Here’s how it all happened.
1. Booked on JetLite, we get to BLR airport to find that flight is overbooked (-22), and after much haggling with concerned damagers, we manage to get on the Jet flight via Bombay (2 hours more) that leaves around 11. Took a taxi ride (in an aging Maruti van that smelled ominously of leaking LPG; the driver when quizzed, simply said, “haan, thoda leak hai!”. Rajeev spent that whole trip expecting to be atomized at any moment) to Vinay’s (our sound engineer) house close to the airport to while away the extra hours. Finally got on our flight and reached Ahmedabad around 4pm.
2. Met at airport by CEPT chaps, no problems there, got into our ubiquitous Qualis to be ferried to venue (so we could check on the sound) and then hotel. Qualis driver, one of those stalwarts that eventually find their way to call-center duty, promptly manages to get into a small crash – and a scooter smashed into us from behind. Typical scrap ensues, with said Qualis driver brandishing a shoe and demanding money from hapless scooterist. After extorting some cash for the dent in Qualis backside, we’re on our merry way again. Driver absent-mindedly ‘clips’ another car from behind, an Alto this time, and speeds off before fuming driver can react.
3. Get to venue to find that ‘sound’ is basically two stacks of home-built speakers, wired up mainly with insulation tape and prayers. Mixer set up 1 foot from stage, to one side. No stage amps. And a drum kit that, to put it mildly, had seen much better days. Heard a CD played through the PA and we knew, right then, that this was an impossible situation. We’ve played gigs around the world, on some very dodgy PAs at times, but this one had the cake and ate it too, messily. So we leave venue, with instructions to college association that we need something better organized asap. Assurances are given to that effect.
4. We wait. And wait. We were there to play – we’d come a long way for it – and while we could have simply said “hey, it’s your problem to get the sound right, you’ve had our tech rider for weeks now” , we called some old friends, found some local contacts, and made many calls (roaming too!) trying to get more gear, stage amps, a better mixer, whatever. It’s already getting close to showtime now – 8ish.
5. Somewhere between all this, we’re told that a new sound guy has been found – JBL! (which, of course, stood for Jai Bhavani Ltd, I kid you not). Anyway, this guy apparently had a lot more, and better equipment. He’d check the scene, and set up by around 10:30 earliest, after which we could do a check, and then play the gig at around midnight, in the 7-degree cold. We said allright, lets get this done.
6. Then JBL suddenly disappears from the scene, and a DJ is brought in to provide some extra gear, which eventually turns out to be a couple of bass bins. Some stage amps also, apparently, made an appearance. Vinay goes to venue to check on the situation, re-EQs the system, adjusts settings, everything he knows best to do. And believe us, this guy can usually get even a mediocre PA to sing. Even with all this, in his estimation, the PA approached about 15 – 20% of what we needed.
7. We take the final call not to play – and we give the college the option of us staying on one more day to play the next day, if they could organize better sound. By this time, Silk Route, who’re supposed to play the next day have also backed out (they’d heard about the sound situation, and apparently had been told by the college themselves that it wasn’t happening.)
8. Nothing more happens for the night.
9. We’re up the next morning, none of the college folks are reachable. So we assume that’s the end of it, and we just head back to B’lore.
10. When we finally get through to the college, we’re told that our return flights have been cancelled, our hotel rooms ‘un-booked’, and we could do ‘whatever we wanted’, but that was it.
11. We got the hell out of there, suffering the expenses of our stay and return, not to mention two days of wasted time.
That’s it. Bands reading this – hope there’s something to learn.
After 11 years of slogging to get somewhere, this is the first time something like this has happened. ‘Nuff said.