growing a grassroots scene

waiting for the sun to go down at the mushroom cloud fest

I’M not 100% sure what “grassroots” means in relation to rock music, though I throw the term around a lot.  Both politicians and art people talk about things being “grassroots” and generally I’m suspicious of dynamics that transect both art and politics (propaganda, e.g.).  When I use the term I think of it as everything I like about rock music (jamming with friends, teenagers making zines in their bedrooms, DIY shows) and nothing I don’t (mtv, big record labels, etc). The term is probably functioning as a straw man for me – it’s facile thinking about a complex issue: the issue of money, profit and commodification in relation to creativity and musical community.

mushroom cloud fest

But I can’t shake the idea that there is something, some meaningful vector, within the idea of the “grassroots music scene”…I think it has something to do with preserving the sense that making popular music is creatively satisfying and worthwhile – in a world where the word “satisfaction” tends to be prefaced by the word “consumer,”  and the idea of worth more often than not is about capital.  That scene is about listening to amateur bands and new bands, it’s hearing music in parks and at open mic nights, it’s doing your first few shows and getting paid in beer rather than money, and it’s about recognizing what the idea of marketing your “product” has in the life of a band – working around it and in full recognition of both its possibilities and its problems.

In Bangalore there are now open mic nights happening frequently around the city, and several platforms for newish bands to play.  The Mushroom Cloud Festival had some fairly established bands (Parachute XVI) and some newer (The Bicycle Days, Drones from the Turbine, Clipped Wing Satellite, and Cactus Lepers) and was put together by the Live Gig team.  Mushroom Cloud was a great night that took a lot of work on the part of the organizers and the bands and I hope there are more shows like it…see some short videos of the bands HERE and HERE, HERE and HERE.

I don't know who this guy is but I like his style

Rolling Stone and Ballantine’s sponsored an open mic last week that I attended. There were acoustic acts, a nice cover of a great old soul classic (see video HERE), a craaazy metal band doing really strange and original ‘melodies’ over thrash-y drums and guitars (see video of them  HERE and remember – screwing around with sounds is what the early days of your first band is for!) Wrapping up the evening was the band K.A.R.T., which is made up of some established musicians on the scene.  They were clean, exciting, and their singer, whose name I don’t know *Sherin Jacobs* was really quite mesmerizing (see video of them HERE).


The audience for the show were kind of great and supportive.  The mid-size venue was packed and people were generally attentive and respectful of the bands…and none of the TVs were showing cricket so that was helpful.

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 7:14 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. KART’s singer’s name is ‘Sherin Jacob’ – a fantastic singer here in Bangalore!

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