The metros might still be the hub of indie music in the country, but tier-II and tier-III cities aren’t far behind. Here are artistes from these places that you should watch out for.
Indie music lover? If yes, then let’s play a small game. Try and count the number of (popular) indie bands that you know of that come from small, non-metro, cities. How many did you get? Five or six max? The first three that came to mind were Motherjane from Kochi, Avial from Trivandrum, Soulmate from Shillong.
It’s true that most Indian bands and artistes that we end up liking tend to be from metros. They get to perform at the best venues because these places happen to be in the metros, and that’s where the concentrated indie-music loving community – the metro peeps - watch them also. And since touring can be an expensive affair, it is a rarity to catch a non-metro band at a Hard Rock Café or Blue Frog, or any of the other gig hubs in metros. After a week-long combing operation to find some of the most interesting voices coming from tier-two and tier-three cities in India, I got a bunch of artistes that we should watch out for.
Alobo Naga (see cover image) is one of the most captivating voices I came across. Along with his band, the Dimapur-based singer, who doesn’t have to try hard to be charming on stage, packs quite a punch with his pop-rock tunes. I also found out that the band has been the 2012 winner of Best Indian Act at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Oh, and if you love Bollywood, his cover of ‘Sham’ from the movie Aisha that might just melt your heart.
Several thousand kilomenters north-west, another young band is churning out some heavy tunes from the tiny town of Sonepat. Now we know Haryana has never been synonymous with hard rock, but give Rivers And Satellites a listen and you’d might just want to change your mind. The alt-rock band has a few originals to its credit and going by the sound of their music, I won’t be surprised to catch them at a festival soon.
Photo source: Rivers And Satellites/Facebook
As we kept searching (me and my Facebook coterie of music lovers whose recommendations I also sought), I stumbled upon Ahmedabad’s Aswekeepsearching. The ambient electro outfit makes some very spacey, laid-back tunes. Their sound is extremely promising, especially at a time when EDM crazy fans are turning towards more chilled-out variants of electronics. My personal favourite is their track, titled ‘When will they talk’.
Photo source: Elemental/Facebook
On the other end of the music spectrum, Bhopal’s death metal band Elemental is loud and abrasive, just what any metal head would like them to be. Next month, these metallers will be playing at the Outrage Festival.
The Indian Jam Project from Lucknow is one of those bands that rely on novelty to grab eyeballs. Thankfully, in their case, the novelty also happens to be good. The band, led by Tushar Lall, picks the themes popular TV show/Hollywood and Indian-ises them. It’s fun to listen to a melodious sarangi on the Pirates Of Carribean theme and an Indian flute on the Game Of Thrones theme.
Photo source: The Indian Jam Project/Facebook
Given the outstanding musicianship the band displays, it would be great if it came out with original music also.
Jammu’s indie-rock outfit MoonDogs is one I would highly recommend for people looking to get hooked to newer bands.
Photo source: MoonDogs/Facebook
The more I watched their videos, the more I began to like these guys. There’s a certain mellow angst in their music that is comforting yet instigating.
I have to credit the Chandigarh-based band, The Local Train, for its exceptional commitments to its music.
Slick videos, well-produced tracks and frequent social media engagement with fans are just some of the factors that have contributed to the band’s success, not to mention its music – Hindi pop-rock - which treads the spongy fence between mainstream and indie.
Cover Image: Alobo Naga & The Band/Facebook