Mumbai: A toast to indie music at this Powai watering hole

Updated: Dec 24, 2018, 12:12 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

A watering hole in Powai has taken the unconventional step of curating its own indie festival, featuring six bands over six days

Indi Graffiti performs a pub gig
Indi Graffiti performs a pub gig

When Hard Rock Cafe in Worli shut shop last month, it was another setback for indie musicians in the city in terms of venues they can ply their trade in. The yawning gap that had been created by the earlier closures of Blue Frog and AntiSocial hadn't yet been filled completely, despite the emergence of places like The Habitat and The Quarter in Khar and SoBo respectively. And now, here was another option biting the dust. Bands that already had few places to go to hit another brick wall, and a barren musical landscape suddenly became further bleak.

But what's been happening over the years as a result of this paucity is that some pubs and bars have emerged as oases of sorts within this deserted environment. They have started to increasingly double up as venues for live music. Verbena in Lower Parel is one such example. So is Flea Bazaar Cafe nearby.

The audience enjoying a concert at The Finch
The audience enjoying a concert at The Finch

The Little Door in Andheri hosts gigs every Tuesday evening. Then there's Door No. 1 in Reclamation and Veranda in Pali Hill. Some watering holes have in fact played a conscious role of positioning themselves as a space for regular concerts, such as The Finch. The pub in Powai anyway hosts indie outfits every day of the week. But it's now gone one step further, having readied the stage for a new property called Finch Beats Festival.

The event will involve six bands over six days, starting December 25. Two of these acts are based in Mumbai - Top Storey and Aankh Micholi. Others, though, will be flying in from different places such as Delhi (Syncopation) and Bengaluru (Indi Graffiti). There is even a London-based singer-songwriter on the bill, Tarq Bowen, who is in India at present. And put together, these outfits encompass diverse genres including jazz, pop and Hindi folk music.

"The idea was to put out different types of music for people in the last few days of the year. See, as a single venue we can't have five acts performing in one day. But here, people who enjoy a particular genre will have one band set aside for it before they get busy partying on the 31st. So, extending that thought, we figured that we could come up with a new intellectual property for ourselves. And the plan is to host the festival every three months if we get a good response," says Amit Dukre, programming in-charge of the fest, before we ask him how important a role pubs and bars can play in creating a bigger indie ecosystem in this country.

He replies, "You know, if I were to think as an artiste, I would feel like going out to different venues every day to listen to music. I'd think, 'Let's promote a place now that Blue Frog and HRC Worli have shut down.' My point is that the musicians themselves should be more involved with the scene. For example, if a band is playing a gig, it's usually just their fans attending it. Rarely do we find other musicians coming out to support their peers."

While he might have a point there, Bharat Rajagopalan from Indi Grafitti - who will play at the festival on December 29 - puts the onus for change on audience members, too. "The scene needs improvement and since pubs and bars make a positive impact [as additional options for concerts], we are completely in favour of it. But in order to get more music-only venues, the country needs to figure out how indie can be afforded anything close to the importance given to Bollywood. And that isn't up to the promoters only. It's up to the musicians, it's up to the venues and, most importantly, it's up to the audience - meaning you and me."

ON: December 25 to 30, 8.30 pm
AT: The Finch, John Baker, Marol, Saki Vihar Road, Andheri East.
LOG ON TO: insider.in
COST: Rs 249 to Rs 499

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