I’ve been a huge Bipul Chettri fan ever since he was just another SoundCloud artist. I first came across his music in early 2013 when Abhaya di (of Abhaya and the Steam Engines) shared his SoundCloud link to his first released song. Back then, I still remember, it was vaguely titled ‘wildfire’ with not much info on the artist. I listened to the song for at least four times, back to back, and it instantly became my favorite. Few months (or weeks?) later, he released ‘Asar’, and well, as they say, rest is history.
When his first gig was announced in Nepal in October 2014, and as I wrote about the event, I was wishing I were there to witness it. He along with his band – The Travelling Band – has played at number of events in Nepal; and has toured across the world since then; but I never had the opportunity to watch them perform live, UNTIL YESTERDAY.
The band played their first concert in S. Korea on Friday, February 16th where they headlined the Rise for Nepal event at Yes 24 Live Hall in Seoul. Organized on the occasion of Seolnal (Korean/Lunar New Year), the show also had Trishna Gurung and dancer Rina Magar.
The show was opened by Maila Guys, a locally formed Nepali band, as they played 1974 AD’s hit number ‘Yo Mann Ta Mero Nepali Ho’, followed by ‘Suna Katha Euta Geet’, ‘Chyangba and Bloody Revolution’, ‘Kalo Kalo Raat’, and ‘Bhoolma Bhulyo’. Even with the absence of their lead guitarist, the band did put on a good show. They had the vocalist of Trinity Band, another local Nepali band, join them on stage.
There were then some dance performances, followed by a set by Windhover Band, who were very good. They started with Neetesh Jung Kunwar’s ‘Hamro Nepalma’, and then played their original number ‘Hamro Nepal’. ‘Gurans Fulyo’ and ‘Chari Bharara’ were the next songs they performed.
And then came, Trishna Gurung, and she was amazing. She opened with her hit ‘Sanjhako Bela’. And then she sang ‘Daiba Janos’, which came as a surprise to me. She has been more into folk pop music in recent years and I had totally forgotten that the 11:30 Basan song had her as the featured artist. It was good. Then she went on and performed some more of her recent hits like ‘Gurasai Fulyo’, ‘Rail Lai Ma’, ‘Gainey Dajai’, and ‘Khani Ho Yahmu’. She was fantastic on stage.
And then came the most awaited act of the night, Bipul Chettri and the Travelling Band.
Damn. I had waited for years to see them and so, obviously, I was super duper excited. ‘Allare Jovan’ – they opened singing the song. ‘Mann’, ‘Dadhelo’, ‘Deorali Darah’ followed. As they sang ‘Siriri’, ‘Asar’, ‘Junkeri’ and ‘Ram Sailee’, the packed hall sang with them.
The next song – their latest single ‘Gahiro Gahiro’ – they performed was dedicated to Rahul Rai, the 27-year-old vocalist of Sikkim based band Tribal Rain who had died earlier this week. This is something that I’ve always admired about Chettri, he knows how to pay tribute to artists. He was in Japan last year when rapper Yama Buddha died, and he did dedicate a song to him during his Tokyo concert.
‘Syndicate’ came next, followed by the closing song ‘Mountain High’. It was the end of an hour of beautiful music. The band left the stage with the audience wishing they could have some more.
They played a wonderful set.
While the artists did their best and were able to entertain the crowd, how I wish I could say the same about the entire event as well. The event started late, and hence the audience went kinda crazy at times. They were booing loudly, which made the hosts nervous and visibly frustrated. As a result, they weren’t able to host the event smoothly. Another disaster came from a member of the organizing team – who took it upon himself to entertain the annoyed audience and decided to sing a song himself. Yep, he did that. He actually sang an original song — and it was totally unnecessary. May be he thought, “Oh! Now that there already are a lot of people gathered, may be I will sing them a song. I might never get a platform like this later.”
When the event started, the hosts announced that the Nepali national anthem will be played. When almost five minutes later when the anthem wasn’t still played, the audience themselves sang it without the music. That’s how bad the event planning was. Duh!
At last, when the final act of the night was over; the lottery winners – the lucky ones among the ticket buyers — were to be announced. They were first going to announce the ten ticket numbers that were going to win the Bipul Chettri autographed tees; and they announced a number — but then they suddenly decided that the number is actually the winner of the bumper prize – one million won (NPR 96,000 approx). There were no winners for the tees, just the bumper prize. Well, okay.
Anyway, a lot of flaws, but I went out of the hall with a satisfied heart. I had finally witnessed Bipul Chettri perform live and that was enough for me. Also, this was the last concert I would be attending in the country and I wanted it to be special. And yeah, it was special.