How does the loudest concert in Nepal look like when seen from a singer’s point of view? Abhaya Subba shares
Tuborg Stage had its first open-air, no-fare, everyone-invited, and biggest-bands-together concert - Let’s Get Loud at Nepalgunj first, on 9 August. And things weren’t that easy for Abhaya Subba and the Steam Injuns. Her band had landed back to the country from Europe on 7 August, with practice and traveling to immediately ensue. Abhaya Subba recalls, “It was like straight from the airport to the practice room. That practice was way too little for such a huge concert.”
Abhaya Subba extends her gratitude to Tuborg for organizing a concert that has kept its promise well. “We are probably the youngest amongst the bands that are in this array of superstars as we started back only in 2005,” she says. “It was intimidating, but all the while, exciting too.”
The Nepalgunj Tour
Tuborg Stage Let’s Get Loud had its first concert organized at Nepalgunj. For a band like Abhaya and the Steam Injuns, which is falsely identified as an urban-centric band, Nepalgunj was surely a trial of time. “It was the first of the other concerts to follow. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know whether we were up for a show, or a competition, or a challenge, or what,” says Subba.
At Nepalgunj, the organizers had only a few hours to prepare for the entire thing, and on top of that, the sound was not 100%. International Sound System (ISS) was conducting Nepal’s loudest concert, and surely had to pull some plugs to get the system right.
“It wasn’t just the sound, or the limited amount of time, or the hectic travel, or the lack of practice. My band and I can deal with that. My fear was of the crowd. When things turn nasty, the crowd starts throwing rocks and bottles, everything turns scary,” Subba remembers from her past experiences. “But it wasn’t like that in Nepalgunj. I think the crowd’s discipline kept me motivated. They had heard the song Timro Lagi, but had no clue of who performed it. When they came to know that it was us, it just rocked.”
“When all of us sat down in the evening, it didn’t feel like we were separate bands, doing separate things,” Subba recounts the evening in Nepalgunj. “Maybe it’s the nation’s situation, or maybe it’s the way Nepali music needed to be integrated. But we all felt like a family - a big family that Tuborg brought together,” Subba smiles.
The Butwal Tour
The feeling that Tuborg instilled in all bands performing for Tuborg Stage Let’s Get Loud, the loudest concert in Nepal, did continue to rock together as the ensemble reached Butwal as well.
But in the very second tour, Abhaya and the Steam Injuns suffered in double folds. One – their keyboard artist had to back out at the very last moment because of his exams. Abhaya Subba wanted to play her own keyboards, the band voted against it, since she needed to be out there amongst the cheers of the crowd. And two – Subba herself started suffering from throat problems, and the only way she could pump the crowd was by pumping medicine into her system.
“Against all odds, however, we safelanded the show as my band supported me with the vocals. The crowd gave us the approval when they sang along in Looking For Love. They got so well connected with the show. And yes, thank god that it went well,” exclaims Subba.
The Narayanghat Tour
“The audience has changed,” Subba shares a happy note. “People in the crowd have learned to be more respectful, and they are just there to experience their youth. The vibes were definitely positive.” Subba happily recalls. While performing Timro Lagi at Narayanghat, she had already struggled much with her throat. She sang cleverly, letting the high notes blend with the voice of backup vocalist and letting the crowd sink into the lyrics. “But then suddenly, I felt a shift in the crowd’s attention from me to a certain position on stage,” Subba says. “I turn to my right and – whoa, there is Robin dai (Robin Tamang) aiding me to create this beautiful vibe together. It was such a fantastic thing to do. Even while singing, I could realize that this is where we have come to, this is where we have wanted to come to,” Subba signs off with a positive note. !
(Tuborg Stage Let’s Get Loud is yet to stage performances in Dharan, Pokhara and Kathmandu).