I did an interesting show the other day – a 100th birthday party and community celebration in a sports stadium, complete with dancers, live band, giant video screens and about a tonne of gold glitter. I was for the Jain community – a rather gentle religion who have a somewhat remorseless discipline – they get up at 4am and are in bed by 10pm and never eat after sunset. They are teetotal, vegetarian and don’t even eat root vegetables, not only because they come from the ground which is considered dirty, but because if you pull up a plant by it’s root it dies and they don’t believe in hurting anyone or anything which is most lovely. All seems to work for them if they are living till 100 years old!
The following week I was back at the same venue for a rather different show, also a birthday, with a considerably larger sound system – a DJ gig where the star act complimented his performance by selecting over-excited girls from the audience, pulling them up onto the stage and then splatting them in their faces with giant cakes before throwing them back into the crowd atop an inflatable rubber dinghy, well whatever floats your boat…. I’m not sure what the Jain community would have made of it all but the crowd loved it!
A question i get asked a lot, both by people back home and also my Indian friends is “what is it like working here? How is it different to Europe?” The first thing I would reply is that everything most definitely happens at it’s own pace. There is no such thing as a four hour load in for a show – you can spend days watching scaffold towers being built for you to hang your speakers off with NO shade at all, huddled behind your bass bins squeezing into the tiny patch of cool dark behind. Yes everything appears to be disorganised and chaotic and yes health and safety is pretty much non existent with guys rigging in flip-flops or barefoot atop 50ft trussing with no harness in sight. Stages can be held together by bamboo and string. You get fed up of the answer to everything being “done in five minutes madam” when you know full well that it won’t be. Everyone expects you to be some kind of audio genius because you are a foreigner when actually you are just human and clearly don’t know everything, especially after taking best part of two years off to have a baby and don’t even get me started on the six day week and comparatively low wages (which everyone resents you for earning because they are undeservedly so much more compared to them). At times I am finding it all soul destroying and I never anticipated it would be this challenging, but something is keeping me here and it’s not just the weather.
When you go to a show in India and you see the reaction of the audience – they are that much MORE excited than the European crowds, there are that many more hands firmly in the air – the raw energy and enthusiasm and sheer joy on people’s faces gives you the best job satisfaction that you can imagine. The crowds are that much more crazy here and it is all NEW; new bands, new music, new venues, new people – a change from the daily UK grind. The people you end up working with give so much to their work you can’t help but find it inspiring. Yes the work pressure is intense but that is pushing me to learn new stuff (and remember the stuff I’ve forgotten over time or which has been lost in the fog of pregnancy hormones). The festival industry here is young comparatively and I can’t wait to see it blossom and grow – in a country with so much colour and vibrancy the potential for creativity at these events is boundless. It feels like live music here can only get more exciting – I hope I get to stay a while longer….