Goa’s evergreen live music culture: A treat to your ears and mind

Aparupa Mazumder
Saturday, 20 June 2020

Keith Richards once said something hard to disagree with - “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.”

Music can control the emotions of a person; it can ignite feelings in one and drive those feelings into physical reactions. Through a journey of countless years, different styles and genres of live music have taken birth in the transforming cultural landscape of India. With an army of youngsters who are exposed to a wave of multicultural interaction, music production has been an assimilation of various communities from multiple places. Speaking of one of the best places in India offering a lifetime of experience, anyone who’s into live music knows the significant influence Goa has had over the years. But the fierce competition keeps growing with every passing day as new formats of music, namely the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) gain fame; the traditional ways of live music showcase in Goa does not fail to cope up. The age-old practice of including band performances and live music in every other Goan celebration has been a prestigious heritage of the state. Even today, Goa attracts millions of tourists every year for this valuable practice which outshines the popular culture of the new age.

A history aficionado can vouch for the fact that Goa has had a rich musical history. Goa has been a brooding place of culture, with an amalgamation of both Indian and western influence, it has been a favourable musical destination for all the seashore lovers. Music, food and sports are apparently the three most cherished aspects of a Goan’s life. Music has always fascinated and been an integral part of the rich culture of Goa. It has fairly played a significant role in the Goan theatre. The Goan Mando, which began as a form of storytelling, is an essential part of Goa’s musical tradition.

Apart from traditional music, Goa also has a vibrant history in popular music culture, trailing all the way back to the 1960s. Goa is regarded as the birthplace of trance music in India which was started by the hippies back in the 60s. In fact, the 21st-century psychedelic trance in India developed from Goa trance. The diverse list of genres includes pop music too, famous pop musician Remo Fernandez belongs from Goa. Goan artists have abundantly contributed to Indian music. Back in 1934, Goan musicians formed the Bombay Symphony, and in 1947, they formed the Bombay Madrigal Singers Organization. Goa has given birth to famous artists like Chris Perry, Chic Chocolate and Lorna, although, most of them got their break in Mumbai. Due to the prominent Portuguese history, Goa also effectively indulged in westernised concepts and culture related to music. The Portuguese brought Brass music to Goa, and it became a part of the culture ever since. Renowned saxophonist BrazGonsalves said, “Music is the harmony of the heart. Brass music became a part of the Goan culture though the Portuguese brought it.”  

Till date, there exists no event in Goa without a band’s performance, public or private. Similarly, an authentic Goan wedding is never complete without a band performance. One can safely say that music and band culture is woven in the history of the Goan population. From hosting small scale gigs in cafes and restaurants to pulling off large scale multi-genre concerts, Goa has come a long way in welcoming westernised concepts such as the band culture and hosting live music events. 

Swarnabha Gupta, a 24-year-old guitarist from the Mumbai based band ShredxXx who’s been to Goa multiple times, said, “The art, overall, is really great in Goa. You can see so many different elements in the acts here. From the rich traditions of Indian Classical Music, to the fresh smell of regional folk, Indian bands have blended their own culture rather beautifully with the international sound, and they’ve aced it!”

Even with the fast-growing business of electronic (mostly EDM) Music and harsh competition from the DJ culture, live music has always attracted swarms of tourists to Goa. It adds a different identity to the uniqueness of Goa’s tourism. People who enjoy a soothing melody while relishing a delightful cuisine have always found their safe haven in Goa. There are hundreds of places all across the state which promise a wholesome experience of band performances, mostly post 7 pm, beautiful shacks with mouth-melting dishes and soulful music, restaurants with a range of platter and a discography of real and authentic culture. The wedding bands are also an integral part of the band culture in Goa. There goes a famous saying that any wedding taking place on the Goan sand needs to be compulsorily accompanied by a Goan band, and indeed the saying is true. 

Acacio Pereira, Aqya Strings, Archies Band, Audacity, Elvis Lobo project, BadBlood, Electric pulse, True Blue, A26, Raagas to Riches, Reeves, Band Wagon, Blue Waves, Brothers In Arms, Cascades, Crimson Tide Band, etc. are few of the famous names which are extensively known to the people in Goa, ranging from Hard Rock, Country, Fusion, and to the heavier Metal.

Odin De Sa, a 26-year-old music producer who is also the guitarist of the Goan metal band called, 'Within Ceres' said, "Goa predominantly has a more westernised culture. We like western music and dance styles.  So, country, rock, and pop are favourites to go dancing. We also have jazz in Goa as well with a smaller scene in Metal. In Goa, Live music is on par with EDM.”  Within Ceres all set to produce their very first extended play titled “Skyless” on Saturday, June 20, 2020.

Like the chapels built in the 16th century and the spices brought all the way from Porto, anyone who wishes to get a complete taste of Goa with all the essence and ingredients should definitely also not miss a night of live music. Few of the places offering such great experience are:

- Cantare: Located in Saligo, this place is actually an old Goan house. Adding to the nostalgic feeling, Cantare is the perfect location for live music. The name of the places adds a whole different vibe because “Cantare” means ‘to sing’ in Italian. You will get Jazz on Mondays and Fridays and rock on Thursdays.Call +917972548319

- Cohiba: Cohiba is famous for hosting gigs by few of the best-known live bands in Goa. People get to enjoy live music in the open and feel the vibe in its richest form. Sauradeep Biswas, a 22-year-old Brewer at Great State Ale Works Pune, who visited Cohiba in 2019 said, “When I first went to Cohiba, I realised how full of life the place was. All you get these days is the same electronic beats with no soul. DJ playing random sounds and people dancing frantically to it. But the experience of live music was totally different for me. It was refreshing and it touched my heart.” The Saturday retro nights are the most popular here.Call - +917722031222

- Ciaran’s: If you like to mingle in the crowd while listening to some blues and jazz right from strings and sticks, you have got to visit Ciaran’s. It has got the best crowd of Paololem beach.Call - +919819403018

- Guru Bar: If you need the correct amount of retro, Bollywood, Sufi and Reggae while keeping the blues and rock n’ roll on point, Guru Bar in Anjuna beach is where you need to go. This place is not just about live music but also history; it is the oldest bar on Anjuna beach and has seen the true transformation of the hippie culture. Call - +919823383257

- Cavala: One of the oldest places in Goa to hear live music, Calvala in Baga has preserved the tradition of band culture alive till date. Not only do many well knownGoan bands perform here every night but also bands from Bangalore and Mumbai come here to play their music.Call - +918390055518

Other places which offer good live music include Hopping Frog in Anjuna, The Rice Bill in Morjim, Terra & Mare in Mandrem, Rumi in Taleigao Road, Hideaway in Vagator, Soro in Assagao, etc. These places beautifully carry forth the cultural significance of Goa, which is heavily embedded with the evergreen showcase of live music.

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