Friday, June 8, 2007

Why can't it be Bollywood cover band concert EVERY weekend?

A. R. Rahman is playing in Chicago tomorrow night. (Given SepiaMutiny's propensity for noting... well, just about every desi-related thing that happens anywhere ^__^, I'm surprised they haven't posted about it. But on the other hand, none of that crowd seems to like the Bollywood very much. Though they do like the cricket.)

I would pass bricks to see this concert, but I did the math and figured out that it would cost about as much money to go as I earn in an entire week of temping. And I'm not quite that profligate.

(I feel rather like I did in undergrad, when Mandy Patinkin was giving a concert only an hour's drive away and I begged and begged everyone I knew who had a car to take me... I told them I would pay for their tickets and gas... and all they said was "Mandy who?")

However, if I'll miss Mr. Rahman I have seen what is perhaps the next best thing. Last weekend I went to a concert by a local Bollywood cover band made up entirely of members of the IT department at one of my city's major businesses.

If I gave the name of the band, you would know where I lived and how to get there, as their title coincidentally covers both pieces of information. So... I won't.

The concert took place at our local symphony hall. It was packed to the brim -- over 800 tickets sold. Lots and lots of saris, and lots and lots and lots of children.

The band was very talented, which didn't surprise me (particularly when I read the bios in the program, which all went along the lines of "such-and-such studied music for 17+ years until he moved to America and started working in the IT department of Big Company"). Their "costumes" left a little bit to be desired; the women all glittered in saris and salwar, but the men all wore the same rumpled polos and chinos that they must have worn earlier that day in the office. Come on, boys. Step up.

The funniest moment, though, happened at the beginning of the program, during the first number (a "original" rock version of Vande Mataram which sounded nothing like this rock version of Vande Mataram -- does it have an official tune, or are there a few variations?).


The band begins to play. The curtain rises. The entire stage space is filled with fog. We're talking up to the flyspace. Possibly 10,000 cubic feet of fog.

Everyone (including the audience) is singing Vande Mataram. The fog begins to spill out of the stage over the audience. In unison, all the fire alarms in the building go off.

Nobody moves. Everybody keeps singing. The entire hall is filled with the fire alarms and the icky-sweet smell of stage fog and the subwoofers.

I asked S., later, why in this crowd of 800, nobody seemed concerned about the fire alarms? This was his explanation:

The first thing desis do when they get to America is disconnect the fire alarms in their kitchen, because otherwise the alarm would go off every time they cook. They're used to American fire alarms not meaning actual fires.

Makes sense to me. ^__^


Beth said...

Love it. I saw the Bollywood Brass Band in London this winter, totally by accident, and it was great fun.

I almost went to the Rahman concert. But the tickets were so expensive! Plus the gas money...gah!

Blue said...

Ooh, so you must live somewhere nearby! (Nearby, of course, being relative. I'm guessing "not on one of the coasts.")

Yeah, too expensive. I can just put on my Dil Se CD and rock out to Chaiyya Chaiyya and close my eyes, and it's like the same thing. ^__^

Daniel said...

First concert/show I saw when I moved to NYC was Mandy Patinkin...I sat sixth row center--not 20 feet from him. It was AMAZING.

Beth said...

I live in Champaign-Urbana, 2.5 hours south of Chicago. I did go to Chicago last year for a Bollywood stage show and am always curious about what great things I'm missing.

Anonymous said...


I'm passing on the Rahman concert in my city as's next week here, but the tickets are insanely expensive! We're 6 people at home (parents visiting for summer), so shelling out over $600 for decent seats was definitely not ok! I do wonder, who *Are* these people who fill these shows? All of them seem to be sold out!

Funny story on the fog...and yes, I "knew" the answer before I read teh end of your post :-)