Big Chill Goa!

The fact that I hadn’t heard of ‘The Big Chill’ before was quite a rude shock to me when I actually went and checked it out online …and that was just the beginning of my ‘research’ if you will. Even after all that, “The Big Chill Goa“, the Indian counterpart of the main Big Chill fest din’t look too appealing to my pessimistic mind. It was largely to do with the events I have seen held in India which absolutely lacked in quality of presentation, sound and just the overall feel of the event …. But when I actually landed up at ‘The Big Chill Goa’, I was completely BLOWN AWAY!! … But I get too far ahead of myself … lets start at the beginning …

The Raghu Dixit Project” was invited sometime in the second half of march to take part in ‘The Big Chill Goa’ and we were only one among about 5-6 Indian artistes who were invited in a whole galaxy of other artists that were playing at The Big Chill. That in itself was incentive enough to go and even better … it was in Goa, where I had not played before and the show was by the beach … things could never get better!

So we left amidst much chaos at the airport (reaching the airport on time and getting our tickets in order turned out to be a 100 metre dash in the end … much thanks to Shilpa for helping me out!) and landed in Goa bright and excited sometime in the evening on Saturday … From there we were promptly transported to ‘Leoney’s Resort’ in the official big chill bus that was meant for all artistes and all that jazz … so the feeling of having come to play at such a big fest was just about hitting us … The sights on the way from the airport to the resort were absolutely brilliant and coming from a concrete jungle that Bangalore has become, the bright pastel and earthen hues and specifically the use of White on buildings in Goa was mind boggling … it was just a brilliant sight!

       

Leoney’s resort was a nice place with the relaxed Goan atmosphere written all over it and we were put up with a few other bands who were playing at the Big Chill Goa. Shaair and Func, Shri and Jalebee Cartel were among the bands that we interacted with at the resort … There was of course the swimming pool which was the nucleus of all activity at the resort and the cool water was like heaven in the hot and humid Goan atmosphere!

      

We then stepped out to get some goan ‘stuff’ including footwear and clothes that suited the beach atmosphere and I was also keen on picking up some funky things for the show! and I guess I just got lucky with some funky stuff you will see later on …. We then left for the venue to see the artists on the first day and just get a feel of things there and hopefully catch a few of the artistes that we really wanted to …

When we reached there … it was just unbelievable … it was like something I have never seen before! Atleast not in real life in India … the venue was just surreal .. the coconut trees the ocean, the colours, the music, the people …. it was like I was transported to some place seen only in glossy brochures and on TV or something …

       

There were 3 stages at the venue where music was happening simultaneously, the Main stage, the Sula Bar and the Dance Tent. The Main stage was where all the major acts and bigger bands played, the Sula bar was a lounge where there was a lot more easy music happening and the Dance Tent was exactly what it was .. a Dance Tent! When we landed at the venue, we could hear the last few bars of Sheila Chandra‘s set and Siva, our drummer was completely heart broken that he missed watching her perform and we were just so close … we tried our best to hunt for her but with no luck … we headed then to the main stage and watched ‘The Bays‘ take the place apart … they were just super tight and amazing at what they did … the Bays go on stage completely unprepared and have no fixed songs … they just get on stage and Jam! but I am not such a big Dance music fan so I was just stuck to watching the drum and bass groove which was completely funky!

We headed back to our resort for dinner and much needed rest for the long day ahead ….

   

Our sound check was scheduled for the next morning at 9 AM along with Shri and it was completely not going to work … there is no way you can call two bands at the same time for a sound check … one band inevitably gets to wait and that is not the best thing to do … and this time round … it was our turn to wait .. though watching Shri go through their sound check itself was a super learning experience … it was fantastic to watch them on stage and then later to talk with them about random stuff … David, the drummer and Siva hit it off discussing everything from life, music, performing arts to everything in between, also Grant, the Keyboardist was amazing on stage and super company … Shri was complete genius … the man played a fretless bass (he made that himself in ’91 and still plays on that bass), the tabla, the flute and he sang during the set … it was just mind blowing! their vocalists Sanchita and JC-001, added so beautifully to the sound of the band … Sanchita with her super voice singing some Indian based melodies and also JC with his high energy rap and beat box stuff!

       

We then had to wait and give way for one of the biggest acts of the fest, ‘ColdCut’ to finish their sound check and by the time we were on, there was only about 20 minutes for us to finish a quick check and we had to hurry! I handed the camera to my friend Vinay who had come from Bombay to watch us play … and he was thankfully as trigger happy as I was! Sound check passed off without too many hiccups, Fali Damania, the sound engineer and the stage crew worked wonderfully and we were quite pleased at the end of it though we wished it were a little more relaxed and thorough … but I guess … the hurrying up worked to our advantage as we were now in a active mood and were quite pumped for the show! We were on stage in about 3 hours time from then …

       

It was then of course time for some rest and some monkeying around 🙂 before we hit the shower and caught a quick nap to recharge ourselves for the big gig ahead …

       

The show began on quite a sober note with everyone still chilling in the lazy atmosphere enhanced by the lounge-ish music that the DJs before us had played and by the time we were done with our first song, we saw a few people stand up and make their way up forward to see the first proper ‘band’ of the day play …

From there on, it was a tremendous ride, the first song just warmed the crowd up and made them familiar with our sound and from there we put it into high gear with a set of completely enjoyable energetic songs … and things they had never heard before … the atmosphere was highly charged on stage and the vibe from the audience was just fantastic! we saw a few familiar faces in the crowd but by and large, it was a crowd that had never heard us before and they were just loving it!!

      

Raghu was in top singing form, the sound on stage was perfect, the audience was lovely and the view from on stage was breathtaking! it was easily the best gig I’ve played and I swear that day we could have gone on for a long long long time … We even had some celebrity sightings in the audience and the event managers who will also manage the band once the album is released were just loving it! I have no idea how time passed by and song after song, things just seemed to get better! The energy from the audience was just so good that we were giving it everything we had and more!

     

But we had only one hour to play and we did … for every last second of it! the set was timed perfectly … we came together for our last bow and were completely blown away by the standing ovation! We did manage to win a few hearts I should say 🙂 …

       

The rest of the day was spent watching the other bands that played after including the wonderful ‘Saptakshara’ with Vikku Vinayakram on the Ghatam and his sons Selva Ganesh and Uma Shankar on the Kanjira and Ghatam respectively and a host of other brilliant percussionists who adapted very well to the audience and gave us a proper education in music … Vikku Mama as he is affectionately called is 75 years old now and still is bloody brilliant on the Ghatam with all those time signatures that all of us had a very tough time keeping up with … Selva is a complete showman and handled the audience with ease and brilliance .. his Kanjira playing was just mind blowing … as he ran us through some terrific drum rolls, disco beats and funk drum beats and also some walking bass and other bass lines!! I even got a photograph taken with Selva Ganesh and Vikku Mama … it was a dream shaking hands with musicians of their calibre!

Shri of course was terrific and was something I had never even seen or heard before … I am currently hunting for their CD … Need to buy it from Amazon! We had a nice long chat once back at the resort and have promised to keep in touch … lets see how that goes .. and what it yields!

The rest of the pictures taken available at http://flickr.com/photos/theraghudixitproject

In the meanwhile … I am back home again and back to work … so life goes on .. but this last weekend … it will take a long time for that to get out of my mind!

Gaurav