Apr 30, 2012

My music and nature soaked weekend

I had heard about it through a friend, but I wasn't really sure what The Great Gig in the Sky really was. I read up the page, I asked around, I tried to figure it out, but in my head, there were still a load of doubts. I can get pretty introverted in social situations, and I wondered, would I feel lost here. Add the fact that my musical inclination is sporadic and very mood-induced.

But my love for the outdoors, hikes, treks, open air and more got me going for it. And let me begin with - I am glad I did.

To introduce the concept, The Great Gig in the Sky is something started by a group called Jumpstart India. They travel with a band / singer-songwriter to a location that is nestled amidst nature, and that is where the gig is. No frills, no equipment, no fancy lights or speakers, no set-up or stage. Just a small selected audience, and the performer. This is usually an overnight camping trip, and the best part is that you get to travel, interact and get to know the musicians you are listening to. Music is better appreciated when you appreciate the people creating it. Isn't it?

Now that I have explained it, about the one I went for.

We travelled with a band called Dischordian. Here emerged my second hesitation. I had never heard the. Or heard of them either. They describe their music in these words: Spanning multiple genres, but primarily grounded in folk, punk, and blues, Dischordian’s sound is difficult to categorise or describe. 

But would I like it? Would they be a bunch of snooty band members who just stomped around?
Fast forward to the bus ride. Hot as hell, and sweaty, it was where we awkwardly smiled at each other. A courteous hi, and a basic ice breaker round of introductions. We arrived at Kondivane, gasping for something cool, a breeze, a gush of air, something. Heading for a local hut, the fan turned into the second ice breaker, as everyone plopped under it.
Lunch and lazy bonding, some talk and getting to know each other was followed by impromptu jamming as a Ukulele was discovered. Cut to looking for a decent spot to swim, in the parched stream. As one of the band members put it, Dhiren from Jumpstart tricked us into a mini hike by guiding us to a spot a little further ahead, before we decided it wasn't large enough and walked back to the main stream. Loads of fun followed, splashing about, and even recreating 'We will rock you' with water splashes (yes, I am not kidding!) To my utter delight, the band members turned out to be total fun, with no airs, and a great sense of humour.

We learnt how to pitch tents and pitched our own tents in an open field. The band was working with us, clearing ground, pitching tents, moving stones and more. Then we headed to a 'chowk' sort of area, under a tree, for the main event of the trip - the gig. There were just a few of us on this trip, and that transformed into a more intimate setting and performance. The band played some really nice songs from their latest album, and I discovered a new sound. I was also fascinated by the number of different instruments they could play and used for their music. They had us jamming along, as everyone drowned in the general mood of the night. And it was even better, when all the lights were turned completely off.

We were told that this gig that lasted over two hours was one of the longest Great Gigs. Did not feel that long if you asked the audience. Tired and sleepy, everyone headed back to the freshly pitched tents, and decided to sleep under the stars! I was still hungover on music, so it was my headphones, my phone playlist and me gazing up making shapes out of the stars for a long time. I even got to use my brand new sleeping bag, but that is just a personal landmark! :)

The next day was pretty hot (still!) and lazy. Some decided to go back for a swim, while the rest just lazed around chatting, sketching, writing (only I did that!) and generally vegging out. More random jamming ensued.

If I had to, I could point out things to dislike. But the best part about this little trip was that it made me not want to point those out. Except the heat of course. You cannot ignore that. Nor can you do something about it. I dived in expecting no luxury, nothing big, and returned with some good friends and fond memories. A cooler time of the year would have helped a lot, but that did not stop us from having fun.

Jumpstart is a company that is new, young and has just kickstarted. They have a brilliant concept in this, and over time, they shall probably make it more professional. But I do hope that does not happen. Because, for me, the charm was in doing things together, in figuring out solutions to a glitch together, in a joint recce to decide on the location of the performance, and in the exchange of ideas that actually brings a group together.  I would definitely recommend something like this, but I will also throw in a warning. Do not sign up if you are used to luxuries everywhere you go, if you expect a prim and proper world around you and if you cannot bear the thought of roughing it out. That is not the purpose of these gigs. Sign up with an open mind, no huge expectations and a drive to have fun no matter what, and you shall have an experience you will be proud of.

Also, if you are travelling in the summer, carry shorts!

You can find Dischordian on Facebook here or check out their website.
Check out what Jumpstart is and does here.

Photos Clicked by Manish Usapkar and Vilas Chavan. All copyrights with Jumpstart India.

1 comment:

Mariette said...

I love it. will definitely try it out the next time they have a great gig!