The chaos is back, and so is the joy. After a long pandemic break, the musicians go on tour. As artists reconnect with fans, we explore the relief and anxiety that come with this homecoming.
As the independent music fraternity begins to experience a slow but steady post-pandemic revival, artists have started to do what they’ve been missing the most over the past two years: jump on a plane and fly to a city. , then another, then another, while waiting to be struck each time by a different energy from a different music-loving audience.
While some groups have embarked on multi-city tours – like the eight-city schedule of Mumbai-based Seedhe Maut, Jaipur to Bengaluru and north to Chandigarh – others are on a mix of public, private concerts. and business.
Swarathma, based in Bengaluru, for example, punctuates his Due Minute Aur album tour at Mic Drop in Delhi and Fandom At Gilly’s Redefined in Bengaluru, with a few corporate shows and even guest podcast sessions. Then there are those long-awaited album launches: Chennai’s The F16s launched. Is there still time to eat the rich? to a roaring Delhi crowd at the Mic Drop, where a fan let frontman Josh Fernandes shave his head with a razor on stage. The chaos is back, and so is the joy.
“The absolute starvation of shows due to the pandemic made me realize how much I missed and belonged to a stage, so taking shows for granted is – for many artists, I believe – a thing of the past. “Josh said. “My intensity and exhilaration only works at peak levels during shows, and man, it feels good to play again.”
It wasn’t just about sitting down and waiting for things to normalize. Sameer Sethi, co-founder of the Chennai-based music platform Circle of Love, likens the rebirth process to the habit of standing up after nearly two years in a chair. Although the Circle of Love festival two weeks ago had an impressive lineup of musicians from Chennai, a few artists have come from Mumbai, such as Ambika Nayak aka Kayan.
“There was anxiety, and then a little,” he lists, “First of all, everyone now thinks twice before traveling, they will only take the plane if it is. important. Second, performers should land at least a day in advance, and they should be given a day before takeoff to understand RT-PCR testing and other paperwork. Keeping artists in town for more than a day automatically makes the whole process more expensive. Third, the installation on the site takes more time because there are more precautions. You can’t expect a crowd in a bar to physically distance itself while there is music playing, so we need to at least make sure everyone who walks in has a double vaccination.
In essence, as Sameer puts it, the “wanderlust” days when a musician could pack their bags and jump from town to town at any time no longer exist.
For Swarathma, the process is a little easier because the group manages its travel and logistics itself. Bassist Jishnu Dasgupta, who also serves as Swarathma’s manager, admits the recent Delhi show brought back some of the adrenaline from the old flying and city days.
“There are a few new songs that we have never been able to play in front of an audience, like ‘Mushkil mein jeena’ and ‘Dus minute aur’. The second is a naturally live song, and we were waiting to play it, ”observes Jishnu. The live commentary was a joy to experience, and also a lesson.
Leader Vasu Dixit explains: “We didn’t know where they would fit in a set list; what song they would sink next, out of the 13 to 15 that we play in a 90 minute set. “Dus minute aur” is high energy; in a private show, we put it after one of our old quick songs: ‘Raah-e-Fakira’. We realized while playing that it looked like a drop in energy; he should have come before, not after. These are things that we can only understand after playing a few shows. “
Another surprising discovery for the group was its fan base. Instagram lives and lockdown streaming data show that not only do they have ardent fans in unexpected cities – like Kolkata – but also that the fans are younger than before. “So we have to reinvent the way we plan tours,” says Jishnu. “Our biggest fan group is now 18-24; we have to remember that we are not just a band that started playing decades ago. We are also, like any musician, discovered every day by someone new.
However, their former fan, Twesha Ghosh, is anxiously awaiting their return to their hometown of Bengaluru this month. “Swarathma has an honesty in her music, a mitti ki khusbhoo”(Scent of the Earth) ambiance. And the combined energy of a concert is so awesome, where you attract the enthusiasm of the musicians as well as the people around you. I enjoy music more that way, than listening alone.
For Srikanth Natarajan from Chennai, it wasn’t just about seeing artists they hadn’t seen for a long time. Optikal Asylum, which was held at Mount Road Social in October, featured not only visual artists, but also DJs like Anuskha James from Delhi and Parimal Shais from Kochi, and gave Srikanth a sense of normalcy he lacked. a lot. “I’m one of those people who needs live music, I had fallen into a slump in their absence,” he says.
Srikanth, popular for decoumenting and supporting the city’s indie scene via his Instagram page @theChennaiscene, adds, “The feeling of connecting with an artist while they’re performing live is just another thing. Additionally, there are other people – audience members – that you only meet at such concerts and that you socialize with based on that shared interest or shared love for that musician. It was good to reconnect.