Pune's Music Scene Sings Versatility

Pune has always been an ‘almost-metropolitan’, as I like to call it, when it comes to music. All the major (and minor) artists plan their trips around Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and always seem to miss out on Pune. We Punekars, with our varied and rich music tastes, are then forced to travel to the city in question to enjoy the music we so love.  However, this scenario seems to be changing.
Thanks to blockbuster music festivals like NH7, an increasing number of musicians have been forced to reckon with the dynamic musical population that is Pune. One will find hardcore death metal fans and sufi music fanatics living in the same building, quite peacefully. And that seems to be another plus for Pune – we are tolerant of each other’s tastes in music.  It was what makes Pune truly versatile and is what is attracting musicians from across the globe to put Pune on their tour maps.
Pune actually has a lot to offer, musically speaking, if one bothered to look closely. For example, did you know that the Goethe Institute (Maxmuller Bhavan) hosts western classical musicians, who travel all the way from Germany to play for music lovers for free at the Mazda Hall in Dastur School? Yes, for free. And it is truly a treat for all classical and jazz lovers to hear these artists. Then of course, we have places like High Spirits and Hard Rock Cafe which regularly host all the new, up-and-coming artists and DJs in the trance, electronic, EDM and rock genres. Not to forget, the annual Sufi music festival, Ruhaaniyat, that takes place at the Empress Gardens, includes one mesmerizing performance after another of the best Sufi singers in the South-East Asia. What more could one ask for?

A performance by Sufi musicians at Ruhaniyat.
A performance by Sufi musicians at Ruhaniyat

It is this versatility that attracts artists too. “We love playing in Pune. It has such a fresh young vibe, you can tell the crowd is enjoying your music” said Sashank, a member of the F16s, a Chennai-based band which frequents Pune. The city’s huge student population helps with the dynamism and seems to give Pune a unique vibe of its own. Viswesh Radhakrishnan, a DJ from Chennai, says Pune is one of his favourite cities to play in. “Personally Pune is one of the best destinations for me as a DJ. I’ve played at some really exclusive invite only parties where the vibe has been unreal and can feel the musical knowledge of the crowd while playing. But Pune’s not like that. Always have a blast playing in Pune” he said.
And it’s not just western music that’s got the Punekar’s feet a-tapping. Tejas Veeramani, a 23-year-old Hindustani classical musician (and a rock music enthusiast, as well) says that the Classical Music scene in Pune is really good. “Classical music has a great hold in Pune, no doubt. Apart from vocalists, there are a good number of skilled Harmonium and Tabla players in the city” he said. With organizations like SPICMACAY promoting Indian classical music in the city, with free performances (yes, yet again, free concerts) by many musical greats in the country, Pune truly is becoming the melting pot of music.
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