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The best live recordings by Indian independent musicians in 2018

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The best live recordings by Indian independent musicians in 2018

What can you do if you don’t have time to go for a raw, live music show? Check out 20 of the best live sessions recorded in 2018 by Indian musicians and bands like Prateek Kuhad, Easy Wanderlings,  Sheldon D’Silva, and Shadow and Light.

When I watch videos of live concerts by Queen, George Harrison or Ravi Shankar, I often lament being born too late. I missed the chance to experience the crowd at Live Aid or The Concert for Bangladesh, at times when these legends took to the stage. In these performances, you can feel the bass in your chest, see the artists vibing with each other on stage and a raw energy enfold everyone. When you watch a live recording of Ella Fitzgerald, with the sweat shining on her brow as she improvises her tunes, you can feel a sense of awe in just watching creation happen in real time. So scrolling through my music playlists, I often find myself wanting something more genuine. I miss that fun look exchanged between band members when the guitarist hits that note a little too early. Luckily, 2018 was a great year for live recordings. Here’s a list of 20 of the best live music performances recorded by Indian artists, ranging across genres from jazz to folk. If you don’t want to read through all of these, here is a playlist you can put on if you simply want some live tunes!

Folk and Singer-Songwriter

Listen to these calming tunes that focus on telling a story

Amartya Ghosh

Here’s the most lo-fi of the lo-fi, a live music video that features singer-songwriter, Amartya Ghosh strolling along a lonely street while singing his beautifully melancholy songVerdict. Listen here

Second Sight 

This Bombay band creates calming folk compositions with beautiful harmonies. The first track is a spellbinding spoken word piece that’s accompanied by a choir and guitar arrangement,  enchantingly performed with all the artists sitting around a small bed. Listen here and here

Easy Wanderlings 

Watch this band as its vocalists relax on the floor of the studio, exchanging smiles. Easy Wanderlings brings you a light folk feel with their lovely harmonies and poetic lyrics, in this live session by Kintsugi Studios. Listen here

Hanita Bhambri

Nothing For Our Own is a melancholy song by singer-songwriter Hanita Bhambhri. Performed in this Compass Box live session, it features some new harmonisations, with instrumental parts that add a refreshing new layer to the original while staying true to the sentiment of the song. Listen here

Prateek Kuhad

This song ‘cold/mess’ is a favourite of Prateek Kuhad fans and has the ability to inevitably cast a hush over the crowd. This raw, vocal and guitar version recorded in Chicago as part of Audiotree live sessions, will calm you instantly. Listen here

Mahesh Raghunandan

Sleep by Mahesh Ragunandan is a lullaby-like song that reaches right inside of you. It’s performed with no frills here, which makes it all the more endearing! Listen to this simple and moving song with someone who is simple and moving! Listen here or this one


Listen to these ‘in-the-pocket’ grooves for lovers of musical intricacies

Shubh Saran

NY-based Berklee alumnus Shubh Saran has worked with many artists in live sessions, but this original instrumental composition is incredibly groovy and constantly keeps the melody moving. The sheer number of musicians in this collective is amazing in itself, so to see them all vibe with each other is a real treat. Listen here

Shubh Saran ft. Shadow and Light

Shadow and Light is an Indian band that combines jazz, funk and Hindustani classical vocals. Recorded in a large studio room, the song Samay has really great production quality with the added bonus that you can see the range of musicians work with each other. The band’s style makes for a fulfilling piece of music that you’ll want to listen to again and again. Listen here

Time Wise

Ahmedabad-based jazz band Time Wise writes their own music and reworks old classics. Here they are live at Mumbai’s NCPA, recreating the magic of Chick Corea’s Spain. Performing at this famed venue, the band seems to bring out a whole new avatar of themselves in front of the live audience. Listen here

Sanjeeta Bhattacharya

Jazz vocalist Sanjeeta Bhattacharya’s smooth and rich tone made it hard to pick between two of her songs, so listen to both! One is recorded on the channel Balcony TV, where you can see a simple, jazzy vocal/guitar duet performed on a balcony with the backdrop of an urban horizon. The other video, in contrast, shows a dark, velvety live studio session that’s brought alive solely by the artists’ expressive playing. Listen here and to this one, too

Cherry & Cream

An original no-nonsense acoustic guitar duet composition, this Compass Box live session tells a beautiful story of a mysterious journey. With just two guitars facing each other in a warm studio, the quality of the sound and composition really comes through in this pared-down recording. Listen here

Big Sounds

These bigger bands offer fuller sounds to pump up your energy

Gino Banks, Sheldon DSilva, Dhruv Ghanekar

This powerful, rocking performance is a jazz/Hindustani classical fusion piece identified as ‘jazz-rock’ that features some of the greatest names currently in Indian indie music. Performed on stage in front of a live audience, it will have you nodding your head to the beat. These seasoned performers bring their raw energy to the stage, and though their music itself is enough to get you grooving, the neon lights and funky stage set-up also add to the whole package! Listen here

Dhruv Viswanath

Dhruv Viswanath, a percussive finger-style guitarist, (you’ll have to listen to him to understand that title!) collaborates with Shubh Saran and makes an ethereal call to peace in this live performance, with lush guitar and smooth saxophone harmonies. Listen here and also this one

Chayan and Smiti ft. Shubh Saran

“There’s a fire in your mind, and thoughts that act as kindling/One spark and it all ignites, no hopes of extinguishing.” Shubh Saran takes a great song by Chayan and Smiti and revamps it to a whole new level. These two vocalists by themselves are great, and the entire band adds a great layer onto this song in this live recording. Performed in a considerably large studio, one can truly see the breadth of musicians involved. Listen here

Aditi Ramesh 

This Bombay-based jazz/Carnatic singer recorded her song Big Fish in a Small Pond, at Marcbaq Studios. Watching this video, you feel like a fly sitting on the wall of a tiny studio as you watch this three-piece band groove the heck out of this original song! You’ll be instantly nodding your head to the infectious rhythm of this piece. Listen here

Along with being a writer I am also a singer-songwriter and I have just gone through my first live recording session, and that is also a reason that led me to build this list. I will be releasing my debut album, Unroot, early next year.  Since this song relies on just guitar and vocals, doing it live vs. recorded in multiple takes made a world of difference in the level of expression involved, and it was recorded all in one take. Listen it here.

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