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News |  29 Dec 2016 20:59 |  By RnMTeam

21 shows. 15 cities. 6 weeks. How Dhruv Visvanath pulled off a unique tour in limited budget

MUMBAI: Touring across the country for any Indian ‘independent’ musician/act, more often than not, invites a few compromises either on the quality of accommodation or the transport arrangements or, sometimes, both. But what if we tell you that one songwriter recently toured across the country, performing in 15 cities (21 shows) and spent only 40,000 rupees from his pockets? If you are an aspiring musician with limited budgeted ambitions, that surely must have got you intrigued.

‘The Lost Cause Tour’, Dhruv Visvanath’s latest effort, began at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender Shillong on 22 October. To begin your DIY tour at, possibly, the most successful music festival in India resulted into a positive first step for Visvanath’s tour, where the musician did not leave the nitty-gritty portion of the entire effort to ‘last minute’ arrangements. With a systematic plan and a childhood friend, Delhi-based Visvanath set off on a tour that has the potent to inspire and educate emerging ‘indie’ musicians to imitate the approach and, in the larger run, reduce the dependency on several elements for a seamless execution of live shows. “I had planned things before I even went on road. You are always going to get stuck if you leave things to the last minute,” informed Visvanath, when asked on the sheer necessity to have an organised plan in an inconsistent ‘scene’. At least 21 venues hosted Dhruv Visvanath’s ‘The Lost Cause Tour’, and in the ‘scene’ now majorly driven by the hyped PR exercises overshadowing the content, that is a big deal for a solo act with a debut album released a little over one year ago. “The repertoire of work that represents me helped when I approached venues,” claimed Visvanath, who released his debut album in 2015, under music composer Vishal Dadlani’s label ‘Vishal Likes This’ (VLT).

“Once I sorted the venues for the tour, I created a systematic tour plan that involved covering cities in a particular order,” informed Visvanath, who began the tour with Bacardi NH7 Weekender Shillong towards the end of October. In order to cut down on the expenditure, the musician covered the North East region in order, following his tour opener in Shillong with a performance in Assam. The musician considered the North East leg of the tour an eye opener in many ways, exposing him to a culture, landscape and music scene that he had minimum knowledge of. “I always wanted to explore the North East. Assam, especially, blew my mind away with what it had to offer.” The tour soon turned into a voyage for the 24 year old who was accompanied by his childhood friend, thus ensuring that the travelling did not convert into a lonely boring adventure. “As soon as I informed him (the friend – Christopher Marquis) about the venues, he quickly bought the tickets to all the cities and performances, except the last set in Delhi.” The tour extended to Kolkata, Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Dharvad, Hubli, Kochi, Pondicherry, Chennai, Pune, Bengaluru, Nagpur, Mumbai, finally drawing curtains in New Delhi.

One would wonder about the approach implemented by the songwriter to execute the tour spanning across 17 cities in a mere budget of 40,000 rupees. Visvanath had earlier associated with a few brands that jumped in to assist the songwriter for his ambitious effort that included accommodation in every city and travelling duties. “For any touring musician, a Venn diagram would suggest that ‘travel’ and ‘stay’ is the common portion. Every Indian ‘indie’ musician is primarily concerned of the two factors. One of the leading homestay portals Stayzilla associated with The Lost Cause Tour in ten cities enabling extended comfort and making him “feel like home” Automobile giants Audi acted as an associate on road – literally – through several parts during his tour. “At one point in Shillong, I was the only person with an Audi car,” informed the musician apparently obsessed with automobiles. “Fortunately, early on, what I realised that I have made best possible brand associations for the tour. In turn, the brands get to organically engage through this association.”     

Sooner than later, the inevitable had to occur in some form or another, and Visvanath suffered quite a few issues during his stay in Trivandrum, thanks to an announcement made on 8 November by the Prime Minister of India. “I was in Trivandrum when the demonetisation announcement came out. That effectively resulted into some hiccups and difficult phases that I, or anyone, had predicted before. Money became redundant, and I wasn’t carrying my debit card,” added Visvanath, who relied on credit card transactions for the entire tour. What also helped the songwriter in cutting down on his expenses was the effort of not going back home after every other performance.

For a musician who thinks “nothing is generic about the indie scene”, pulling off an effort like the Lost Cause Tour, indeed, becomes one of the highlights of unique approaches utilised by musicians or acts in the year 2016 to extend their respective outreach. Visvanath claimed that it was not until the end of the tour did he realise the magnitude of the unique effort. “I concluded the tour at Piano Man Jazz Club (Delhi). That was the day I looked back and reviewed the entire tour in a flash. That was the moment when I got the grip of the whole thing,” explained Visvanath, who counted the moments following the demonetisation phase as the toughest and the worst phase from the entire tour.

Visvanath currently is patting his own back for the successful outcome of the tour, however he believes the real intention did not involve proving tight-budgeted tours are possible for an indie musician. “The real intention, as it started, was to visit new places that I had either grown up in or only heard about. And gradually, it turned into several things beyond music for me. In these confusing and inconsistent times, The Lost Cause Tour, at least for me, is the kind of positive thing that has given me immense hope and confidence in myself,” asserted the musician, who hopes to extend the idea into an international tour. To the ones who could be motivated to execute a similar strategy, Visvanath advises, “I understand the talking point here is how to strategise a tour. But I’d suggest the musicians to focus on the music. Tour as a musician, not an event planner.”