Deepak Gopalakrishnan, a Mumbai-based cartoonist, blogger and green chilli aficionado gives us five quick-fixes for the current Indie scene.
I’m at a gig at a crowded Lower Parel venue, where a popular local grunge band is playing. Their songs are pretty well-known, thanks to their many concerts, recent album release and free streaming online. So it’s really no surprise when most of the seven songs have the audience singing along. If not word-for-word (after all, it’s grunge – you can’t make out too much), then at least the general melody with convenient-sounding words fitted in. It’s good.
And then something interesting happens. The band is yet to play some of their most popular songs, and you can sense the anticipation in the room building up. The band then, instead of launching into their signature songs, announce that they’re going to play a Pearl Jam cover. I swear, I heard a few groans. Perhaps even a few signs of protest. Of course, those who were at the venue and had no clue who the band on stage was – cheered. But for a majority of the ‘scenesters’, it was a case of hiring the finest French cook for a wedding and having him make microwave popcorn.
It’s a good time for the Indian independent music scene in India.
It’s a story now that everyone knows. Newspapers have realized that it’s a nice cult thing to talk about in their Features or Happenings Around The City section. A young band, or a series of concerts makes for nice alternate coverage. Of course, this is by no means a recent phenomenon. Indians have been picking up instruments long before Indus Creed helped the audience attain some amount of critical mass. But it’s only recently, thanks to the internet, venues willing to experiment, mushrooming college gigs and undoubtedly, the manure churned out by Bollywood and Indipop – that independent music in India has started to take off.
Today, we’re at an interesting juncture. The independent scene, contrary to what some people might think, is not just about growling and mosh pits. It’s also about guys like Swarathma, who make great socially relevant music. It’s about Indian instrumentalists like Indian Ocean and Advaita who’re making traditional cool. It’s about bands like Avial (though they’re quite bad now) who had the balls to mix metal and a regional language. All these are quite acceptable to an audience that feeds on film music. It’s about festivals like the NH7 Weekender that satisfies everyone from an EDM lover to a black-tee headbanger. It’s about shows like The Dewarists that bring such talents to a wider audience.
The Indie scene has the opportunity to grow into something massive from here. Here’s a small wishlist from a fan.
In picture: Advaita, a band from Delhi which has successfully merged classical Hindustani sounds with modern rock instruments. Check out their track, Gir Gir