Mumbai’s live spaces, a perfect meeting ground for audiophiles, are on a rise. About two years ago, the only places that catered to live music were Not Just Jazz By The Bay, Marine Drive and Razz Rhino in Juhu. Hard Rock Café brought raised the brand value of local artistes.
Around this time, Blue Frog opened its doors to musicians and fans, a turning point for the city’s nightlife. Suddenly, there was a surge of non-Bollywood, non-commercial talent and From occasional gigs, there were now live events every night of the week. Talent from all over the world came here and local bands, including alternative acts, began getting stage value.
More live places mushroomed across the city, some survived while others withered away. Places like Sports Bar in Lower Parel also tried their hand at live bands. Firangi Paani at Fun Republic and the now-defunct D’Ultimate held fort in Andheri for sometime.
This was also when companies like Bhavishyavani, Submerge and smaller collectives began pushing electronic music in clubs. Zenzi in Bandra took initiative and started open mic nights, where amateur talent recited poetry, sang originals and covers and even tried their hand at stand-up comedy. Bands started performing on most weekdays and the response was always more than phenomenal. Though biased towards expats, the city finally had its hub where the tribe of like-minded weirdos sang, danced and cheered. From open mic nights to indie art exhibits and lindy hop nights, if you had a talent to share — you got a stage. Nightlife promoters, artiste managers and art curators now had more opportunities to cash in on. That is when Bombay Elektrik Projekt hopped onto the bandwagon, exploring performance arts like comedy, experimental visuals and bar crawls at Mumbai Times Café and Café Goa, both in Bandra.
Relatively newer venues in Bandra like Mocha Mojo began supporting board games and short films and Bonobo opened up to local bands, comedy and cutting edge electronic music.
Why Bandra? The suburb has always welcomed bohemian castaways. We tried taking what we do to Kino 108, Andheri and had local support all the way. But Bandra’s buzz and energy feeds into everything around you.
Still, the guys at Bhavishyavani launched quality electronic music with the Sunday Sundowner at Aurus, Juhu. Local event promoters started one-off electronic music nights at Juhu venues Vie Lounge and Azok and Khar spot Irish Pub. Newbie B69 in Andheri east draws metal bands and their fans most days of the week.
Art Loft packs its week with painting, song and dance, acting, drama, sculpture classes and pottery, while the alwaysfunny people behind Improv Comedy host classes on comedy and improvisation twice a week. The team at Best of Bombay have bar crawls, art crawls and heritage walks. Dhanya Pilo and Aviral Saxena at the Wall Project have made street art their own in Bandra. If you're nice, you get to paint with them as well.
The suburbs aren’t alone in their efforts. Koyla in Colaba host Sufi nights and quality local electronic DJs and musicians playing at Wink, Taj President and Villa 39. Even The Comedy Store, Palladium, now host some of the best international talent while promoting local talent.
You have a choice for almost every day of the week with quirky social activities like Chugg-beer olympics, pub quizzes, board game bashes, nights for live painting with music, short film nights, world music nights, experimental music nights. Your days now end with nights of expression.
The writer is co-director of Bombay Elektrik Projekt that organises live events