“I’m not like the Hare Krishna kind of guy, but I like to sit in the morning, turn it on and like, see my house and wash my plants, whatever the fuck you can do, you know,” Peter Cat Recording Co. guitarist and frontman, Suryakant Sawhney, tells us referring to his infinite looped bhajan-playing stereo which served as the soundtrack to the infamous cop raid at the fifth edition of the PCRC house gig party. The BYOB gig party initiative, which first took place in July last year, has steadily raged on into inviting huge crowds to pour in on to the roof in Hauz Khas village in Delhi to the point of crunch, up until the fifth edition when cops had to bomb the party because it was oozing people. Suryakant tells us about his experience dealing with the fuzz, “I guess the problem was that people just bloody kept pouring in, we were just standing next to the staircase and the cop goes, ‘Kitne log ho?’ and we were like, ‘Nahi, aur nahi aayenge,’ and literally 20 people walk up at the same time.” Drink in hand and buzz in head, Suryakant’s account of the evening is a daze of hilarity: “A lot of times, what happens is some dude will start talking to the cops and pretend that he is from bloody America or something. He’ll talk with an accent, ‘Aap na baharr [rolled ‘r’] chaaley jaao.’ And that kind of shit is retarded, we just had to talk to them sensibly like, ‘Dekho bhaiyya birthday ho raha hai, I’ll show you my PAN card [laughing].’ ” Regardless of all attempts, the crowd had to be herded out on account of some law that says you can’t entertain beyond a certain number of people drinking within the same establishment, without a license for liquor and hazard and all the red tape.
The first edition was also partly the brainchild of Canadian musician Simon F, whose solo act pretty much fuelled the gravitation of 60 odd folks toward the first gig; “It was basically all his idea,” bassist Rohan Kulshreshtha says, “He put in all the effort and got everyone together. He’d been with us there when we were jamming and everything, so he just realized that having a party over there would be pretty awesome.” The open terrace serves as place for the crowds to stand while the band plays inside one of the bedrooms – big windows allowing the people to watch them play. The debut edition’s promotion consisted of a poster created by Suryakant himself – who admits it was half an attempt – and word of mouth that spread like wildfire. “The fact is that everything in bloody Hauz Khaz village is so expensive for people to actually go have fun,” Suryakant says, “so I guess in that sense, the key was for people to bring their own alcohol and not have to pay ridiculous amounts for a beer or something, and at the same time, we didn’t want to buy anything ourselves because we don’t have any money.”
The stage, from where the crowd stands on the roof.
PCRC’s home gigs seem like the mother of all DIY projects, a cult gathering of indier than indie musicians if you will, that is slowly gaining ‘movement’ status and steady self-propulsion; all this a byproduct of the chilled out groove the evenings emanate. Rohan narrates the genesis of the idea: “Whenever we used to jam over there [Building 87], the building folks would be just chilling outside having a drink and would pass by and say, ‘Hey, you guys jam well.’ So, it was just a matter of time.” Held on the balcony roof at drummer Karan Singh’s apartment in Hauz Khas village, the Building No. 87 gigs have kind of turned the residence into something like Delhi’s own Studio 54, inviting everyone to enjoy an evening of booze, music, socializing and loitering around.
Suryakant warming up for the gig.
On the one hand, Suryakant refutes the usage of excessive brain energy on deciding the line-up, while Rohan maintains that the process is carefully curated, he says, “Most of the times its bands that we think are more suited for a certain kind of sound” ; either way the only way a band can fetch a space on the line-up is good music and good fortune, enough to be noticed by the band at least. “I think it’s kind of random, it’s kind of like friends and extended friends, we’re just trying to keep like a laid back vibe in general I guess. I like The Shakey Rays so we got them for a couple of times and we play ourselves, because it’s nice fun.”
The setup – minimal, a mattress tossed out of the room, a few amps connected in and facing the windows, and a makeshift stage; the motif - create a musically rich and monetarily unbridled environment for everyone, and what better place to do that than the roof of a penthouse overlooking a beautiful view of the village. Although Suryakant refrains from calling the exercise a passive-aggressive jab at the mainstream pub gig culture in the village, it would be further from the truth to say that the seemingly low key evening of chilling hasn’t cause a real threat to the establishments around, fuelling rumours of an allied sabotage of the fifth edition by local pub owners; Suryakant maintains, “It’s basically a house party, that’s it. There’s nothing that complicated. I didn’t start this rumour. So, the next morning, I go down and pretty much everybody – I’m friends with all my paan wallahs and chai wallahs – basically all the bhaiyyas were telling me that they saw the cops talking to a bunch of owners; they said, ‘Maalik se baat kar rahe the’, and then they just suddenly headed towards our place and our party, I guess.”
If your nerve of intrigue is throbbing with the question, is there going to be another edition? Has the cop raid of March 2014 – that inspired Hoirong’s satirical song, ‘Under Section 87’ – nipped it in the bud? While Rohan says that the next edition would probably be a little more intimate than before, inviting not more than a set number of people, the band is yet to discuss the minutiae. “I don’t really give a shit about it,” Suryakant says, “I just want to figure out how to make another one happen without them [cops] having to raid it.”
Stream Hoirong's 'Under Section 87' below:
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