Parikrama Tourin’ in the USA
Parikrama founder and keyboardist Subir Malik writes about the band’s first North American tour
“Has any rock band ever played out here?” I asked Ann, from the Kennedy Center, in Washington, DC. “Well, not that I remember,” came the reply, not a very encouraging one, just a couple of hours before Parikrama’s first ever performance in the United States on March 11. It made us even more curious about the kind of audience that would turn up. Would they come at all? To hear a rock band from India, at, if I may say, a non-rock venue? We just had to wait to find out for ourselves.
The lines started as early as 4.30 pm, for a 6.00 pm performance. And just about 10 minutes before showtime, the hall was not only full in the designated seating, there were people filled in almost tillÂ the other stage, which is bang opposite the Millennium stage. It has an area for itself, but was now occupied by people who had come in for a rock concert.
The audience was full of all kinds of people ”“ all ages, all nationalities ”“ with many Indians as well. It was great to see that it’s just not the desi Bollywood shows our NRIs queue up for, and that there are many rock lovers out there. Following a brief introduction by the emcee and we start our set. The response to the first track, ”˜Am I Dreaming?’ was great. And then into ”˜Vapourize,’ ”˜Load Up,’ ”˜In the Middle’. The set just zoomed by, and it was a fascinating feeling, as we ended the show, to receive a standing ovation. Job done, it was time for beer!
We met so many people later on, who came and said, “We saw you at RAIT in 1997,” “You played for us at REC Roorkie in 1992,” “I was the main organiser for your Lucknow show in 1993,” etc.Â It was a great feeling to meet so many people, so many old fans, many of whom had driven down 10 hours, to catch Parikrama’s first performance in the US.
Mission accomplished for Day One, we were now looking forward to the next day, and concert number two at the UltraBar, DC. We had written two new tracks for the US tour ”“ ”˜As the Rains May Fall’ and ”˜Mayhem in Gm’ – but could not playÂ either of them at the first show, because of lack of time. But we were looking forward to playing them here tonight. Out here as well, the show was sold out, and the venue full to the brim.Â It was great to see so many people from our green room, on the first floor – a good mix of Indians and Americans. We just had enough time to grab a coffee, after the soundcheck before we headed back to the stage. Again, the response to all the tracks, including both the new songs, was great.
On Day Three, we were to travel to Toronto, and play the concert the same night, at the prestigious Canadian Music Festival. It took us a good two hours to check in, because our bags were stuffed with all the shopping done by the guys – mainly music-related stuff. So, we would open one bag, take out something and put it in another bag, weigh it, till all bags were almost under 23kg, as allowed by the airline. In the end, we managedÂ everything, with just a little excess baggage.
We landed in Toronto, ready to face the temperature, which goes into the negative, but it really did not take too much time to adjust. This gig was atÂ a place called Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla, and we were sharing the stage with three other rock acts. It was a plug and play kinda gig, and we were all geared up for the same. The first band finished, and it was our turn to go on stage. We had set up everything off stage – actually outside our trailer – and just carried everything onstage. We faced a few technical issues, and wasted almost 20 minutes of our playing time, but once we started it was all cool. During the first song, the audience section got almost empty, as most people headed for the bar during the setup, but by the third track, it was full again. The crowd, by now, started liking and accepting the band, and by the time we finished, I can safely say, we did end up making a good amount of new fans in Canada. And oh, lest I forget to mention, this is the first rock & roll venue we have ever seen in the world, which actually had a stripper displaying here cabaret to rock music. That she was placed right in front of Imran, our violinist, was a different story, as he did look distracted throughout. When I shouted “Attention,” he misunderstood it for “erection,” and nodded in the affirmative.
Day Four saw us on another flight to Ottawa. We were put up in this lovely FrenchÂ heritage hotel, Chateau Laurier, supposedly still visited by ghosts. But I guess they ran off that night, after getting to know that a rock band was staying overnight. The venue for the gig was the very beautiful Canadian Museum of Civilisation. We had a great soundcheck and waited for the show to start. The response here was great as well, and we had a blast.
Overall, this was a great tour, with fantastic memories and not to forget the warm hospitality extended to us, by one and all, atÂ the Indian High Commissions in DC and Ottawa. As for Ann, after the show, she gave us an open offer to come back and play at the Kennedy Center again, anytime.