field notes from bangalore’s rock scene

IT’S OCTOBER and I have finally arrived in Bangalore, in Karnataka, in the south of India.  I’m an PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at UCLA here on a dissertation research grant from UCLA’s International Institute, and will be living in Bangalore for the next nine months doing ethnographic research and writing on rock music, studying Tamil and Hindi, as well as exploring the urban culture of the city, doing some yoga, and volunteering.

Billboard for the "Levis Freedom Jam" rock festival, August, 2007

Billboard for the "Levis Freedom Jam" rock festival, August, 2007

It’s my second time here –  the last visit, for a month, was in 2007.  During that time I started gathering ideas for what would eventually become my dissertation research project.  Tentatively titled “Rock Bands/Rock Brands,”  it explores the development of the local rock music scene in Bangalore  in relation to various forms of media and advertising. During this fieldwork I’ll have the chance  to see how things have changed in the rock music community here in the last two years. Soon I hope to re-connect with some of the people I met when I was last here, like the cool “post-rock” band Lounge Piranha .

This blog is going to serve several functions – as a kind of public fieldwork journal, a place to describe my research, but also as a travelogue and descriptive journal of living in a vibrant, bustling, and occasionally  life-threatening (the traffic is really very bad) city.

Le Rock Pub, downtown Bangalore, going full tilt

Le Rock Pub, downtown Bangalore, going full tilt

I’m a newcomer, a lucky visitor, to a rock scene that has been quietly building in Bangalore over the last decades and which now has a proliferation of bands, venues, and publications, as well as a bunch of passionate people who make the whole thing work and carry on, despite various setbacks.  In 2008 the city of Bangalore  instituted a ban on live band performances that temporarily restricted the rock scene (more about that in later posts, I hope).  The ban was lifted, though, and it definitely seems like there is more going on here musically than there was in 2007.  There are also more websites devoted to Indian rock and to the cultural events around the city than ever before.  I’ll be linking them here as I come across them.

IMG_1785I’m especially enamored of the magazine Time Out Bengaluru, which is a fairly recent addition to the city’s print media and a good way for the urban cultural scavenger  to get a handle on the events, art, dance, theater, and music that is happening in Bangalore.

Published in: on October 12, 2009 at 8:28 am  Comments (3)