Tag Archives: Amyt Datta
What Colour Is Your Raindrop by Tajdar Junaid
Lets just begin by saying that you have probably never heard of anything like Tajdar Junaids music. This doesnt mean that it is too left off the centre and needs exceptional patience and concentration to understand. On the contrary; his music is uplifting, inspirational, melodic and calming and something you can listen to in the background while you go about your life. His songs are like the background score to a day lived fully and in contemplation of the past, present and the future. You cannot help but smile at the soothing and nostalgic tone of his songs.
Tajdar Junaid is a Kolkata-based musician who seems to be born to be a musician. A musical hippie at heart, he draws inspiration from film, literature, art and life for his songs and always strives to combine eastern and western musical sensibilities seamlessly in his music. An immensely talented musician, he taught himself how to play the ukulele, charango and mandolin and uses them extensively in his songs. The blend of such disparate influences with heartfelt and soulful lyrics is what makes his music so unique. You could call his music eccentric, but that would only prejudice you towards it. Listen to his music with an open mind and prepare to be blown away.
An experienced musician, he has tasted the kind of success that most musicians can only dream of. He has created music for documentaries, TV programs and theatre productions. More importantly, his music has been featured on the soundtracks of movies by legendary filmmakers like Rituparno Ghosh, Aparna Sen and Anurag Kashyap. His immense talent has also led him to work with acclaimed sound engineers like Paul Salty Brincat and collaborate with composer Michael Yezersky on the soundtrack for The Waiting City. Apart from enjoying mainstream success, he has collaborated with a host of local and international artists like Karsh Kale, Fred White, Greg Johnson and Amyt Datta. It is no wonder that his music does not fall squarely into one category and manages to straddle various genres without a hitch. Although he is a multi-instrumentalist, he seems most comfortable and proficient with a guitar and uses it to great effect on his songs.
However, having played for many years with numerous bands across various genres, he decided to quit the mainstream music scene all together, disillusioned by the commercialization. He even went so far as to take a complete break from the music scene to cleanse his musical palate and find inspiration. He spent his sabbatical obsessively listening to music by artists that have inspired him, learning to play new instruments and immersing himself in various art forms to relight his passion for music. All this led to the creation of his debut solo effort What Colour Is Your Raindrop. Tajdar wrote the songs on this album over a period of about four years and the album is an insight into his life and his story.
According to him, the album is a collection of ten stories about him and the title What Colour Is Your Raindrop seems to ask the listener to think about his/her story. Tajdar was particularly influenced by the music of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Albert King and Iranian cinema while he was working on the album,which allowed him to create an album that reeks of his rejuvenated passion for music. When he felt he was lacking in some way and needed help expressing what he was feeling, he collaborated with other artists in an effort to make each song as true to his feelings as possible. The album features 18 artists from around the world playing more than a dozen various instruments such as the sarangi, oboe, paino, sarod,charango, duduk and Glockenspiel.
Only a musical genius like Tajdar can allow so many different influences on his album without it becoming chaotic and the songs becoming disconnected. He has managed to reign in the different sounds on his album to create a harmonious mix of different styles and genres without losing the overall theme of the album. As a result, listening to the album is akin to taking a musical journey around the world as well as a trip down memory lane. Tajdar has managed to present various musical styles in a familiar way to his audience. This is probably why the songs on the album are already so successful with two of them being featured on the movie Sold produced by Emma Thompson an achievement very few other artists can claim. Calming and poignant, listening to this album is like breathing in the smell of the earth after a shower.
The whole album has a very hippie feel to it and focuses more on the music rather than the lyrics to convey emotions. Also, this is probably one of the very few albums I have heard that has so many fully-instrumental tracks. The music on the album is simplistic and positive, devoid of drama, soulful and easy on the ears.
The album begins with the track Though I Know- written as a farewell song for one of Tajdars closest friends. This track is more folksy and pop-rock with a great twangy intro. Tajdar brings through the sadness of parting with his vocals, which contrasts well with the string instruments. With lyrics like The wind is blowing, but it wont carry my prayers to you, the track could have become very melodramatic and sad. Instead, the song is slightly bittersweet and just a tad melancholic. This song features a host of plucked string instruments and is a very sing-along track.
Aisle, the next track on the album, is inspired by the process of introspection and reflection and just being with ones thoughts. It is a peaceful instrumental track switching between uplifting and brooding moods. The harmonium in the intro can be quite jarring but the track soon mellows out into a guitar and violin dominated song. As a listener, you will not miss the lyrics as the music is so emotive.
The album then moves onto another instrumental song Dastaan. This charango is heavily featured in this song and the track is a very atmospheric song. It is one of the darker and more depressing tracks on the album and is one of the songs featured in the movie Sold. Tajdar has left a lot of pauses and blank spaces in the song to give people the time to think about their stories. One of my favourites on the album, the song becomes particularly emotional when the sarangi kicks in.
The next track Mockingbird is in complete contrast to the previous track. The music is uplifting although the lyrics talk about being in two minds about a relationship. It features guest vocals by Greg Johnson, one of the artists that Tajdar Junaid considers an inspiration. The vocals are great, but the sarangi stands out like a sore thumb in an otherwise pop-rock track. The song could have been much better if the Hindustani classical component had been toned down a bit.
This is followed by the title track What Colour Is Your Raindrop, a nice acoustic and light track with no lyrics just light humming by Tajdar. This song is dominated by the guitar and the djembe and is particularly laidback. This is another instrumental track designed to put the listener in a reflective mood. Unlike the previous track, the sarangi goes very well here and lends a nostalgic tone to the song. However, this track is meant to be interpreted differently by different listeners so feel free to draw your own conclusions.
The First Year is somewhat similar to Dastaan, but is more orchestral and theatrical. This track progresses beautifully and builds up slowly with the violin, viola, sarangi and cello making the song grand and atmospheric. Like Dastaan, it is another favourite and one of the more melancholic and moody songs on the album and was the last song to be recorded for the album. Another instrumental track, it toys with ones mood bringing up angsty and darker emotions unlike most of the other uplifting tracks on the album.
Ekta Golpo is the only Bengali track on the album and as the title suggests, this song talks about a story of a king with eight horses. A fun track featuring vocals by Anusheh Anadil and Satyaki Banerjee and it has a very Baul feel to it with the Baul influence being very clear from the get-go. ´Ekta Golpo is a great break from the other mellower tracks and it is memorable just by being so different.
The album changes tempo with the lullaby Aamna, a track that Tajdar says he wrote for his niece. One can only imagine how musically inclined his niece will grow up to be if this track is her regular lullaby! A soulful instrumental track composed entirely on the acoustic guitar. However, in an album with so many instrumental tracks, Aamna does tend to disappear.
Prelude to Poland is yet another instrumental track but is far more western classical in nature than the rest of the album. Also, unlike the other tracks, the piano has been used to great effect in this song. Beginning languidly and solemnly, the track grows steadily ominous and chaotic and lifts up again ending on a quieter note.
The last track on this album is ´Yadon Ki Pari a beautiful homage to his father. Tajdars father can be heard reciting one of his Urdu poems in the intro, which is innovative and interesting. The poetry suddenly gives way to the drums, which give the track a very rock and roll feel. With the inclusion of heavy distortions, this track changes tempo and is the most rock-influenced song on the album. It is interspersed with recordings of his father reading poetry accompanied by some melodic violins. Overall, it is a very fitting end to this album and sounds almost like a celebration on having put out such a great collection of tracks.
BUeC by T.L. Mazumdar
T.L. Mazumdar is an accomplished musician and vocalist who has in the past, collaborated with some of the countrys finest. T.L. has always been fascinated by the musical variety and diversity that he has encountered in different surroundings, and having spent his formative years living across the globe spanning across 3 continents and 4 countries his mind has opened up to musical cultures beyond our shores. His fascination for this has culminated in the creation of BUeC an album with a collection of songs that try to bridge the gap between music that is both eastern and western, electronic and jazzy, and music that is at once ours and theirs. However, this album is not just an attempt at unifying music, it is also a reflection of T.L.s life beyond our shores, a story of his experiences where his Indian cultural upbringing and his close encounters of the western kind have merged together to paint a picture that takes the listener on a delightful journey of grooves and harmony.
It is hard not to be mesmerized by the beautiful complexities dished out in T.L. Mazumdars sophomore effort. Each featured song is a simple journey into the world of melody, showcasing a musical diaspora that keeps echoing in your mind long after the final track has faded into the distance. It is difficult to label the music here as fusion, since the western and eastern parts do not really unite or fuse together in fact they lock their horns in conflict, which is deliberate and yet subtle enough to make the listener eager to delve deeper into the crux of the composition – and this is where the album strikes gold, creating a mood which takes the listener through different doors and into different zones of both musical symmetry and asymmetry.
Take for instance the track Clear Blue Skies. It starts off with this bouncy intro that is a beautiful combination of electronica, drums and bass. The entry of the tabla adds an invigorating sense of eastern progressiveness, but the tempo and mood swing dramatically with the entry of T.L.s vocals, thus bringing about a sweetness and calmness to the song that is in sharp contrast to the initial flow. The accompanying sarod is the final ingredient to this track and it lends a sharp punch to the rhythm, making you feel like you are floating down a river. And that is, in effect, the entire essence of this album a conflict between the east and the west which surprisingly does not leave the listener in oblivion.
If I Sang takes the listener through a journey of contemplation and the tone of the accompanying piano makes you want to sit back and reflect on days gone by. The wistful sound of the bansuri only makes you dive deeper into your past, bringing up to the surface long-forgotten chapters of pain and sorrow. The voices of cheerful children are heard in the background as the song fades, and that works in uplifting your mood and preparing the listener, for the next track, the chirpy Come And Go.
As memories of the past give way to the gritty face of the present, T.L.s vocals soothe you back to reality and give you the strength to face the daily drudgery that is life. His vocals are also instrumental in helping you change your mood once again on Feel Like A Fool, where he makes a plaintive plea for help. Here the piano and the tabla combine in an ever-so subtle way to bring his cry of help to the foreground. Someone is a journey back to T.L.s roots where his eastern upbringing is allowed to dominate the western cultural influences that probably helped in shaping his mind and thoughts. The music on this song reflects this dominance too, where the eastern sound is more prominent than the accompanying western beats and melodies.
BUeC comes to a head in Youll Be The One as the sound of the bansuri blends in with T.L.s soft vocals, the listener is suddenly catapulted into a collage of sounds that paint a picture of chaos within a broader window of contemplative harmony. There are moments where the tabla and the drums go head-to-head with each other and then they suddenly meander into different avenues. If anything, this song represents a co-existence rather than a conflict of styles, which makes it a delightful listen.
Youre A Reason is the closest that you might come to a love song on the album. As is with most tracks on this album, the vocals are drenched with emotion and this sets the mood of the song. The vocals of the accompanying female vocalist are almost like a response to his cries, and her toned-down Indian classical vocals sound almost as if he is being asked to come back to his roots. If one song captures the entire feel of BUeC then it is the track Happy Song which starts with a slow wistful opening, and the as the song reaches its crescendo, the sounds of the bansuri, tabla, guitar, drums and the subtle sounds of the ebow all come together and unite as one, without disturbing the equilibrium of each instruments unique individual sound.
BUeC is an album that swings your mood back and forth like a pendulum and much of this is also due to the albums solid instrumentation. It must have been a difficult job getting the textures for each composition just right to capture both the mood and the story behind each song, and T.L. must consider himself blessed to have had so many esteemed and capable musicians lending a hand to help in the development of his baby. The collaborators on this album, indeed, are many, and each individual has painted his or her style on BUeC. Notable mentions are Jivraj Singh on the drums and Johannes Stange who performed and arranged the horns. Others who lent a helping hand were Pratik Shrivastav (sarod), Amyt Datta (guitar), Micha Schelhaas (electric Guitar/ebow), Max Clouth (nylon string guitar), Julia Ohrmann (bansuri), Soumyajyoti Ghosh (bansuri), Nilanjan Ghosh (tablas), Jeffery Dean (tablas) and Matthew Brown (pedal steel guitar).
This spirit of collaboration and collection is also aptly reflected in the album title BUeC. Break up the name: B Bideshi (Bengali for foreigner), Ue Uebersetzung (German for translation) and C Collective (since this album is a collective effort). One can only wonder how this album would have turned out without the collective spirit that was embraced by each collaborator – a must-listen for music lovers who hate their music to be labeled and classified by the constraints of genre.
The Escape Festival Experience at The Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal
Escape Festival Day 2 at The Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal
Day 1 at The Mad Festival at Fern Hills Palace, Ooty
The Mad Festival sprinted into its first few hours, admitting a respectable amount of people into the sprawling venue on a beautiful Thursday morning; at this point, there was only a hint of rain on the horizon with people (rather than the sky) rumbling warnings of possible rains.
Post the invocation, things kicked off at the smaller Callaloo stage with Vayali, a bamboo orchestra. Comprising a number of bamboo drums and flutes, one expected some good energy from these musicians from Kerala. However, their choice of songs wasn’t the most inspiring, and having the sparse crowd right at the beginning of the festival didn’t help matters either. We would’ve loved to see some more traditional stuff from these guys instead of picking up common, run of the mill material, as well as some more energy with the bamboo.
Across the venue, past the Mad Bazaar, old-school metallers Kryptos had the misfortune of opening the festival at the Blubaloo stage to a very limited audience. The sparse crowd, which had certain members from Indian Ocean in their midst, were treated to an unsurprising setlist consisting of concert favourites such as ‘Heretic Supreme’, ‘Revenant’, ‘Mask of Anubis’ and a few other tracks from their latest album Coils of Apollyon. Kryptos are no doubt accustomed to playing to packed crowds at Kyra but they did a fairly good job of trying to keep the energy levels high. Nolan was mostly tongue-in-cheek on stage as they launched into their closing number – ‘Descension’. Unfortunately, they slightly messed up their signature number – though you couldn’t really blame them for exhibiting some lethargy on stage.
Over at the Callaloo stage, Groove No. 3 took the stage right after Vayali, and showcased a brand of funk that one has come to associate exclusively with Chennai. Featuring some stellar vocals courtesy Benny Dayal, these guys pulled off some nice grooves, with some tight drum and bass playing. The crowd, sparse at the beginning, built up through the show. Save for Benny though, the stage presence was lacking. A funk band should not have their bassist sitting down for the duration of their set, especially with bass lines and music with as much groove as these guys. ‘Nowhere to Run’ was a clear stand-out, although their set was a tad disappointing on account of the number of covers in it. Among the covers though, the funky rendition of ‘Summertime’ stood out. The next time round, an all original set would be a welcome change.
While Groove No. 3 occupied the smaller stage, Yodhakaa – a 7 piece-band that blend contemporary rock with Carnatic classical music – were initially scheduled to open the festival but their late arrival bumped Kryptos to the top of the schedule. They played after Kryptos instead and their set included the ‘Jnyaanam’, a song with a really groovy bassline that is arguably the band’s best. What really makes the song is the male-female vocal harmony throughout the track. They also performed ‘Shwetambaram’, which is another track from their eponymous debut album. The song moves from a sombre piece featuring slide guitar to a more upbeat one dominated by a classical guitar solo. Yodhakaa were extremely tight during their entire performance even on their new song- ‘Adhrijhadam’ – which featured a Cajon solo. Their music perfectly complimented the signature 2 p.m. Ooty weather. They closed out their set with ‘Jataa Kataa’, a song from the Ramayana that was sung by Ravana. Bandleader Darbuka Siva is a multi-instrumentalist and musical genius when it comes to songwriting. Their music (on the album and live) is crisp, catchy and rich and they deserve to be heard more. A hurried walk to the Callaloo stage takes us just in time to catch the much-touted Motherjane.
Motherjane has never really been the same since longtime vocalist Suraj Mani and guitarist Baiju departed the band. They’ve soldiered on nevertheless, with new vocalist Vivek who manages to sound exactly like Suraj. Their setlist played out like a greatest hits record but with the fizz taken out. Their performance was quite flat and it got monotonous very soon. New guitarist Santosh can really shred and his classical piece on the ‘Maktub’ intro was fantastic but his solos seemed little rushed. It also didn’t help that almost every Motherjane song follows a similar verse-chorus-verse-guitar-solo-chorus format. ‘Broken’ and ‘Mindstreet’ got some sort of response from the crowd more due to familiarity than any sort of energy from the band on stage. ‘Soul Corporation’, ‘Maya’, ‘Fields of Sound’, ‘Walk On’ etc. were few of the songs they mechanically played before finishing off their set with ‘Karmic Steps’ and ‘Shhh..Listen’. Ironically, not too many people did.
Swarathma played at what must be an unusual time slot for them, bang in the middle of the afternoon. Kicking off with what has become a crowd favourite, ‘Ee Bhoomi’, the energy one is so used to seeing at a Swarathma gig was missing somewhat, Vasu Dixit’s vocals not at their exuberant best. The first couple of songs had something off on the mix on the PA, with the bass drum too high, the guitar levels too low. ‘Ghum’ was executed well and ‘Topiwalleh’ brought some of the energy back, the levels seemed much better than before, and despite a major glitch with the PA, including a couple of seconds of shutdown, the band began to draw some more energy out of the still sparse crowd. ‘Koorane’, featured some Huli Kunitha (Tiger Dance), costumed actors, who seemed to take away from Swarathma’s already impressive stage act rather than add to it. Swarathma did bring some of their awesome energy back for the end, with ‘Pyaar ke Rang’. The little tete-a-tete between Amit Kilam of Indian Ocean and Vasu Dixit also provided some comic entertainment. The ghodi, so much a part of the Swarathma act, was missed though. All in all, Swarathma didn’t disappoint but didn’t exactly blow people away either.
What followed was a close to two hour delay thanks to an incessant pitter patter of the rain. While organizers rushed around, mainly trying to keep things dry and, well, organized, people huddled near the food stalls and other forms of shelter; several even braved a stall with a magician in it! The stall kept the small crowd thoroughly entertained (and dry) and the magician watched with unabashed amusement as they tried to make sense of his various magical paraphernalia and failed repeatedly to the steady stream of self-conscious giggling.
Two hours seemed to pass quickly though, and World Music aficionados Moon Arra were finally taking to the Blubaloo stage. As the cameras hovered around importantly like lumbering giants in the twilight haze, members of the audience who’d run for cover to dignified (the Fern Hills palace) and undignified (Mad signboards serving as makeshift umbrellas) places returned to the eaves of the stage to the ever-welcoming MoonArra (“We don’t mind the rain if you don’t!” said a hardly phased Madhuri). While it strikes us as unfortunate every time we see them live that Moon Arra’s stage presence leaves something to be desired, they never disappoint by way of their music. Madhuri’s vocals are the perfect juxtaposition to the clean, smooth lines that Prakash and Jagadeesh carve with their respective instruments. After a few songs from their album Indian Accent, we realize that this is the perfect segue back into full-fledged performances at the festival after the rains. As a fan for life of Mr. Sontakke’s pitch perfect genius, we bristled when a passerby casually opined – “This Skinney Arra is not bad, man”. Persevering against the urge to strike said passerby, we focused instead on the meager compliment in that statement and re-immersed myself in the dulcet tones of the vocalist. The band didn’t have much of an audience to play to, with pockets of people watching from various angles – but it was borderline acceptable what with the rain pouring a damper on events.
Skinny Alley, over on the Calaloo stage, was quite the interesting act, clearly intent on keeping with the times. Fans of their earlier releases, such as 2003’s ‘Escape the Roar’, were treated to a wholly different rendition of some of their signature tunes. Gyan Singh’s basslines, a heavy dose of electronic embellishment, combined with Jayashree Singh’s vocals, layered at times with a harmonizer, figured prominently throughout their set. A big draw for several Skinny Alley fans is Amyt Datta’s guitar playing, and the audience at the Mad festival weren’t left too disappointed with some great albeit very different sounds coming out of his guitar. We would’ve liked to see some actual harmonies though. Highlights from their set including their opening track, were ‘Woman Who Is Me’ and ‘Used to Be Mine’. Skinny Alley managed to surprise a good portion of the audience, pleasantly and otherwise with their current sound. The visuals in the backdrop, however, at times seemed out of place with the music being played.
The Raghu Dixit Project trundled onto stage and was one of the few bands who had a sizeable audience already gathered during sound check, pushing and shoving for prime place near the barricade. During any of his shows, it’s mandatory to show some love or Raghu makes sure he points you out and jocularly shames you into having some fun. His shouts of “Puma! Too cool to dance?” or “Madam! You can send sms to your boyfriend later” into the crowd did just that. Turns out that heckling the crowd makes them, (even people further back from the stage, far from the singer’s eagle eye) begin bouncing in real or faked enjoyment. Such is this band’s infectious enthusiasm and Raghu’s powers of persuasion. ‘Masti ki Basti’ (particularly loved the flautist’s section on this song) and a brand new Kannada song – the melody to which sounded suspiciously familiar – warmed the crowd up for their last couple of songs ‘Lokada Kalaji’ and ‘Mysore Se Aayi’. Raghu made sure to mention that the band was playing in front of the queen (you know which one!) later this month, which was met with the appropriate amount of cheering and smiles of national pride.
It has to be mentioned that the crew from Cobalt were thorough professionals and utterly immovable when it came to the timing allotted to bands, big or small, after the downpour that affected the scheduling for the day. It’s a testament to their will that they persevered and said no to crazed TRDP fans screaming “One more” repeatedly. Once again, we tip our hats to the people behind the scenes!
And so we move on – with Raghu Dixit’s surprisingly nullified by the distance between the stages, Soulmate came on at the Callaloo stage in their usual sedate, unfussy manner, with Tipriti looking spiffy in a vested shirt ensemble. The air was now carrying a slight nip that made the atmosphere crackle with electricity – mostly static, thanks to the woolens being whipped out. The weather and the general mood would have turned been elevated into a higher experience if the band had decided to play ‘Sier Lapalang’, their usual opening number. But the audience was more than happy to settle for ‘Smile at Me’. Barring the slight over register of guitars that was fixed post haste, the band had a flawless run. Rudy’s slide on the intro to ‘Sunshine’ and his solo later gave the song amazing punch, outdone only by his laidback, easygoing vocals. What was an absolute shocker (that really shouldn’t have really been a shocker considering the talent this band has) was the fact that Tipriti’s voice sounded shot to hell when she spoke into the microphone between songs. But, we’d have betted unrealistic amounts of money that no one could tell from her singing voice that she had any trouble at all. She made it through the entire set like a trooper, hitting those high, loud notes and even maintaining that dreamy guttural quality that is so typically hers now. Soulmate’s lyrics aren’t a complicated battlefield of metaphors and hidden meaning but then that begs the question, why do they seem so gosh darned perfect? Our song pick of the set was definitely ‘Set Me Free’. They’ve got the performance of this song right down to an art form.
At the Blubaloo stage, the lull in the wake of the boisterous Raghu Dixit welcomed The Electric Konark Band, which was quite frankly an unknown quantity for this reviewer. While the band as a whole didn’t strike a bell, the individual members were illustrious enough to generate the right amount of interest in the right amount of people. Their tagline – “Going Electric with integrity” served to remind us of reading about the genuine feeling of regret from fans and some in the musical community of the 60s at the tumultuous switch from acoustic to electric, this while the latter genre was still in its infancy. The band inaugurated the set with a meaty guitar-driven melody (thanks to the immensely talented Konarak Reddy) – notes bent to Indian classical that were merged into a Western scale backdrop. When the tabla and the bass (Rzhude David) came in and sparred through the mid-section of the song, we knew what we were about to experience was one of a kind. The first song ‘Mango Ripples’ was a masterpiece in timing, precision and technicality. Unfortunately, due to the rain-related delays, a visibly (and audibly) peeved Konarak Reddy groused that the band had only five more minutes to play and didn’t waste any more time on talking.
On a side note, while it was apparent that we were in the presence of some seriously talented artists, one wonders how long the attention span of an (and stress on this) average listener would have to be for him to be able to be completely immersed for the duration of a ten-minute, non-vocal song. Some members of the audience were soaking in the music at the very front while others allowed themselves to be distracted by conversation, clearly taking a breather, in the wake of an energetic Raghu Dixit performance. Either way, it was a true pleasure to watch the maestros play off each other and genuinely enjoy their time on stage.
The Kabir Project, an eclectic bunch of musicians that take inspiration from the works of Kabir, was a breath of fresh air. While the crowd watching wasn’t particularly significant in number, those who did stay back to catch this eclectic act who performed after Soulmate were treated to some delightful interpretations of the 15th century poet they take their name and inspiration from. There were some nice harmonies incorporated as well, mixing nicely into the set up they had. Thanks to the rain earlier that day and the subsequent scheduling constraints their set was curtailed into a short, albeit, refreshing one.
The last act of the evening was Indian Ocean on the Blubaloo stage. Despite a reduced set time and a plethora of sound issues including the rain earlier in the day ruining the mixer settings and their sound check, Indian Ocean sounded brilliant on the PA. Their setlist was short, crisp and rather energetic. ‘Bondhu’, from 16/330 Khajoor Road, their last album with late singer, tabla player and percussionist Asheem Chakravarty, a poignant track, drenched with emotion was probably the pick of the night for this writer. Evocative, the track showcased Indian Ocean at their melodic best. ‘Maa Rewa’, ‘Bandhe’ and especially ‘Kandisa’ got the crowd singing along and completely involved with the act, and displayed exactly why Indian Ocean are so revered in the independent music scene in the country. If we had to pick a crib, it would be that the band tends to stick to the staple crowd pleasers at the festivals. All in all, a thoroughly engrossing performance, that highlighted Indian Ocean’s professionalism despite the major glitches with the sound, and one that brought the first day’s action to a rousing close.
The chilly Ooty air did nothing to deter large groups of people from lingering at the lawns near the Blubaloo stage as they soaked in the after-effects of a smashing day filled with too many good acts to pick from. After all manner of cat calls and one liners being screamed into the night (from “We want more!” to “Free smokes!”) in vain, the remnants of the audience began their journey home, leaving the warm glow of Fern Hill Palace to stand guard over a venue that had in its first day been branded indelibly into our memory.