Sometime in mid September, when I was starting to get back into the indigenous music scene, I had read about Hard Rock Cafe (Mumbai) hosting a ‘Tribute to Nirvana’ night. I was quite excited, as were many others, but for all the WRONG reasons.
“Hey man, the paneer curry and rice at HRC is *rocking*! And their mocktails are nice and sweet – we should definitely go!” After much ado over deciding who to go with, lady luck showed up in the most unexpected form.
“Hard Rock Cafe? Arrey, apna to puraana adda hai, boss,” said Harshit Patel, a young Delhi-based industrialist, who spends a LOT of time talking business on his phones (I’ve seen three lurking around, but there might be more), “Don’t worry – I’ll introduce you to my cohorts there. Excuse me one second, I’m getting a call. Yes, Mr. Plant Manager, talk to me…” I was a bit sceptical at first, wondering if Mr. Workaholic will be pulling an Arjun a la Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, bringing out his laptop and starting a teleconference, bang in the middle of a gig…
Was I in for a surprise or what.
The minute Harshit and I walked in, Percy, the floor manager hollered at us, and before I knew it, I was caught right in the middle of a very Bollywood-esque dramatic embrace between chuddy-buddies. I was then introduced to Roane, the resident DJ, Frankie, the lead service, and Amit, the head bartender – who kept us fuelled throughout the night with the finest cocktails and Single Malts. It all seemed so surreal to me in the beginning, but a couple of well made Purple Hazes cleared all my doubts.
But, wait, this isn’t even the beginning!
Mr. Patel and his influence not only secured for us the best damned table in the house, but I was even able to get exclusive interviews and prime videotaping spots
While Harshit unfastened his tie and let his hair down (literally), revealing his inner air-Guitar Hero avatar, I caught up with Sujit, the frontman of Overhung, one of the bands playing their tributes that night.
As he revealed how he was related to and mentored by his cousin, Suraj Jagan (Dum lagaa!), the rest of his bandmates started milling around. I was completely encircled by a bunch of tall, long haired grungy-looking guys, who looked like they would zero in on me any minute. But despite their menacing demeanour, Howard, Sheldon, Krishna and the others were probably the most awesome people I met that entire night; the interviewers and the interviewees were both inebriated happily, chatting uninhibitedly… for all I know, I could have been the reason why the band, scheduled to start at 8:30 pm, didn’t take the stage until almost an hour later
Around this time, just as more drinks arrived for Mr. Patel and myself, Overhung began the night with Sujit stealthily climbing over the railings, hanging over the stage and seducing the crowd with his magnetic vocals, while the rest of the band played along in sync.
There were numerous line-up changes throughout the night, as I discovered that it wasn’t just some bands, but even certain other audience members, such as Arjun Dhanraj, the head of PRS Guitars in Mumbai (who also plays for Chennai band Nerverek) who lent their talents to the stage.
Together, they played almost every single one of Nirvana’s Greatest Hits – with a spot-on cover of “The Man Who Sold The World,” complete with the scalar bass lines and sore-throated vocals – and some pretty good renditions of “Come As You Are” and “About A Girl.”
The only downside that night was when we noticed that the sound was a bit unbalanced, with way too much gain and distortion on the guitars, and not enough clarity on the vocalists’ mic, but that problem too was promptly addressed when Mr. “I don’t want to make a scene” Patel subtly beckoned Percy by using sign language.
Soon enough, Harshit and myself, drawn in by the bands’ infectious oomph, joined in with the rest of the head-banging and hip-shaking teens on spirits, truly feeling all the energy around us.
Towards the end of the night, when Headlee, our ever-courteous waiter began to clear all the empty glasses off our table, the feeling of having attained enlightenment (drunkenness?) started sinking in, as we realized anew that all anyone needed to truly enjoy oneself was to clear one’s mind of all inhibitions (psychologically and/or chemically), choose a good venue and some good company, and forget everything else (read as switching off phones) while listening to live music.
This was one hell of a night, and I couldn’t have imagined it being any better. I would like to thank everyone at Hard Rock Cafe, and of course, Harsh (who had resumed being his up-and-about Executive self the minute we left the premises past midnight), for making this the best ever 20th anniversary tribute to Nirvana.
PHOTO & VIDEO CREDITS: Harshit Patel & Preston Mendonca