More Than Music

With synchronised visuals and funky costumes,several Indian bands are presenting their music with a certain quirk to give the crowd value for money

Written by Anjali Jhangiani KP | Published: June 11, 2013 3:02 am

The drums rolled as they screened the audience and shouted “get up and dance Pune,dance” in an accent heavy with the mother tongue influence. The songs were also sung in that distinct accent and their version of In the End could have provoked die-hard Linkin Park fans to rush on to the stage and assault the band members. Every performance of the smartly-named band — Live Banned — is on the same lines and each time they perform,they are saved from disgrace because of their whacky costumes.

While performing in Pune recently,the vocalist Amrit Rao wore a shiny satin shirt teamed with a tie and bigger-than-his face red shutter shades,while drummer Dheerendra Doss stood out in his four-inch-spiked blonde wig. The band also includes Siddhart Kamath on the keyboard,Raveesh Tirkey on the bass and Sridhar Varadarajan on guitars,who change their funny avatars for each of the live performances. The funky get-up is part of the whole music experience that they give the audience. “Since we sing funny,we even need to look it,” says Rao,justifying his fascination with shutter shades. The band is among a string of Indian bands who are giving audiences much more than just music when it comes to live performances.

“The visuals are an important part of any live performance. It does not matter who the performer is,the audience pays handsome money to buy a ticket for the live show and they want to be thoroughly entertained as value for their money,” says Rao.

Raghu Dixit,the frontman of Bangalore-based band Raghu Dixit Project,brings props and dancers on stage to enhance the experience during live performances. “There has to be more than music at a live performance otherwise people can just sit at home and play a CD,which almost always has better quality music,” he says. But the presentation should be related to the music and the band,Dixit says. He aptly brought huge Mysore dolls on the stage during his performance of Mysore se aayi in the city at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender music festival last year. When he performed for Queen Elizabeth in the UK,he took along a Karnataka-based dance troupe from Nritarutya so that she could bask in Indian culture. “If I had brought in a trampoline artiste to perform stunts while I sang Mysore se aayi,people would have still enjoyed it. It would have caught eyeballs,but it wouldn’t make sense with my music. I make sure there is a cultural connect with the dancers or the props that I use during the performance,” says Dixit.

When Delhi-based DJ Ashish Sachan — popular as HashbackHashish — takes to the console,he likes to be aided with visuals that are projected on the walls to build a connection between his music and the audience. The visuals may vary from abstract shapes floating in random motion to clips of TV serials and films. “After a while on the dance floor,the music gets monotonous. This does not happen if you have visuals to connect with,” says Sachan. He has also noticed that his listeners express themselves more when they have access to visuals to back up the musical experience.

Sahej Bakshi of Dualist Inquiry feels using visuals during performances gives the audience a “more immersive experience”,so he puts in much attention to detail when it comes to designing his performances. During the launch tour of his latest album Doppelganger in Delhi,Mumbai,Pune and Bangalore this April,he experimented with a projection-mapping rig. “I use a music performance software called Ableton Live to play the music during the show. We set up a nine-foot projection surface onto which visuals are projected using the ‘projection mapping’ technique,” he says. The timing of the visuals were in sync with the changing music,ideas and aesthetics. Bakshi noticed that his audiences were more focused on the stage than they are in shows without the visuals,because there was so much to see in addition to just listen to the music.

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