Music bands @NewNormal stage: Sanitised equipments, selfies with mask and masti

Popular bands from Delhi-NCR share how they are taking precautions while resuming live gigs, and get back to the stage after Covid-19 forced them to perform virtually.
By Naina Arora and Mallika Bhagat
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 02:11 PM IST
Delhi-NCR music bands such as Euphoria (above) talk about resuming live performances while considering safety protocols.

Digital concerts can never replace the energy of live gigs. Right? And as bands based in Delhi-NCR cautiously resume stage performances after the pandemic, playing to live audiences, they couldn’t agree more.

Rock band Astitva has resumed gigs at weddings, and private gatherings, with safety norms. (Photo: Amal KS/HT)

‘Selfie, but with mask’

“How can I sing with the mask on?” laughs Salman, lead vocalist of the band Astitva. He says the entertainment industry has been the “most affected” in the Covid-19 pandemic. As live performances resume with sanitisers and gloves, he shares: “Although public concerts and ticketed concerts are few, we’re performing at private gatherings, with Covid guidelines. Most of the public gigs were in Udaipur, Jaipur, Goa and Jodhpur. After all the negativity which Covid gave to the world, concerts and public gatherings resuming is actually a positive sign which we all artistes were eagerly waiting for. And hardcore Salman-Zaman fans always want a selfie, with masks on, of course. We love going on stage and performing for people and giving them happy memories. But now we are really happy that slowly and steadily concerts are happening. And we look forward to each and every performance of ours, be it a small gathering or a public concert.”

Folk musicians Hari Singh Jaaj and Sukhmani Malik say they have performed at five star hotels, and wedding venues. (Photo: Yogendra Kumar/HT)

‘To have the audiences in close proximity was a bit scary’

Hari and Sukhmani who started performing in 2020, believe resuming performances have come with its share of mixed feelings — a little excitement and a little bit of fear of the unknown. They have performed at five-star hotels, wedding venues in Chattarpur, and also residences there. “We normally fly quite a bit. But taking a flight after so long and for the first time in the times of Covid was quite an experience. There is the experience related to travel, and whether or not to feel comfortable staying and eating at a hotel or restaurant. And while on stage without our masks, to have the audience in close proximity was initially a bit scary. But we’ve tried our best to approach everything with logic, common sense and lots of positivity. Thanks to our management team, all precautions were taken before and during performances. Sanitisation of the equipment that we use was also done,” says singer Sukhmani Malik.

“People have definitely asked us for photos without masks on. It gets very difficult to deny a fan who comes with such happiness in their eyes. Initially, I quickly took my mask down (held my breath) and took that photo. But later I realised that was a bad idea. So now photos are with masks on only, or no photos. In most cases people understand. Thank God for that,” she adds.

Indian Ocean Band members have a candid moment. (Photo: Satyabrata Tripathy/HT)

‘The distance between the band and the audience will be six to eight feet’

Popular band Indian Ocean, which has been part of several e-concerts of late, has quite a few live gigs lined up in Delhi-NCR. Band member Himanshu Joshi says: “On ground, we performed in Bhopal. It was a drive-in theatre wherein the audience was in the car, and each car had a speaker. But once we started playing, people were out of the cars and assembled near the stage. We have an enquiry for March for a college fest in Delhi. For live gigs, we’ll have a small audience and all safety protocols will be followed. The distance between the band and the audience will be six to eight feet. I am very careful, and so are others. We’ll have the mask on before and after the concert. Mikes, stand will all be sanitised. We all carry our in-ear headphones as well. Every crew member’s temperature will be taken, one can’t do without it. We were thinking the e-concerts were the way forward. But there are two ways of looking at it. When somebody is watching an e-concert, how many are wearing professional headphones? One’s watching it either on phone or tab. The excitement of watching it on stage...woh baat aati nahin hai.”

‘We were like an excited family meeting each other after years’

“We got back on stage after exactly 11 months. We took stage at the Lost Lemons in Gurugram and man, it felt like the first time we were getting on stage! It was a very emotional evening for us and the audience. All of us hadn’t experienced the live atmosphere in a long, long time. For a moment, it felt like everything was just a dream. I had tears in my eyes and I almost fell off the stage in my nervousness,” says Palash Sen, of the band Euphoria. “The band wore our customised Euphoria masks throughout the show, and since it was rooftop, adequate social distancing was maintained and everyone was checked at the entrance. Also I finally got my hair chopped, as I’d vowed to get it cut once we got back on stage,” he laughs.

The band had been rehearsing to perform for live gigs for a while now. “We discussed our set over video calls and met in person a day before the show after getting our Covid tests done. Also, being a completely live band there are a lot of things which we do spontaneously on stage. So, rehearsals were more about getting to hang out with each other once again, eating lots of food and sharing our lockdown experiences,” adds Sen.

‘We are getting queries for DU fests, so things are looking good’

Delhi-based band Rocknamaa had started performing live late last year, but initially the performances featured only the duo Shaheen and Vicky. “The pandemic was hard as there were no live events, so we had to turn to online sessions. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we had gone back to performing as a duo, just like we had started. Of late, we are back to performing as a band and that is exhilarating. Most of our gigs have been in Delhi, where people are now turning up in good numbers since the vaccine has put many at ease. The organisers take all necessary safety measures and we wear masks at all times, except when we’re on the stage. Things are looking good, since we have more performances lined up, and are also getting queries for DU fests,” says Shaheen.

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