In this togetherThere’s a world of difference between performing in the close confines of a hostel and at an open-air venue with thousands of fans
There’s a world of difference between performing in the close confines of a hostel and at an open-air venue with thousands of fans. Kathmandu is a city that breeds bands formed by schoolmates at speed-warp clip. Many of these bands peter out, with the bandmates calling it a day before the band ever has a chance to perform with the big headliners in town. New Age, who play everything from pop to punk, have already made that leap from school to stage. During the recently concluded MO:MO Mania festival held at Bhrikuti Mandap, the band opened for Mukti and Revival.
All the members of the band—Kim (bass), Anu (vocals), Milan (keyboards), Deep (lead guitar), Samir (rhythm guitar), Akash (drums)—are students at Niten Memorial High School in Tokha, Kathmandu, and they all live in the school’s hostel. Instead of breeding contempt, proximity seems to have fostered camaraderie among the band members, and it’s evident that the band members are a very tight bunch, something that has helped them develop the all-important chemistry needed to power their gigs. They are committed too, and that commitment to their art has helped New Age shine during inter-school music competitions: in 2012, they came up second, and in 2013, they won the first prize at the competition held in Gyanodaya High School.
The environment that birthed the band is a nurturing one too. Their band manager, Nicole Thakuri, who is the mother of Kim, is also the principal of the school. Thakuri, a big believer in channeling youthful energy into creative acts such as music, has been instrumental in getting the band together and seeing to it that they do not let their potential go to waste: she has allocated a practice room in the hostel for the band, where the members retreat to whenever they have free time on their hands; furthermore, Thakuri, who is an avid rock n’ roll fan, is friends with seasoned musicians such as Robin Tamang.
That friendship with Tamang, a Thamel veteran, helped New Age land their first gigs around town. Even though the band members are too young to imbibe alcohol—the youngest in the band, Kim, is 15; the oldest, Samir and Akash, are 17-they have already played at pubs and bars in and around Thamel, such as House of Music, Purple Haze and Electric Pagoda.
Playing at such venues has been the tried and tested method for musicians seeking to hone their live-playing chops, and New Age too has learned to develop a stage presence by playing these gigs. But the cozy, intimate feel afforded by clubs is still vastly different from the frightening experience that a huge open-air concert, attended by thousands of people, can be for first-timers.
It wasn’t any different for New Age when they opened for Mukti and Revival this Saturday at Bhrikuti Mandap. “We were very nervous because we had seen so many concert-goers at a single place only on TV. And we knew the fans actually wanted to see Mukti on stage. But as we kept playing, we were able to win the crowd over, and we actually had fun playing both our originals and covers,” says Kim. “Because we are so close to each other-we have grown up together, in fact-whenever we found ourselves faltering, we drew on our trust of each other to see the performance through.”
Most fledgling bands in town such as New Age trot out the same line about how they will stick together as a musical family in the future. But most of these bands usually disband when the members move on to various places around the globe to pursue their education, and many don’t ever jam together again. The members of New Age will probably be focusing most of their energies on their studies once they head out to college too. But, they say, because the band members
are more family than fellow musicians, they will certainly be sticking together for as long