Saturday, February 20, 2010


Over the past few months, ever since I've landed in this dandy little village called Bombay, I've been fortunate enough to attend many a rock concert. Sadly, due to the long association of alcohol with rock music, many of these aforementioned musical events tends to happen at places like Hard Rock Café where a pint of beer will cost you as much as a year's supply of soap. Don't do the math, please.

Now, I'm a skinflint. Unabashedly. Yes, I splurge on gadgets and books. But I'm as cheap as combs in Kerala (#doublepunwin) when useless things like expensive alcohol and eating out are involved. My basic premise being street food tastes as good, and it's all going to end up in the same form. Next time you fork out 650 bucks for a chicken kadai, wait for the next morning and have a good look at the bowl post damage. Doesn't look the price NOW, does it? No sir. Give me my roadside idliwallah where I can stuff my face and walk away only 20 Rupees poorer.

Sadly, the 'metchul' community does not think much of idli-sambhar with rock music. Not even that sexiest of south Indian combos, appam-stew, would be touched with a 666-inch pole if you were in a black tee. No sir. To sink in the meaning of rock music, it must be burgers. Nachos. Fondue. Basically anything that's over 200. Rupees and calories.

Most people succumb to the coolness syndrome and wham! Before you know it, Them Clones are six songs down and you're out by a grand. And while many people don't mind the damage, the rest of us don't have homes at Malabar Hill. Which is why me and a fellow BPL (below party-going line) friend have mastered the art of being a cheapskate at rock concerts. Here are a few rules.

1. Entry fee is okay. Ordering food is a no-no: This may seem stupid, but think about it: You come in just when the band is about to take to stage. Pay entry fee of about 150. Go right up to the mosh pit (or whatever they call it these days) and headbang away. You're far away from tempting menus. And bills.

2. Avoiding entry fee, even better: Most places have this come-before-8-no-entry-fee thing. But bands generally start only by 10. So if you look at your shame-o-meter and see that it's been collecting cobwebs so much that spiders have died of old age inside, you can safely walk in pre-8. After the polite lady with the reservation chart asks you whether you'd like a table for 1, 2, 4 or army, you say, nah, I'll just go up front, she'll understand you're a cheap bastard and chances of getting money out of you for food are as much as getting Chris Martin to score a test double ton. And anyway, the money doesn't go to the band (true story) so it's ethically okay also. Be thankful to the rich kids subsidizing your cheapness.

3. Acting as if you know the member of a band: Nothing works better than this. First, do a MySpace/Reverbnation check for the name of a band member. Pick the most esoteric one. 
Walk in confidently. Look around, and while the polite lady (of previous point fame. Damn, I have to stop doing that) asks you where you'd like to be suckered today, look aghast at the empty stage and say, "What?! They're not here yet?". Then have the following conversation with the polite lady (PL)

You: Wait, is Anish here yet?
PL: Sir...?
You: (exasperated expression) Anish... Anish from the band. Black and Whyte** are playing today, right?
PL: (after consultation with someone who has the schedule) Yes sir... They are... They start at 10...
You: (with an as-if-I-don't-know tone) I know that... But I need to... Oh goddamn guitarists and their @#$ schedules I tell you

At this point, whip out your phone, dial Vodafone customer care and start yelling, "Anish! Aren't you here?!" (move out of the venue for added effect, giving time to PL to think you're some hotshot who not just knows the band but bosses them around. If you're not in formals right after you land at the venue you can even pass of as a band manager). Come back in, still on the phone, throw some big words which you stopped understanding ever since you stopped taking online guitar tutorials like:

"Digitech R90, set the reverb at 30, and a 70s blues pre-amp setting. Got that? Sound here looks okay, but you may have to ask the bassy to turn down the treble, the acoustics here are drastically different from the open air venue... What? Yeah, man got that. Yes, the drums seem to have an extra tom-tom and floor tom. Alright, I'll see you here. I'll be up front. I'll check out the other acoustical aspects right now."

(cut phone, Amit Fernandes from Vodafone customer care would be quite WTF by now anyway)

Look at PL, smile and say "Rockstars!" and mumble something about waiting up front. If offered a menu, give a how-can-I-think-of-drinking-while-I-need-to-do-reco-of-this-place look. They won't bug you again. If you have a camera, then even better. But you need atleast an ultrazoom for this. But don't take notes.

Actually, I've run out of points here. You get the general drift.

Like my co-cheapo said, "Chuck, we can't afford dignity". Well said.

** Fictional band. No resemblance to any band living or dead


Logik said...

Options 1 and 2 for me boss. 3 sounds like a plainly getting kicked out thing.

bpland tom tom . hilarious :)

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

@Logik: I actually am lucky enough to know a few people in bands, and can pull off stunt 3. Maybe not to the dramatic effect I mentioned in the post, that was an obvious exaggeration :P

Thanks for reading!

Anirban said...

Nice post Deepak.

My favorite technique is to dress up like you're staff complete with Bluetooth headset, clipboard and pen, fake generic badge.

Ask casually, "Is Deepak around? He's supposed to be fixing the amp settings? I have to do everything myself!"

Walk in. The only danger is if they actually make you do some heavy lifting!

Rahul said...

Brilliant post, Chuck! Every time one goes to Hard Rock, that wave of coolness and attitude does breeze past you, forcing you to go up and ask "Excuse me, you have Fosters or Budweiser?" (sounding all important). To avoid feeling uncomfortable and well plain cheap, people around you also get into the groove. And before you know, you are also browsing through the 'food' menu, looking for something that puts you in between "My God, did he win the Sikkim lottery recently?" and "Oh f**k, why are you even here?".

Oh well, as Russell Peters says, "We Indians are cheap. And we are proud of it!" :P

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

Rahul: You're right. Hard Rock Cafe is now more Cafe than Hard rock, and that's a sad thing to see. The place is steeped with so much history and memorablia. Today it's a place where people dress up, wear gowns (really!), look at each other and go 'Ohmaigawwwwd! Lokatchyooooo!' and suchlike.

But anyway, shouldn't bitch. They're the guys who subsidize us cheapos ;)

PS: Fosters is cheap. These people ask for Corona. And the volume of placing the order increases as per the MRP of the drink.

"psst... waiter, do you have some fosters?"
"Hey! Waiter! WAITER! Get me a Bud-why-ser, will you?"

See? ;)

narendra shenoy said...

Superb post!!. The knowing-rock-band-members trick reminds me of an anecdote of PLDeshpande (a great marathi humorist, litterateur and actor). PL used to hang around near the concert entrance and wait for the musicians to arrive. When the taxi got to the venue, he would rush towards the boot and start unloading the equipment. THe musicians would think he was one of the organizers. The organizers would assume he was with the musicians. And he would get to attend the concert in the first row.

vineet naik said...

haha! great post. considering there would be many rock music enthu cheapos like us,(inexpensive)idli-sambhar with rock music is not such a bad idea after all. Hard Rock Udipi Cafe?

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

@Shenoy: Haha! Brilliant! Must add that to Part II. And must try that myself sometime.

@Vineet: Hilarious! Hard Rock Udipi Cafe! :D
You remember that cafe in rural India somewhere with 'Hard Raak Caafe' written in Hindi?

Aneesh Surender Madani said...

Har har!(From the good old comics)

In your case, casually tell the Hard Rock Cafe manager about a social media strategy that'll explode his business. :P

Arun said...

haha! brilliant one dude :-D .

ananth said...

Brilliant post. Was 'loling' throughout. :D

Btw, Corona tastes awesome man..! Though I would still choose a desi kingfisher over a corona or a bud

Jil Jil Ramamani said...

The guys at Vodafone customer care do lead an interesting life.

BrownPhantom said...

You are funny :)
My bro wanted me to write a similar posts with his tips and many coincide :).

Jack Personified! said...

:)I guess i should visit the hard rock cafe......time to move on to such cheaply expensive places:)

Shamanth Huddar said...

Cheap is the word and I stick to it :) !

respect @ "And anyway, the money doesn't go to the band (true story) so it's ethically okay also. Be thankful to the rich kids subsidizing your cheapness."

ROFL@ "but you may have to ask the bassy to turn down the treble"

and really well-said @ "Chuck, we can't afford dignity"

(Diligent Wanderings)

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

@JJR: Ever checked out the various fake customer care call videos on YouTube? Poor buggers, customer care :)

@BP: Thanks man! Actually, ask your brother to get in touch. Part 2 is always on the cards.

@Jack: Glad the guide helped :P

@Shamanth: That line that my friend said (dignity) is epic :D

gogi said...

"Basically anything that's over 200. Rupees and calories." Lol!

Will be putting these to use in a few months at the Bangalore HRC... :D

iissarayu said...

Ey, do the Gone with the Wind thing - thulp before you go, and tighten your waistband. Worked for 'em southern ladies, they ate like birds...

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

@Gogi: HRC is the best place to put these in practice. Those guys are so used to us cheapos. But thankfully, they've got enough rich kids coming who they need to worry about :P