Shillong is known for being a music hub of all ages, from Rock to Metal to Pop to Hip-Hop, you name it. Majority of the youth are trendy and follow fashion which is usually influenced by music icons. People from outside the state and elsewhere in the country talk about Shillong being one major music hub in the nation, which was why Shillong has been labelled as the Rock Capital City but what do they really know? It is an excruciating term to hear, when concerts and open air shows are nonexistent.
The reason why there are lack of shows is either because of the lack of funds and the existence of mainly shady organizers who are ripping off musicians and bands .Government and private firms are wary of sponsoring events; when they do they do not give the desired amount to even cover half of what is needed.
Half the time newer bands are left unpaid after a show because they were given the opportunity to perform and “exposure” is more important than earning? Exposure will not add digits to a band’s bank account and fill one’s empty stomach! All bands may say that they are performing for passion but a day eventually comes when they have to make an income. So when they are shunned away from getting paid, the passion for music and the eagerness to perform is in question and that’s how bands and musicians disappear from the scene. Not too eager to play anymore except two to three shows a year.
Event organizers aren’t the only reason why the music scene isn’t improving, it is also because of the hyperactive music fans that always seem to have a quenching thirst for a live concert but when the time comes, where are they? They resist paying tickets which barely ever exceeds 150 bucks. All they want is a free pass and a free show. Given the lack of sponsorship and the organizers ripping off bands, the money paid for tickets are salaries for bands performing, so do the deed or stop complaining. They are what they call ‘just want to be a part of the crowd.’ You know who you are, let’s leave it there.
Understandable that music fanatics here are mostly college students and to pay for tickets is always hard, however; if you know that a show is coming up in a month or two, save up, get a jar, caption it ‘For concert,’ put in 10 or 20 bucks a day, that would eventually cover the cost of the tickets.
There aren’t too many pubs or cafes that host musical events except small cafes like Mellow Mood, Dylan’s café, Cloud 9. But nothing big really, it’s just for leisure every weekend, it’s not as if they get promoted but applause must be given to these cafes and pubs for at least giving a platform for musicians so their talent won’t be wasted. It would be great if other cafés started similar initiatives.
Music in Shillong is slowly and steadily on the verge of dying, it may not have a scene but one thing is for sure, the Metal scene still exists. The metal music scene is known all over the country. It is known to have the most intense and aggressive mosh-pits. But don’t get carried away, that scene is slowing down because of the lack of sponsors, shady organizers and shady crowds (who refuse to pay for tickets).
Shady crowds, yes there are some. Here’s a sermon for them, all the bands you love listening to, started from nothing, there were local bands once but because of the support they got from society, they climbed the peak to be one of the best in the globe and everybody worships them. It is time you start accepting local talent.
The only active band right now in Shillong is Plague Throat and we learnt that Iaidon Jyrwa has quit the band. It is scary and a question arises whether this scene would still see the light of day or not. Plague Throat front-man, Nangsan along with RNT group are one of the few who have hosted concerts such as Callous Amass and Serene Atrocity.
From a layman’s point of view, it is high time that we all start supporting the scene and any music scene before we have nothing to support except the nuisance of politics and its hypocrisy. We should all start appreciating local acts and buy or download their material because without a market no bands would want to carry on making music, remember they too need to make a living and this is their livelihood. We haven’t been supportive enough, all we have ever done is compare them with international acts that are already pros and have a good support system, but ours are still in their nasal stage. They need your support, they put a smile on your face with their music, let’s put a smile on their face by supporting them every step of the way.
Shillong as a Rock capital city in present day is irrelevant, just because we have Lou Majaw who always celebrates Bob Dylan’s music every year doesn’t mean we are a Rock N’ Roll city. But he does a lot to promote local talent and that is one thing we are very appreciative of him. We also have some other big names in the music biz, they have made a name themselves as well as for the city but they are not really active bands here. However, outside the Northeast there are a few bands who are very active and influential musicians, respect to them but perhaps they should do more to try and promote our own local artists in their own hometown.
Music will only grow and develop as an industry if bigger bands help out other small time bands, give them a platform, give them an opportunity and the rest is up to them. Music should not be dynastical, it should be fair.
Nowadays getting employed is a question of conundrum. Bands have worked hard even though they realize that taking up music as a career path is a road that leads to nowhere, however they never stop hoping. Parents are being irrational towards their kids picking up an instrument, it is because they’ve seen most musicians end up nowhere. But perhaps it is time we put that myth aside, things will change only if we all join hands and support our musicians.
A friend once said, if Northeast bands and musicians wants to make it big, they need to move out and get themselves to metropolitan cities, agreed but not all bands can afford that and that is why we the present generation need to revolutionize the music scene before it is too late.
This is applicable to other Northeast states as well, if you the readers agree with the article, start supporting the local music scene by attending local shows, pay, have fun and only then more shows would come in. Shady organizers need to stop ripping off bands, don’t be greedy. You’re not the only one who needs to fill your stomachs.
Two months from now, an American brutal death metal band will be performing in Shillong; I hope to see a packed venue. It’s the first major show after NH7 weekender to take place in the town. It need not stop there, the Department of Arts and Culture should stop being so corrupt, those previous shows hosted by them have suddenly disappeared. Seeing how the world is today, where making a living is an absolute nightmare, music should start being an option. There is so much talent that needs recognition; talent should never go to waste.
In conclusion, it seems like Shillong has no music scene whatsoever, it may sound really condescending but that is the reality of it. But it may be noted that a Shillong band, Dossers Urge, will be in New York soon to record their album (they HAD to move out to get recognized). Congratulations to them. And hopefully they will break the myth of a career in music is a road that leads to nowhere.
(By Mebanaibor Nengnong)