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The journey of Oscar Events and Entertainment

Subodh Dahal Wednesday, Jul 19, 2017 4988 reads

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The history of Rock and Metal scene in Nepal can be traced back to 1970’s when some bands were active covering all-time favourite/influenced bands. Later on; mid-1990, Nepali Rock band “CobWeb” managed to release their first studio album with their originals that became a huge hit. They are, arguably, the pioneers of the now profound metal scene of Nepal. 2001-2005, some underground metal bands released their originals with the number of live shows burgeoning around the country.

 

Until 2006, while bands like Lost Oblivion, Equals and Vhumi started breaking the barriers and experimenting, some bands were already disbanded or had gone inactive from the scene. 

 

KtmRocks was formed and they made a remarkable contribution to the growth of Rock and Metal Scene in Nepal by organising various underground Gigs and Concerts, Band Competitions, creating a huge platform for the talented musicians and promoting the underground music scene through their social sites and magazines.

 

Silence Festival; formed in 2009 by the members of Underside, started featuring an International Headlining Act every year until 2014 and created a huge platform for various talented Rock and Metal bands from Nepal and India. 

 

There were a lot of people doing the shows with a dream of change in the Nepali Music Scene while some started people started making serious earnings from this profession. While many acts slowly faded into complete oblivion, relenting to the cruel vicissitudes of the scene and personal and professional upheavals, successful ones continued their legacy.

 

 Event organizers, promoters and the whole management team that has worked incessantly behind the glamorous allures and limelight of the stagecraft, pyrotechnics and head banging have been the ones responsible for keeping the scene alive, throbbing and thriving.

 

I was born into a middle class, yet progressive, family. My father is a well-educated retired civil servant; my inspirational mother successfully pursued her high school studies during my teens and is still actively engaged in an insurance company. 

 

My brother, a civil engineer, is pursuing higher education abroad (since 2015). By the time i was just getting exposed to the music and metal at 18, the music scene in Nepal was already thriving with a lot of musical events, concerts and band competitions. 

 

Most of the band competitions held during those days would encourage 15% of Ticket Voting, 15% of SMS Voting and thereby limiting the decisions of the Judges to 70% only. One particular event served as a turning point for me. I attended an event in which 30 Metal and Rock bands participated against each other. One band, “And We Came”, particularly stood out from the rest in its ability to invigorate the crowd. And yet, when the results were published, it was disappointingly nowhere near the top.

 

I The crux (or you can even say funda) was that the more tickets you and your friends purchased the more points you earned. It was a sad day in which talent was suppressed by money. That pivotal moment was an epiphany for me, it spurred me to do something different for the scene and i came up with an idea of “Inter College Band Competition (ICBC)” where judges would have 100% right to determine the most talented band. 

 

I went forward with the idea and the first competition was successfully organized on September 15, 2012 at Fun Park and with interesting coincidence, the band “And we came” not only participated but also won the band competition under the judgment of three respected musicians from the scene.

 

The show also featured guest acts from Divine Influence, White, Tumbleweed Inc. and Albatross but unfortunately Underside couldn’t take the stage due to some security issues at the end. Due to heavy rainfall for the entire day, we could only gather a small paying audience in the venue. Sadly the event didn’t make much money and we were left with a huge loss. 

 

The loss was made more painful by the fact that it was my father who had supported me with 25,000 NC to organize the event, despite Rock & Metal being beyond his taste and preference.

 

Following this loss, it was very difficult to persuade and attract him into my vibes. I could never explain about my aim and goal in life to my parents because, for them, I was wasting my valuable time and energetic teens in something fruitless and without much scope. I, on the other hand, could see multiple opportunities and was determined on making big strides in this sector. It was a real hard time for me when i couldn’t pay back my parents after the show. 

 

But neither the rain, nor the loss and the ensuing discouragement from my family could dampen my spirit. Despite a sad prelude, help came in the form of a brotherly neighbor who introduced me to the sponsors, helped me with managing and dealing with the bands.

 

 

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He was literally my very first teacher who left back a lot of experience and lessons for life with beautiful memories. This experience introduced me to many important faces and upcoming talents, along with a good lesson for my future projects and this is how my journey began. After my debut event, my parents wanted me to stay back home and continue focusing on my high school studies. 

 

Board exams were at the door and so I had no option but to stay home and study. Fast forward 6 months later, and i had started to plan for something different in the live music scene and came up with an idea of “Summer Festival” on a zero investment.

 

I started to set things in motion with the help of my friend and we treaded the bustling streets of polluted Kathmandu valley, on hot sultry summer days just to put up the event pamphlets by ourselves. We walked miles on foot to meet the sponsors and promoters because Nepal had been facing stormy times characterized by uncountable strikes during that year. Summer Festival was conceptualized in 3 different sections with classical and instrumental music in the morning, local rock and metal acts from Nepal in the afternoon and the headlining acts in the evening.

 

More than 14 different bands and artists played during the festival and the turnout was massive. This event introduced me to a large number of music lovers, sponsors and musicians. My official FB page then started to receive more Likes and reviews from audiences who encouraged me to remain focused and leave my footprints in the scene. Despite all these struggle and hard work, we were able to meet a breakeven point financially and that would not have been attractive enough for many.

 

Yet, it was a huge morale boosting event for me. Meanwhile, I and a close associate of mine, Mr. Anil Dhital, started talking with the World’s Fastest Guitarist, Michael Angelo Batio [MAB] through email and Skype, when we became aware that he was interested in coming down to Nepal. It was always a dream to see MAB playing Live. 

 

Eventually, i got an opportunity to host the event by myself and this, interestingly, was my very first International act in Nepal. From August 23-25, 2013 MAB played 3 different shows here in Kathmandu. Before MAB’s arrival to Nepal, we also planned for some Pre shows to promote MAB Live in Nepal. “Battle of the bands” was held at 2 different venues including a Tribute to Dimebag Darrell (Pantera) at House of Music.

 

 

This is also when Tribute Series started unofficially. The winning band was to be provided with an opportunity to open for MAB on the main event, and that was a huge motivation for the music lovers. The progressive band from Guwahati, India “Ticks Talk” also later joined the lineup opening for MAB.

 

This event again opened various windows of opportunities for me. Later that September, i started managing Vairabi and Lakhey, an ethnic folk fusion band from Kathmandu and arranged a short Nepal Tour in September 2013 for Vairabi which included cities like Birjung, Kathmandu and Kritipur. But the show in Birjung unfortunately got cancelled on the event day due to heavy rainfall.

 

 

This was the last time i would be working with Mr. Dhital and the band disbanded since he got busy with his solo projects. After all these events, i was still unable to earn a living for myself and again, was back to square one, alone. But then i started involving my childhood friends in my projects and have been well supported by them in every walk of my life since then.

 

I had always been looking out for injecting something novel into the music scene and one fine day; 3 months later, i came up with the concept of “Tribute Series” officially, which has now been trending among various event organizers. During those days, there used to be a lot of Tribute shows in Nepal, but most of bands played few covers and would rather push their originals. 

 

This was never liked by the audience who attended the show enthusiastically with the hope that the bands would cover songs of their all-time favorite band. Most of the time, they left the venue disappointed. My concept of Tribute series was different in that it would feature a single band covering at least 18 to 25 cover songs from the legends of rock or metal.

 

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Tribute to Pink Floyd was the first of many to follow. Enhanced by visual projection and lighting at Purple Haze Rock Bar, the event went massive, with more than 1200 people attending the show and more than 100 people had to return disappointed because the venue was full beyond the safety limit. This event was a historic milestone in Nepali Live Music Scene. Series of events like Tribute to Pantera, Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses, Tool, Metallica, AC/DC, Linkin Park, Coldplay and Rage against the Machine were then held until 2017 with increasing number of audiences in each series. 

 

This is when i started making some earnings from the shows. I always invested my income on the future, on the ideas i was looking forward to accomplish in my life. I toured around India just to meet new people, sponsors & promoters and eventually team up with someone who could help us put shows together around India. Now i had reached a point where i was able to afford the costs of travel for my friends and enthusiastic helpers by myself.

 

During that important period, my focus was on trying to establish a good mutual relationship between Nepal and Indian Music Scene. Later on, in May 2014; i received a call from Delhi, India and one of the management team wanted me to take the responsibility of “World Motorcycle Day | World Music Day – June 21” at Manali, India were Bike Riders would ride for more than 10 hours from Delhi and reach Manali where the event was actually happening, with Psy Trance stage between the hills and Rock & Metal stage on the other side. I was the one entrusted with complete management of the Rock and Metal stage but unfortunately 30 mins before the show could commence, the entire event area was sealed by Indian Government Officials citing security issues.

 

 

I had travelled for 56 long hours on bus with my friends to reach the venue and even though we tried empathically to promote our ideas to the security officials, we really couldn’t stop things from happening. A chain of events ensued, but i shall never regret for anything that happened with us that day. 

 

This journey introduced me to some important Bollywood peoples, musicians and promoters instead. Eventually, i ventured into the Indian music scene, by organizing more shows around India. Ravi Kumar from (High Frequency) then joined my team and we came up with “Manslaughter Festival” where Local Metal acts from Delhi, India played. 

 

The first edition of Manslaughter Festival was then held in September 2014 and the second edition on December 06, 2014 when Underside headlined the Festival in Delhi. I had travelled to Delhi for this event with my friends who always have been bolstering figures to my event career.

 

This very event helped me to be a part of Underside Family and this is when Mr. Bikrant Shrestha (Underside) asked me if i would manage his band in India and Nepal. It was really very proud moment for me to manage the biggest Metal act from Nepal. 

 

I had always been a big fan of Underside since their inception. Then i thought of shifting my events to Bangalore, India where numbers of Nepali students were studying and my friend in Bangalore helped me to make this happen. This time we started planning for “The Shadows Nepal Live in Bangalore”. 

 

Most of the management was carried out through Skype and Phone Calls, which itself were a novel concept for us and the event happened on April 14, 2015 (9 days before the massive earthquake that hit Nepal). All these events around Nepal and India helped me to increase my network with peoples and followers around Nepal and India.

 

 

I started getting a lot of Friend Request on FB during those days. I started collaborating with Rolling Stones India, Metalbase India, All Things Metal, Bands Association of Delhi and many other Indian Music Promoters. Satan’s Night in Hell, March 28 held at Kathmandu was a farewell gig to Underside before they left for their European Tour with “Voice of Ruin”.

 

 Few days later when few members from Underside were back from their European Tour, the most tragic moment for all of us Nepalese occurred; the massive earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. Everything changed after the earthquake. That tragedy changed the way we perceived music. We from Underside decided to mobilize our musical platform to unite our friends and followers in the service of the needy.

 

 

A close acquaintance and collaborator of ours, Randy Schaller (Frontman of Voice of Ruin) started “Metal for Nepal”, a charitable fund raiser gig in more than 25 Countries playing 50+ metal shows around Europe, US and raise fund to support his brothers in Metal. Then we started the relief work by supplying food and medical supplies to more than 1000 families and the needy people around epicenter. 

 

Me and my brothers from UNDERSIDE with the help of our friends started working on ground and distributed all the necessary Temporary house building materials to Kerabari VDC, Ward No. 1,2,7 and 8; Gorkha for 306 family and households. All the funds raised from Metal for Nepal would be donated to No Silence for Nepal Association run by Bikrant Shrestha (Underside), Guido Wyss (Commando Noise Terror) and Ben Pluss (Derrik), who was in charge of the relief efforts, and we band mates worked on ground to make sure the fund went efficiently to the right place.

 

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Our music has been bringing people together since ever. Heavy metal, a small, yet profound, sub culture constantly ridiculed and stereotyped by the society and mass media for its aggressive and abrasive themes, came forth to become a savior in this moment of insurmountable tragedy. 

 

The final edition of Metal for Nepal happened in Kathmandu with 2 stages and our friends from India (Demonic Resurrection, Zygnema, Undying Inc and Aberrant) played for a novel cause to build up a school in Sindhupalchwok District along with Underside and other 5 supporting acts from Nepal. This is when i collaborated with Silence Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and proudly hosted this charitable event. Guthrie Govan, world renowned Guitarist from “The Aristocrats”, played a charitable show to support “No Silence for Nepal”.

 

 

I was one working for the management with Silence Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and proudly hosted Guthrie Govan Guitar Workshop here in Kathmandu later in October 2015. This was my second event hosting International Act in Nepal after MAB Live in Nepal. With the new band line up adding Nishant Hagjer (Drums) for Underside, we planned for Winter Tour and played 2 shows including Pokhara and Kathmandu on December 2015/16. Later on February 13, 2016; we celebrated 4 the anniversary of “Oscar Event and Entertainment” with the most waited “Tribute to AC/DC” by “The Mid Night Riders”. 

 

This show had been postponed twice within 015-016, once due to the massive earthquake that hit Nepal in April 015 and another time due to the cruel and inhumane embargo Nepal was forced to face later that October. Year 2016 commenced in a good note when i and Avishek K.C. started planning for Tribute to the rap rock legends Linkin Park as a part of Tribute Series and it was great response from our audiences at Purple Haze Rock Bar on March 05.

 

 

This event was immediately followed by the first Indoor Festival of my band Underside “Blood Bash Festival” on March 19. We were able to gather 1000+ audiences on both of these events. Now we are planning for a big Nepal Tour and few shows around India within year 016. On May 19, 20 – 2016; Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (X-Guitarist) from the legendary band “Guns N’ Roses” toured Nepal under the invitation of Silence Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. Me and my band mates were able to manage things in a good way. 

 

Unfortunately, I was bedridden due to the stitched wound that I had on my right foot then. Still, I somehow contrived to manage the event, with the sheer force of my will power and the unrelenting efforts of my brothers from UNDERSIDE. Later in July 2016, it was a proud moment for us when we were able to “Re-Unite” our brothers from Nepsydaz and hosted their show at 25 Hours, Tangal. Nepsydaz are the legendary music group from Nepal who has contributed a lot in the Nepali Rap Music Scene. January 21, 2017 – when I heard the news of British Rock Band Coldplay to tour our neighboring country India, I decided to come up with Tribute to Coldplay with the help of my brothers in “Audio Ignition”.

 

 

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Than we recorded a cover video for “Adventure of a Lifetime” and tried to make it reach to this big name from London with the help of my friends who were involved during Coldplay concert in Mumbai, India. We really wanted them to know about our beautiful country of Himalayas and their fans; followers do exists even in a Nepal and wished they could come to NEPAL soon. Rest depends on them now. 

 

 

Recently, after the grand success of 10 different shows at Tribute Series; I teamed up with my close brothers from Kamero for ‘The Julysium Show” a new chapter at Tribute Series. The Julysium Show was a Tribute show to “Rage Against the Machine” and “Tool” by Kamero and Friends at Purple Haze Rock Bar, KTM and Rolling Stones Rock Bar, PKR. It was one hell of a show at both the cities and we are very proud to be growing everyday with the love and support of our fans and followers. It’s already 5years now and i have completed 29 shows in Nepal and 4 shows around India.

 

Many more events are scheduled for December 017. Rock and Metal scene in Nepal, it is definitely a growing culture, garnering increasing number of metal heads every year. There have been a lot of Rock & Metal shows in the country. Recently, it has started to become enriched with diversity, attracting people with changing perception of Metal, and bands that are breaking barriers and experimenting. 

 

With the right amount of exposure and motivation beautiful things can certainly come out. Rock & Metal is certainly turning out to be a religion, followed by increasing number of metal heads these days with dedication and support to their favorite bands. Now I have reached a point in life when I can proudly turn back and muse about those difficult old days. I have come to a realization that “if it was only about earning, i could never have learned”.

 

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When i embarked into this journey, i never cared about anything besides exploring my dream and exploring the world full of music. If i hadn’t invested my time and efforts then, I could never be the “me” of today. Music is a never ending journey in life.

 

You start dreaming bigger and bigger in every steps of your life, but remain grounded in your attitude. You meet new people, you come up with new plans and new goals for the future and you will always have something more to do in your life. No matter what, never give up & never quit your dream until it becomes a reality. No matter what the outcome is, you should always keep chasing your goal in life. You fall, you tumble; you will learn to rise again. 

 

And guess what, this time it’s not just about rising only, you will learn and try to stand tall. Remain tuned, this journey into the blissful darkness has just begun and there is more to come. See you then and there, on the Underside.

 

 

Subodh Dahal is the Founder of Oscar Event and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

 

 

Photo Credit: Dipit Raz Neupane (Dipit Photography)

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