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What It Feels Like to Be Back at A Live Gig After Seven Months

Over the weekend we attended Mumbai’s first socially distanced gig featuring singer-songwriters Vernon Noronha and Bryan ‘The Man’ Ernest

David Britto Oct 28, 2020

Singer-songwriter Vernon Noronha (left) performing at Mumbai's first socially distanced gig at The Boho Pad this past weekend.

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As someone who would make it a point to be present for at least one gig each week, the lockdown has been an abysmal experience for not getting my fix of live music. If my memory serves me right, the last time I witnessed musicians playing instruments physically in front of me was sometime in early March at Mumbai’s Carter Road Social.

Since then, there’s been a lot of patchy and bad network Zoom gigs, some well put together online shows and a series of livestreams that have thoroughly been watered down now. While the digital experience worked its charm initially, it never felt the same as being front row at a dingy club watching your favorite band, sitting down and immersing yourself at an intimate house gig or for that matter standing in the middle of a field at your chosen music festival.

Hence, it was refreshing to learn that Mumbai gig and culture curators HivePad had organized the city’s first socially distanced gig this past weekend featuring singer-songwriters Vernon Noronha and Bryan ‘The Man’ Ernest at The Boho Pad in Santacruz.

I was quick to buy my tickets for the event and counted the hours until showtime as I readied my armor (mask and sanitizer). The gig was restricted to just 15 people plus artists and crew. Upon entering the venue there were rules on how not to shake hands with anybody as well as sanitizer bottles at every corner of the room. Those rules were followed to a tee by everyone in attendance as friends reconnected with fist bumps and the newly introduced elbow bump, folks laughed at jokes from under their masks and were mostly just happy to be back amongst people and live music.

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When the gig kicked off, attendees were scattered around the room, both standing or sitting on a mat with people they were comfortable with, as Noronha opened proceedings accompanied by percussionist Kristofor Mendonca (of erstwhile rockers The Mavyns). The singer-songwriter performed material off his 2016 debut EP Closer To Home, the poppy “Dream Sandwich” that he collaborated with fellow musician Raghav Meattle on as well as unreleased songs from his forthcoming full-length debut album Marie. Ernest took to the stage next with his high energy and sing-along songs such as “Walk Me Home” and “A Travellers Song” as well as a cover of singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad’s “Tune Kaha.”

Once the gig was done, there was a bittersweet feeling in the air. On one hand, it was fantastic to be in the midst of microphones, amps, guitars, applauding artists in unison and whatnot, but the other side of the coin opened our eyes to a new normal. One where although we might congregate to be together to enjoy music, in some way we have to restrict ourselves to our encounters with one another. However, this is a stepping stone to getting ourselves back to how things once were and one can only hope and pray that everyday life and live music will resume to how we remember it to be.

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