Entering the bar, the small stage was straight up ahead—the drums, electric guitars, the tabla, all set up, lit beautifully. The mikes stood straight, the huge speakers on either side waiting for the music to flow through them.
The few seats on the left were exclusively for patrons; the bartenders were on the right.
“The show should begin at 10,” Vikram tells me. “I guess we’re waiting for more folks to turn up. We’ve sold 150 tickets!”
Standing at the back of the bar, just beside the entrance, Vikram is busy fine tuning the settings on the mixer. He’s a seasoned professional—I find out that he’s been with Indian Ocean for a while now, and he’s also worked with Euphoria.
“So, these gadgets interest you?”
“Well, yes. I do find them rather fascinating.”
“These are digital ones, the sound isn’t as great as analog. You know, like how digital doesn’t match up with film.”
“Digital? But where’s the touch screen? I see all these physical sliders”
He hit a button to the left of the console, and all the sliders danced their way into different positions.
We continue to talk about our digital society, and how it has impacted the way we work, the way we live. And then we get back to the music. We look towards the stage. The crowd had swelled up a little. “The view may be good there, but the sound isn’t going to be as good. That zone there, in the center, that’s the worst place to be. You won’t hear the beat at all!”
So what was the best place to be?
“‘Round here along the gates!”
The band members finally take the stage, and we step away to let Vikram do what he does best.
We cheer and hoot along with the crowd. Some voices request the popular songs. “Bande!” “Kandisa!”
Deeply engrossed in the music, some in the audience sway around with their eyes closed, oblivious to other people’s gaze. And some others, sway with eyes wide open, a drink in one hand, and a hookah in the other, pretty much oblivious to their own selves.
We stay at the back just as Vikram had told us; but only after the first song. We wanted to feel the difference in sound for ourselves, and stood in front for a while, before moving to the back.
After playing their lesser known songs, the band finally gives in to the requests of “Bande!” And the audience suddenly grows larger.
The first request fulfilled, the crowd insists on Kandisa. The musicians tease the crowd. A few more songs, and the crowd grows restless. Two men, who had had more music than they could handle begin singing Kandisa by themselves.
The first few notes play, and we dance along to the tunes of “Ma Rewa”. The band and the crowd play together—a jugalbandi with a difference. And then the final song of the night. The crowd has now swelled to its fullest strength. This is what they’d been waiting for all night. “Kandisa Alahaye, Kandisa Esana…” the crowd’s voice drowns out the singers’. The strings and the classical vocals fill up the hall, and we sway and sing along too, with one eye set on the watch, the other out to avoid those who had transcended into a different zone altogether.
We give out a loud cheer and clap for the musicians out in the front, and equally for the supporting team standing at the back, who stood sane and still, concentrating on making sure the sounds were just right.
As we make our exit into the cold morning, out of the corner of my eye, I catch Vikram giving a high five to his assistant. All in a night’s work.
This is post #29 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging