HT City at The Grammys

Long. Tiring. But three days of lyrical fun. Covering the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, music industry’s biggest ceremony, for the first time was a nerve-racking as well as an exhilarating experience.

music Updated: Feb 15, 2012 00:29 IST
Robin Bansal
Robin Bansal
Hindustan Times

Long. Tiring. But three days of lyrical fun. Covering the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, music industry’s biggest ceremony, for the first time was a nerve-racking as well as an exhilarating experience.

The larger-than-life gala that took place on February 12, had me knocking on its doorstep (venue: Staples Center and the adjoining LA Convention Center) two days prior to the main event. Though heavily jet lagged, the excitement to spread the word back here about HT City’s presence at the Grammys was too overwhelming for me to bother about catching some sleep.

Day 1: Mission Admission

Day one started with a glitch: I had to find out the right people and the right credentials in order to gain access to the main event as well as to other events preceding and succeeding it. Entry to the Staples Center, the main auditorium, was denied. However, after much pleading, all I managed was an access to the media center at Staples, that too, only for the big day. What I missed out on were the rehearsals that were under way at the center.

These rehearsals, for the main event, began February 9 onwards and big names in music such as Coldplay, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Paul McCartney, Adele and Chris Brown were schedule to perform. The stars had been practicing for the D-day in tight quarters on special request.

The area surrounding the Staples Center was almost sealed, too, with private bouncers and police doing rounds routinely. Owing to all this, I had no access to the main arena before Sunday. However, I managed to sneak inside the Staples Center without what was being called an ‘access sticker’.

The first look of the Staples auditorium took my breath away. It was a grand room that could easily house close to 20,000 people. The auditorium appeared even bigger as I walked into a rehearsal setup that was laid out inside it. While I managed to click a few pictures on my camera stealthily, the party soon got over when I was caught without an access card and shown the door. But, never mind. I stayed put outside the centre with the hope of bumping into a celeb or two, but in vain.

Day 2: Death Casts a Shadow

Security leading to the Staples as well as in and around the venue was beefed up on Day two after the shocking death of singer Whitney Houston in her hotel room. Also, a last-minute tribute was added to the event line-up featuring singer-actor Jennifer Hudson and had to be rehearsed in just a day. Though I joined the herd of foreign press and stayed put outside the Staples, the celebrities managed to play hide-and-seek with both the fans and the media.

Day 3: Armed Without a Tuxedo or Wi-fi

The final day turned out be a long one as the media had to arrive at the Star Plaza at Staples Center for the pre-telecast Grammy ceremony at 10am. The pre-telecast, though, started post 1pm and honoured 70 out of 78 categories in the event. I was live-tweeting continuously from my phone so as to wire the news as it broke first in India.

It was now time to turn the spotlight on the red carpet full of dapper tuxedos and flowing gowns. While fans and ticket holders to the gala had started queuing up post noon, the stars began pouring in only in the evening. Bright blue neon lights engulfed The Staples Center and the stage looked set for perfect action. I had secured a VIP box ticket to the gala. But, I wasn’t dressed for the black tie event, thanks to my tailor in India, who goofed up while stitching my tuxedo.

However, bigger things were at stake here as I had no wi-fi access for my iPad in the media centre to send stories to the office. Once the spectacular ceremony got over, I took a break from live tweeting, filed my piece and mailed it to HT City just in time, while the rest of the world was busy watching the ceremony live on Vh1. Phew!

First Published: Feb 14, 2012 19:31 IST