Gig Report: Ibis Music Comes to Chennai with Staccato
The contemporary classic band stayed true to being all-round entertainers at the penultimate gig of the global concert series
It almost seemed like a decent day for a gig until dark clouds appeared over suburban Chennai last Friday evening, prompting organizers of global gig series ibis Music – ibis Hotels and Sony Music India – to move indoors.
The restaurant at ibis Chennai OMR wasn’t the most ideal space sound-wise and required Chennai’s contemporary classic band Staccato to redo their setup and rush through a soundcheck, but it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Perhaps frustratingly, the rain had stopped soon after, but the show was now in a space that could hold about 100 to 150 people – young and old, first-time listeners and longtime fans.
The show was the sixth out of seven shows which launched in April. The lineup included singers and bands who clearly know how to juggle entertainment and artistic value, from pop artist Akasa in Gurugram to Hindi pop-rock band The Yellow Diary in Navi Mumbai, multilingual band M Sonic in Kolkata and indie representatives such as post-rock act Aswekeepsearching in Pune and Peepal Tree in Bengaluru.
Staccato was out at ibis to provide the best of all worlds, very much like a band playing a hotel gig would be expected to. They took requests and generously appreciated their audience through a two-hour set, but this still wasn’t a traditional hotel gig. For one, no one was expected to be seated by a table with their drink or food (even though a specially curated menu was made for the event). Frontman Gowtham Bharadwaj stepped in right after violinist Manoj Kumar (part of Tamil rock band Amrit Rao & the Madrascals) wowed with an instrumental rendition of “Kaadhal Rojave” from the film Roja (1992), launching into their fusion version of “Mahaganapathim.”
Performing with a different iteration, the band featured drummer Sandip Ramanan (who occasionally indulged us with intricate drum fills), bassist Shallu Varun, guitarist Abinandan David and keyboardist/bandleader R.H. Vikram. They worked their way through reggae, dark meditative rock and emphatic, versatile folk-fusion on songs like “Nee Daya Radha,” “Sindhu Nadhi,” “Mudhugare and “Saavan.” Bharadwaj is quick to take a survey on how many Tamil, Hindi and Telugu speakers there were in the house and promised a multilingual setlist.
While fans would shout their requests out between songs, Staccato would launch into their versions of Tamil, Telugu and Hindi film songs. Although there were only a handful of songs composed by the band, Bharadwaj launched into his song for the 2019 film Dear Comrade, cracking wise to the crowd that he would sing “Aagaasa Veedu Kattum” in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. Soon after, the high energy was no longer flagging, as Staccato launched into covers of “Chapa Chapa Charkha Chale” from the 1996 film Maachis and offered more Nineties and early 2000s Bollywood nostalgia with raucous covers of songs like “Kajra Re.”
Staccato never let the energy flag during their set, by the end of which audiences were dancing all over. With the final stop for ibis Music in India taking place on September 6th in ibis Jaipur Civil Lines, there’s folk fusion blended with hip-hop Swagsthaan, which sounds like yet another can’t-fail pick, just like Staccato.
ibis Music ft Swagsthaan takes place at ibis Jaipur Civil Lines on September 7th, 2019. Entry: free. Details here.