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Live gigs take centre stage

- Homegrown music bands soar this festive season

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 25: Imported DJs and celeb performers from India’s tinsel town can wait. This time, round the city is gearing up to ring in the New Year with homegrown rock bands, which appear to have come of age.

Quite a few standalone clubs, restorbars and discotheques are roping in the local bands, mostly consisting of youngsters, to rock the last bash of the year. “People are getting bored of DJs and want to hear something fresh. Rock music is a welcome respite,” said Jagannath Prasad, a well-known event manager.

The city boasts of 20-odd bands. “But, only four or five of them are professional. They are being invited over for live gigs for big ticket parties in different parts of the state and even outside,” he said. For each gig that lasts for about 90 minutes or so, they earn anywhere between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000. The amateur bands, though, play for recognition and not money.

The music ranges from reggae to soft rock, but the ones with Hindi lyrics really help them connect with the crowd, said Siddharth Sahu, an engineering student and member of the popular rock band, Shabd.

“We mostly focus on original compositions, all in Hindi, so that people can follow and repeat after us. We hope that the new songs that we have penned for 31st night parties will also become popular,” he said.

Siddharth’s college senior and colleague, Ayushman Das, said rock culture began trending in the capital nearly three years ago, and contrary to popular belief, it is not just youngsters, who are hooked on to it.

“We also perform at corporate parties where the crowd consists of people in their 40s. They also enjoy our music and do all the head banging and play air guitar, pretending to play along with us,” he said.

The band of six boys from Shabd will perform at a plush hotel at IRC Village on the New Year’s eve. Besides their own compositions, they have Qurbaan Hua (Qurbaan), Bhag Bhag D.K. Bose (Delhi Belly) and Rock On songs on their playlist.

Pratikshya Priyadarshini, lead vocalist of the Cuttack-based band Sweet Poison, said the growing demand for live rock concerts for Christmas and New Year events suggested that people were ready to junk stereotypes and experiment as far as their music preference was concerned.

“And since I am a trained classical singer, I have the advantage of singing old songs in a fast-paced, rock style,” said the Plus Two student of Ravenshaw Junior College.

Pratikshya, one of the few young girls creating ripples in the rock music circuit of Odisha, loves to perform on Hawa Hawaai (Mr India), Main Pareshan (Ishaqzaade) and tracks by pop singer Sona Mohapatra.

“However, our band has decided to take a break this year-end as I have my board exams in March. We had turn down some offers that had come from clubs and discs in Bhubaneswar,” she said.

While the cosmopolitan capital is waking up to the talented rock groups, the culture-conscious crowd in the Millenium City is yet to accept this genre of music, feel members of rock groups as well as metal heads.

“Though Cuttack has more number of rock bands, rock concerts are hardly organised here,” said Amrit Patnaik, a college goer.