Live music is back!
Chennai-based alternative band The F16s performed for the first time, after 10 months since the global pandemic, at Mumbai’s AntiSOCIAL, on the 18th of November, 2020. “It was risky, but we’re the guinea pigs,” said the band. The 4-piece band recalled how they have never gone without playing a show for such a long time in their entire career and this gig seemed to be quite hopeful in these bleak times.
Seated on the upper floor at AntiSOICIAL, The F16s appeared to be welcoming, anxious and excited for their gig. The venue had the required precautions, with glow in the dark stickers on the floor to help maintain social distancing, the staff wore face shields and masks, there was a temperature check, a limited capacity and, even while playing Josh Fernandez, the vocalist/guitarist repeatedly reminded people to stand at their designated spots. These safety guidelines and the efficiency carried out by the venue was the reason why The F16s agreed upon playing at AntiSOCIAL and declined the other shows and wedding gigs they were offered before this.
Unlike most musicians and bands The F16s did not indulge in a single online gig. Instead, they worked on their upcoming 5 track EP which will be released early next year. “We’ve been working on it since the beginning of the lockdown and we’ve also moved the studio in our house. The first three months of the lockdown were spent in writing the remaining songs and once things eased up, we went back to the studio to finish most of our production and now we’ve started the mixing,’’ explained the band as they spoke about how they have been spending the 10-month long lockdown.
Once the gig started, Josh occasionally engaged the audience with his comments as to how they have forgotten to speak in public, an announcement of their upcoming EP, and being thankful to the audience who came out amidst the pandemic and bought tickets. “It almost felt like we were playing for the first time,” the band joked during the interview.
Anyone who has been following The F16s would be aware of their association with the Delhi-based artist development agency Pagal Haina. The band refers to this association as the only silver lining from this lockdown and something which all of them looked forward to. They had been constantly looking for a manager as it was difficult to find someone who knew how bands work and is dedicated to seeing a band do well. “We were impressed by how Dhruv and Pagal Haina have been working in the industry with some of our favourite artists such as Lifafa, Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC,) and Begum. So, we finally got on a call and since it was the lockdown, they weren’t busy and we had time so it all worked out.’’
The band has discussed a bunch of plans with their management agency but also pointed out how it was hard to plan anything in right now when everything is stagnant. “Instead, we put our efforts on making and putting out a whole rounded album, which will not only be sounding good, but also one where the message, the art direction, and the music videos come out as intended to be,” said the band. The boys revealed how they were chosen by South By (SXSW) right before the pandemic but it was cancelled and they are ambiguous if it’ll still happen or when it’ll happen. “A year or two has been lost and it isn’t vital for us to lose these years at this moment in our career. It would’ve been okay to lose them three years ago,’’ the band said bleakly but with this new album, they have plans and aim to get a global audience. With their track Moonchild, appearing on the ‘US Viral 50’ list in 2017, they have proved how their music has seeped into the American soil as well and they shall be trying to diversify their audience even more in future.
As the band played their most popular song, Moonchild, the crowd cheered in excitement but the song ended with Fernandez playfully murmuring, “This is our least favourite song.” However, their setlist also included a couple of songs from their unreleased EP.
The band is sceptical if they would be performing in other cities because of the risks it might pose. “This can be a step forward towards whatever it is, but it can also be a step backwards towards the way things were,” said the band as they were looking forward to playing the show and they missed the feeling of playing live on stage!
“A small step for the band, a giant leap for bandkind” the boys collectively came up with this wordplay of Neil Armstrong’s famous quote and then started laughing.