The 1000-watt lights. The boom boxes. The giant ramps. A singer pouring his/her heart out, not wanting his/her music to stop. The wildly cheering crowd not wanting the artiste to stop... There is something about live music concerts that hooks you. Outdoors or in closed venues, live music was a part and parcel of our lives. And then one day, Bam! It all stopped as an unknown virus descended on us and put us indoors for a good part of two years.
The world moved online – to Facebook and Instagram Lives. Instead of performing to a throbbing, pulsating live audience, artistes began performing to a different set of a live audience – one the artistes could not see in front of them. Like all of us music fans, even artistes felt a certain sense of FOMO. From local favourites to Justin Bieber, everyone started announcing concerts as soon as Covid-related lockdowns were lifted. Of course, Bieber had to cancel his tour due to a medical condition, but there is no dearth of live concerts happening all around us.
Everyone was waiting for live concerts to come back. And back they came. In the last month, Supermoon organized a concert with singer Arjun Kanungo in Dragonfly Experience, Mumbai. Apart from Mumbai, Arjun had concerts in Chandigarh, Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru as well. Just before Arjun’s show in Mumbai, B Praak performed at Jio Garden, Mumbai to packed audiences, belting out one favourite after another. After the lockdown, Supermoon started with Yohani in August 2021 in Hyderabad and Gurgaon. After that, they organized live concerts with the likes of AP Dhillon, Kalamkaar, B Praak and Arjun Kanungo.
“At one of the Supermoon House Parties where performances of artistes were recorded and streamed, Divine came. There was a green screen Chroma placed. He saw that and said he wants to perform,” recollects Swaroop Banerjee, Chief Business Officer, Zee Live.
Sidharth Kedia, CEO, Nodwin Gaming, which has now taken over the super popular Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival, says: “People were dying for a festival like this. Everyone was tired of consuming music online. At the end of the day, these festivals are also about the experience you have. Online the energy is only so much.”
Artistes, of course, asked about safety measures, but they didn’t need any convincing. “Because for the artistes, it was the same thing as it was for the public. They were tired of sitting in front of a camera and performing. They couldn’t wait to get out there and perform. When the festival got over the artistes were overwhelmed. Some of the artistes told us they had performed some of the best sets of their lives,” says Kedia.
The recently held event in Pune saw a massive response. Nodwin Gaming was allowed to sell only 3000-4000 tickets; a much lesser number than pre-Covid times. But they were sold out the very same day.
“After the first lockdown got over, I was in Jibhi in Himachal Pradesh. Around 40-50 people were staying in that property. One day, I just played for them around a bonfire. I felt really special and had tears in my eyes when I finished playing,” says Osho Jain, who’s delivered hits like Khush Toh Hai Na and Khud Se.
Dr Sorabh Lakhanpal, Head, Division of Student Welfare, Lovely Professional University (LPU), cited behavioural changes in youth during Covid as one of the reasons why they decided to start hosting live events. “Their personalities were becoming more individualistic because they worked online. Their screen times increased, they munched a lot so health also suffered... ” says Lakhanpal. LPU held about 30 events in the last few months, including a concert by Diljit Dosanjh in April, which was a part of his Born To Shine Tour.
However, the pandemic is still not over and organisers are taking precautions. Apart from ensuring those attending are fully vaccinated and wearing masks, organisers have also increased the amount of space per person by altering layouts and hiring bigger venues.
“We have adhered to Covid norms of each state. In Gurgaon, we took an arena with a capacity of 25,000 even though we were allowed to sell only 6000 tickets. Masks were mandatory and fumigation was done everywhere including parking lots,” says Banerjee of Supermoon.
“Pre-Covid, we would allot 8-10 sq ft per person and that’s how we would do the layout. This time we went as high as 25sqft per person. That’s how we did the layout. We were aware that footfalls would be limited because that is what was allowed as per law. We could have built a much smaller venue. But we built one which is 2-2.5 times what the pre-Covid thing would be. Because we wanted to give people that kind of space to move about,” says Kedia from Nodwin Gaming.
What’s next for Mumbai? Srivalli singer Javed Ali performing live at Phoenix Marketcity mall.