Life & Style

The Feels Express is touring India, bringing indie music to intimate spaces

The Feels Express: (from left) Sidharth Bendi, Alvin Presley and Mahesh Raghunandan

The Feels Express: (from left) Sidharth Bendi, Alvin Presley and Mahesh Raghunandan

The journey from playing a song to releasing it, and then to meeting someone personally affected by that release, is an emotional arc that all musicians hold dear. Mahesh Raghunandan has been a singer-songwriter in Bengaluru for over a decade, but has never had a chance to perform in nearby Chennai. This Friday, he will be performing in the coastal metropolis for the very first time.

“It’s one of many firsts for me this tour,” says Mahesh, who has teamed up with Chennai’s Alvin Presley and Hyderabad’s Sidharth Bendi for the Feels Express tour, which is taking the three musicians to new (and some good old) stages in Kochi, Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Auroville, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. 

Having kicked off the tour on April 10, the three have already covered five of these destinations. They have played at nationally famous venues like The Piano Man Jazz Club in Delhi, and newer, more intimate spots like Sheri in Pune. Everywhere — even in cities they had never been to before — they were met with fans who drove across state lines to watch them perform. 

“It gave me a whole new perspective on what I am doing with my music,” gushes Alvin, underlining how looking at statistics about his music being heard in far-flung cities is very different from the actual experience of meeting those listeners in person. His voice still holds a semblance of disbelief as he recalls: “There were four or five travellers who travelled from Bengaluru to Goa to hear me play, because the Bengaluru date wasn’t working for them. Some people travelled to Kochi for the gig, because they didn’t realise that it was a tour, and that I was coming to their place too.”

This connection was heightened, says Mahesh, by the nature of their music. He explains, “All three of us are singer-songwriters. Unlike rock bands or electronic sets that have a lot of energy, a singer-songwriter’s gig makes the audience sit and lean in, and just listen to the music and lyrics.”

To aid this intimacy (and for other, more practical reasons), most of these events were small ones. Despite being a multi-city tour panning weeks, every pitstop for Feels Express was a little one, with an audience of not more than 50 people, all of whom were drawn to the venue by a local, trusted voice of the indie scene. “These local promoters helped us crack into the existing audience in each city,” explains Srikanth Natarajan of The Chennai Scene, who organised the tour along with tour manager Abdul Manaf. He adds, “These folks have regularly and consistently worked on building an interest in indie music in their respective cities, over time. They have been building local music communities, and gave us the confidence that wherever we go, there will be an audience for us.” 

The Feels Express will be coming to Off The Record in Chennai on May 13, and Dorian House in Auroville on May 14. Entry is free. Contact @thechennaiscene on Instagram to have your name added to the guest list.


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Printable version | May 13, 2022 11:22:45 am | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/indian-indie-musicians-take-the-feels-express-on-a-country-tour/article65401136.ece