November 21, 2017

India-ASEAN Festival 2017

Last October, we played our first pair of international shows in New Delhi and Jaipur, India as the Philippines’ representatives in the ASEAN-India Music Festival. Through organizers Seher and the National Commission of Culture and the Arts, we were given this momentous opportunity to present our music to a foreign audience.

The first leg of our journey took place in New Delhi, India. The concert was held in Purana Quila, a historical fort. Hours before the set, we went to the venue for sound check and interviews. Later that night, we returned to the venue, uncertain about how big the audience would be and equally in the dark about how receptive they would be to our music. We then drove through the driveway going to the backstage, and what a site to behold – the festival that night had an estimated turnout of over 12 thousand people! After all, the biggest Bollywood trio in India, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy would be playing.

Not long after, it was our time to play. We were surprised even further by how encouraging the audience was as they clapped, jumped and even attempted to sing along to our novel tunes, especially during the more upbeat songs such as “Fools” and “Settled.” “What’s that song that goes ‘Oohhh ohhh ohhh ohhhh?’ That one’s really catchy!” went one of our organizers, Jas, shortly after we played. “People here are so nice. Ang chill talaga ng mga tao dito!”some of us exclaimed as we talked in the car going back to the hotel that night.

To cap the night off, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy performed. Their infectious energy, charisma, and musicianship captured the audience from start to end. It was here that we got a glimpse of what the experience of professionalism in mainstream Indian music was like. “Never in my life did I think we would be in India dancing to Bollywood music and enjoying this much,” said Kian, as he looked around at us and the organizers getting rowdy, enjoying themselves.

Compared to the hustle and bustle of New Delhi, Jaipur was a rather quaint city. Jawahar Kala Kendra, the location of the next leg of the festival, reflected this quality. Whereas Purana Qila’s façade was overlooking a massive field, the JKK was an outdoor arena enclosed by four walls, making for a humbler audience size and a more relaxed concert atmosphere. However, this made for an event that was equally impressive and enjoyable as the former.

We played our set, once again amazed at the responsiveness of the crowd. People were not shy, being complete strangers, to come up to the band and candidly and politely offer their compliments. Following the gig was an impromptu afterparty – food and drinks courtesy of Sanjeev, the head of Seher. Here, we got to know our organizers, program host Anupam, and Thailand representatives, Asia 7 (A fantastic band! check them out!) better as we celebrated the successful couple of days that had just gone by.

To conclude an already incredible trip, we were able to squeeze in some touring on the last day, before our flight. Jas took us to the ornately designed Hawa Mahal (“Wind Palace”).  We took a walking tour, had some pictures, and headed to the airport later that day, but not before eating lunch at Jas’ house first.

This trip was a vital experience for us and one that we will always cherish; because of the friends we made, the experience of playing for a totally new crowd, and overall the opportunity to experience the culture of a country that offers much hospitality and warmth.