Sunday. I had planned on going for an early morning cycle ride despite turning in at 2 a.m. Instead I’m writing this. It’s been a strange week. Earlier on Monday, I discovered that playing by the ear for me is getting significantly harder physiologically. For what I’ve been doing most days for the last couple of months, that sounded close to the death knell. I don’t remember having ever been so depressed. I came so close to ringing the final bell down on my dabbling with sound. I didn’t. Instead, I chose to be my persistent, pain-in-the-backside self and reached out to Naveen, the sound engineer for Lagori, and asked him if I could once again tag along with him and observe – and hopefully help a bit – with the band’s show yesterday. And as always, the man obliged.
It was of particular interest to me because Lagori was putting together an acoustic gig, setting up the sound for which would be a learning. And once we started, all that diffidence as a result of the difficulty in hearing the very high frequencies faded away. This was a venue where the mixer had to be placed way off-centre (at one end of the bar counter) and so one of us had to constantly get to the centre to get the sound proper. I’ve never had so much fun playing the lackey. I’m ever so grateful to Naveen for trusting me enough on the feedback I was giving him on the sound. I’m sure that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t matched with what Naveen and the venue engineer, Vinod, were hearing. And so the big man entrusted me with the task of being his additional set of ears once the show started when he wouldn’t be able to move away from the console too often. By the time we were done with the sound check I was happily reassuring Tejas (the lead singer) that the reverb on his vocal, which during the sound check was left a little high, would be fine once the place filled up. I don’t think Tejas gave a damn to what I had to say. What mattered was that Naveen was in agreement. And suddenly I felt like a kid who’d been given high scores by a respected teacher. It’s not like the problem has gone away. If anything, it’ll get worse as I get older. But things got put in perspective. Although my ability to check for sound equipment is impaired, my sense for music still remains fairly keen. Nothing else matters 😉
A band called Mostly Harmless (I love that name and the significance of it didn’t escape at least a few of us given that the next day would be Towel Day, a tribute to Douglas Adams) opened the gig with some interesting cover versions. An hour later, Lagori took to the stage for their acoustic set. Like any music, what Lagori plays is not everybody’s choice. I was talking to a bunch of metalheads just the day before and they restrained themselves from kicking me off the table when I mentioned I like Lagori. That’s funny because Geeth, the band’s lead guitarist and founding-member, himself loves metal (and I think there are others in the band whom I don’t know as well who share a similar taste). Irrespective of whether one likes what Lagori plays or not, I’d say there’s something amiss with anyone who doesn’t come away from their live show all charged up. This is a band that needs to be experienced live (it’s my personal opinion that their studio sound doesn’t articulate the power of their live shows). Did I say ‘acoustic set’? Gentle, soft, mellow and all that? Really? They tore the place down!!! Stage too small? No problem. Head right into the crowd. The whole place could’ve run on the energy of the band and the crowd. More than 2 hours later after the first note was sounded, when the band powered down, people were still reluctant to leave.
And what of me? A week of dread turned to delight, dismay to reassurance. We talk of the transformational power of music. True, but some musicians do it better. You could call this a gratitude piece, a thank you note to 4 boys and a girl, to the music they make and to an affable whiz at the console who’s as happy sharing from his formidable trove of knowledge as he’s listening to a novice whom others might ignore. Gratitude piece. Yeah, I think that sounds good.
P.S.: A post written on Sunday gets published on Monday? The mildness of the Sunday evening was too much to resist and there was still some excess energy held over from the Saturday show. And so I went for a 90 minute run (was it the Doobie Brothers who sang ‘It Keeps You Running’?). Happy but it took some out of me. I decided to leave ‘polishing’ the draft I had written to the next day.