Musicians from the indie scene reminisce about the venue and recall their favorite memories of the place.
A launchpad for budding independent music artists, BFlat, Indiranagar is effectively shutting down on October 2, 2019. Having been one of the most popular live performance spaces in Bengaluru, BFlat has been promoting musicians as well as stand up comedians for a decade now.
The club management gave a statement on Facebook, “We regretfully announce that BFlat and BTDT Indiranagar, Bangalore’s first dedicated live performance venue and loved restaurant (former Highnote), and home to many music lovers and foodies, closes its doors, effective October 2nd, 2019, after 10 and a half years of supporting the Arts. Positioned as a platform to showcase, in particular, the independent music scene, jazz, and blues as well as stand-up comedy, BFlat has become an iconic institution. A launchpad to many a musician and band, BFlat has acquired a stellar reputation for its careful selection of music, great food, and excellent acoustics.” Run by Arati Rao Shetty and her husband Sunil Shetty, the club has hosted independent music artists starting from Jazz and Blues to Rock and Electronic. The outpour of emotions after the announcement has been massive.
Bengaluru based singer-songwriter Mahesh Raghunandan said in a statement, “From the outside, it may seem like it’s only a venue shutting down but BFlat is more than just a venue for most musicians in the city. I started my career as a songwriter at BFlat thanks to Arati and any claim of success I may have would largely be owed to that stage that honed me. There are so many iconic personal memories inside those walls.” Reminiscing one of his fondest memories with BFlat, he adds, “One of the best memories were from very recently when a gig that I was a part of with Rehab Sessions was canceled 5 minutes before we go on stage due to the recent live music situation. We decided to do the gig anyway but completely unplugged. It was a magical night of people huddled together allowing the silence to aid in our performances.”
Singer-songwriter Maalavika Manoj expressed her dismay, “It is the end of an era for me. It’s always disheartening for a musician in the scene to lose another venue, especially one as well known and well established as B flat. Recollecting her favorite memory associated with BFlat she tells, “An uncle of mine from Bangalore who I was very fond was suffering from ALS at one point. It was extremely difficult for him to travel and he could only get around on a wheelchair or a mobility scooter. I wasn’t expecting to see him at my gig, but right in the middle of the set he came right to the front of the stage in his scooter with his drink and started grooving along to the music. That was a moment I will never forget.”
BFlat has given a lot more than memories to the artists. It has long been home to a close-knit family of dreamers and doers. On being asked how she feels about the shutdown, harpist-singer-songwriter Nush Lewis said, “It’s extremely heartbreaking to hear about BFlat shutting down. It’s been around for so long and I’ve attended some amazing gigs there. It was so conducive for gigs, so intimate and for the artist. So it’s a real shame.” She added, “My fondest memory would have to be my last gig in Bangalore. It was on 13th June 2019 when I was on my EP launch tour. We had such a great time on that stage. Right from sound check to when we took the stage was simply beautiful. I really hope things in Bangalore get better and the cultural scene comes back on track.”
BFlat is no less than an institution for independent musicians, stand-up comedians as well as the lovers of Jazz and Blues. Contemporary Indian rock band Parvaaz’s drummer Sachin Banandur nostalgically said in a comment, “I think BFlat was the first venue where Parvaaz sold out tickets completely, I mean, they had to clear out tables and chairs to accommodate more people! After that, we made it a ritual to do our last gig of the year at BFlat. Personally, I have very fond memories of watching one of the last gigs of my favorite band Lounge Piranha at BFlat.” On being asked how he felt about the shutdown, he added, “BFlat has been one of the building blocks for Parvaaz since we played our first gig at the venue in 2010 and it hasn’t been that way to us exclusively but to many aspiring musicians and artists. I have enjoyed watching some of the best acts from around the country. It was a cozy and perfect venue with powerful acoustics in the hub of Bangalore city. It’s really sad to know that such an amazing venue is shutting down. Unfortunately, this feels like another step towards the death of the live music scene in Bangalore. Arati has been an amazing host and I would like to wish her luck for her future endeavors. Honestly, I hope to work with her and her team soon!”
BFlat has been the dream venue for endless fresh artists coming up in the indie music scene. Speaking of, it wasn’t really surprising to see how even new artists have had something or the other to take away from the venue. Singer-songwriter Hanita Bhambri expressed, “BFlat has been home to innumerable artists across the country and I feel like this is a huge setback for a lot of musicians. The place has always been welcoming. I’ve performed at BFlat twice, the second one was during my tour with my band. It was one of the best shows we’ve ever played because the place brings that out. The audience is more of community, they are quiet, friendly and appreciative. The organizers take care of you like one of their own, making sure you’re comfortable and well. I know that for a long time BFlat was struggling with funds and I kept rooting for them. But with all the outside forces attacking them constantly, I think they did their best to fight as long as they could.” Recollecting her experience with BFlat, she added, “My fondest memory is when I performed there with my band during my EP tour and how taken aback I was to see that the audience members weren’t even whispering to each other, there was complete silence and we really experienced the magic that night!”.