Time was when music concerts were reviewed by those who were competent to do so, were respected by readers and musicians alike, irrespective of whether the reviews were critical or effusive. In the recent past, most of these so-called reviews are barely worth reading.
Either you get a laundry list of songs performed by the artist or unqualified and undiluted praise for the artist. Of course, there are Carnatic music websites for rasikas, which are pretty active during the season, but it's an untrammelled free for all. Anyone can say pretty much what one wants.
I find it far more entertaining to follow what the common man or woman (wouldn't it be simpler to just say common person, in this gender sensitive age?) are texting tirelessly to each other before, during and after the concerts. WhatsApp andFacebook provide us with endless gems about the goings on at the various sabhas. The same goes for Twitter, I am sure, but as I am not a twit I shall confine my observations to the former. Not much of the messaging has a great deal to do with the music on offer, and those that do, are clearly playing second fiddle to the surrounding activities of the actual performance.
The following is a purely imaginary, stream of consciousness ramble of the way I have been observing the goings on during the Season, on my smartphone. Any passing resemblance to actual messages exchanged is entirely deliberate.
WhatsApp messaging between two friends from New York
Managed to find a good seat on the 10th row. Hall's fast filling up. Gosh, that onion bhajji was an absolute disaster. Killing me. Stomach's rumbling like Mount Vesuvius in spate.
I warned you about that canteen, bro. Keep a place for me. I'll get some Gelusil tabs which should settle your tum tums. Anyway, this lady sings so loud no one will hear your stomach. And don't even think about visiting the loo here. You'll bring up the bhajjis before I can say Todi. And I haven't brought any Stemetils.
Look at that Mami, will ya? She's at least 75, give or take. I can't believe the make-up she's wearing. Surely, she could have chosen a less virulent red for her lipstick. And I am sure that sad looking guy behind her is her husband. My heart goes out to him.
I am in the hall, bro. Where are you? Ah, I've spotted you. Why are you wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt, you jackass? For crying out loud. Anyway, here're the pills. Heck, was that your stomach?
Ok, that's enough about my stomach. You are here now and sitting next to me, so why the hell am I still WhatsApping you? I am going nuts.
So are we all. Shhh, don't look now, but that lady you were talking about, the one with the lipstick? The pallu of her sari just caught the sharp end of the seat handle and tore. Her face is as red as her lipstick.
That's funny, but what's funnier is that you are still texting me, when my shell like left ear is available to be whispered into.
Facebook friends and it's a free for all
Looks like I am 250th in the queue but I have the magic ticket for the concert of the year. And now they've opened the doors at last. Rush, rush, push, push, it's not a joke keying in this message while I am struggling to find my seat. And finally, here I am. Bang right behind the video film recording contraption. I'll be lucky to get a glimpse of the mridangam chappie, leave alone the main artist.
Hey, I can see you. Turn back and crane your neck towards the left, I am waving at you with the souvenir. Can you see me?
I can't see anything and I've gone and twisted my neck. Thanks for nothing. Why do we have to see each other separated by 30 rows? Are you a sadist? And I can't see the artist either. Might as well have watched the ODI at home.
Oh, you lucky people in Chennai. It's freezing cold here in Chicago. I really envy you guys. Anyway, my mom and pop are there somewhere, but they are not on FB, so too bad. I'll see if I can quickly speak to my mom before the concert starts and figure out where she’s sitting. Can you take a quick picture of them and WhatsApp it to me? Purleez? I want to see which sari she is wearing. And she won't mind if you took a selfie with her.
Ok guys and gals. We are ready for lift off. Concert's just starting. Crikey, why does he have to start with this Mohanam Ninnukorivarnam? I can't stand it. I had to sing it gadzillion times before my guru would teach me a kriti in that ragam.
Guy next to me is speaking to his stockbroker. Seems like he's not sure about the Gujarat election results. Says, sell, sell, sell. Maybe I should do the same.
By the way, Kohli's out.
Over and out!
(The author is a brand consultant with an interest in music, cricket and good humour)