How liv­ing room gigs are chang­ing indie mu­sic scene

Artistes Off The Beaten Track Get Plat­form In Home Set­ting

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - Sana.Naaz@

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.”

Pho­tos: Ish­war Prasad & BeatMap

(Top) Enkore and Te­jas’ LVNG gig at Vas­ant Kunj in Delhi and Dwayne Gam­ree per­form­ing at a BeatMap party in Worli, Mum­bai

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