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Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2015 – Shillong

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Abhilash Baishya

Abhilash Baishya, a 19 year old student from Guwahati is an aspiring Engineer and a hobbyist photographer. He's a movie buff and loves music.

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NH7 Weekender Line Up Announced

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This year, the “Happiest music festival” will see performances by some of the most exciting artists from India and around the world. The fifth edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender returns this November with a huge lineup of some incredible artists from India and around the world. This year, over 100 artists will play on six different stages at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s four editions – November 1-2 in KolkataNovember 8-9 in BangaloreNovember 21-23 in Pune and November 29-30 in Delhi.

Speaking about this year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender lineup, Only Much Louder’s CEO Vijay Nair says, “Preparing the lineup of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender is one of the most fun creative processes in the run up of the festival. It is also one of the most challenging. Achieving the right balance of exciting international live performers, one-night-only festival sets, acts that people will discover and fall in love with after catching them live at the festival, and unmissable Indian artists is really important to creating the perfect festival experience. And this year, I think we’ve managed to strike that balance really well.”

After a successful pre-sale of tickets that sold out in a matter of hours, regular tickets for the festival will be available on Insider.in on Friday, August 22. Fans can gain access to special Community pricing (a significant discount on regular ticket prices) by signing up to the Bacardi NH7 Weekender Community on NH7.in/Weekender. Community registrations will be open for a limited time only.

The Lineup

From critically-acclaimed international headliners, to homegrown musical heroes, this year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender lineup has something for all sorts of discerning music lovers. Classic Bacardi NH7 Weekender stages like the Bacardi Arena and The Dewarists return, while recent additions like the Red Bull Tour Bus and this year’s home of electronic music, mmx.beat, will also host some incredible live performances.

International Artists

The Vaccines

English indie rockers The Vaccines will play their first ever live shows in India at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival this year. After releasing a critically-acclaimed debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? in 2011 (incidentally, the best-selling debut album in the UK that year), the band’s 2012 follow-up Come of Age charted at #1 on the UK charts upon its release. They’ve toured and performed extensively with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arctic Monkeys and other huge global rock acts.

Fear Factory

American heavy metal superstars Fear Factory will also be Bacardi NH7 Weekender debutants in Pune and Delhi. A band that has inspired countless young Indian metal acts, Fear Factory have had a long, successful career spanning eight studio albums, the most recent being 2012’s The Industrialist, with a new studio release planned for 2014 as well. The band has performed at festivals around the world and for many Indian metal fans, these two gigs have been a long time coming.

MUTEMATH

Valiant US rockers MUTEMATH return to the Bacardi NH7 Weekender after an unforgettable headlining performance at the Delhi edition of the festival in 2013. This year, the band will play the Kolkata and Bangalore editions of the festival, bringing their irresistible energy and unique brand of alternative rock to these cities for he first time. Beloved by rock fans all over, MUTEMATH have released three studio albums and have performed at festivals around the world.

Sarah Blasko

In her decade-long career Sarah Blasko, a singer-songwriter hailing from Sydney, Australia, has released four acclaimed solo albums (I AwakeAs Day Follows NightWhat The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have and The Overture & The Underscore). Sarah has composed music for film, theatre and dance, and mesmerised audiences with her stunning live shows across most of Europe, North America and Australia. Her most recent album tour for I Awake was her most ambitious, the highlight being two sold out concerts with a 45 piece orchestra at the iconic Sydney Opera House. Sarah is currently writing her fifth solo album and this is her first time performing in India – she will perform at the Kolkata and Bangalore editions of the festival.

Luke Sital-Singh

British singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh emerged on the global music scene when he was announced as part of the BBC’s Sound of 2014 longlist. Inspired by the likes of Damien Rice and Ryan Adams, Sital-Singh released his debut album, The Fire Inside, earlier this month. He will perform at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Songhoy Blues

Garba Touré, Aliou Touré, Oumar Touré and Nathanael Dembélé comprise Songhoy Blues, a rock band from Mali. The band plays, as The Guardian describes it, “raucous guitar anthems dedicated to peace and reconciliation”. Having cut their teeth in Bamako’s club scene, the band recently rounded up a bunch of shows in the UK and will make their first visit to India performing at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Talal Qureshi

Pakistani electronic music producer Talal Qureshi has been creating music since 2007. His unique electronic sensibilities have earned him praise from the likes of BBC Asian Network’s Bobby Friction (himself a performer at the festival in previous years). Qureshi’s debut EP, Equator, was released in 2012 and highlighted his immense talent and unique approach to electronic beat-making.

Cloud Control

Australian indie rockers Cloud Control shot into the global indie music spotlight with their critically-acclaimed 2013 album Dream Cave. They exist in a dreamy, organic soundscape that has earned them much praise and seen them perform alongside the likes of Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend and 2010 Bacardi NH7 Weekender alumni The Magic Numbers. Cloud Control will play the Kolkata and Bangalore editions of the festival.

Jon Hopkins

English producer Jon Hopkins started his career playing keyboards for Imogen Heap (who played the 2011 edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender). He has produced or contributed to albums from the likes of Brian Eno and Coldplay, while his own brand of electronic music is an ambient soundscape of organic elements and exquisite compositions. It is this attention to detail in composition that has seen him soundtrack films such as Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones alongside Brian Eno and Leo Abrahams, 2010’s indie hit Monsters, and 2013’s How I Live Now. Hopkins will play at the Bangalore edition of the festival.

Dinosaur Pile-Up

Formed in 2007, Dinosaur Pile-Up are an English alternative rock band who broke out of the thriving Leeds rock scene of the time and instantly drew favourable comparisons to the cream of ’90s US college rock. Founded originally as a solo project by songwriter and frontman Matt Bigland, the lineup is completed by drummer Mike Sheils and bassist Jim Cratchley. Named after Matt saw the scene in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong where a stampede of dinosaurs pile up at the foot of a mountain, “DPU” put out their first official release, The Most Powerful E.P In The Universe, in 2009 and have gone on to record two studio albums, 2010’s Growing Pains and 2013’s Nature Nurture. The band will play the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Sachal Jazz Ensemble

An international jazz music collaboration led by Pakistan’s Sachal Jazz Ensemble will perform at Delhi edition of the festival this year. They have topped charts around the globe as a world-class jazz ensemble, while braving threats and intimidation and breathing new life into the dying cultural traditions of Pakistan. Hand-picked from a lost generation of classical musicians who used to play in Lahore’s once-flourishing ‘Lollywood’ film industry, the Sachal Studios Orchestra has made its name with innovative and irresistible interpretations of well-loved jazz standards. Little wonder they’ve been called Pakistan’s Buena Vista Social Club, and Lahore’s answer to the Blues Brothers.

Goldspot

A savoury blend of New Jersey and New Delhi, US indie pop act Goldspot have plenty of fans in India. Siddharth Khosla’s band has been described by the Los Angeles Times Magazine as “A hint of George Harrison at his transcendental best”. The band’s music has appeared on several popular TV series and films. Their latest album Aerogramme was released in 2013. The band will play the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Motopony

US indie rockers Motopony are a band built on a bedrock of contrasts and the gorgeous alchemy of seemingly conflicted sounds, and the feelings mapped over them. Guided by soulful machines, Daniel Blue along with guitarists Mike Notter and Nate Daley, keyboardist Andrew Butler, and drummer Forrest Mauvais, form a warm efficiency to the hard-soul/glitch-folk contained on the band’s self-titled debut and forthcoming follow-up. The band will perform at Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

Indian Artists

Amit Trivedi

Composer Amit Trivedi has long been hailed as the new voice of Indian film music. His critically-acclaimed work in films like Dev.D, Udaan, and Ishaqzaade have earned him a reputation as being one of the most cutting-edge producers in Indian films. His live performances comprise a vast list of collaborators and performers, and Bacardi NH7 Weekender fans in Bangalore and Delhi should expect memorable live sets.

Skyharbor

India’s biggest metal exports, Skyharbor shot into the global metal spotlight with their 2012 debut album Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos.Their first ever live performance was at the 2011 edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, and since then they’ve gone on to play at some of the world’s biggest metal stages, including the Download Festival earlier this year. The band will perform at the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.

The Raghu Dixit Project feat. Nrityarutya

At the Bangalore edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender last year, The Raghu Dixit Project delivered a visual spectacle unlike any the festival had ever seen. The Nrityarutya dance company brought exquisite dance sequences, elaborate props and some truly breathtaking moments to The Raghu Dixit Project’s music, including the band’s latest album Jag Changa. This year, fans in Pune and Delhi will have the chance to experience this audio-visual treat.

Indian Ocean’s Tandanu 

Indian Ocean is synonymous with Indian rock. The band’s latest album Tandanu, their seventh studio release, is a series of collaborations with some of the country’s most inventive musicians. At the Kolkata, Pune and Delhi editions of the festival, the band will perform alongside some of these collaborators including Selvaganesh, Shubha Mudgal, Shankar Mahadevan, Pt Vishwamohan Bhat, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, and Vishal Dadlani.

The Manganiyar Classroom by Roysten Abel

Roysten Abel’s Manganiyar Seduction has been one of the most stunning live performances ever to be staged at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Eight years after The Manganiyar Seduction was first conceived, Roysten Abel is back with The Manganiyar Classroom. Unlike the former, Roysten Abel’s newest production will consist of 40 children of Manganiyar descent. As the name suggests, The Manganiyar Classroom features these talented kids in a classroom setup, complete with a chalkboard. The music illustrates how the right kind of teacher and education is more beneficial than a fixed curriculum. Fans at the Pune edition of the festival will experience this spectacle.

All India Bakchod

All India Bakchod, or AIB (depending on how strict your publication’s editorial guidelines are), are India’s edgiest comedy collective. Comprised of stand-up comics Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya, the group are known for their hilarious sketches on their incredibly popular YouTube channel. At the Pune edition of the festival this year, AIB will play their first ever live musical performance.

Bombay Punk United and The Delhi Alternative

The past couple of decades have seen the emergence of several punk and alternative rock acts in Mumbai and Delhi that have added a new dimension to the Indian rock scene. At the Pune and Delhi editions of the festival respectively, Bombay Punk United and The Delhi Alternative will pay tribute to the heroes and the music of this scene with collaborative performances featuring a host of local punk and alt-rock artists. These special sets have been curated by some of the punk and alt-rock scene’s most recognizable figures, and promise to take fans through a musical journey that spans Indian and international punk and alt-rock influences.

Monica Dogra

Monica Dogra is usually known for her dynamic vocal and visual performance as ‘Shaa’ir’ from electro-pop act Shaa’ir + Func – however, this year in Kolkata, Delhi and Pune, we will see her in a new solo avatar where she reveals to us a more personal and vulnerable side. From a young girl growing up in Baltimore to Shaa’ir + Func to finally launching her solo career and performing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, she’s grown into one of the country’s leading song writers and also one of our most recognizable female voices.

Bhayanak Maut

One of the country’s most exciting metal bands, Bhayanak Maut are veritable legends when it comes to the Indian metal scene. The band has a massive following in all corners of the country, and will release their newest album at this year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender. BM will play all four edition of the festival this year.

Pentagram (Unplugged)

Few bands have symbolised the breakout of the Indian independent music scene as well as Pentagram. Comprised of Vishal Dadlani, Randolph Correia, Shiraz Bhattacharya and Makarand ‘Papal’ Mane, Pentagram’s electro-rock sound has defined a generation on indie music fans. At the four editions of the festival this year though, fans will experience another facet of the band’s live prowess – a stripped-down Unplugged set featuring reworked renditions of many of the band’s popular songs.

Full City-wise Lineups

Kolkata

AlgoRhythm (Mumbai), Ankur & The Ghalat Family (Mumbai), As Animals (France), BREED (India/US), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Blackstratblues (Mumbai), Cloud Control (Australia), Fossils (Kolkata), Gingerfeet (Kolkata), Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Selvaganesh, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, Vishal Dadlani (Delhi), Indus Creed (Mumbai), Maati Baani (Mumbai), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Money For Rope (Australia), Monica Dogra (Mumbai), Mr Woodnote & Lil Rhys (Australia), MUTEMATH (US), Nanok (Mumbai), Peking Duk (Australia), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Sarah Blasko (Australia), Shaa’ir + Func (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Sky Rabbit (Mumbai), Soulmate (Shillong), Su Real (Delhi), Superfuzz (Delhi), The F16’s (Chennai), The Inspector Cluzo (France), Them Clones (Delhi).

Bangalore

Adi & Suhail (Delhi), Amit Trivedi (Mumbai), Ankur & The Ghalat Family (Mumbai), As Animals (France), BREED (India/US), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Blent (Bangalore), Cloud Control (Australia), Delhi Sultanate & Begum X (Delhi), DJ Sa vs DJ Skip (India), Dualist Inquiry Band (India), EZ Riser vs DJ MoCity (India), Jon Hopkins (UK), Klypp (Bangalore), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Money For Rope (Australia), Mr Woodnote & Lil Rhys (Australia), MUTEMATH (US), Pangea (Mumbai), Peepal Tree (Bangalore), Peking Duk (Australia), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Sarah Blasko (Australia), Scribe (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Skrat (Chennai), Soulmate (Shillong), Spud In The Box (Mumbai), The F16’s (Chennai), The Inspector Cluzo (France), The Supersonics (Kolkata), Thermal And A Quarter (Bangalore), Undying Inc (Delhi).

Pune

Adi & Suhail (Delhi), All India Bakchod (Mumbai), Alo Wala (Denmark), Amit Trivedi (Mumbai), BREED (India/US), Bhavishyavani (Mumbai), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Big City Harmonics (Live) (Pune), Bombay Punk United, Castles In The Sky (Pune), Coshish (Mumbai), Curtain Blue (Delhi), Dinosaur Pile-Up (UK), Fear Factory (US), Foreign Beggars (UK), Frame/Frame (Live) (Delhi), Goldspot (US), Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Shubha Mudgal, Shankar Mahadevan, Selvaganesh, Vishal Dadlani (Delhi), Luke Sital-Singh (UK), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Monica Dogra (Mumbai), Moniker (Delhi), Motopony (US), Namit Das + Anurag Shankar (Mumbai), Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe (Mumbai), Nicholson (Mumbai), Nikhil D’Souza (Mumbai), OX7GEN (Live) (Mumbai), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Providence (Mumbai), Reggae Rajahs (Delhi), Sandunes (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Skrat (Chennai), Skyharbor (Delhi), Songhoy Blues (Mali), Superfuzz (Delhi), The Bartender (Mumbai), The Down Troddence (Kochi), The F16’s (Chennai), The Manganiyar Classroom by Roysten Abel (India), The Raghu Dixit Project feat. Nrityarutya (Bangalore), The Ska Vengers (Delhi), The Vaccines (UK), Thermal And A Quarter (Bangalore), When Pandas Attack (Delhi), Zygnema (Mumbai).

Delhi

Alo Wala (Denmark), Amit Trivedi (Mumbai), Barmer Boys (Rajasthan), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Colossal Figures (Delhi), Dinosaur Pile-Up (UK), EZ Riser vs DJ MoCity (India), Fear Factory (US), Frame/Frame (Live) (Delhi), Ganesh Talkies (Kolkata), Goldspot (US), Hoirong (Delhi), Iamrisha (Delhi), Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat, Kumaresh Rajagopalan, Vishal Dadlani (Delhi), Killwish (Delhi), Luke Sital-Singh (UK), Madboy/Mink (Mumbai), Monica Dogra (Mumbai), Motopony (US), Pangea (Mumbai), Pentagram (Unplugged) (Mumbai), Sachal Jazz Ensemble (Pakistan), Sandunes (Mumbai), Skrat (Chennai), Skyharbor (Delhi), Songhoy Blues (Mali), Soulspace (Live) (Delhi), Talal Qureshi (Pakistan), The Delhi Alternative, The F16’s (Chennai), The Raghu Dixit Project feat. Nrityarutya (Bangalore), The Supersonics (Kolkata), The Vaccines (UK).

For more information about all of the artists performing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2014, visit NH7.in/Weekender.

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The Scene in June

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The Scene in June

 

Skyharbor released their new single ‘Evolution’ in a run up to the yet-unnamed-album. Keeping up with the times, they are crowdfunding it too.

The Scene in June

 

Delhi-based singer/songwriter Shantanu Pandit released his debut EP, ‘Skunk In The Cellar’. Though we are yet to get our hands on the EP, we dig the art work. Get your copy and tell us what you think.

 

The Scene in June

Award winning band Alobo Naga also had a worldwide release of their latest single ‘All we have is now’. They also have a music video for it and though the band in open wilderness maybe a done to death theme for a music video, this one comes from the North East India and we are digging the greens. Check it out and get the free song too.

The Scene in June

 

Undying Inc. announced the launch of their EP, ‘Ironclad’. Check out the teaser and some pictures from their insane set at CONTROL ALT DELETE – SURVIVE THIS.

 

The Scene in June

Prateek Kuhad released a live video of ‘Big Surprise‘ from his next album which is a follow up of his first EP Raat Raazi. If you haven’t heard it yet, you should and let us convince you maybe.

The Scene in June

 

Junkyard Groove completed a Sober Tour last month. We were there to catch some of it. Common gripe remains, it’s not the same. If you were there too tell us what you thought about the gigs in the comments.

The Scene in June

 

Taaqademy spoke about their new center for musical learning in Bangalore. This one is a bigger facility in Whitefield. Hear about it from them.

The Scene in June

 

Rolling Stone Metal Award winning band Reptilian Death released a play through video for their song ‘Soaked with the imperfections of puerile blood’. Watch and play along.

 

The Scene in June

The Burning Deck, a solo project of bassist Sandeep Madhavan (Old Jungle Saying, The Ticker Tapes) launched his second album, Deluge. It’s up for download on their bandcamp page.

 

Festival Dates announced

The Scene in JuneWe would like to remind you that Ziro Festival of Music announced their dates in April. The festival will be a 4 day affair this year and will be held in the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh from the 25th September to 28th September. We would advise you to book your tickets ASAP. See a few glimpses from the 2013 edition here.

 

The Scene in JuneThe electronic music festival Magnetic Fields that debuted in 2013 and is set within a Mahal in Rajasthan announced its dates for 2014. They kick started their festivities with a pre-party in London last week.

The Scene in June

 

Enchanted Valley Carnival set in the picturesque Amby Valley City in Lonavala announced their December dates. 3-day festival with a campsite.

 

 

NH7 Weekender also announced their 4-city dates. Starting with Kolkata on 1st & 2nd November, Bengaluru on 8th & 9th November, Pune on 21st, 22nd & 23rd November and finally Delhi on 29th & 30th November.

New Wave MusicFest 2014 took the last available weekend in November for it’s debut in Goa on the 15th and 16th.

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Ocean by Nischay Parekh

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The singer-songwriter genre is becoming increasingly popular among younger pluckier musicians who’d rather be earnest than glamorous rock gods. However, every emo youngster out there who has basic guitar-playing skills considers himself/herself to be a singer-songwriter, which is a mockery of the genre. Very few artists in India have made a name for themselves as singer-songwriters with their sheer talent and musical sensibilities and one such person is a musician from Kolkata – Nischay Parekh. Nischay is a precocious 21-year old musician and may still be a student of the Berklee College of Music but he has already played at sold out venues throughout the country and was a crowd puller at last year’s NH7 Weekender. Incidentally, Parekh would rather that people called him a pop musician instead of a singer-songwriter.

Quirky, quietly confident and massively talented, Nischay Parekh had always been interested in music – having started guitar lessons at the age of 11. His teacher just happened to be  another Kolkata-based artist – Tajdar Junaid, who is a multi-instrumentalist and immensely talented musician in his own right who has just released a very successful album of his own. Although, Tajdar Junaid’s musical style is very different from that of Parekh’s, we wouldn’t have heard Parekh’s music without the insistence and guidance of Tajdar Junaid.

Parekh exploded onto the indie music scene last year and we suddenly saw him everywhere – from playing at A Summer’s Day music festival at Mumbai, which was headlined by Norah Jones, to being a featured artist at all four NH7 weekender festivals. Nischay Parekh is now the face of pop and indie folk in the Indian music scene and has gained a loyal following with his boyish charm and unique style. His pop sound, soulful words and unaffected style has drawn comparisons to Jason Mraz, John Mayer and Jack Johnson – which is high praise indeed. Unlike what we normally associate with pop music, Parekh’s music is replete with straight-from-the-heart lyrics, stripped down arrangements and squeaky clean vocals – showing that the genre itself has matured and Indian musicians are not afraid to be associated with it anymore.

At an age when most musicians are discovering themselves, he has already come out with his debut album – Ocean, which was released on 4th October, 2013.  Although he collaborated with members of his band The Monkey In Me – Jivraj “Jiver” Singh (on the drums) and George Matthew Dylan Varner-Hartley (on keyboards) on the album, it is largely a solo effort. Other collaborators include the famed producer Miti Adhikari on the bass and Pedro Zappa, who provides additional vocals along with the bass duties. The first thing that any listener will notice about this 9-track album is that it is way too short for an album this good – lasting less than 25 minutes. Most of the songs are barely around 2 minutes in length and you will find the songs ending too soon much to your dismay while you are busy humming them. Sitting squarely in the pop-genre, all the tracks are soft and groovy and each song has the potential of becoming an earworm. The youthfulness of the tracks belies the heavy and grand themes that Parekh tries to tackle with his music – love, loneliness, longing and life.

The lyrics might be straight-from-the-heart, but they aren’t straightforward! This is why you will find yourself wondering why this album has a song called ‘Panda‘ on it. This is not a simple coming-of-age album but is a mature and restrained offering reminiscent of the music of Ben Howard and Paolo Nutini. Parekh’s musical style on this album can best be described as pop and acoustic with the honesty of country-music. The tracks are unpretentious, with infectious riffs and effortless melodies. The album starts off with songs that are clean, upbeat and very pop but as the album progresses, more synth-pop and R&B elements crop up that give the songs a slightly darker edge.

The first song on the album is ‘Newbury Street’, which is an excellent start to the album and is so polished and beguiling that is can be a very successful single. With a riff-driven intro and a very likable melody, you will soon find yourself listening to this track on repeat. This song seems almost like it was written in a stream of consciousness and talks about being ready for a positive change and the accompanying rush of uplifting emotions. Parekh’s soothing vocals, earnest lyrics and the very addictive melody make it very hard for you to get it out of your head.

The oddly named ‘Panda’ is up next with eccentric lyrics like “I used to be a Panda in my past life” and the song seems to be Parekh’s way to describe himself rather than love. This track is definitely more electro-pop and is one of the more complex tracks on the album. Another very catchy and lively song with unobtrusive vocals and it is a testament to how well he works with his bandmates from The Monkey In Me, as the track is seamless where no one musical instrument overpowers the other.

The next song ‘I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll’ is more folksy and acoustic and proved to be a very successful single earning him a legion of groupies. The bongos really underscore the folk element of the song and again Parekh keeps his vocals restrained, clean and painfully earnest. Laidback, cheeky and sweet, the background vocals lend a very breezy quality to the track but sometimes the song can sound more like a lament rather than a love song.

The album suddenly shifts to a very synth-pop track ‘Hill’, which is personally my least favourite song on the album. With muffled vocals and alarming squawks, this song does not flatter his vocals or his talent as an acoustic guitarist. The lyrics and the accompanying music lend a very eerie and disturbing air to the song. ‘Hill’ stands out like a very sore thumb and can come as somewhat of a rude distraction when one is so comfortably put in a state of cheerfulness with the preceding tracks.

Thankfully, the bad taste left by ‘Hill’ is quickly replaced by utter bliss as ‘Philosophize’ is a masterpiece of song – something you will not expect from such a young artist. Unlike the rest of the tracks on the album, ‘Philosophize’ is more piano or keyboard-driven with more of an R&B feel where Parekh dazzles the listener with his pitch perfect falsettos. The song does have some synth-pop elements but they never come to focus. The soothing tempo gives Parekh a chance to show off his vocals and control and lends a very relaxing note to the whole track. There are no musical interludes or dramatic tempo changes as every musical instrument used is there only to compliment the emotion and the words that Parekh is trying to get across and boy, does it work!

The next track called ‘Me and You’ is a very pop number and is a sweet romantic track and again is so sincere that it will leave you with no doubt as to why Nischay Parekh is such a “chick-magnet”. The languid lead guitars and extremely tranquil tempo never gets boring or monotonous and you will find yourself smiling to the song. It is just a happy sort of song that will give you a spring in your step and melt all your worries away. Again, his vocal finesse and control shines through even though there is no power singing involved.

‘Secrets’ plunges the track into the realm of psychedelia, with a very trippy intro complete with the buzzing of insects. This song is very short – barely over a minute and a half in length so you will probably write it off as an aberration. When you have heard so many excellent, upbeat and pop tracks and are in an album-induced state of calm, this track can disturb the peace slightly. However, overall this track is quite forgettable and does not seem to sit right with the rest of the album.

The album then moves into another laidback song ‘Ghost’, which is a bit R&B, a bit soul and a bit dream pop. Parekh hits such high notes on the song and with so much control that it lifts the whole track to a very ethereal level.  With a groovy bass line and a piano drenched melody, the song can sound very lounge-ey sometimes. Like ‘Philosophize’, it is a very memorable track on the album and you will appreciate the fact that it is almost four minutes long giving you all the time to savour its intricacies.

The last and title track of the album makes for the perfect conclusion. With very effective hooks and sparkling riffs, ‘Ocean’ will make you want to listen to the whole album repeatedly. Bright easy vocals and a sprightly tempo allow the album to end on a high note. Add to this the playful backing vocals and summery feel of the song, and ‘Ocean’ will “stick to you like glue”.

What is most startling about the album is that none of the songs were recorded in a studio. Nischay Parekh and his band recorded most of the songs in his and Jivraj Singh’s family homes in Kolkata and in parks in the country and the United States. For a debut album, Ocean is uncharacteristically polished all thanks to legendary producer Miti Adhikari who also contributed creatively to the album. Nothing about Ocean betrays the fact that it is the debut effort of Nischay Parekh. Sublime, easy on the ears and filled with sophisticated lines, most of the tracks on the album have the potential of becoming a earworm. This cannot be said for most albums let alone a debut one. The fact that every single track can become a very successful single shows the talent and the ingenuity of everyone involved in the making of the album.

Ocean is like an exciting little gift with a bow tied around it. Most of the songs are devoid of dramatic intros, progressive build-ups and vocal acrobatics and this is why the album is so special. It shows the power of restraint, candour and youthfulness and will make you appreciate the artistry of these young musicians. There is hardly any negative criticism about the album and all I have to say is that be prepared to have the album playing in your head at all times once you have heard it.

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Anusmita Datta

Anusmita Datta is an ardent day-dreamer, music lover, die-hard foodie and occasional writer. Her obsession with pandas is sometimes disturbing and she can be often found lusting after momos!

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NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

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NH7 Weekenderone of the country’s largest music festivals, finally made it to Kolkata, much to the delight of the city’s music-hungry population. The fourth and final leg of this event was to be held on the 14th and 15th of December, and with the completion of exams at most of the city’s educational institutions, the organizers seemed confident of wooing the huge student community to the venue grounds. In fact the Kolkata leg had a lot going for the city’s music lovers. With the highly discounted ticket prices when compared to the three other NH7 Weekender venues, the tickets rates for the City of Joy were a complete steal! And for the student population there was even an under-21 ticket to add to the bouquet of benefits.

The mouth-watering lineup comprising of more than 40 artistes, spread over 6 stages was surely enough to whet the appetite of even the most cynical music-lover in town. However, the venue chosen to host the 2 days of musical madness left many disappointed. Ibiza Resort, located on the outer fringes of the city in South 24 Parganas, was indeed almost in the middle of nowhere. Not only the distance, but the traffic jams and shitty roads were also a big downer, and due to these factors there were many who ultimately decided to skip the NH7’s debut in the east zone. The organizers too, must have had sleepless nights, owing to the initial negative feedback about the venue. But finally on the day of the event, the Kolkata music-lovers did not disappoint and the massive turnout on days 1 and 2 was enough indication that despite all odds, Kolkata’s love for music would always prevail over long distances, bad roads and traffic jams.

The action on the Day 1 started approximately at 3:30 PM. The layout for the 6 stages in the festival grounds was well thought out by the NH7 team and thankfully most attendees were spared the long-distance-run between the various stages. In fact the biggest conundrum for gig goers was trying to prioritize which artiste’s performance to watch, since many performances would be going on simultaneously at different locations in the venue. The timings of performances at the Dewarists stage and at the Bacardi Arena were the ones that caused the most consternation and those not too adept in time-management had a trying time juggling their schedules.

NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

Many music-lovers from the North-East turned up in huge numbers to catch Shillong’s blues giants Soulmate up on the Dewarists stage at 4:30 PM. This gig pulled in huge crowds, and having always been a favorite among the blues lovers in the city, Soulmate went all out to impress one and all with a virtuoso performance. And there was no getting away from the mesmerizing vocals of Tipriti Kharbangar that literally blew the crowd away.

Mumbai metallers Demonic Resurrection were already getting proceedings underway at the Bacardi Arena – the first of three back-to-back metal bands to be performing on Day 1. Demonic Resurrection were hell-bent on bringing brutality to a new level, and in their allotted 40 minutes this veteran metal act managed to captivate the crowd with songs both old and new, including ‘The Unrelenting Surge of Vengeance’, ‘The Warriors Return’ and ‘Bound by Blood, Fire and Stone’ – all tracks from their last album A Return To Darkness. The crowd loved every minute of their performance but 40 minutes were hardly enough to satisfy the metal hungry crowd. It would be approximately another hour until the Bacardi Arena lit up with the second metal act of the evening.

In the meantime, over on the MTS Other Stage, local boys Ifs ‘n Buts were having a ball playing their brand of indie music with the help of a few friends. Unfortunately this particular stage was plagued by music “over-flowing” from the adjacent music arenas and it was not really the best way to take in the band’s acoustic set. While Ifs ‘n Buts were busy enthralling their faithful fans, city heavy weights and NH7 veterans Pink Noise on the Dewarists stage and Mumbai’s Zero over at the Red Bull Tour Bus were both getting ready to up the volume. Choosing which act to catch that evening was indeed a painful decision. The veritable flip of the coin seemed to be the only way to decide which band’s performance to watch.

NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

Zero’s energy and verve on stage belied the fact that the band was making a comeback and playing in the City Of Joy after almost 10 years. In fact, it almost made it seem like they had never been on a break! For 40 odd minutes the band dished out a host of evergreen favorites like ‘PSP’, ‘Hate In Em’, ‘Lucy’ and ‘Mariachi’ – and for those 40 minutes the Kolkata crowd was in a complete state of trance. Zero easily delivered one of the best performances of the day and those who attended their gig at the Red Bull Tour Bus stage, left fully satisfied.

Amidst the Zero mayhem, another local musician and singer-songwriter, Tajdar Junaid, was getting ready for his performance at the MTS Other Stage. Tajdar’s recently released album What Colour is Your Raindrop has received critical acclaim from most musical quarters, and for fans of his mellow, lounge-influenced acoustic style of music, it was indeed a treat to see him perform in his hometown – more so since it was his first performance in Kolkata after the release of his album. Tajdar did not disappoint the crowd with his set that included tracks like ‘Aisle’, ‘What Colour Is Your Raindrop’, ‘Though I Know’ and ‘Dastaan’. One of the highlights of this gig was when ace guitarist Warren Mendonsa came up on stage to collaborate with Tajdar. All in all, this was a most satisfying performance.

Day 1 was mostly about the metal mayhem that was to take place at the Bacardi Arena. Judging by the number of metal-heads who had lined up in front of the stage and also taken up strategic positions in and around the vicinity, it was definitely not an advisable place for the faint-hearted to be. After Demonic Resurrection’s early evening assault, the next act to occupy the Bacardi Arena was Delhi’s masters of disaster Undying Inc. Right from their first song, these metal mongers were relentless and they forced the crowd into submission with their raw and powerful aggression. Front-man Shashank Bhatnagar was indeed in his elements that evening, and he had the crowd roaring with approval with his crowd-surfing antics. Shashank was like the conductor of a symphony orchestra, and he expertly orchestrated the crowd into one bloody moshpit after the other – and his efforts culminated in a massive wall-of-death during the song ‘Ironclad’. The fetsival had momentarily turned into a war-zone, and the number of injuries and blood stained faces around the pit area bore testament to this fact. Undying Inc’s setlist included the popular ‘Manimal’ and ‘Contagion’ from their album Aggressive World Dynasty and also their new single ‘Pit Mechanics’ from their new EP Ironclad – and their performance and stage presence that evening left an indelible mark on the minds of every metal lover in attendance. The band certainly upped the ante as far as performance standards go, that many Indian metal bands would find difficult to meet.

NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

Meanwhile comedy rock band Vir Das’ Alien Chutney was over at the MTS Other Stage, busy regaling the crowd with their trademark sense of humor. It was the band’s debut performance in the City of Joy, but the huge cheers that followed each song they played would certainly have made it seem like they were Kolkata veterans. The biggest cheers were of course reserved for the song ‘Manboobs’, no surprises there! Vir Das’ on-stage banter, especially about the political leaders of West Bengal also had the crowd in splits.

Day 1 was nearing its end, but there were two huge artistes left before the day finally came to a close. Over at the Dewarists stage, Papon and The East India Company were facing some technical difficulties which delayed their show for approximately twenty minutes. Papon was on the check-list of most music lovers since many of them had never seen him perform live before. And true to their expectations, he and his troupe did not disappoint. This was one artiste who could sell out shows and still remain original and true to his music and he demonstrated this by enthralling the huge crowd with songs from his album The Story So Far and tracks like ‘Boitha Maro Re’ and the popular ‘Banao’. Papon and The East India Company were indeed a class act and hopefully they will be in town soon for more shows.

About 10-15 minutes before Papon and his band of merry men had started wowing the crowd at the Dewarists stage, over at the Bacardi Arena, the sea of black-tee clad metal maniacs had again started to huddle around the arena area. For the Kolkata metal community, THIS was the event they had been waiting for – finally, a metal band of international repute would be performing in the City of Joy, finally Kolkata would get to be on the international metal map.

NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

Dutch metal giants Textures had previously been to India three times – and having previously performed in the south (Bangalore, 2009), the north (Delhi, 2010) and the west (Pune, ) in past tours, it was befitting that the band finally completed their Bharat yatra by being named as one of the headliners of Kolkata’s NH7 Weekender leg. And they gave to the city’s ardent metal fans a performance that they would not forget in a long time. The show began with the slow melodic instrumental ‘Surreal State Of Enlightenment’ but once this completed the band launched themselves into a set-list which pulverized the crowd with its sheer brutality. ‘Messengers’, ‘Old Days Born Anew’, ‘The Sun’s Architect’, ‘Laments Of An Icarus’, ‘Black Horses Stampede’ and ‘Sanguine Draws The Oath’ were just some of the songs that regaled the crowd that evening. However with the mosh-pits getting more brutal by the minute and with the metal-heads baying for blood, it took two of the band’s more popular compositions, ‘Awake’ and ‘Reaching Home’ to finally appease the crowd. Textures were truly majestic that evening and they won the hearts and minds of everyone who was fortunate enough to attend their power-packed performance.

And so Day 1 of the Kolkata NH7 Weekender ended with a bang – and there was not a single unhappy soul at the end of the day’s proceedings. Even the bunch of young metal-heads who were feuding over Textures’ drum sticks went home happy when the band finally resolved the situation by offering a plectrum to each of the aggrieved parties.

Another bright and sunny December day, and the expectations of the crowd were sky-high after the success of Day 1. There were some very big names scheduled for Day 2, including a few young acts from Kolkata. And in fact two of the day’s openings acts were The Monkey In Me on the Red Bull Tour Bus and Ganesh Talkies on the Dewarists Stage, the latter opening their set with the song ‘Style’. The band’s flashy style of music was accentuated by their colorful but loud outfits. Their catchy music had the crowd dancing, jumping and doing all sorts of crazy stuff, especially when the vocalist Suyasha Sengupta requested the audience to show some “Bappi Lahiri moves”. Their set included ‘Roadside Romeo’, ‘Pyaar Ka Tohfa’ from their EP Three Tier Non AC and some new material like ‘Dancing, Dancing’ and ‘Brother From Another Mother’. A fun band, especially if you aren’t allergic to the Bollywood style of music.

Day 2’s opening act on the Bacardi Arena was New Delhi’s The Ska Vengers. This 8-piece band was making their Kolkata debut and they were easily one of the best acts of this two-day music fest. Right from the word go, these merchants of ska got the crowd dancing to their compositions which included set regulars like ‘Rough And Mean’, ‘Bam Intifada’ and The Velvet Underground rendition of ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’. The Ska Vengers had a great gig, and special mention must be made of their female vocalist Miss Samara C whose charismatic stage presence hypnotized the Kolkata crowd.

Over on the MTS Other Stage fans of Gangtok’s Girish Pradhan were busy being enthralled by this singer-songwriter’s set-list that comprised of originals and classic rock covers. Girish started his set by playing an instrumental version of ‘Hotel California’, and followed this up with a string of originals that included ‘Loaded’ and the ever popular ‘Angel’. The set also included ‘Hey You’ and a brilliant cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’. Girish Pradhan’s amazing voice and vocal range stunned the crowd and he easily won over the hearts of those in attendance.

NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

As soon as Girish ended his set, it was back to the Dewarists stage because Swarathma was the next act to be performing. Their set included popular originals like ‘Duur Kinara’, ‘Topiwalleh’, ‘Kooraney’ and ‘Ee Bhoomi’. During the performance of their song ‘Pyaar ke Rang’ vocalist Vasu Dixit came off stage right in the middle of the audience, which got the crowd going. Despite the obvious language barrier in some songs, Swarathma’s gig was indeed a fun one and there was no doubt that the crowd would be remembering the band’s performance for a long time.

And over at the Red Bull Tour Bus, local lads Write In Stereo were getting the crowd to groove to their indie dance music. Heavily influenced by the band Mutemath, this quartet impressed the crowd with their compositions that were mainly instrumentals and included ‘Tokyo Kyoto’, a composition influenced by their love for anime, space and sci-fi.
The Bacardi Arena in the meantime was fast filling up, for Mumbai’s electro-rockers Pentagram, who were soon to start their set. It has been a while since this band has performed in Kolkata, and their fans were on tenterhooks waiting for the show to begin. But once it did, a huge roar erupted from the crowd. Pentagram began proceedings with their track ‘Identify’, and their set-list also included tracks like ‘Lovedrug Climbdown’, ‘Drive’, ‘Mental Zero’, ‘Tomorrow’s Decided’ and the popular ‘Voices’. The crowd had a ball, and this was evident from the number of bean bags being thrown up in the air and bouncing all over the arena area. Vishal Dadlani’s showmanship and Randolph Correia’s guitars were stand-outs in the band’s performance – with Randolph’s guitaring especially sounding raw and powerful throughout Pentagram’s electronica blended grunge set.

It was time for The Supersonics to join the Kolkata NH7 party and right from the word go this Kolkata quartet let fly a host of popular tracks – both new and old – much to the delight of their faithful fan following, who were attending in huge numbers. The Supersonics were playing in their home-town after a very long time, and not being familiar with their new material, their home support cheered the most for their older originals – ‘Hey Aloha’, ‘We Are We Are’, ‘In Memory Of’, ‘Fable Of A Lonely Fish’, ‘Have A Drink’ and the crowd favorite ‘Yeah Whatever’ were just some of the songs on their set-list for the evening. All said and done, this was a pretty good performance by these Kolkata homeboys.

The event was fast approaching its climax – after twp days of non-stop walking, jumping up-and-down, standing and head-banging, our legs were starting to feel a wee bit heavy and we also had this constant buzz in our heads. So running around the venue to catch the different performing artistes was turning out to be a tad bit difficult for our weary souls. In the final hours we kind of parked ourselves in front of the Red Bull Tour Bus area, which was pretty empty – but it also gave us a good view of the Bacardi Arena as well, where Delhi classic rock veterans Parikrama were already in the midst of their NH7 gig. Like Pentagram, Parikrama too were performing in Kolkata after ages – and these Delhi rockers were successful in wowing the crowd with a set-list that seemed to comprise of originals only. Quite a surprise, this, since the band have rarely played a set-list of predominantly original numbers in Kolkata. It was almost like they were playing a greatest hits compilation and for a change, the Kolkata crowd had the chance to savor their originals like ‘Am I Dreaming?’, ‘Vaporize’ and the ever popular ‘But It Rained’, which was the band’s closing number.

Kolkata’s Nishchay Parekh was up on the MTS Other Stage during Parikrama’s assault, and being one of the rising stars of the current indie explosion in the country, most people at the venue wanted to check him out. Nishchay’s music has a certain freshness about it, which adds to its cool quotient and it was these two factors which helped him to win over his audience that evening. His set-list which had the songs ‘Ocean” and ‘I Love You Baby, I Love You Doll’ were extremely well appreciated.

Back at the Red Bull Tour Bus Mumbai’s hard-core kings Scribe were busy causing mayhem and promoting the pleasures of moshing. Front-man Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy was in his usual over-the-top mood making the crowd laugh with his outrageous comments, although for the most part he let the band’s music do the talking. This was in fact quite a tame show as per the usual high Scribe standards – and the sound was also a bit muffled at times, although most listeners didn’t seem to be too bothered with the sound aspect since they were either too busy moshing or playing around with the beach balls that the band had thrown down from the stage. Scribe’s set-list was interesting but was well short of being “amazing” – and apart from the crowd favorites ‘I Love You Pav Bhaji’, ‘1234 Dracula’, ‘R.S.V.P.’, ‘Calender Khana Lao’ and ‘Cops!  Cops!  Cops!’ the band played a cover of the Fear Factory song ‘Edgecrusher’.

After two days of non-stop music, the Kolkata NH7 Weekender was about to come to a close. There was not a single unhappy soul at the venue, and India’s “Happiest Music Festival” had lived up to its reputation. As Karsh Kale Collective + The NH7 All Stars lit up the Bacardi Arena for the final time, the crowd totally lost themselves to the music, and the dancing and cheering seemed to go on and on. It was truly a wonderful conclusion to a festival that having promised so much was successful in delivering on all counts. To say that NH7 Kolkata did well would be an under-statement – this event was a rip-roaring success and for once everyone, including the fan, the organizer and the artiste, would seem to be unanimous about this fact. One can only hope that the success of the NH7 Weekender Kolkata leg will encourage other event organizers to allow this city to host similar such events in the near future. But if for some reason this fails to happen, well, we always have NH7 Weekender Kolkata 2014 to look forward to!

Reviewed by,

Prasanna Singh and Joy Chakraborty

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NH7 Weekender Bangalore at Embassy Riding School

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Debarati Sanyal

Debarati is a freelance photographer based in Bangalore and for the past one year has been actively documenting the music scene. When not shooting gigs, she can be found in front of a computer working on graphics and writing. Or maybe you can find her at one of the watering holes chugging beer!

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Scribe at Princeton Club, Kolkata

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If there is one time of the year when Kolkata wakes up and goes into overdrive, then it is during Durga Puja. This is that time of the year when the average citizen goes absolutely over-the-top crazy, and the city is washed in an array of lights and colors. Mumbai’s very own hard-core monsters Scribe were in town, and they did their part in helping us usher in the crazy festive mood. It was no surprise that they did so with considerable aplomb, considering that Scribe is one of the most loved metal bands in the national circuit, and the band’s popularity knows no bounds, even in Kolkata.

The evening that was all about comedy and music – the comedy being dished out by the renowned stand-up comedians AIB (All India Bakchod) and the music part by Scribe and this gig also doubled up as the Kolkata leg of the band’s ‘Hail Mogambo’ tour. This was in fact Scribe’s third ever gig in the city and they were performing here after a gap of approximately three long years.

Scribe at Princeton Club, Kolkata

Unfortunately, the number of comedy-lovers far outnumbered the metalheads that evening – add to that the fact that it was a gig starting reasonably late on a weekday, and you had a turn-out which was far less than what the average Scribe gig in Kolkata has drawn in the past. Nevertheless, the crowd was fully charged and in their element, and the band took absolutely no time in settling down and went ahead to dish out a setlist comprising of around 15 songs that were a mix of old and new, known and unknown, heavy and downright wacky.

Starting off with the first track from their highly anticipated album Hail Mogambo, Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy and company gave the crowd a taste of their soon-to-be released new material. Polite applause greeted this new song, but this mildness soon gave way to some screaming and wild headbanging as soon as the intro for the song ‘R.S.V.P.’ was played. The headbangers instantly turned the venue into a massive mosh-pit, and although the energy levels seemed to be a tad low, the crowd’s enthusiasm could not be faulted. ‘R.S.V.P.’ was followed by another song ‘M-Power’  from the Mark Of Teja album, and the moshing went on unabated.

Scribe at Princeton Club, Kolkata

Scribe seemed to be rather impressed with the crowd’s wholehearted response so early into their performance – but to be honest, this wasn’t much of a surprise. Kolkata has not had a noteworthy metal band pay visit to them in a long time and so it was no surprise that the band had the crowd do their bidding all through their set – and when the call for stage-diving volunteers was given, Kolkata did NOT fail to oblige. The response to their newer songs ‘Cops! Cops! Cops! and ‘Calendar Khana Lao’ was also a lot more vigorous, as it was for ‘Buddy’, a song which featured on their debut album Have Hard. Will Core. But the loudest cheers were reserved for songs from their third album, Mark Of Teja and ‘I Luv You Pao Bhaji’  literally brought the roof down on the Princeton Club, and Virendra Kaith on drums pounded away with such ferocity that one would actually think the building was on the verge of collapsing!

The motley crowd of comedy-lovers who had remained after the performance of AIB seemed like they had been hit by a whirlpool. Most of these fine folks were witnessing their first ever metal gig and the sheer aggressiveness of the crowd was enough to keep them at the fringes near the bar end of the club. However, both the music and Scribe’s stage antics played a big part in getting some of them to shed their inhibitions and Vishwesh lost no time in cajoling them and the rest of the crowd to get the women together for Kolkata’s first ever mosh-pit exclusively for the ladies! Luckily, no one was injured and everyone had their fair share of fun.

Scribe at Princeton Club, Kolkata

Also in the setlist were a couple of covers – Limp Bizkit’s ‘Gold Cobra’ and Korn’s ‘Somebody Someone’, both having the distinct Scribe feel to them. The wisecracks kept flowing too, and Akshay Rajpurohit ably assisted Vishwesh in this department when he wasn’t busy with his guitaring. Anyone who has attended a Scribe gig in the past would know what sort of wisecracks to expect from this wacky quintet!

All good gigs must come to an end, although the crowd had no intention of letting the band go easily! So not one, but two encores were the order of the evening – the first one being another huge crowd favorite from Mark Of Teja – ‘1234 Dracula’, followed by ‘One Wing Pencil’ from Have Hard. Will Core. And with that song came the end of another Scribe show which knocked the socks off everyone in attendance.

Scribe at Princeton Club, Kolkata

There is no denying that the crowd had a great time and most of them are now looking forward to Scribe’s performance during the Kolkata leg of the NH7 Weekender in December. Till date, the band has played three gigs in the city, all of which have been at pubs – and while a pub gig does bring out a level of intensity and intimacy which can only be attained in a closed venue, yet most Scribe fans from these parts are looking forward to see how their wackiness translates onto a bigger stage!

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Anathema, Bevar Sea, Heretic, Family Cheese, Clown with a Frown at IIT-M’s Saarang 2013

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At 5 PM on the 12th of January, finding my way through the forested IIT Madras campus during their fest Saarang to attend the rock show, it occurred to me that the one phrase I should definitely not use is ‘rumble in the jungle’. When I reached the venue, the fest was in full swing with stalls hawking bags to deodorant to scooters, making people debase themselves for trinkets. In the midst of this melee could be heard a dull sound emanating from the Open Air Theatre (nobody calls it that – it’s always the OAT) that most people chose to ignore. I headed there.

Clown with a Frown were already on stage – gleaned only upon entrance. They’ve been on a roll recently, winning, inter alia, Strawberry Fields (the NLSIU rock show), a slot at NH7 Weekender’s Bangalore edition, and now at Saarang. I caught only the end of their set, but was nonetheless impressed at their improving dynamic with each passing gig. There’s an infectious delight to their music, and it’s clear that there’s an unbridled energy and sense of fun while they’re playing, even when to a paltry crowd. Neither necessarily means their music is any good, but it’s not bad, and they have the trumpet-y thing going that yields the priceless ‘more brass on my monitors, please.’

Next, the first of the billed bands, were The Family Cheese. They had an interesting sound, but technical issues – ‘plagued’ is the word for it – never really let them get started. They had the musical chops, but also a tendency towards self-indulgence, though it’d be unfair pass judgment based on this staccato set. One thing must be noted – they were playing to a measly crowd who couldn’t make up their minds whether to applaud or boo, but the biggest cheer was for their last song: ‘Comfortably Numb’. Engineering students, I tell you. They spent the downtime between the Family Cheese and the next band cheering a sexually-charged advertisement on the stage screen. Engineering students, indeed.

Around when The Family Cheese finished, the sun had started to shrink away and I looked behind me to see a sight that warms the black, filthy, withered cockles of any band – a legion of black t-shirted masses, perched at the sides of the amphitheatre, roosting together in an impromptu The Birds-themed flash mob. The students had left their halls for the OAT.       

Heretic rode this black tide with elan, rousing the crowd with their nu-metal (I don’t mean that as a slight) inflected high-energy hard rock. The singer was particularly adept at varying between growling and smooth vocals, and they’re definitely one to catch live. Reliably, the partisan crowd displayed their highest regards when the band cut into an interlude of ‘Urvashi’ from Kadhalan.

Bevar Sea was my highlight of the night. Their viscous riffage sounds fantastic when unleashed on a large stage, and it brought a giddy grin to my face when the crowd sang along to ‘Abhistu’. Also, the number of people in Bevar Sea t-shirts far outnumbered any other band, including the headliners. Their set, curtailed by time constraints and consisting of just three songs, reminded me of a quip: Did you hear about the one-hour King Crimson gig? Yeah, they played half a song. As vocalist Ganesh put it, they are bevarsea, and so are you.

After they cleared out, the headlining act (predictably) took the stage. Anathema has been around for over twenty years, and I quote their Wikipedia page: “Beginning as pioneers of the death/doom sub-genre, their later albums have been associated with genres such as alternative rock, progressive rock, art rock, new prog, and post-rock.” Tellingly, there is a flag saying additional citations needed for verification.

When Anathema started up (with ‘Untouchable I’ and ‘Untouchable II’), my jaw dropped. This band was full of love and no blackness! They were crammed to their gills with inner nobility of character. They spouted Tamil and flashed the V-sign instead of the Devil’s Horns, and not in the British sense of ‘up yours’. You could practically feel Vince Cavanagh, their lead singer, reaching out to comfortingly embrace you.To sum up, if Anathema were a Captain Planet element, they’d be Heart.

Still, the crowd was into it. I’d ventured up to the cheap seats and was watching the now-sizable crowd bounce in unison when something spectacularly hypnotic was wrought from the depths of this fiery love – a mosh pit of group hugs. It looked like the oscillating mouth of a sea anemone. But everyone was just jumping up and down and having an oh-so-good time.

I headed back to front and centre, still reckoning this band with suspicion. I don’t think it’s solely a question of proximity, but when up close, it was really quite moving. Their older tracks were just better, and when Cavanagh emotes while singing, it felt like he was speaking to me, and simultaneously to every other person there. This was either the single most emotional performance I had the privilege of attending, or the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. Probably both.

Curiously, the mood of the crowd turned. They’d already befuddled the band with an incessant chant of ‘Haska lakala laka laka laka OOH AAH OOH AAH’ (a common motivational mantra heard during cricket matches at Chepauk stadium) – one that started as a voice of appreciation, but soon veered into boorish impoliteness, breaking out even between songs, and then morphed into a downright rude chant of ‘We want Meh-Tuhl’.

The band, to its credit, ignored it and chugged on, which was a practical application of their entire state of existence. They sang of numbed emotion (‘The Storm Before the Calm’) and showing the way (‘The Beginning and the End’), and by the end of it, hitting the home stretch with ‘Empty’, ‘One Last Goodbye’ and‘Fragile Dreams’, the crowd had been won over once more, proving decisively the power of love and letting the credits roll while the band were freeze-framed in victory.

Life can be simple.

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Varun Rajiv

Varun Rajiv has tinnitus. The first band he adored with all his heart was Boyzone.

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The NH7 Weekender Day 1, Bangalore

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Sanitha Alam

Sanitha alam is a bookworm, music maniac and a movie buff. With days spent in the forts of a corporate world, photography and travelling keep the sane in her insane. She is often seen staring into space with a plan to shoot for the stars. A spirited wanderer, a daydreamer, she ain't no saint neither a sinner.

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