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Hip hop and sitar

Indians abroad can be seen in attendance at Adnan concerts as also Plant fests, writes Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2005 20:01 IST
Meeta Chaitanya
Meeta Chaitanya

Although musical events of Indian origin and synthesis form a huge part of the Diaspora's time and money-share, concerts held at various arenas, concerts as widely diverse as the audience itself and as universally prevalent as the artists they showcase, are on a burgeoning rise here.

To a global Indian audience clued in to the latest in the music industry including both generic and sporadic phenomenon such as the huge surge in hip-hop in the case of the former, with artists as Usher, Ciara, Missy Eliot, Alicia Keys, Kanye West among a host of others, as also pop-corn wonders as Ashlee Simpson and American Idol find Kelly Clarkson -- concerts that are 'just' Indian are less than inviting.

If age and taste align with aptitude, Indians abroad can be seen ubiquitously in attendance at Adnan Sami concerts as also Robert Plant fests. Unlikely, even baffling, but it happens. This violent contrast seems to fade away somehow because of very many compliance factors, so to speak -- as accompanying family and friends to either/or events; doing one's bit by contributing to a benefit or charity event; or even just meeting with other Indians socially.

The presumption that Gen Y would typically be more oriented towards world music while their predecessors are wont to veer towards rediscovering the musical genius of the land they left years ago may be hackneyed but isn't incorrect. A look at the audience composition at concerts held by Indian organisations honouring unrivalled maestros as Asha Bhosle, Pt Jasraj, Utsad Amjad Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali to name a few artists who did perform to zealous support, reveals this trend fully. Without precipitating the argument further, the simple fact that emerges is that almost all these concerts barring maybe the Asha Bhosle concert at Fox theatre catered to the more mature (even older), seasoned and classically oriented Indian taste.

On the other hand, many Indian Americans in and out of the 'alternative' sociological parameters (age: 15-I refuse to grow old; status: reborn daily; taste: anything goes, but I prefer grunge) are seen hanging lose in the frenzied weekend concerts held at melee hubs in and around Atlanta. The Rolling Stones performing on Saturday, at the Philips Arena declared sold out tickets at prices ranging from $62 to $352 and was one such recent shindig applauded wholeheartedly by music lovers, Indian and others. Earthlink Live, the Fox Theatre, Philips Arena, Gwinnet Arena are among popular venues and have in fact played host to many Indian and American artists.

Atlanta's pride, the Chastain Park Amphitheatre, the hallmark of summer concert splendor is a reasonably comfortable outdoor venue situated in the sprawling Buckhead neighbourhood, patronized by many members of the Diaspora. Popular among music aficionados and artists equally, this arena has hosted many compelling, interactive, lively performances all summer long. The Park's table set-up series of concerts are very popular among locals here who bring items ranging from blankets, to coolers to champagne and even candles. The most recent Jethro Tull concert however was a no-table rock event, but it had its moments as patrons could be seen trading last minute tickets at the many entry points in a bid to get the best deal. They did.

The Tabernacle where Billy Idol is to perform on October 26 is on the extravagant end of the spectrum. Akin to the grandeur of a medieval palace, this rock-shrine, as it is called by desis locally, is haven to a rich collection of photographs of the 'preachers of rock and roll'. No wonder Lenny Kravitz, The Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Dave Matthews Band, Collective Soul, Lynyrd Skynyrd, have all performed here.

The gaping schism between Hindustani music and world music, to use the term amorphously, is therefore being bridged by Indians here both consciously and inadvertently. A typical Indian family is likely to have patrons for both segments, and the divide is permeable.

A self proclaimed 'melody buff', for instance would more likely be proud of his collection of 'rare cuts' across genres begotten sometimes of laborious hours spent gazing into unmoving templates of download software as Kazaa and Limewire. The same guy may be seen lurking in on Coldplay and accompanying his spouse to a Jagjit Singh concert. That may be the reason why music without borders is the pride of connoisseurs everywhere.

First Published: Oct 18, 2005 00:00 IST