My experience at venues that are breaking boundaries to offer every kind of art to enthusiasts.
1. The Hive
What: Culture hub
USP: Music, food and cinema under one roof
Photo Courtesy: The Hive/Facebook
When I first walked into The Hive I thought it’s difficult to find a suitable label to describe everything this place is about. It’s so many things in one: gig venue, culture lab, work space, among others. Situated five minutesfrom my office, the one-year-old community space operates out of a colonial bungalow in Bandra. And if going by the number and the variety of events it hosts every week, it is by far the most culturally active place in the city. And probably the only one where Carnatic music shares space with a Bihari food pop-up, a horror movie screening, and even a workshop on crowdfunding.
Set up by partners Sudeip Nair (Bombay Elektric Project, PopSplat), Pramod Sippy and Rajeesh Maraar in 2014. Nair says that it was plain necessity that led them to conceptualise The Hive as most other places that they used to programme events for were either “too loud or noisy.”
2. The Humming Tree
What: Café and performance venue
USP: Genre-bending line-up
Photo Courtesy: The Humming Tree/Facebook
I only had to look at the gig calendar of the Humming Tree to know how egalitarian their music programming is.And although many music venues aspire, and even attempt, to practise democracy of this sort, what makes this music venue stand apart is its selection of artistes at any given month. I just witnessed two weeks of the best rock, electronica and blues in the country. And hey, they have theatre too. Pleasant surprises, always!
The line-up is consistently top-notch and even though I landed here without prior knowledge of who was performing, I ended up loving the show.
3. The Bandra Base, Mumbai
What: A living room-turned-performance space
USP: Hosts informal, underground gigs and art showcases
Photo Courtesy: The Bandra Base/Facebook
The Bandra Base is the most nondescript cultural hub ever. It’s hardly a ‘venue’ too – it is actually the living room of a ground-floor flat in Bandra’s Waterfield Road – so, unlike me, if you’re the kind of person that hates socializing or any sort of drinking-concert watching, BB is your baby.There is no food or beverage on offer, in fact, there are no chairs even; all you get is an intimate access to a performance; whether it is a Portuguese folk band presenting its overwhelming fare or Tom Alter reciting poetry.
For me, it’s the cosy, informal, no-frills setting that sets BB apart from all the other venues around. Since it depends majorly on the entry ticket (usually Rs 300 per person) and offers nothing except the performance, it is also the only place where I found the most devoted and enthusiastic jazz connoisseurs, Urdu fanatics or dance freaks on days when their favourite artistes perform/host workshops.
4. Nirvana Lounge
What: Multi-cuisine restaurant and music space
USP: Hosting niche gigs
Photo Courtesy: TNirvana Lounge/Facebook
At a time when artistes and managers are lamenting the lack of performance spaces in the metros, who knew that a niche music venue in Trivandrum would lead by example? Nirvana Lounge, which has invested space and effort in designing its small but spectacular stage, opened last year much to the cheer of the local music-loving community in the city. Apart from hosting an in-house band, the eatery invites musicians from all across the country to perform.
The latest performers at Nirvana Lounge, Kolkata’s jazz/neo soul band Beer Puppets say that they hadn’t expected the Kerala audience to be thrilled about the music they played but when they came on stage, a pleasant surprise greeted them. “The people there know their music very well. Our music is not the usual so it was exciting and reassuring to know that the people loved us. We need more such venues all over India,” says vocalist Shreya Bhattacharya.
5. Depot 29
What: Mexican restaurant
USP: Featuring up-and-coming bands
Photo Courtesy: Depot 29/Facebook
This new restaurant is popular chef Ritu Dalmia’s newest venture. Apart from serving mouth-watering Mexican and Americana cuisine, the eatery specializes in showcasing lesser-known music talents from the country. Pair your guacamole and taco with some mesmerising Afrobeat or folktronica, or good old hard rock.And don’t be surprised to hear sitar where you expect Spanish guitars. The restaurant boasts of superlative acoustics and is also a place where you are likely to find many expat musicians performing.