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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Live and loud

It’s been 15 years since the address for live music in town came into being. But, as every Calcuttan of a certain age will remember, it didn’t start rocking till some years after it started to roll.

Someplace Else, the pub at The Park, Calcutta, wasn’t designed to be a discotheque, but that was evidently its early destiny. When it opened in 1994, it was designed as “a British pub” with its typical pub lunch. The handkerchief-sized dance floor was thrown in for extra measure. “It was always a pub. Except, it had recorded music and a dance floor, and stayed open late. So people assumed it was a discotheque,” says Abhijit Bose, general manager, The Park, Delhi, who was with The Park Calcutta till 2002.

SPE changed course when drummer Nondon Bagchi dropped in for a food review of the pub lunch in March, 1997. “Nondon was my childhood hero. There he was with his long hair, his talent and his rock star aura and I just had to drop in and speak to him during my rounds. We got talking and the idea of starting a live show emerged. And just like that, they (Hip Pocket) started playing by end of April, 1997,” recounts Bose.

That was when people couldn’t wait for the live music to stop and the DJ’s tunes to begin. “They’d wait around and ask, ‘DJ kab chalu hoga,” smiles Sumith Ramachandran, guitarist, Hip Pocket. “Sometimes people would come in early, by 10-10.30pm, and go away, saying ‘Oops, live band? We’ll come back when the DJ starts!’” adds Bose.

Then, one by one, more bands were added to the SPE chalk board. After Hip Pocket, Orient Express and then Saturday Night Blues Band joined in January 1999.

Among the many special nights held in the pub, Bose fondly recalls a High reunion in 1999. “So many fans turned up that we had to keep the doors open as they waited outside to listen. Inside, it was electric. People were crying; they were so touched to see High again.”

Soon, the Someplace Else audience had evolved. The Saturday Night Blues Band now knows that shouts for an encore means coming back for “at least three songs”. “In the end, we’d have to be firm and say ‘Lovely playing for you but we really have to go now. Goodnight,’” laughs drummer Chirodeep Lahiri. “It’s quite the opposite of what it used to be,” smiles Ramachandran.

But it didn’t come easy, of course. “It was a challenge. There was no Blue Frog (Mumbai). There was no Hard Rock Cafe promoting live music then. SPE was a one-of-a-kind venue,” says Gautam Singh, manager, SPE.

In tune with its 15th year celebrations, SPE has lined up three popular acts for three Saturdays in August, with Gary Lawyer and Hip Pocket having kicked off the month-long celebrations on August 1. Indian Ocean brought its ethnic brand of rock last Saturday, while Parikrama is slated to perform on August 29.

“It’s probably the only pub” the Delhi-based band Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean plays in. And SPE favourite Louiz Banks has the last word: “Someplace Else is something else!”

stage story

Monday: Orient Express; Latin jazz/pop

Tuesday: Krosswindz; rock, blues rock

Wednesday: Hip Pocket; classic rock. Insomnia; blues/alternative rock

Thursday: Span; alternative rock

Friday: Hip Pocket

Saturday: Saturday Night Blues Band; blues/blues rock (usually followed by out-of-town artistes/theme nights)

Sunday: Crystal Grass; ternative rock/pop

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