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High Five: A Half Decade of the Blue Frog

The Mumbai club turns five this month. We take a look back at the last half decade at Mathuradas Mills.

4 Dec, 2012

Arjun S Ravi

Editor

It’s safe to say that Mumbai’s live music scene wouldn’t be the same without the Blue Frog. Since December 2007, the upscale Lower Parel club has hosted some of the city’s most memorable live performances and has set the bar for indoor sound quality with its acoustically treated interiors. If a band is performing at the Blue Frog and another venue in the city, chances are that fans will hit Mathuradas Mills to watch them play solely on the basis of the superior live music experience the Frog offers. This month, the club turns five, and it’s celebrating half a decade in the scene with a series of gigs (details), and a coffee table book chronicling highlights from the last five years.

Indiecision has covered more gigs and events at the Blue Frog than we can count over the past half decade (the Blue Frog tag on the site runs to 22 pages, and counting). We’ve been around pretty much since the start. While it helps that our offices are in the same city, no other venue here has made as compelling an argument to immerse oneself in a live performance. Over the years, we’ve caught (literally) hundreds of gigs here and it’s provided us an interesting perspective on how the club, and the scene around it, has evolved in that time. While the club is undoubtedly Mumbai’s best indoor live music venue, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the sullen amphibian.

At the start, the club faced a few teething issues. Gigs wouldn’t start on time, the staff was overeager (to put it mildly), the premium on food and booze was prohibitive… heck, in mid-2009, our contributing editor Amit Gurbaxani even wrote a piece about why the Blue Frog made us see red (sometimes). Our main gripe was that the club was a music venue that seemed to cater to non-music lovers. Given the tough commercial climate for catering and entertainment establishments in Mumbai, things did look a bit shaky at the Frog for a while (Amit and I once caught a gig by a UK band called The Juice at the Frog where we, and the staff at the Frog, were the only people at the club).

Over the years, these issues ironed themselves out and the club has taken several great initiatives to provide music fans a great selection of music, and semi-premium offers on F&B (including happy hours and Frog Quarters) for us cheapos. About a year ago, an outpost of the club was also opened in the capital (check out our interview with Mahesh Mathai, one of the five founders of the enterprise, about the Delhi Frog here) which, like the venue in Mumbai, also hosts a wide variety of artists and performers.

But despite the commercial and logistical ups and downs, the Blue Frog has showcased some of the most amazing music we’ve seen in the last five years. This is where Bauchklang went from beatboxing nobodies to ‘vocal groove’ megastars literally overnight (remember when they played three nights at the venue back-to-back?). This is where we discovered fantastic international acts like Israeli rock group The Giraffes (gig review), the “Slipknot of electronica” X-Makeena (report), French alt-rockers Kwak (gig review) and Dubai rock act Abri (gig review). This is where Susheela Raman took our breath away with her mesmerizing performance in early 2010 (gig review). This is where acts like Shaa’ir + Func have played annual showcases that left us wanting more (2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008). This is also where we’ve seen some pretty kvlt gigs, like this one by a band called Indian Breeves. This is where we’ve come to love live music in Mumbai.

Five years on, the Blue Frog stands tall as a symbol of the independent spirit of its proprietors, and the beating heart of a vibrant live music scene in Mumbai. Here’s to five more.

Check out our mammoth Blue Frog tag here.

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