10 (unsolicited) suggestions for the Indian Live Music Scene

Avner Pariat’s ‘tuppence‘ worth of advice for the Indian Live Music Scene

So first off let me just tell you where I’m coming from as I make such an audacious statement; after all how dare I – a non-musician – attempt to school musicians!

So as I said I am a non-musician (I can’t play guitar, drums or xylophone) who enjoys a lot of music. Though I generally play it “safe” in terms of my playlists, that is to say, I am generally left of Rock (even though I do listen to some Pop-ish stuff once in a while but only if there are young pretty White women in the videos).

I like to think that I’m fairly open-minded with my musical palate. I have listened to and have tried enjoying a lot of stuff out there  – Meshuggah through to War Paint. I have also listened to a lot of friends in different parts of the country practice and rabble-rouse over drinks and ganja, in little evening “sessions”. Lastly, I have also seen an innumerable number of ‘live performances’ throughout the country – Delhi through to Agartala.

So that is my resume, so to speak. I would like to commence the list now, thanks.

  1. No one cares about your instrumental skills – I have seen so many (way too many) guitarists in particular, grand-stand whilst performing. It’s nice to see that you’re an accomplished player BUT I can’t hear the voice(s). Please tone down the volume. Let us enjoy the combination of instrument AND voice. That is what a band is all about. Unless you’re in a jazz band, I really don’t see why I came all this way to listen to your guitar. Also – after an hour – jazz is boring (yes, I said it!)
  1. Get a sound engineer – So many (indoor) venues seem hell-bent on trying to liquefy my brain inside my skull. There are often way too many speakers turned up way too high and I end up getting thoroughly drunk to fight back the pain inside my head. A good sound engineer should be able to create a nice system layout for your sound. Pool in money as a community if you have to but get a damn guy to come and have a look.
  1. Create an association – I think this is the most important point in this list.Why are we fighting each other when we could collectively bargain for space, money, equipment and time? Get together formally in your own locales. That’s what “industry” means, that’s how it’ll grow. [perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Why are we fighting each other when we could collectively bargain for space, money, equipment and time? Get together formally in your own locales. That’s what “industry” means, that’s how it’ll grow.[/perfectpullquote]
  1. Play for the strangers – Oh this is something I have noticed a lot in Shillong! There is always a group which knows the band members personally and cheers them on regardless of how shit they might be. These groupies will kill your band with their uncritical praising. Show me, and Abhinav over there in the corner, what you have. Don’t play for your clique.
  1. Covers will kill you! – Please, bands out there, I don’t want covers throughout the whole night! Show me your own stuff. Your tribute means squat, no one cares. Don’t be Mr. Popular, play your own stuff. God, if I hear one more “Hey, Jude”, I might perform hara-kiri.
  1. Experiment more, this isn’t the damn IIT JEE or CAT! – Covers are like the lazy man’s way out. Filler for not having anything to say. Unless you’re a cover band, then it’s pardonable – #aside# you obviously have nothing to say.
  1. Don’t stay within the art-form – I feel that if one is serious about songwriting, one cannot simply start and end off within music itself. I wish more musicians would savour different poetries and performances. As an enthusiastic writer myself, I realize that if all I ever did was read, I would be worse off, creativity-wise. Many ideas come to us from different realms of Art and sticking to just one can’t be very good for the soul. Poets ought to perform, musicians ought to act, novelists ought to make furniture, so on and so on.
  1. Try to start off young – It is sweet to see 70 year olds coming into music but come on!
  1. Lose the lame leg – Get rid of the mofo if he/she can’t sing or drum. Don’t let them stick around just because you went to the same school or grew up together. I know it’s harsh but if you’re serious about making a band work, you need to knock off some heads. (I scare myself sometimes, it’s true)
  1. Don’t love the “lifestyle” – So we know it occasionally gets you laid and you get to have all the weed and booze that you want without community condemnation BUT start working on your music and not your image. Music is the legacy not your Moon/Morrison/Jimmy/Janis faux image of yourself! Those days are done, fucker. Move on.


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Avner Pariat Written by:

Avner Pariat is a poet and chronicler of Khasi Jaintia Hills.

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