How living room gigs are changing indie music scene
Artistes Off The Beaten Track Get Platform In Home Setting
It wasn’t exactly the setting for a concert. The artistes sat on a sofa-bench on the terrace of a Vasant Kunj house in south Delhi. And the audience sat on the floor, cross-legged, swigging beer, and loving the live hip-hop.
The two independent artistes had come together for a gig with LVNG, which organises regular but small independent music events around the country. The idea is simple. You don’t need to go to a crowded bar or pub for a live show; the artistes come home, and everyone pays between Rs 200 and Rs 500 — money which goes straight to the artistes, no middlemen, no commission, just good music with like-minded people.
This trend of making music more intimate, of bringing musicians home, began way back in 2009 with Sofar Sounds in London. Sofar has expanded since then, and set foot in India in 2016. Perhaps inspired by Sofar, several Indian entities like LVNG (pronounced living) have sprung up and are taking live music to living rooms across Indian cities, from Kochi to Jaipur.
“Each city in India does one show a month, taking the total to roughly 150 shows a year. Sofar Sounds has done 25 shows in Delhi alone,” says Tanya Nath, city leader, Sofar Sounds Delhi-NCR.
LVNG co-founder Andrew Sabu, a singer-songwriter himself, was first struck by the idea after doing an informal gig at a house in Delhi in January. He and fellow singer-songwriter Arjit Sahai started organising living room gigs in Mumbai. Drum- mer and singer-songwriter Akshay Deokuliar, who goes by the stage name DE.O, and entrepreneur Subhodh Yohan joined them, bringing LVNG under the Bengalurubased music collective Reck. “Our goal is to help artists be financially stable by increasing demand for independent music,” says Yohan.
Under separate branches, Reck organises outdoor gigs, manages artists and has an aural production facility, and it’s these businesses that fund the house gigs. “Those projects are the cash cows that pump money into LVNG, which is more an artfor-art’s-sake,” explains Sabu. “We want original composition to be given preference, that’s why it’s a prerequisite for LVNG gigs. Be raw, be local, be you. That’s what’s needed.”
Founder of House Concert India Manu Mathew says, “We started four years ago, at a musician friend’s basement in Gurgaon — a show for 8 people. Now we host one or two concerts a month at House Concert Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, where we host travelling artistes or regional musicians”.
Another one is BeatMap. Its co-founder Hari, who quit his corporate job to start something of his own, says, “The idea was to have a great night with like-minded people. Such gigs make you feel like it was set up just for you. Since the biggest affliction of our generation is loneliness, I think we could all use a little bit of that feeling,” he says. BeatMap has done 80 house parties across eight cities so far, the latest was this Saturday in Gurgaon.
Nath of Sofar says upcoming musicians use house gigs as a platform to test new music. “They see first hand, the response to their art. It’s a great opportunity.” She says listeners are looking for curated music experiences. “Though there aren’t too many dedicated music spaces or venues in Indian cities, it’s been heartening to see substantial growth of intimate gigs over the last few years.”
(Top) Enkore and Tejas’ LVNG gig at Vasant Kunj in Delhi and Dwayne Gamree performing at a BeatMap party in Worli, Mumbai