Last week, international DJ Eddie Halliwell’s much-awaited gig at Blue Frog ended abruptly minutes after he hit the console, when the Mumbai police decided to play spoilsport. Now the popular music venue has canned its closing electronica set altogether, shutting shop as early as 11.30 pm every night. And like Blue Frog, other performance venues have decided to tread carefully, thereby spelling disaster for struggling bands.
“There’s been a loss in business,” confesses Sid Talwar, guitarist of a city band, Spud In The Box. “The possibility of getting new gigs has reduced tremendously now.”
Sid is one of many musicians here who’s noticed a decrease in the number of people attending gigs — a scene that had just about opened up in the last few years. “It’s not really fear, but those who like going to such shows are now thinking twice about going out,” says Naveen Deshpande, founder of Mixtape, an artist management company that handles acts like Indus Creed. “So the number of gigs being organised has reduced.”
Ever since the crackdown on nightlife, city venues are struggling to finance events with limited audiences. “As a result, they have altered their payment methods. If people don’t turn up, they have no chance of making money. Certain venues have even suggested dividing the revenues on the basis of how many people show up, something unheard of before,” says Shreya Naik, founder of Dream Makers, another artist management agency.
According to Anders Laustsen, managing director of india-nightlife.com, a site that lists city events, the gig calendar is slowly, but surely, shrinking. He says, “The crackdown has affected our site, which is a community of people who love Mumbai’s nightlife. We feel people’s frustration and can see that the number of events in the city is going down. A cultural city like ours has been brought to its knees. There is no india-nightlife.com if there is no nightlife!”