A wish list for pub gigs in India: From timeliness to special F&B menus and loyalty cards

Now that we’re into October and live performance season is effectively underway – there are at the least six album or EP launch exhibits and two festivals in my dwelling metropolis of Mumbai over the course of this week – I made a decision to look again on the previous 9 months and realised that I can depend the variety of gigs I’ve attended at pubs (versus festivals) this 12 months on one hand. A decade in the past, that determine would have been 5 a month.

One of many essential causes for this, in fact, is that I’m a lot older and my tolerance ranges have fallen. After I was youthful, I may look over much-delayed begin instances, unhealthy sound, viewers chatter and, to an extent, even substandard musicianship. (Although I ought to admit that after having seen a number of performances by a telephone display, I’ve given up and joined that annoying tribe of individuals whom continually {photograph} and movie exhibits.)

It’s not simply me however most of my mates, all in our thirties or older, have drastically diminished the variety of gigs they catch at pubs. Perhaps we’re simply fed up of watching them in locations the place stay music is an afterthought, and handled primarily as a car to drive F&B gross sales on a sluggish weeknight. Satirically, many artists proceed to play spots with out a correct stage and sound set-up as a result of they pay higher than venues that have been constructed to host live shows.

Representational picture. Reuters/Adeel Halim

As for us thirty-plus followers, we restrict our gig going to festivals the place the stadium sound is loud sufficient to drown out the noise, or to accommodate live shows, that are frequented by those that are there for the music above the rest. This realisation led me to, considerably randomly, provide you with a want record of issues that I believe may benefit all these concerned in a pub gig, from the acts and venues to the viewers.

Beginning inside half-an-hour of the listed time

I do know many mates who would go for a gig per week of their twenties however now barely enterprise out to exhibits on weekdays as a result of they begin solely after 10 pm and finish near 1 am on working nights. The listed time, nevertheless, will probably be as early as eight pm in some circumstances. The commonest purpose for this apply is that the venue hopes attendees will get there early and spend a few hours fuelling up on the bar whereas the band hopes that the room will progressively replenish and they’ll keep away from performing to a sparse viewers.

In my expertise, this not often occurs. If an act is standard, the house will get crowded forward of the listed time as a result of followers need to guarantee they get a great spot. In the event that they’re comparatively new, the variety of folks is unlikely to extend. My advice is for exhibits to start out inside half an hour of the listed time, particularly in a metropolis like Mumbai the place distances will be lengthy and site visitors will be heavy. This window provides those that prefer to get a drink earlier than the live performance begins sufficient leeway to seize their tipple.

No service in the course of the efficiency

Whereas this might sound at odds with the bar sales-oriented strategy of most venues, stopping service in the course of the efficiency – which some joints have completed for big-ticket worldwide acts – would go a great distance in lowering chatter whereas the band is on stage.

As most gigs run for about 90 minutes, the musicians may take a 15-minute break on the midway level to permit folks to order or refill their drinks. Whereas the live performance is on, some folks would possibly transfer to different elements of the institution the place they’re serving meals and booze however it might let the band and the venue know simply what number of real followers the act actually has.

Merchandise gross sales

I’ve usually questioned why most artists solely promote merchandise at festivals when a stand-alone gig is the most certainly place they’ll discover hardcore followers. And after they do promote merch, usually a band member asks the viewers to seek out him or their supervisor within the crowd after the efficiency, when most individuals are speeding dwelling. Identical to worldwide acts have begun bundling merch with albums, Indian unbiased music artists may begin bundling it with entry charges, as was completed with the latest Gully Fest in Mumbai the place the handful of tickets bought (it was a free occasion for many) obtained consumers a T-shirt. Whereas that present was backed by a sponsor, Crimson Bull, for a daily membership live performance, an act may cost barely greater quantities, says Rs 500 as a substitute of Rs 300 per individual and embody a chunk of merch – something from caps to keyrings – within the combine.

Particular menus

Gig-goers usually complain that the foods and drinks at pubs is simply too costly and venue managers usually complain that F&B gross sales fall on such nights however not often, if ever, do the 2 entities work collectively to assist change this. For particular exhibits like an album, EP or video launch although, it might be nice if artists and institutions may collaborate to create particular menus for the evening. They may decide a couple of gadgets off the present menu or work with the cooks and barmen to create one-off gadgets, resembling appetisers and cocktails, which have a connection, nevertheless free, with their music, and supply them at blissful hour charges by the period of the live performance.

Loyalty playing cards for regulars

The worth of a cup of espresso is usually used as some extent of comparability for plenty of merchandise. The entry payment for the typical gig is sort of the identical as the price of a cappuccino and similar to espresso retailers have playing cards that reward you with a free drink for each 9 you purchase, I’m shocked no venue has considered beginning one thing related for exhibits by which attendees get free entry for each tenth live performance they patronise at a selected pub. This is able to work even higher for chains resembling Social which have a number of outposts in a metropolis and are standard with cash-strapped school college students.

These recommendations, as talked about above, are completely random concepts that is likely to be tougher to execute than I think about but when at the least a couple of venues have been to experiment with them, we may get out of this establishment the place internet hosting gigs by unique acts is taken into account a dangerous proposition.

Amit Gurbaxani is a Mumbai-based journalist who has been writing about music, particularly the nation’s unbiased scene, for almost 20 years. He tweets @TheGroovebox

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