimental venues in Mumbai

The rooftop where the gig will be held
The rooftop where the gig will be held

You wouldn't have thought it till even a few months ago, but things seem to be genuinely looking up in Mumbai when it comes to music venues. There was a massive slump in this regard when Antisocial shut down two years ago, followed by the early demise of The Quarter, even as the city still hadn't recovered from the loss of Blue Frog in 2016. Indie bands were thus largely restricted to pubs and bars with sketchy sound systems, which preferred programming DJs anyway. But then co-working spaces started doubling up as places for gigs. The recent launch of The Bluebop Café gave us another jazz outlet. Even Antisocial made a comeback in a different avatar, though it retained the same warehouse vibe. And now, Mumbaikars can look forward to another venue for music, an unusual one this, given that it's the rooftop of Marathon Futurex, a swanky commercial building.

A new beginning

The space in Lower Parel is meant to be a clubhouse, but it's not functional yet. It's an open-air area on top of the building's podium parking lot, which, though technically on the eighth floor, feels more like the 15th. There is a pool at one end where the bar will be located. You get a drink there and walk around to the other end with a garden that will house the stage. That's where acts like Dhruv Visvanath, Parvaaz, Gully Gang and DJ Proof will ply their trade till 10.30 pm, before the whole party shifts indoors to a warehouse sort of room where Aqua Dominatrix and Dualist Inquiry will belt out their signature electronic tunes. The idea is to keep increasing the tempo and energy of the music after the property — called @The Rooftop — starts at 6 pm, till people are satisfied to their heart's content when Dualist plays his last track at 1 pm.

DhruvDhruv Visvanath

The genesis of the concert lies in a conversation that Vidit Chitroda, founder of entertainment platform Madness JAMS, had with a couple of his friends — Kaivalya Shah, director of Marathon, and Sattvik Mishra, CEO of a media group that came on board as a partner.

Chitroda says, "They had both come to a previous gig we had organised at WeWorks and liked what they saw. So, the three of us were chatting over drinks when Kaivalya told me, 'I have this property, so why don't you come and check it out?' I did, and was blown away as soon as I walked in. You can see both sides of Bombay from the terrace. On one hand you have the railway tracks and the old city. And on the other, you have all these skyscrapers. Parel as an area has gentrified over time, and Lower Parel is now probably the Brooklyn of Bombay, what with people redeveloping defunct mills as restaurants and venues. The only problem we really faced was in securing permissions like fire-safety certificates."

Looking ahead

Vidit ChitrodaVidit Chitroda

He adds that although the city has a similar character to New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, it doesn't have anything close to the same rooftop culture that those cities embody. "But I feel that we are now ready to gradually take things forward. There's a two-pronged reason for that. Firstly, the audience is more evolved. And secondly, many corporate houses are now run by younger people in their early 30s, who are a lot more open-minded and progressive. Even new-age leaders who are coming in are more supportive. For example, a BMC ward officer came to inspect the property and said, 'Achha, underground vibe hain.' That's where the difference lies. Perceptions are changing," he says.

ParvaazParvaaz lead singer Khalid Ahamad

All this of course comes as music to the ears of the city's indie fraternity. But Chitroda adds that the onus also lies on audience members to get out of their comfort zones. It is still quite a small community. Hence, we can't remain frogs in a well if we are to truly build, you know, "the scene". So travel to Lower Parel this weekend, take the elevator up to the new rooftop venue, grab yourself a drink or a juice, and when you are soaking in the music, spare a moment to crane your neck up and watch the stars and the moon. It's going to be an unusual experience, and it promises to be worth it.

On November 9, 6 pm onwards
At Marathon Futurex, NM Joshi Marg, Lower Parel
Log on to insider.in
Cost Rs 999

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