| Hard Rock Cafe, Mumbai. Picture by Hemant Mishra/Businessworld
Jan. 28: It’s raining gigs in Mumbai. And rock is making the biggest splash. Heavy metal, funk, blues and hip-hop are not too far behind.
Bryan Adams, Uriah Heep, Kool and The Gang and U2 are leading the star line-up this year. Mumbai’s local bands are on a high, too, thanks to Indus Creed’s first-ever coming together for a performance in years for the One Tree Festival next month.
Welcome to the coming of age of live entertainment. “This burst is long overdue,” says V.G. Jairam, partner, Oranjuice Entertainment, which is organising the three-day One Tree Festival starting February 10.
“Basically, I think with the boom in economy there is an overall boom, and entertainment is ' and will always ' enjoy prime place in people’s minds.”
If Shaggy brought in the first shower with hip-hop earlier this month, it’s going to be a cloudburst of rock, heavy metal, classic funk and blues next month.
The act opens with rock band Jethro Tull’s performances on January 31 and February 1 as master flautist Ian Anderson jams with Indian rock band Alms for Shanti.
On February 4, it will be Canadian rocker Adams, on his third tour of India. Next in line, on February 10, is Uriah Heep, “the beach boys of heavy metal”.
The day after, it will be time for funk with Kool and the Gang. On February 12, the city would see Walter Trout, voted the sixth best guitarist of all time, and the Blues Brothers.
The live beat continues in March with hip-hop from The Black Eyed Peas, while U2 will round off the year.
So what do the listeners have to shell out for the live action'
Anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 10,000. It’s a bit steep, yes, enough to burn a hole in the pocket of the average young person, like the student or the fresher at work.
Xerxes Antia doesn’t agree. “The target audience is the 30-plus yuppie audience that grew up with these artistes and is riding India’s economic boom. They don’t mind paying that much more for an event that they may have craved to be at since they were in school,” says the general manager of Seventy, a leading event management company.
And mind you, nostalgia comes in more forms than music. “Rock and other music-related merchandise will be on sale at our events. We are test-marketing this to see the response,” says Jairam.
The Oranjuice partner also has a good word for the government. It has “adopted friendly entertainment-tax rules and this helps”, he says, but adds that a “lot more needs to be done” if live entertainment has to be made an “industry”.
Compared to Bangalore’s 10 per cent entertainment tax, Mumbai’s is still steep. But it’s certainly lower than the earlier high of 49 per cent. The city, however, wins hands down over Delhi and Calcutta.
“They have too much of red tape. Mumbai and Bangalore have a good ticket-buying audience, but again not good enough as we have to still depend on sponsors for covering expenses. But I think with sustained live events, the ticket-buying culture will increase,” says Jairam.
What if all that music doesn’t satisfy your appetite' Don’t worry, just head towards India’s first Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) that gives Mumbai the me-too status in the international rock arena.