By Amartya Ghosh.
Sofar So Good.
Delhi doesn’t have a lot of venues that really throw the spotlight on the artist and unless your act is a cover belting, crowd-pleasing cash cow, you’ll probably end up shuttling between the same venues again and again. As a singer songwriter, reaching out to new listeners and audiences is of paramount importance and until you have the money and the courage to start organising your own concerts, house gigs are the only way to eliminate obnoxious gentlemen, annoying song requests, noisy blenders going off in the middle of your softest song and managers walking up to you and saying “thoda peppy bajao!” (Make it peppier!).
For the uninitiated, house gigs are gigs held at people’s homes (usually with their permission), the organiser decides how to get the audience and how much they should pay, the back line is usually minimal and the performer is a few meters away from the audience. They might not pay as well as your garden-variety pub gig (though some of them do) but they are and always will be my favourite kind of gig. Small audiences that have nothing else to distract them but the occasional plane flying overhead, are really the best.
House gigs give you the perfect opportunity to play your songs and get the kind of reaction you’ve always wanted from a pub gig but rarely get. Of course there are problems with house gigs. The dudes who set up bars in the back of the roof and invariably get drunk and loud at some point (but somehow never slip and fall), that one guy who shows up with a guitar and insists on jamming, loud people in general, snooty little guy in a suit who has a built in filter for the words “please put your phones on silent” but the biggest problem is always the back line.
I’ve played acoustic guitars through gain-y guitar amps and electric guitars through the P.A. I’ve sung out of gain-y guitar amps, or played at a volume where my acoustic was just as loud as the P.A. When you play a house gig you leave the stage and everything that comes with it behind you and trade in for an audience that cares about your music. Sofar was different.
For the first time in a long (really long ) time I came across organisers who were punctual, a back line at a house gig that was just perfect, an actual real sound engineer (my favourite, Mr. Krishna Rao), a curated line up and a curated audience. This was one of those gigs that leave you feeling,
“So what if I’m an indie artist who never has enough, things are looking up”.
As the sun came down Subhadra and I took the stage. It took us about twenty seconds to soak in the vibe from that crowd and get the ball rolling. Our setlist was small (four songs) and I can only count one other gig where four songs were enough to set the vibe and come out feeling great.
It was mesmerising to see Luiza and Pedro who left me wanting more, and Zoya who broke a lot of myths about singer songwriters that night. I got to listen to two fantastic acts, a few listeners who’ve stuck with me since, but what tops my list is the beautiful video that Jayant shot and edited and Krishna mixed. As an indie artist having shareable content is more important than a pair of lungs and to have a nice sounding, good looking video on a platform with thousands of listeners goes a very long way and I got just that out of my Sofar gig.
In recent times Delhi has seen a number of festivals, venues and initiatives direct towards giving indie artists a stage they can trust and Sofar definitely makes it to that list. I sincerely hope the Sofar team finds all the success they seek and makes it easier for indie musicians and listeners to thrive in Delhi.
To attend a Sofar Sounds Delhi NCR show click here.