Beating the blues

Will Bengaluru’s famous live music scene make a comeback anytime soon? Musicians and venue owners weigh in

Published: 02nd May 2020 06:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd May 2020 06:40 AM   |  A+A-

(From left) Parvaaz members Fidel Dsouza,  Khalid Ahamed, Kashif Iqbal and Sachin Banandur

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Bengaluru’s affair with live music has been rather rough the last year. The ban on live music left the city with only a handful of venues allowed to operate under the directed norms. But due the ongoing lockdown, worries only seem to grow with venues shut for over a month and city musicians confined indoors. For musician Suraj Mani, who has also been running live performance venue OO Heaven in Kalyan  Nagar since 2015, the current situation comes about as terrifying.

Emphasising how many musicians pursue the art for the love of it as opposed to money involved, he says, “Some of them break even, some don’t. But to be in a situation where things are unclear is quite terrifying.” For Mani, the lockdown has resulted in loss of at least `60,000 a month, which he spends on the rent for the venue. Alternatives now include shutting down the venue and potentially converting it into a cloud studio if there is demand for it.

While online performances are many, Mani points out that they will always fall short of the real experience. “At some point of time, we are going to get back to being social creatures again. The moment that happens, live music will pop into the consciousness better than before,” he says.

Agrees Suvan Mathur, general manager for artistes and events at Fandom, Koramangala. While he states that losses for live venues are inevitable, they are taking things one step at a time. Once the situation permits, they would be ready to operate again. “The environment of a venue always adds an additional charm to an artiste’s performance. A lot of them do look at live events as a mode of their primary income. It will definitely be a struggle in 2020 for both the artistes and the venues,” says Mathur. 

For city-based band Parvaaz, the months of March and April were to witness a six-city tour, which they had to cancel due to COVID-19. Vocalist and guitarist, Khalid Ahamed, states, “There will be less social gatherings for a while to come even when the lockdown is over. This is going to hit musicians hard.” He grimly adds that virtual platforms cannot be sustainable. “All we can do is be strong and hope, compose more music and support the society,” he says. 

Agrees city-based band Gauley Bhai who were touring Nepal in March. After cutting short their tour, they flew back to Bengaluru in March. While tough times prevail, the band has found a way to cope by making more music. “We are taking this time to grow. We released our single Abhagi a few weeks ago, which is from our upcoming album,” says the band, which also has more music videos in the pipeline, including an animated version.


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