I have to say, this has been one incredible, crazy and deeply personal journey for me. Despite my deep love for music and the few concerts (4 to be exact) I had attended before landing in the US, there was no way I could have even dreamed of having the privilege of attending 100+ concerts in just 5 years, let alone a lifetime. But here I am and that’s the beauty of life, as long as you keep turning the knobs of all the doors that come your way, you can expect some pretty amazing adventures through the ones that do open up!
I am just a regular Indian IT consultant from the remote north-eastern state of Assam where such passion for music and especially western music is not uncommon. And I am ever grateful to my dad for this gift of music, God rest his soul. He was a great fan of the Beatles, Eagles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Bee Gees, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and such musical icons of his generation. Having spent his childhood among the musically-progressive people of Shillong he caught the bug early on, just as I did from him. Life was tough but I quickly realized the powerful antidote of music from an early age (I am a 90’s kid) and as I started developing my own musical taste, it was already starting to fuse with my identity. Started with Bryan Adams, made Eagles my own, grooved to the Bee Gees, George Michael taught me about love, was awakened to a new world by Pink Floyd, dabbled in 90s pop, got into heavy metal, explored trance, discovered Radiohead and overall somehow remained loyal to that (in my opinion) golden age of music (70s, 80s, 90s). In the meantime, made some lifelong friends, got out of home, lived in a hostel, got drunk, got stoned, fell in love, went to the first concert of my life (Iron Maiden, 2005), graduated from engineering college, landed an IT job, and eventually ended up in San Francisco on November of 2011 to start this new (and beyond my wildest dreams) phase of my life. And during all these highs and lows, music always kept me connected, plugged-in to the kid who started out in this journey so many many years ago without a single clue of what the world was all about.
But the funny part is that despite my passion, my addiction to music, for the first few months in the US, I was totally deaf to this incredible opportunity that was knock, knock, knocking on my door. My first client project was in Los Angeles and it was only one day a few months later as I was commuting to office by bus, did I see a billboard of a Guns N’ Roses gig coming up at the House of Blues, Sunset Strip! What, seriously? Could a Guns N’ Roses show be so easily within my grasp? Googling brought up something called Ticketmaster. And as they say, the rest is History! I was hooked and LA was obviously a great place for concerts by world-class artists, but when I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area in Aug 2012 and learnt how to drive a car in the US there was no stopping me, there were so many gods to catch up with, so many pilgrimages to complete, so many buckets to fill! Later in 2015 when the prospect of switching to a traveling-consultant job seemed inevitable, my first concern was how it would impact my life concert-wise (needless to say my wife did not feel very sympathetic with my concerns!) And just to let you know, I did adapt and not only survived this potential ice-age but actually made an evolutionary leap in my “concert-going” (man, I just can’t find a better word for this, any suggestions?), and hopefully can keep this streak alive for as long as possible.
When something is so integral, so intrinsically part of your psyche you don’t even realize it! Books, music and movies have been the three great (platonic, if you may) loves of my life, that much I have always known. But books died an early death with the advent of intoxication and decrease in overall attention-spans. Movies surged ahead in my early 20s but have taken a back seat since. But music has always held on steadfastly. It has always been there – when I was a kid, when I became an adult, when I was high on life, when I was desolate, when I was drunk and out, when I was kicked around by fate, when I had sobered up on facing this reality called Life. It makes me euphoric, it grants solace, it gives me hope, it makes me think, it allows me really FEEL! But I have only realized all of these in the last couple of years when I crossed 30, 50, 80 concerts and I was forced to ask myself Why? Am I crazy? To be spending so much money, making so many personal sacrifices, going through so much trouble and tension to snag tickets, to ensure I will be able to attend booked concerts that are still 9-10 months away, manage work, manage personal relationships? Did music really mean that much to me? I had never thought of it that way before, but I guess it must. It is so ingrained in me that I cannot even call this a realization, but just an acknowledgement to the self. This is who you are, know it, accept it and just live it.
A final disclaimer. One thing that working in the consulting world has taught me is that it’s not about you, it’s about your audience, it’s not about what you have to say, it’s about what they will be able to take away from it. So, I always try to ask myself this question, “Why would anyone even bother?” Because I have no delusions of being a writer, my command of the English language is ordinary and common. Neither do I kid myself into thinking that I am a “SME” (Subject Matter Expert) in musical styles or band dynamics or the quality of a live performance. No. The only thing I have and want to share is (what I believe) this extraordinary journey of an ordinary music lover lucky enough to have this great opportunity fall on his eyes and ears and courageous enough to defy some substantial odds to pursue this passion. And the only reason you may bother is if you want to compare notes with your own similar journey or peek into a world that you are quite interested in but haven’t had the opportunity to make an acquaintance of yet. Or if you are just another music lover like me!