A Farewell Letter To Blue Frog

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A FAREWELL LETTER TO BLUE FROG

WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY NAMAN SARAIYA

Blue Frog may be shutting down, but the iconic live music venue’s legacy will live on. When I heard the first rumours about Blue Frog shutting down, my life in Mumbai was heading towards a temporary end too, so I took it in my stride. A few months passed by, the rumours became real, and there was a statement from the venue itself. It was all happening in real time. My first clear memory of the venue involved accompanying the new office intern – who had more bylines for the NH7 website than I did at the time – to a Dualist Inquiry EP launch. He was denied entry for being (and looking) too young. Ever since, Blue Frog always seemed to feature in conversations as the venue that changed it all – or the one that we entered before 9 p.m. because we were too broke and/or cheap to pay the entry fee that kicked in later at night. Some would argue the case for the erstwhile Zenzi in Bandra, a venue I’d credit for helping places like the Lower Parel behemoth to come into existence in the first place and flourish.

Amidst the many nights and sound check afternoons, Blue Frog has been a rock and contributed to my constantly evolving career in the alternative music and culture space.

For the 20-year-old me, Blue Frog was the Royal Albert Hall, Berghain and Madison Square Garden all rolled into one – a place where I would discover the best (or often worst) in Indian indie week after week, forge new friendships and drink enough on a night in 2011 to express disregard for my ex-girlfriend’s new arm candy and eventually be dropped home by Pentagram’s frontman. Free booze + youth, dammit! If I had to pick from a bunch of memories that live on in my mind, I would be spoilt for choice. The venue haunts me with vivid memories of a fantastic annual Shaa’ir + Func gig, early evening visits to catch a singer-songwriter, helping the FrogTV crew with an additional camera angle or plotting an early exit because, “who the fuck is this DJ?” Amidst the many nights and sound check afternoons, Blue Frog has been a rock and contributed to my constantly evolving career in the alternative music and culture space. The venue has helped many people kick start their careers in the music business – as managers, booking agents, tech consultants – and each one of them will be indebted like I am. While it was more than just a venue to a lot of people, the Frog did live up to the hype of being the best live music venue in the country on plenty a night before the decline was evident and, later, in full blown public view. The programming took a beating, but many young musicians still considered playing at the venue to be prestigious, not bothered by the corporate diners and partiers. In its last leg, nothing did more damage to the treasure trove of beautiful memories like the deteriorating PA, lacklustre crowds and a shift in programming to please the weekend crowd (aka big spenders). Those who depended on the mid-week band night were often left disappointed. My younger self often wondered if I was ever cool enough to be a Friend of the Frog a membership of sort that held some privileges, given how many gigs I had shot and written about at the venue. I never got my answer, and perhaps I never will. But I made many a friend there, and for that Blue Frog will always be special. The owners of Blue Frog are looking for new locations in the city to relocate to. While they haven’t settled on a new home yet, I hope the Frog’s mantra – live music remaining at the core of their venture – will hold true in their new location and shine brighter than before. Don’t change a thing. Except for, maybe, the prices at the bar. Frog Fest, a weekend-long festival, kicks off this Friday, August 26. Performing at the festival are Indus Creed, Ankur Tewari and the Ghalat Family, Zero, Gino Banks, Nikhil D’Souza, Midival Punditz, Ranjit Barot and Suman Sridhar, among others. The last gig at the Lower Parel location is on August 28. Blue Frog was located at Zeba Centre, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (w), Mumbai 400 013. We’ll update the address once they’ve opened at a new location.

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