I love going to concerts. Whether it’s to cheer for my favorite artist or discover new ones, live music is something I sorely missed over the pandemic. I have had the privilege of going to six concerts this year, ranging from The Weeknd to Olivia Rodrigo to indie musicians Lyn Lapid and Mad Tsai.
On November 3, I traveled to New York to see singer-songwriter Dhruv Sharma, known mononymously as dhruv. The concert took place in The Bowery Ballroom, a smaller venue near the East Village in Manhattan. With little sitting room and a capacity of 600, this concert was a far cry from the stadium sellouts of artists like Bad Bunny and The Weeknd. The lighting was ambient, the crowd was anxious and the excitement was palpable.
Before this solo tour, dhruv opened for mega-star Joji on the first half of the latter's Smithereens Tour. During the concert, dhruv expressed his solemn gratitude for the enthusiastic audience participation.
For the show on November 3, when the lights changed color and singer-songwriter FIG appeared as the concert opener, the atmosphere in the room shifted. FIG specializes in LoFi, self-produced indie pop. Her songs were colored with ivory and daffodil to capture the audience and draw them into a warm embrace.
My personal favorite, "Cooking For One," felt like a heartfelt message to the audience about enjoying time with yourself. Her angelic vocals on "Honey Filled Skies" captured the color and ambiance of the song perfectly.
FIG sang a few songs off her newly released project "BUD," encouraging audience participation and crafting the layers to one of her songs on the spot. I will admit, I came in not knowing much about FIG (besides her love of corn), but came out a new listener.
After half an hour, FIG left the stage, and the audience waited another 30 minutes for dhruv. Finally, the lights dimmed, and dhruv stepped on the stage clad in a loose white shirt and brown dress pants. He opened with "retrograde" and a slow, guitar-laced ballad. His rich vocals pierced the room and instantly set the mood.
He followed with "moonlight" and "what’s wrong with me?," two slower songs that showed off his incredible vocal agility and musical prowess. dhruv effortlessly weaved through complicated passages and improvised beautiful riffs but initially seemed flustered engaging with his very eager audience — expressing confusion while trying to take several BeReals.
dhruv's nervousness left as he began to voyage deeper into his setlist, singing one of my favorites, "airplane thoughts." Fans settled into a cozier mood with the next song "vulnerable." He also sang a hauntingly beautiful cover of "Love Is A Losing Game" by the late Amy Winehouse.
dhruv then picked up the mood with his newly released single "Blur." The atmosphere suddenly changed, and I found myself unable to contain my smile as he bounced around stage to this more upbeat song.
dhruv ended with his three most famous songs: "stable life," "grateful" and "double take." He claimed that "stable life" was his last sad song. His eerie vocals colored the room blue before transitioning to the heartfelt, LoFi ballad "grateful." Light, warmth and color flooded the stage as dhruv sang about his mistakes and his past. But through it all, he said he remains grateful.
The song "double take" was the first time I had heard of dhruv. This song went viral on TikTok and currently has more than 405 million streams on Spotify. It was with this song that I understood the magic of dhruv. He expertly combines masterful lyrics with compelling storytelling and beautiful musicality. His popularity comes as no surprise, and I'm excited to see what he has in store for the future.
After wrapping up his set, dhruv shuffled off stage, waving his goodbyes before posing for pictures with multiple fans and answering questions. He seemed nervous at this newfound attention, but I assume it was welcomed. I left that concert with a lighter feeling in my chest, a skip in my step and a renewed respect for a budding South Asian artist.