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

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Why three solo musicians from three different places decided to tour the country together

Why three solo musicians from three different places decided to tour the country together

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

“This is one of many firsts for me on this tour,” says Mahesh, who has teamed up with Alvin Presley from Chennai and Sidharth Bendi from Hyderabad for the Feels Express tour, which takes the three musicians on new (and some good old) scenes in Kochi. , Goa, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Auroville, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

After kicking off the tour on April 10, the three have already covered five such destinations. They have performed in nationally acclaimed venues like the Piano Man Jazz Club in Delhi, and newer, more intimate venues like Sheri in Pune. Everywhere — even in cities they’d never been before — they met fans who crossed state lines to watch them play.

“It’s given me a whole new perspective on what I do with my music,” Alvin gushed, noting how looking at statistics about his music heard in faraway towns is vastly different from the real-life experience of meeting these listeners in person. His voice still retains a semblance of disbelief as he recalls, “There were four or five travelers who traveled from Bangalore to Goa to hear me play, because the Bangalore date didn’t work for them. Some people went to Kochi for the concert, because they didn’t know it was a tour and I was also coming to their house.

This connection was reinforced, says Mahesh, by the nature of their music. He explains: “We are all three singer-songwriters. Unlike rock bands or electronic sets which have a lot of energy, a singer-songwriter’s concert requires the audience to sit and lean over, and just listen to the music and lyrics.

To foster this intimacy (and for other more practical reasons), most of these events were small. Although it was a multi-city, multi-week tour, each pit stop for Feels Express was a small stop, with an audience of no more than 50 people, all of whom were drawn to the venue by a local and trusted voice of the independent scene. “These local promoters helped us penetrate the existing audience in each city,” says Srikanth Natarajan of The Chennai Scene, who organized the tour with tour manager Abdul Manaf. He adds, “These people have steadily and systematically worked to develop an interest in independent music in their respective cities, over time. They have built local musical communities and given us the assurance 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. Free entry. Contact @thechennaisscene on Instagram to add your name to the guest list.

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