In the watering holes of Bangalore, between beers and cigarettes, the Aerosmith concert is being discussed animatedly. The visuals were incredible, one thinks, but nothing can compare to the production that Iron Maiden put up last year. What about the giant floating pig at the Roger Waters concert in Bombay, asks another.
Meet India's new breed of city hopping concertgoers. Most in their twenties, they think nothing of bouncing around the country in search of good music. They'd be the same crowd who did London summer holidays with the parents while in high school and have now graduated to a European adventure with friends this summer. You'd find them anywhere from non descript bars that play only rock in their own cities, to schmoozing at five star hotels with the other Page 3 lites.
So what exactly does a rock concert weekend entail? It's rather simple. Since I'm fresh off the boat, I'll walk you through it. A friend (covering it for Maxim) and I take the afternoon flight. Walking out of the airport, I bump into another friend from NDTV. "The band's arriving now", he says excitedly, all poised with a microphone and quick quips. The band arrives, looking like they just did mushrooms and got eaten by a bear. "Duuude," drawls Steven Tyler, "where are the elephants, where are the cobras?" We smile with glee. It's going to be quite the show.
At night, the Blue Bar at the Taj is buzzing. Not only is the band staying in a special suite at the hotel, but Joe Perry is eating in the restaurant that leads into Bangalore's Friday night hotspot. As air kisses sweep the open air bar, the DJ asks the crowd, "Who can name all five members of the band? Free tickets for the correct answer!" NDTV friend bounces in as I sit with some others marveling at the beating the Delhi heat – "I just went to their suite! It's amazing" he gushes, "We have to go for the after-party there!"
It's Saturday now, and people have been lining up since six to get inside. I haven't picked up my reserved ticket yet and just as I reach the booth, my boyfriends eye's light up at the thought of lounge tickets. There is a special entrance. It's above the mosh pit (think private boxes at the Opera). At the back is a room, complete with dinner and a bar. A bit of hobnobbing – Vijay Mallya, Milind Deora, Ashvin Kumar, a few models scattered here and there. A big screen in the corner, and couches for the ones who don't want to brave the crowds. But the most wonderful thing is that the age group is so diverse. And everyone knows the lyrics!
The concert starts. Steven Tyler is a performer to the hilt – although he looks fairly scary up close. They said no cameras allowed but I can see a wave of camera phones swaying to the music. I try and call a friend in Mussurie, because she just has to hear this! Joe Perry takes the microphone, "India – you know why we love you? It's because you gave us the Kamasutra!" as the crowd roars with laughter. Snippets of conversation everywhere – "Hiiiii.. you came too??"; "I really want them to play Janie's got a gun"; "Where is the after party dude, I heard Bangalore shuts early"; "Who else is here from Delhi?"; "I love this song!!"
The band leaves, but as all good bands do, they come back for one last song. As they start to play "Don't wanna miss a thing", the whole stadium has turned into sentimental sops. And before you know it, it's over. My phone rings. "After party at a friends farm…"
Walking out is another 'event'. "Well hello there, I had no idea you were coming!" More air kisses. It's good to be young. It's good to have the money to spend and the weekend to spare. After all, you only live once!
And there we are, back home, back to work, and already making the next plans. Safe to say, I'm a new convert to the concert going city hopping crowd. "Why not," I tell my best friend persuasively, "it's better than just a weekend away, it's a weekend away with something to do!" As she nods enthusiastically, I think, one more soldier down.
It's a bandwagon worth jumping on.
(I'd actually written this for my paper -- the features -- but I think it wasn't working class enough... [I kid, she wanted it to be more about the music, less about air kissing] so wait for another article)