Gigs Come Home
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A UK-based initiative takes music to people's living rooms on the condition that they stay silent and listen.
Earlier this month, the home of Mumbai-based burger joint Gostana's owner, Arpana Gvalani, was transformed into the venue for a live, intimate gig by four musicians and bands from the city. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Sidd Coutto, singer-songwriters Nikhil D'Souza and Alisha Pais and Split frontman Garreth D'Mello's side project, Dischordian, played to an audience of 20, who put aside their mobile phones and listened intently. They were brought together by Songs From A Room ó or Sofar Sounds ó a movement that began in London in 2009. It has now found its way to a number of other places, including New York, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne and, since last year, India.
The idea, explains Reema Kumari Jadeja, the coordinator for Sofar India, is to enjoy music without any distractions and also respect the artistes and the performance.
After attending gig after gig, where people paid more attention to their mobile phones or chatted among themselves, co-founders Rafe Offer and Dave Alexander (Rocky Start is the third co-founder) organised a small performance at Alexander's London home. Alexander, a musician, played to a handful of people, all of whom sat and listened attentively. The concept was a success, and similar gigs were then organised at other homes around the world. These were secret gigs ó the venue and timings would only be disclosed to invitees, who would, in turn, remain unaware of the artiste line-up until the act began. It also gave new musicians a chance to play to a genuinely attentive audience. But most importantly, the audience pays nothing to watch the performance.
The first Sofar gig in India was held in Pune. "What started out as a conversation between a music colleague and myself at British Music House in 2010 became a crystallised reality when I brought Sofar to India in February 2011," recalls Jadeja, a UK-based journalist and academic. Shaa'ir + Func, flautist and music composer Milind Date, tabla player Charudatta Phadke and Mumbai pop rock band Something Relevant were the performers at this first edition, which was also Asia's first Sofar session. India's second gig was held in Delhi where fusion band Mrigya, blues/rock band Half Step Down, Dualist Inquiry and Hindi folk fusion band Maseeha performed. At both these gigs, the number of attendees varied depending on the size of the room and the bands' set-up was largely acoustic and minimalistic.
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