Diary of a Madman #2: Eccentric Concert Promoters
Mad scientist Dr. Hex on the “idiosyncrasies of gig/festival organizers” in our metal special column
Oh, you thought that this piece had died after the very first article, had you not? Much like a character from a very popular show (who I won’t name because you will act aghast like I ruined your childhood), I too am back. This is the sequel. My empire strikes back. Judgement Day is here. The world is Catching Fire. Two girls and two cups. Okay, I went too far. Back to the metal.
I was enjoying a tranquil Thane afternoon, watching A.J. Styles refrain from hitting WWE Champion Roman Reigns during a heart-warming wrestling moment; when Nirmika pinged me, asking about this article. Like any other good journalist, I pretended like I had this under control. But unlike most good journalists, I had no idea what to write about. Thankfully, my friend Suresh came to the rescue and told me to write about the idiosyncrasies of gig/festival organizers. Which is a very interesting topic, and will spare me the chains in the Rolling Stone dungeon, at least for this week.
But now, I will do something that may take you all by surprise. I will forsake the pessimism, and say something positive for a change [Don’t worry. I’m fine. It’s probably the Mumbai summer heat]. Â Anyone who’s in a band [and to an extent, anyone who’s ever attended a concert] knows that the moments that one experiences at a show are priceless, and I personally am thankful to anyone who’s ever been courteous enough to invite [and pay] any of my bands to play our music before an audience. Out of respect for them, I will not name the promoters in question, but will only write about their eccentricities. Most promoters I’ve worked with have been honest, and nothing but sweet. But before I die of diabetes, from an overdose of sweetness; let me revert to my cranky self and tell you how strange some of them were.
There was this one time, many years ago, when Albatross was in the hotel, and waiting to be driven to the venue for soundcheck. Minutes passed, and then more minutes, and then an hour passed, and we were still waiting. A little flustered, I called up the promoter and got this response- “You only do na.” A message as vague and open ended as clues in Perry Mason novels. A few minutes later, I tried my luck again. “You only do na” was the response, once more. Thankfully, the car arrived and everything went according to plan. It was a brilliant show as well. Yet, echoes of ”˜you only do na’, still ring in my ears, interrupting my tinnitus, once in a while.
More recently, Albatross had travelled to a city for the first time and were waiting to be taken to our hotel. We were informed then that we would not be staying in a hotel, but in someone’s house. I generally have an aversion to houses, and haven’t even visited homes of some of my closest friends. The idea filled me with dread. Little did I know about the adventures that would ensue.
While the house was spacious enough, with enough bedding for all of us (they said), there were three strangers (incidentally all Bengali) who were sharing the same space. I asked them if the house belonged to them, and they replied saying that it belonged to a gentleman who’s unfortunately been in an accident. While the setting was strange, we had to just spend a night in the city, and head back to Mumbai the very next day. After yet another amazing show, we headed back to the house, dead tired. There were enough mattresses for just 5 of us, so I offered to sleep on the couch. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a voice. A man asked me to get up from his sofa, and sleep on a mattress instead. I told him that there were no more mattresses. The man replied saying that he owned the house, and he pointed out a mattress to me. I slept soundly through the night. In the morning, when I told the three Bengali residents that the owner had shown up during the night, they replied with- “But he was in an accident.” Creepy.
Or let me take you even further back in time, when I was in this little band called Old Monks. I was hanging out with current Primitiv guitarist Kiron one evening, and we ran into this promoter who invited us to play at the Rotary Club of Thane. Kiron said he was concerned about ”˜feedback’ in this enclosed space. The promoter replied saying ”“ “Don’t worry about feedback. I will ensure that the feedback is great from the crowd. Ask these guys (points to some other people). They got great feedback in the same venue, last time they played.” Ummmm”¦.okay then.
Of course, there have been other incidents where promoters (in the early days) have defaulted payments. There’s no humour in those stories, though. They’re just tragic.
There have been many more adventures on the road, and some of them have been even crazier than these. But I will conclude this edition, and watch some more wrestling. Or maybe some Curb Your Enthusiasm. Because I’m sure you want more. If you do, you only do na”¦
Riju Dasgupta does not exist. The writer of this piece is an illusion created by mad scientist Dr. Hex, who makes it seem like he plays bass for Albatross and Primitiv. But because bass is inaudible, one truly knows that he doesn’t exist.