Lollapalooza India is here: What are indie artists expecting?

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaJul 28, 2022 | 19:35

Lollapalooza India is here: What are indie artists expecting?

Lollapalooza's Indian debut comes with its own hopes and expectations for Indian artists. L-R Sanjana Devarajan, Vibhu Singh (Kalbaisakhi) and Pina Colada Blues (photo: DailyO)

The biggest news in the Indian music world right now is Lollapalooza announcing its Indian debut. Naturally, artists and talent managers in the country’s indie music scene have their own expectations and concerns with this surprise announcement. 

What is Lollapalooza: Lollapalooza is an annual four-day-long musical fest that takes place at Grant Park, Chicago. Hosting over 4,00,000 people every year, the fest not only features some of the most popular musical acts but also visual artists and non-profit collectives. 

What do we know so far: The fest has had international editions in 7 other countries and now it is all set to happen in Mumbai on January 28-29, 2023. Even though the artist lineup is yet to be revealed and will happen later this year, BookMyShow founder and CEO Ashish Hemrajani promises “a mix of stellar Indian talent and global artists” based on his quotes to PTI.

The venues are to be revealed but Lollapalooza has promised that it can accommodate upto 60,000 people for each of the two days. 

Given its large scale and global reputation, hopes are high for both artists and audiences. 

Only limited to Mumbai (so far): “Lollapalooza coming to India definitely marks the start of a new era and hopefully soon the country would start to find its place as a touring country for major artists. Personally, I am excited to watch some of the major international acts but also some cool Indian artists too.” Kevin Shaji tells DailyO. He is a Kerala-based music producer who goes by the stage name Pina Colada Blues. 

But when it comes to the metropolitan venue of the fest, Shaji hopes that such an international fest has its localised editions too. 

“I really hope they have some small city-wise events before the main event to create more hype and traction for the main event”, he adds. 

Would only the mainstream artists be featured? Lollapalooza, in the end, would want to feature some bankable artists from the so-called “indie” scene. A huge misconception among Indian audiences is to refer to any musician as indie or underground as long as they are making non-film music. But with mainstream and established artists like acoustic heartthrob Prateek Kuhad, and DJ and singer Ritviz getting represented by major record labels and top-tier management, are they really independent?

Despite his immense popularity, singer Prateek Kuhad is also the subject of memes for his slow-paced songs (source- Memechat)
Despite his immense popularity, singer Prateek Kuhad is also the subject of memes for his slow-paced songs (source- Memechat)

Some artists are afraid that a fest like Lollapalooza might just end up featuring such high-profile names, leaving little to no room for emerging talent. 

“I don’t think a festival of this level, coming to India for the first time, will be able to showcase underground talent too well.”, Vibhu Singh, a Delhi-based producer behind the musical project Kalbaisakhi, tells DailyO. Apart from producing original tracks, Singh also performs at gigs in the city’s leading nightlife venues 

Saqlen Khan, the manager behind rising acts like the pan-Indian music collective J-Block and the comedian/rapper Wolf Cryman, has similar concerns about the fest feeling that it would do little for the ones who aren’t that mainstream yet, especially the ones that do not hail from metropolitan cities. 

As he simply puts it, this feels like “another opportunity for the elites in the scene to overshadow the other folks”. 

Hopes for international representation: Regardless of who exactly it impacts, singer-producer and Mumbai native Sanjana Devarajan feels that there is a takeaway for the entire artist community with this announcement. “I think it just helps every Indian artist. More representation, more reach.”

Even Singh still harbours some optimism with foreign outfits like Boiler Room and Lollapalooza looking at India as a potential market. “It’s good for the scene, both underground and commercial, but for now I feel it will cater more towards the commercial side.”

First Lollapalooza in Asia: While there is much anticipation for the lineup, it might seem unfair to expect a lot from just a debut edition. But there are some factors to keep in mind that offer some hope to Indian event managers.

Apoorv R, a Mumbai-based talent manager behind artists like Meghna Mishra and Mohammed Irfan, details these factors. “Despite having multiple regions in Asia that have a huge listenership and young crowds crazy about festivals, choosing Mumbai for their 1st Asian edition is a calculated move by Lolla. This definitely would add more power to the local talent.”

“Indian cities are now being included in the touring locations of the world’s leading talents like Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Russ. And even in the case of the Indian festivals so far, be it Ziro, Magnetic, Echoes of Earth, Mahindra Blues, each and every festival has their own essence which is important to retain the crowd every year”, He continues. 

Future for local indie artists: Coming back to the local artists from non-metropolitan cities, what can they hope for in the end? 

Most of the indie community feels that the first rational step for such artists is to build a local fan base before aiming straight to the moon with a global phenomenon like Lollapalooza. 

“As a new artist / emerging Indie artist, you tend to start with a smaller fan base which you build up over time. And so, getting local gigs is easier to do just that. I personally would start with local events as they are more intimate and its a great way to build your local fans and also test your music in regional waters (especially if it’s in a regional language)”, says Pina Colada Blues who constantly experiments with vocals from multiple languages like Malayalam, Hindi, and English. 

Devarajan, on the other hand, harbours a more positive approach. “I'd say be ambitious. I think no artist should feel limited. Dream big. Focus on your craft and grab every opportunity!”

Last updated: July 28, 2022 | 20:04
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