Circa 2007. Razzbery Rhinoceros (Razz), Juhu shuts down. The underground music venue had witnessed Indian indie bands that had played to a no-frills, intimate audience. Sound was basic and venue space was limited. But the incendiary guitar riffs and reverberating beats had created many moshpits. Rock ruled and big music venues like Blue Frog and Hard Rock Café hadn’t sprung up yet. From Pentagram to Split and Zero – many head-banged their way to glory at Razz.
Cut to 2010, a clutch of metalheads and session musicians decided they needed to revive the same missing Razz culture. That’s when Ashutosh Pande (Khiladi), Rajesh Joshi, Priyadarshan Bhore (Zygnema), Shawn Pereira (Blakc) and Roop Thomas (Blakc) put their heads together and opened B69. The 2000 square feet jampad is located in Andheri East, and has been hosting at least two gigs a week since it opened in August.
“Frustrated by the lack of good indoor venues for live cross-genre music, we decided to create our own concert hall,” explains Pereira, who along with his colleagues, started B69 as a flagship venue of Bajaao, a company that deals with stage and PA equipment for rock concerts. “We went ahead with something experimental because with Bajaao, we already had the best sound equipment and B69 just happened to be an available space that we could develop into a jam pad venue,” adds Pereira.
B69 started out as a metal heads dream destination. Considering how heavy metal bands are always at want for gigs in Mumbai, owing to theirs not being a club-friendly sound – Pereira and his colleagues developed B69 as a place to have gigs, so that they would at least be heard. “All of us who started B69 play in metal bands. We already know the condition of band-friendly venues and there really aren’t many no-nonsense, good sound equipped venues. We thought it would be nice to have gigs here once or twice a week, where we could call the shots on the sound and crowd. B69 is not a restaurant or a bar. It’s an underground music venue and everyone comes here to watch gigs and play good music,” reiterates Periera.
Now, it’s also begun to host alternative and blues bands that have included Blackstratblues, webcert with Kailasa and Prayag, to name a few. “B69 is mostly supported by musicians and fans. The word is spreading about the venue and slowly musicians apart from metal bands are coming in as well,” says Pereira.