opens its doors in Bangalore after an eight-year wait
EGULARS to the Church Street area of the city might be in for a surprise this week. An imposing white building on one of the city’s hippest streets now stands distinctly from its neighbours with a sky blue coloured frog seemingly about to take a leap. Though the arrival of the prominent blue amphibian might be a surprise to some, for music lovers, the sign on the wall is all too clear. Mumbai’s famed music venue, blueFROG, has finally found its way
In the house
If blueFROG’s whitewashed
exterior projects itself as a dome for meditation and peace, its interiors do the opposite. It has re-visioned nirvana as a state of mind achieved through music and psychedelic lights. The music venue, spread on two levels is lit by beams of cobalt blue that dance off the walls, the projection screens and circular seating pods. Outside, the al fresco area is an ideal spot for a drink or a lunch on a breezy afternoon. And amidst all of this lies blueFROG’s ambition for its city franchise: to be the centre for local music, food, and general
The waiting game
According to Sumer Vaswani, vice chairman and managing director, blueFROG, this took a long time to materialise, since it opened its doors in Mumbai in 2008. “Identifying the right partners who understand the brand, who have the same mind set and love music is a challenge. Besides it’s important to find a partner who has the financial backing. Fortunately, we found lovely partners in Raksha Ram and Sunder Ram (of Byram Holdings, Bangalore) last year. So we’d rather do things slowly, but surely,” he says.
In the next few months, the stage at blueFROG will host a slew of artistes who play jazz, electronica, folk and rock music. Raksha says that the acoustics of blueFROG plays a big role by lending itself to varied performances. “In Bangalore, we had to deal with the acoustics differently because we have an open area and we had to make sure that the sound doesn’t travel. We had to acoustically treat our floors and ceilings. Everything was designed and mapped on 3D drawings to figure out which corner sounds good,” he adds. The 7,000 sq ft venue pays its respect to food and music in equal part. “blueFROG Bangalore is going to be an all-day concept, unlike Mumbai and Pune venues which open in the evening. We want to cater to the local culture,” says Vaswani. For their all day dining concept, the menu includes signature dishes from blueFROG Mumbai, Indian inspired European and Asian flavours.
The launch weekend line-up includes musicians from different genres:
? Tonight, UK-based electronica band Dub Pistols will headline blueFROG’s
opening night. The band’s musicality and dance rhythms are inspired by hip-hop, dub, techno, ska and punk
? Saturday, June 20, sees five local DJs: Shreyas, Shash and Chaz, Nik, Unaayanaa and AXO (the club’s in-house DJ) will play a mix of deep house, tech house, house, Afro beat/jungle and electronica
? On Sunday, June 21, the Kutle Khan Project, a contemporary folk collective from Rajasthan, will perform with musician Kutle Khan and troupe
Tickets available on bookmyshow.com
Although blueFROG seems to have embraced Bangalore, it is certainly not the first. The city’s burgeoning music venues have opened and shut in a few years. The most recent casualty, CounterCulture, closed its business a few weeks ago. Abhishek Michael, bassist for Inner Sanctum feels that the longevity of a music venue in Bangalore is not solely determined by the music performances they host. “Having a new venue is always a good thing. Since CounterCulture shut down, Humming Tree and Indigo Live are the other good venues. Musicians want more opportunities, and newer venues to play to different crowds. blueFROG comes in with great sound quality and the big incentive lies in artistes coming here to perform, but pricing also matters. It has to do a lot with F&B, and not just function as a venue,” he says. Similar thoughts are echoed by Rahul Ranganath, a city musician and audio engineer. “blueFROG worked well in Mumbai because it was the first of its kind. We have a lot of music venues in Bangalore already. Programming also matters. It would be a big plus if blueFROG brings in more artistes here,” he adds.
Acts to follow
To that end, the Bangalore franchise has programmed its line up to cater to the city’s varied music tastes. Avril Stormy Unger, head of programming, says that the venue will host performances almost every day of the week. “We have live performances in the afternoons for singer/songwriters. Our weekends will focus on big Bangalore bands. Also, we want local acts to open for those who’ve been in the scene for a long time,” she says. blueFROG, which will balance its line up with 40 per cent local acts, and 60 per cent outstation gigs, also hopes to start a three-city band tour. An idea, that musicians in India very much need.
blueFrog launches today. At Church Street.
— Rushali Pawar