Tag Archives: live music

Coke Studio at MTV – Songs For Sale and Minicert Review

If you hadn’t already heard, the songs from the Coke Studio India are up for sale.

iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTune Canada     Flipkart

If you want to check out reviews before buying, your best bet is probably Music Aloud. After my (ahem, hugely popular) post supporting by Coke Studio, I have been a passive, disengaged spectator. I still support the program but I think it needs to produce at least one truly magical song for it to deliver on its promise. I am still waiting for that song.

On a separate note, I went for the Coke Studio Minicert gig at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore. The lineup was interesting – Tochi Raina, Mathangi Rajashekhar, Sanjeev Thomas and Papon – and the music was good for the most part. Leslie Lewis made a surprise appearance for the last song.

Tochi Raina sang a couple of songs and disappeared for the rest of the show. Mathangi sang really well, but as a friend commented, her Carnatic parts did not register. May have been the acoustics of the place. Sanjeev Thomas was mercurial. He got the only encore for the night but also missed his cue and had to be rescued by Mathangi. Papon, for me, was the find of the evening. He is young, lights up the stage and a brilliant singer. He was equally good singing Assamese folk and backing up Mathangi with semi-classical vocals.

A good show overall, BUT, before you buy the ticket for the minicert in your city, I recommend you find out what it will buy you. In this particular gig, the main space for the audience was off-limits for us. It looked like this space was reserved for the event sponsors. It would have been nice if HRC has told us about this beforehand. Instead they took our money, and made us feel like we were gate-crashing the party – not cool.

And before I forget – Did you know that the songs from the Pakistani edition of Coke Studio (Season 2 and 3) were available on iTunes? I found out only recently.

Season 2 – iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTunes Canada
Season 3 – iTunes US     iTunes UK     iTunes Canada

[Correction, Aug 23: It’s Sanjeev Thomas, not Sanjay Thomas.]


Coke Studio India Must Be Cheered

Coke Studio debuted in India last Friday. Armchair critics did detailed analyses proving conclusively that the first episode sucked. “Loud and empty” said one post. Another post said it “veered dangerously close to cacophony at times.”.  There were some voices that attempted to tone down things a bit including this post, this tweet and this tweet.

Still, the general buzz around the first episode (based on a highly unscientific analysis of tweets, blog comments and Facebook status updates) seems to be negative – Coke Studio India pales in comparison to the Pakistani version.

I say it’s premature the pass the verdict. Till will get to the end of this season, I say we should cheer Coke Studio for what it’s attempting to do.

Coke Studio puts the focus squarely on music. Can you think of any television program (let alone a music program) that is not interrupted by ads? No ads, no garrulous presenter, no arrogant judges, no “reality” drama, no idle chit-chat – just one song after the other for one whole hour.

Coke Studio puts the spotlight on musicians. The musicians own the stage. Granted there are a few famous artists in the picture, but so were a number of musicians who would never had the opportunity to present their art to such a large and diverse audience, had it not been for Coke Studio. The most recent print of Sound Box magazine describes the plight of musicians in India:

Ask the mass consumers of music out there about what comes to mind when they think of Munni badnaam hui? Malaika Khan Arora and Salman Khan…..Ask them about who composed these songs…..and you can bet your last rupee that the vast majority of them would have no clue.

And if this happens to musicians who have “made it big”, do other musicians really stand a chance unless platforms like Coke Studio come along? Next time I hear a Mousam Gogoi song, I will have a smiling face to put against the name – and that’s a cool thing to be able to do.

Coke Studio challenges the language barrier. Other than Hindi, the first episode of Coke Studio India featured Bangla, Assamese, Punjabi and Tamil. This is great for music lovers – they have more choice. And it’s great for musicians – they get a bigger following. One of my favorite songs from the Coke Studio across the border happens to be in Persian. And with 1.5 million plus hits on YouTube, I know Coke Studio can encourage people to care more about the music than the language.

Coke Studio challenges the genre barrier. It throws in a bunch of musical forms in a melting pot. What comes out can either be surprisingly good or chaotic. My favorite number from the first episode was the Tamil folk – Sufiesque (I just invented the word, feel free to use with credit to me) collaboration between Chinnaponnu and Kailash Kher. And while I felt that the Punjabi folk – Carnatic fusion by Tochi Raina – Mathangi Rajasekhar was more confusion than fusion, I admired Coke Studio’s audacity to try out something like that. In the end, I think this kind of experimentation must be encouraged. Even if it produces only a handful of gems, I think Coke Studio would have delivered.

To those who are bemoaning the first episode, I say – settle down and give the show a chance. If you are involved enough to have an opinion about the first episode, you must be a music lover. I hope MTV takes note of some of your suggestions and doesn’t get all defensive and snooty.

And while this season of Coke Studio is on, you should be cheering it. You should be cheering it because it could make a difference. You should be cheering it because it is significantly better than the alternative. Oh wait, there is no alternative.

Of A.R. Rahman Concerts And Concert Venues

I attended my third A.R. Rahman concert yesterday at the Palace Grounds in Bangalore. Two things were very different this time – two things that made this show the most unremarkable of the three.

The Concert

My best Rahman concert was back in the winter of 2004-2005 in Cow Palace, Oakland. The warm and fuzzy feeling I have about this concert may be because it was my first Rahman concert but leaving that bias aside, the evening was magical for me because the who’s who of Indian music was on the stage – Shankar Mahadevan, Sukhwinder Singh, Sonu Nigam, Hariharan, SP Balasubramaniam, Sadhna Sargam and of course, A.R Rahman.  ARR sang maybe a couple of songs but his rendition of “Vellai Pookal” that night remains etched in my memory. Even my second concert – at Sears Center, Chicago – was pretty enjoyable. Rahman’s reportoire was larger, he looked more self-assured on the stage and performed more songs but he was again accompanied a bunch of awesome singers – Sukhwinder Singh, Hariharan, Naresh Iyer, Chitra, Blaaze, Madhushree and Sadhna Sargam.

Unfortunately, the concert yesterday had a little too much of ARR (there, I said it!) and a little too less of really good, accomplished singers (and ARR is not that). Except for Javed Ali and Vijay Prakash, the other singers disappointed.

The Venue

This post is already sounding like a rant so let me just list a few things that made Palace Grounds’ logistics less than optimal:

  1. Parking charge of Rs 100/- on a Rs 5000/- ticket? They might as well include the cost of parking in the ticket and make it easier for people to get into the venue.
  2. Parking the car was pretty easy but getting out was chaotic. There was no one around to guide people out, no lanes were marked and I witnessed a few cross-country races as people found weird exit routes across open fields, around trees and on road shoulders.
  3. Depending on the ticket cost, some of us had food coupons. “Food” consisted of a can of drink, a bag of chips and the entrée (drum roll) a crumbled-up sandwich thrown in a plastic bag. Thankfully we had packed curd rice for the kids. My wife sustained herself on chips and popcorn. I dined on a guava after I got back home. Note to organizers – I know its tough organizing food for so many people. Why bother? Just let people know so they can pack their food.

My rants aside, I know I will attend any ARR concert that comes to town. He got it right two times out of three. Pretty good odds.

PS: Here is the list of songs. The ones in bold were ones that I really enjoyed. I may have missed a song or two when I went to get the food bag.

Tere Bina (Guru) ARR

Dil Se (Dil Se) ARR

Tanha Tanha (Rangeela)

Daud (Daud) Remo

Ni Mai Samajh Gayi (Taal)

Rang De Basanti (Rang De Basanti)

Masakali (Delhi-6) Vijay Prakash

Gurus of Peace/Chanda Suraj Lakhon Taare (Vande Mataram) ARR

Yeh Jo Desh Hai Tera (Swades) ARR

Chhodo More Baiyyan (Zubeida)

Genda Phool (Delhi-6)

Hosanna (Vinnathandi Varuvaya) Vijay Prakash

Jaane Tu Meri Kya Hai (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na) Javed Ali

Luka Chuppi (Rang De Basanti) ARR (And recorded Lata!)

Tu Muskura (Yuvvraj) Shweta Pandit, Vijay Prakash

Anjaana Anjaani (Yuva) ARR

Medley – Meherbaan (ADA) – Rehna Tu (Delhi-6)- Jage Hain (Guru) – Ishq Bina (Taal) ARR

Violin instrumental – Mary Anne

Medley – Chikku Bukku (Gentleman) – Petta Rap (Kathalan)

Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire) ARR

Medley – Arziyaan (Delhi-6) – Khwaaja Mere Khwaja (Jodha Akbar) ARR / Javed Ali

Kahin To Hogi (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na)

Mukabala (Kathalan)

Thok De Khilli (Guru)

Humma Humma (Bombay) Remo

Irumbile Oru Idhayam (Enthiran) ARR

Roobaroo (Rang De Basanti) ARR

Vande Mataram (Vande Mataram) ARR

[Update May 31 – The violinist was Mary Anne according to TOI. Not Vanessa Mae – my Google guess.]

Bangalore’s Live Music Scene Making A Comeback

Bengaluru will not let go of the Rock Capital tag easily! Despite all that transpired in the city potentially spelling doom for music lovers, it appears that there is enough and more support going around.

Here ‘s a link to a blogpost  belonging to a local rising artist, Fidel Dsouza, who he talks about the new kids on the block pitching in to recreate the city’s magic.

Good thing he also works for Mavrix!

Solar Punch – NY based Eco-Rock Band Live in Bangalore

I’m writing this post about the band Solar Punch just because I loved their attempt of rendering Yun Hi Chala from Swades.

Solar Punch is a solar-powered band that uses music to educate people about the environment and climate change. Their sound system is powered by a small PV array mounted atop band mate Alan Bigelow’s car. They charge batteries and use an inverter to convert the DC from the panels to AC for the P.A. and devices. They draw inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s quote – ‘Be the change you want the world to become.’

Happy news is that they are performing live in Bangalore today as per this article.

If time permits I would love to go get a Solar Punch!!! Check out their performance of Yun Hi Chala:

Coke Studio In India?! Fingers Crossed

Anyone who has seen the delectable live show program from across the border will understand why I am so excited about the news that Coke Studio may come to India! Like most Indians, I have many misgivings about Pakistan and it’s attitude towards India but I can’t help admiring, even envying, their music scene. What do I like about Pakistani music, specifically Coke Studio?

  1. They have figured out a way of packaging local, folk music with western, modern music in a very pleasing manner. Purists may frown upon this approach but I think it makes folk music a lot more accessible and appealing to the younger crowd.
  2. A lot of music is produced for its own sake and not as a prop in a movie. Now that may be because the Pakistani movie industry sucks but in my opinion, this focus on music produces very good results.
  3. Live music always feels better. It has an element of magic that is somehow lost in the recording. Live music has a lot of engagement going on – amongst the artists, between the artist and the audience and within the audience – which make it a very personal experience unique to each individual in the audience. Finally, live music provides the artist freedom to improvise. If you have seen Hariharan or Shankar Mahadevan on stage, you’ll know how much fun that can be.

My only hope is that the Indian version remains true to the original format (live, non-mainstream music). Check out one of my favorite Coke Studio performances and you’ll know what I am talking about.

PS: Check out something one of the commenters on Youtube pointed out. See how Zeb and the drummer smile when the chorus kicks in at 1:45 and tell me if you don’t feel like smiling with them! That’s the edge of live performance!