A pro-shot live-streamed online gig with great sound and a lineup of 3 independent bands wasn’t something I’d experienced since early 2020. On the 15th of August, 2021, India’s day of Independence, Bajaao Studios and Shure powered a virtual event, with a top-of-the-line set-up and major talents. What would’ve otherwise been a gloomy Sunday turned into a day of live music and geeking out over some great gear. Here’s how Bajaao Sessions: Across Seconds, Daira & Blakc (Powered by Shure) went down!
“Looooong time, broooooo!” seemed like a cued greeting as I walked into Bajaao’s new office and studio premises nearby MIDC’s industrial area in the urban jungle that is Andheri, Mumbai, catching up with musicians and friends I would have met otherwise at regular intervals if our world didn’t go into half-dystopian mode. A long time, indeed. I entered while Across Seconds was playing their 2nd or 3rd song, gracefully late as always. Some things never change, dystopia or not!
Supratik Das angling the microphones to perfection on Pratik Kulgod’s drum setup for Daira while bassist Sourya Mukherjee watches on
After catching up with each and every member of Blakc, Daira and some old friends at Bajaao, my immediate instinctual next step was to head straight to the sound console, to check out who’s mixing the show, in the conference room which doubles up as a control room during shows or recordings. On a compact and capable Allen & Heath D-Live C1500 console, the man on the job for the day was Supratik Das, the man behind the live sound of prominent artists like Prateek Kuhad, Parvaaz and Indian Ocean.
Supratik Das in focus mode
“Even though it was a virtual gig, it felt like a mini music festival!” exclaimed Supratik, who I met directly after VH1 Supersonic music festival in February 2020, where he’d mixed Prateek Kuhad. “I’ve heard of Daira and listened to their music, but this was my first time seeing them live. And I don’t get to mix bands of this nature in general. It was great to work with all 3 bands, especially Daira and Blakc, both completely different from my regular acts such as Parvaaz and Indian Ocean”, he added. He went on to acknowledge that even though all of us are thirsting for that live energy and adrenaline of the crowd and big PA systems and stages, for now, this is the best we can do, given the current health circumstances engulfing the world.
Supratik Das and myself probably talking about bracing our ears before Varun Sood (Blakc’s drummer) starts bludgeoning the drums, with Blakc’s guitar player Anish Menon in the background setting up
Right next to Supratik, seated was Fali Damania, a big name in the audio engineering circuit in India, Ameet Trivedi and AR Rahman’s Front of House mix man, and former rock guitar player and heavy metal music producer as well. But, not on mixing duties as he usually is, he was handling the live video and streaming of gig which simulcasts on Shure’s and Bajaao’s Facebook pages and Bajaao’s YouTube channel all at the same time. And if you go through the comments, one thing is evident – the audio and video quality are well appreciated by those watching.
Fali Damania handling the stream
It was the main fact that grabbed my attention when I saw the previous week’s gig with the band Runt, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the sound and video. Smart choice of gear is the key. Fali uses the Blackmagic Design ATEM Extreme ISO Switcher which takes in the video from the 5-camera setup along with the audio from the sound console and distributes it to the selected platforms. This hardware switcher with its own processing, enables smoother transitions and switching, relieving the load on the computers or laptops being used for streaming. “It being a Shure initiative, we need to ensure that the artists, no matter how big or small, are represented in the best light”, he says.
The microphones used at the show assert that fact pretty well. Some premium range Shure mics were deployed, which most independent bands are not used to using at regular gigs. Made me really envy Mr. Das on the console for a couple of minutes! Forall my fellow gear nerds reading this, here’s a small wow-list (which also includes some “regular” mics) – Beta 52, Beta 181 (snare), PGA 56 on all toms (don’t cringe, they’re way better than the old PG series, especially the updated mounting), KSM 32 on overheads and guitar 1 (left of your screen), KSM 313 on guitar 2 (right of your screen), Beta 57A on guitar 3 (used by Blakc in one song), Beta 58A on backing vocals and the mighty KSM8 on lead vocals. To understand better, check out the entire performance video on the link below.
Karan Mehta, drummer of Across Seconds said, “Since this was the first live streamed gig for us, we were skeptical about the sound and video quality, especially because we’re an instrumental band! But I must say that the sound and video team did an excellent job.” It makes a huge difference to artist when sound is taken as a top priority. He added, “microphones and monitoring sounded excellent. Everyone associated with the gig was courteous and accommodating.”
“The studio was great with an awesome sound and video setup. The Bajaao Studios folks were amazing and it was awesome to meet and hang with some of the close-knit people from the independent music scene again,” comments Sourya Mukherjee, groovy bass player who plays bass for both Blakc and Daira. On playing again live in a lineup with multiple acts, he adds, “It was an awesome experience. It felt so good to be able to play with other people after so long. It made me realize how much I miss the energy that is shared when people come together to perform music.”
To add cleanliness to the audio capture, all who were performing were facilitated with In-Ear Monitoring (which is generally expensive to rent from a sound vendor), not a regular habit for most independent artists, mainly due to stingy event budgets and technical compromises for non-commercial music performances all over our country. All in all, the experience that one gets with so much of pristine tech and more than capable crew is a privilege. And it’s great to see that some people are making this happen for all musicians. It was also great to see all the musicians that played content with their sound, and it’s only natural for some to take their time to get used to it along the way.
August 2021 is almost coming to an end, and we are about to re-commence public performances once again, with venues reopening to limited capacity audiences, stringent safety measures and an earlier curfew time. Will we finally gain enough herd immunity to resume at full capacity? Will everyone follow safety protocols? Will there be a dreaded third, fourth, fifth wave? Will live streaming shows become the “new normal” or will they diminish like a monthly trend that lasted too long? Well, this is not a Marvel movie, there are no post-credits reveals. All we can do for now is wait, watch and listen!
Pictures clicked by Vicky Sheldon & myself.