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Indie artists are taking the stage

Indians no longer want heavy metal and rock. Independent electronica, hip-hop are now popular. Isha Manchanda writes.

music Updated: Dec 17, 2011 22:59 IST
Isha Manchanda

Recently, Indian fans of rock music have seen big international names like Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Lamb of God, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, Scorpions, Deep Purple, and most recently, Metallica play in various cities. They've even had the Backstreet Boys and Richard Marx shoved unto them in the name of rock'n'roll, a mystery that still baffles the best of us. While this long line-up of illustrious names might sound reassuring to a whole lot, there is a section that is dismayed by the fact that India may have become an exclusive market for washed up rockstars and, alas, boybands.

Though the acts coming to India till now may have been largely metal and classic rock - again, we can't stress the boyband exception enough - there is growing interest in the market among contemporary acts from a diverse number of genres. "The audience for international music is no longer dominated by metal-heads and classic rock lovers. People want to hear more indie artists, with hip hop and electronica becoming important genres," says Vijay Nair, co-founder of OML, an artist management firm and booking agency responsible for bringing down acts like Imogen Heap, Mumford & Sons and Asian Dub Foundation. "Even commercial artists like Akon and Lady Gaga are recognising India as an important emerging market for their music," Nair adds.

When Tiesto, one of the world's highest rated DJs came to India in 2008, he hardly created a buzz outside of his immediate fan base. Cut to 2011, when there are rumours of the possibility of a Deadmau5 gig, and a facebook event attempts to guarantee a 10,000-strong audience to convince the producer to visit. Himanshu Suri of Brooklyn-based hip-hop group Das Racist says he "will be in Goa for the Art and Literary festival next week, but we're very keen on coming to India for a proper tour, soemtime in 2012 if all goes right." For Suri, who is an American of Indian descent, "it would be kind of validating in a strange way to play a rap show in India."

Even though there have been hiccups with certain acts in the past few years - like when The Black Lips were asked to leave the country in 2009 because of the controversial rocker's baring it all on stage, or the recent Metallica fiasco - the future is full of hope.