What Music to Expect at a Dive Bar: Bangalore
By Amaan Khan
Of all the monikers Bangalore has been felicitated with, the one that it takes pride in is being called the ‘Pub Capital of India’. With over 3000 bars and pubs strewn across the hilly mass of Bangalore (it’s apparently at a higher altitude than Dehrudun), Bangaloreans know how to drink, not in quantity, but in style with their heads thrown back while some classic rock picks up on the imposing speakers. Things are definitely changing now especially with the extended curfew that’d strangled them up till now (read about the extension here). Take a look at the dive bars, which we’ve slotted into categories, only a true Bangalore-bred will get.
Arguably right in the centre of the bustling city, around the lanes of MG and Brigade roads, are some of Bangalore’s oldest and most iconic pubs. Pecos, Mojos and Alibi are the three musketeers, if you will, of 70s rock from the console. The familiar dim-lighting, beer and its knick-knacks and a healthy overdose of Zeppelin, Maiden and Metallica is a classic rock lovers’ second home, often filled with young college-going crowds who have lots of time to spare and limited pocket money. So much so, that you’ll find students ensconced at one table from 2 pm to 10 pm at times.
Purple Haze has had an odd relationship with the city’s drinkers. Slightly on the upper end on the price scale in comparison to the aforementioned musketeers, but like they say, the demand for a cigarette cannot be decided by the price. Those who love the Haze, have made a beeline for it in all moods. Nowadays the popularity has been on the decline due to a host of new brew pubs and bars gracing in the city.
Guzzler’s Inn, with the large snooker tables occupying most of the smoke-y pub, is the bastard brother of the Pecos-Mojos-Alibi clique that plays similar rock tunes of yesteryears but sees an older coterie of beer drinkers. But what is attractive about these places with small, closed walls (except the terrace) dingy low ceilings, filthy walls, elementary furniture? The answer is the quirky humans enjoying the sheer indelible feature of music from a relatively nostalgic platter.
Lastly, if you’re hopping around and are in the mood for bright-light drinking and better-maintained décor, then Le Rock, bang opposite Pecos, is your fix. Electric guitars hanging from the walls, a cruiser bike and a promise of good service with your music, Le Rock offers relatively more space including a mezzanine section.
Dance and Club
In the recent past, dance-y lounges have opened up by the dozen observing a rapid growth in the outgoing, letting-the-hair-down variety of people. If you want to engage in the drink-and-dance routine after a hard day’s work to some Macklemore, Ellie Goulding and the jauntiest tunes of the electro pop world, then Castle Street’s Plan B makes for a compulsive visit.
Then there’s its neighbour, Monkey Bar, at the offset of Richmond Road, which has become the city’s most popular lounge, where one can find people dancing on tables, if they’re crunched on space. Pop songs definitely are the star attraction, but the underground section, which one enters by walking down a spiral staircase, is where the action is at. Whiskey sours, pool tables, dark-ish walls, and tables lined along the sides of the venue, throws you into the Mirrors-like (Justin Timberlake) music video.
If the beer connoisseur in you is craving for that wheat preparation or Stout (dark beer), then Toit and its four levels of packed, very well designed setting is just perfect for dancing or just loitering about, often making conversations with old friends. It also, on and off, hosts foreign bands for performance like Will and the People. But Toit is on the slightly more expensive side. So if money is not a grouse, then dive right in.
With so many venues opening up, most are taking a special notice of the concept of live gigs. CounterCulture, one of the forerunners of live gigging venues in Bangalore, goes on to support live indie acts to build their repertoire, like they did with rock band Parvaaz (read here) to help them crowd fund for their album. So one will not be disappointed with the talent that performs at the venue, but keep your mind open for new music, unlike the previous suggestions on this list. Pebbles, located at Sadashiv nagar on the Palace Grounds complex, is another low-budget club that one can visit where a pint will not tear through your wallet, but for a club, the prices are a steal. Pebbles, that has seen Nikhil Chinapa and the likes of him playing, is usually host to underground techno gigs.