Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Far Side of the Earth

My normal posting efforts have broken down a bit - busy with family issues and work, I've fallen way behind. I still haven't blogged about the Capitol Hill Block Party yet, so figuring out which photos and videos are of what bands is going to be a bit challenging. Hopefully the CHBP schedule is still up on the internet, since it's the main tool for figuring who the heck a given band is. Saw all kinds of good stuff, finally caught a TacocaT show (I'm a freak for palindromes so I was pretty much guaranteed to like it, and the fact that they put on a great show only made it better). More about that later, because now I'm out of town. Way out of town - in Gurgaon, next to Delhi in India. I do have an expense account and a car and driver though, so I think I can catch some live music while I'm here. As long as jet lag doesn't knock me out too completely, anyway.

There are a couple of clubs in the mall right next to my hotel that feature live music, I feel like I have to at least check out Beer Island based on the name alone! I'm not sure if I want to try the live music in the bowling alley, we'll see, and there's still another club or two in the mall that has live music beyond that too. Several other venues in Gurgaon have been recommended to me, and Delhi has a pile of them too, especially in the Connaught Place district.

I'm not sure exactly what (if anything) I'll manage to see, but that's half the fun. The locals tell me that most of the clubs that feature live music have cover bands, so I may even be familiar with the material. Of course if they cover Indian standards then it'll all be new to me. I haven't heard a lot of live music in foreign languages recently (although I did enjoy Ser.0, which had several songs in Spanish) like this song called Disco:
...and I grew up in the sixties listening to an odd bootleg tape that my dad had of a Beatles performance in Hamburg that I really liked. I have no idea where he got it, and unfortunately Mom gave his tapes away when he passed on, so the Jack Straw Foundation now has that odd old bootleg, if they didn't toss it out. Oh yeah, and I also listen to Latin, German and Italian songs in church. Hmm, I guess I listen to more songs in foreign languages than I had realized.

I've been visiting with some of the Indian folk for months now, talking about music and swapping links to favorite bands and interesting youtube videos of performances and so on. One interesting thing I've noticed is that the major Western styles are reflected in modern Indian music which can be fascinating.

I've listened to what could pass for mainstream pop in the US, except for the language, and I've heard bands with distinct heavier metal-ish sounds, and even rap influences. Don't get me wrong, the results aren't completely derivative and they usually only show influences merging with the Indian approaches. The "rap" influenced performer I listened to had the rap cadences and rhythms and relative lack of melody down, but the backing music was more traditional rock and roll than rap. The heavier sounding stuff apparently had a very clean and non-offensive message in it's lyrics, so while it sounded somewhat like heavy metal in a foreign language, the subject matter was much lighter than most heavy metal in the US.

The reverse is also very apparent - Bollywood musicals have influenced American pop; didn't Madonna do a song along those lines? It started way back in the sixties (if not earlier) when the Beatles spent time in India and produced songs like "Within You and Without You" that used traditional Indian percussion and sounds, and "Across the Universe" that directly quoted the Hindu faith in Hindi with it's "Jai guru deva, om" chorus.

With a little luck I'll be able to catch a few performances, get a song or two from each on video, and post the videos and blog about it.

Belated post script: the clubs in the mall did not play live music. When I went to the Rock and Roll bar and asked if they featured live music they gave me odd looks. They clearly had no idea what I was talking about. At least the beer was good.

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