Tag Archives: Peter Cat Recording Co

Bagh by Begum

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Delightfully bizarre, unconventional and dreamy are the words that come to mind when trying to describe what’s good about the debut album by the Delhi-based trio Begum. Bagh will have you scratching your head even as you repeatedly press the replay button. Although the album is so out there and distinctive, I’d be lying if I said that this wasn’t what was expected from the band considering that two of its members – guitarist and vocalist Kartik Pillai and drummer Karan Singh are also part of the equally eccentric Peter Cat Recording Co. Bassist Kshitij Dhyani completes this curious trio that is Begum. With this debut album, the band has clearly announced themselves as one of the most eclectic and bravest music outfits there is in the Indian indie scene right now.

Strange sounds and unusual structures dominate this album, and there is no discernible flow to it as the listener moves from one peculiar track to another. It is hard to slot Begum’s music into a particular genre, although even someone who hates it will be forced to concede that the band’s creativity and candor shine though in every track. Ranging from psychedelic to punk to grunge, I guess the best way to describe their music is experimental. Each track is constructed to create an unforgettable ambience using any means possible – be it gravelly vocals, scratchy sounds, weird old-timey recordings or sudden tempo shifts. Kartik is not overly worried about showing off his crooning skills with this album: the vocals are raw and raspy and sometimes quite reminiscent of Beck.

The first track – ‘Chinbien’ sounds like two completely different tracks- a mellow yet bittersweet instrumental followed by a foot-tapping punk rock-inspired second half- put together to create a particularly long and peculiar song. As the opening track it works by managing to beguile the listener but also managing to throw them off a bit. Slurred vocals and a catchy riff lend to the rock and roll vibe of the song.

Next comes three very short songs  just about two minutes each. ‘Make it Till 4′ and ‘In The Basement’ are very reminiscent of old-school punk and garage. The languid vocals and peppy percussion lend both songs a youthful and exuberant touch. Sandwiched between these two upbeat numbers is ‘Lonely Road’ – a melancholy acoustic number: its leisurely pace, minimalistic arrangements and dark vibe make it a personal favorite and one of the most memorable songs of the album.

The fifth track – ‘Imposter (Intermission)’ is possibly the weirdest and eeriest track on the album. It starts off with a sample of what sounds like an old recording of a magician talking about the Water Torture Cell. This was Harry Houdini’s famous act so I guess we can assume the voice at the beginning of the song is his. At 7 minutes long and with no vocals or interesting shifts, the song is dull and utterly forgettable.

The second half of the album starts with ‘As He Was’ – a very laidback track that has a long guitar-driven intro. Just when the vocals kick in and before you quite realize what has happened, the song ends. This song isn’t something special and gets lost from memory when you are done listening to the album.

‘Waiting’ is a very grunge-y track that jolts the listener from the preceding tracks, being so heavy and dark. The vocals are quite garbled and from what I could discern, this tracks seems like Begum’s version of the Irish ballad ‘Danny Boy’. The next track ‘Raj D-Minor’ is more relaxed and has a very reggae and dancehall vibe to it. With a very captivating hook that will have you on your feet, this song is one of the standout tracks of the album.

An upbeat and happy track, ‘Marry Me’ is another personal favorite. With a nice riff and a catchy melody, Kartik’s voice weaving in and out just at the right moments, it does clock in at more than 6 minutes but never gets monotonous.

The last and the shortest track on the album, the alt-rock inspired ‘Arumgambay’, stands out for its enticing bassline. The guitar-laden track seems to roll the credits on the album and is a nice enough track when compared to the rest of the album. It is too short and its only purpose is to usher the end of the album.

Bagh is inventive, bold and strange. There are some charming touches to this effort, recorded in the homes of the band members: you can sometimes hear the banter at the end of a song. In the end, Bagh is not the kind of album that will comfort you with a bunch of easy listening tracks. This is a bunch of obviously talented and brave musicians who have come up with an offering that borrows from so many genres and brings together such unnatural sounds that alienating the listener is an obvious risk. Whether they manage to strike the right balance between the weird and the wonderful is up to the individual listener but there’s no denying Bagh is probably one of the most original albums to be released of late. The album as a whole presents a very enjoyable and thought-provoking listening experience.

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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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Day 3 of Magnetic Fields Festival at Alsisar Mahal, Rajasthan

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Uday Shanker

Uday Shanker is a freelance photographer based in Bangalore and has a day job.

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Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 – Lineup

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Magnetic Fields Festival scheduled for December 13-15 at Alsisar Mahal, Rajasthan has announced the following lineup for the festival:

Performing Artists

Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Robot Koch

(Berlin, DE)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Midival Punditz (Live)

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Shiva Soundsystem

(London, UK)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Shaa’ir + Func

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

V.I.V.E.K.

(London, UK)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Engine Earz (DJ)

(London, UK)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Orifice Vulgatron

Foreign Beggars (London, UK)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Peter Cat Recording Co.

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Sky Rabbit

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Bay Beat Collective

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Kutle Khan

(Rajasthan, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator

Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

SnowShoe

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Sandunes

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

GRAIN (Live)

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

M.Mat

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Charlee

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

The F16?s

(Chennai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

BLOT!

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Frame / Frame Band

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Sulk Station

(Bangalore, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Your Chin

(Mumbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Madboy/Mink

(Munbai, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Kohra

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

The Bicycle Days

(Bangalore, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

The Grind

(International Lineup)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Curtain Blue

(New Delhi, IN)
Magnetic Fields Festival December 13-15 2013 - Lineup

Until We Last

(Bangalore, IN)

Tickets available here. For more updates and artist announcements, watch this space!

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goMAD Festival 2013 Venue, Line-up and Ticket details

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Line Up

Parikrama, Agam, Emergence, Jeremiah Ferarri, Luke Jon Shearer, Prem Joshua & Band, Shobana Dance Company, Kutle Khan Project feat. Queen Harish, Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble, Loryn, Noori, Ska Vengers, Gandu Circus, Peter Cat Recording Co., Chronic Blues Circus, Bala Bhaskar, Blot, Blind Image, Lucidreams, Inner Sanctum, Parvaaz, The Vinyl Records, Bombay Bassment, Clown With a Frown, Live Banned, Moonarra, Kaivalyaa, Gravy Train, Vidwan, Soulmate, The Shakey Rays, One Night Stand, The Down Troddence, Lagori, Grey Shack, Black Letters, The Bicycle Days, De’SaT, Sky Rabbit, F16s, Nasi Campur, Neel & The Lightbulbs, Sean Roldan & friends, Blues Conscience, Sonam Kalra, The Jass B’stards, Tritha Electric, Bevar Sea, Susmit Sen Chronicles, Sabelo Mthembu, 1001 Ways, Virgina Martinez, Solder, Amayama, Veronica Nunes

Venue: Fernhills Palace, Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Ticket Details: Book Online Here

Full Festival Pass – Rs 2,450
Single Day Pass – Rs 1,500
Bikers Package – Rs 3,500 : Single Entry Full Festival Pass + camping accommodation (twin sharing) + Pitstops + Emergency services + exclusive parking zone + 2 beers everyday(limited passes only)
Palace Package – Rs 50,000 : Live the true heritage experience at the 150-year-old Fernhills Palace . Pass includes a 3-nights-and-4-days stay at the Palace suite for 2
Camp G Package – Rs 10,000 : An all-girl campsite completely separate from the main campsite for no extra charge. You simply need to buy a camp G ticket for the festival (valid for 2). Camp G will have its own toilets, security and CCTV coverage. A brand new pampering area will be available at a discounted rate for Camp G wristband holders.
Camp Package – Rs 10,000: Full Festival Pass and Accommodation for 2. The camp site has a mind blowing view, and is a stone’s throw away from the venue; it includes a 2-person tent, sleeping bag, drinking water, access to lots of closed portable baths, portable toilets, security, and very basic power supply

For Cash on Delivery(anywhere in india), call +91 4267 5000 / +91 98455 34699 or click here.

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The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

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Would Delhi/NCR pull it off? The question had been coming up ever since the NH7 Weekender ‘The Happiest Music Festival’ announced its foray up north. Given Delhi’s past disastrous relationship with any big concert, doubts abounded. Amid much cynicism, tickets were bought, plans were made and expectations were given the freedom to soar. As the day drew closer, the excitement in the air was palpable. Some of the best acts in the country were going to enthrall us. Megadeth was headlining. For those of us who had seen them in Bangalore, attending a second live gig would give us bragging rights. This would surely be memorable. Like I said, expectations took flight. But did they soar?  Read on to find out.

Day One 

After an 80 Km drive from Gurgaon, I found myself at the Buddh International Circuit, host to Delhi/NCR’s sophomore edition of the ‘The Happiest Music Festival’. The grounds seemed to be huge, the stages were generously spaced apart, there seemed to be a decent variety of grub, and the flea market was slowly coming to its own.

My first stop was at the Dewarists stage, where the trio of Aditya, Suhail and Tarun (AST) got things going. Although not familiar with their music, I nonetheless enjoyed the few songs that I heard. The only hitch was the poor sound. Sound glitches, as we shall see, made their presence felt at multiple stages throughout the two days, much like Warren Mendonsa, who flitted from one stage to the other, only, his presence was mesmerizing.

Anyhow, after AST, I made my way to the Black Rock Arena, where Vir Das and Alien Chutney were up next. For his comedy rock act, Vir Das was backed by two supremely gifted musicians – Warren Mendonsa on guitar and Sidd Cuotto on drums. He raised quite a few laughs with his songs about ‘Banging your mummy’, the stinking friend that everyone has in ‘BO is my Deo’, a Haryanvi man’s bedroom preferences in ‘Village Man’, the tendency of Punjabi mundas to grow ‘Man boobs’. He ran through the periodic table in ‘The metal song’, praised Delhi’s girls’ make up miracles and denounced all J.K. Rowling characters as whores. His set was peppered with expletives and his lyrics were delightfully offensive. I saw many people laughing and squirming at the same time, especially a teenaged girl who’d turned up with her dad. Both were doing their best not to look at each other. Must have made for an awkward conversation post the set. Some may have dismissed Vir Das’s set as being crude, but he got the crowd going, and he elicited more than a few laughs. Granted, he is no Stephen Lynch, but if you were buying what he was selling, you wouldn’t feel shortchanged.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

I strolled back to the Other Stage, hoping to catch Barefaced Liar unplugged. But all the sound glitches had led to delays, and I found Parvati and Mawkin just about to start. And for the next half hour, I stood enthralled as Parvati on vocals, Mawkin on the guitar and Natalie on the flute brought forth their brand of magic. It was serene, it was otherworldly. I did not understand a word of what they were singing, their tracks mostly being in Spanish and Portuguese, but I came away elated. And that’s when it started to hit me – that we need more of these festivals, so that music lovers get introduced to musicians we would otherwise never hear about, let alone watch them live. Yes, the NH7 Weekender was coming alive for me.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

And now, back to the Black Rock Arena. Boy, this is turning out be quite a bit of walking! I’d missed out Indus Creed and Zero was up next, also, by now a sizeable crowd had built up. Zero’s frontman Rajeev, resplendent in a stovepipe hat, took the stage with a very Brit “I say, old chaps” and Zero kicked off a firestorm. They ran through their catalogue of hits such ‘Old man sitting on the back porch’, ‘Hate in Em’, ‘Stop’ and ‘Lucy’, the crowd singing along lustily. The band was so tight, their stage presence so compelling, one would never guess they play maybe just once a year.. Bobby Talwar’s fluid basslines locked in tight with Sidd Cuotto’s immaculate stickwork, and Warren, well, he was just magical. His playing is so restrained, never too many notes, fast when fast is needed, but always melodic, never flashy. Is he the best guitar player around? I can’t think of anyone else who comes close. By the time the quartet get around to their iconic ‘PSP12’, they have a moshpit going (which was rather annoying, truth be told, with a bunch of juvenile delinquents pushing everyone in sight) and the crowd had been transported to another world.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

A bit giddy after the display of sheer awesomeness, I walked (a couple miles, it seemed) to the Fully Fantastic stage, set up in the memory of the Grandfather  of Indian Rock, Amit Saigal. I was very much looking forward to Menwhopause. Sadly though, they seemed to be having a bit of an off day. Sound continued to play spoilsport. While singer-bassist Randeep tried his best to involve the crowd, something seemed amiss, and the people started trickling out. I trudged back, more than a little disappointed. Would Pentagram have been a better choice? Judging by crowd response, the answer seemed to a resounding ‘YES’. Oh well.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

Final act of the night – Parikrama. They opened with the very catchy ‘Vapourize’ – Nitin pushing his vocal chords to the limit. They followed that up with ‘Am I dreaming’,’ Load up’, ‘Gandalf’, going steadily downhill. The vocals went awry, band members seemed to be missing cues, and the only saving grace was the violin virtuosity of Imran, who was in his element. The good part – I finally saw Parikrama play an all original set. They were saving ‘But it rained’ for the end, but ran out of time, and had to take a rather abrupt bow.

Well, so far they day had been a mixed one. The sound left a lot to be desired, some bands disappointed, while others shone bright. Zero was the highlight of the day for me. Could any band better their performance on Day Two? Oh, and no beer on a music festival? Even though Bacardi is the sponsor, ale deprivation is plain wrong. I stuck to sobriety and 7Up it was for me. Cut to the bright side again – the organizers put in a great deal of effort to ensure the audience got a ‘happy ‘experience. Bringing in the mobile ATMs was a very thoughtful touch.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

Day Two

The long drive, the almost equally long walks and the occasional bout of excitable bodily contortions to the music on Day One meant I woke up in a distinctly ramshackle condition the next morning. But all that was soon forgotten as popped in some Megadeth and turned the volume to eardrum damaging levels. It was the big day. I was going to see Megadeth, again. Yay! But before that, quite a few more bands to listen to, some more new music to get acquainted with, and who knows, maybe get blown away by!

 

I made my way to the Fully Fantastic stage, and pretty much spent the evening there.  First up was Ankur and the Ghalat family. Ankur Tewari, backed up by the prolific Sidd Coutto on drums, Johan Pais on the bass, and Niranjan ‘Pozy’ Dhar (of Tough on Tobacco and Shkabang fame) on guitars, made for a great start to the proceedings. His simple but easy to relate to lyrics and great melodies had the audience singing along, jiving. Ankur regaled the crowd with songs about being broke, political clout in Delhi, ‘Chand chahiye’ about a materially demanding girlfriend, and ‘Yaari’ about well, yaari. His easy connect with the crowd was a treat to watch. The band displayed they have a sense of humour too. When the sound problems surfaced again, the band, instead of going silent, sang an ad-jingle for Bajaj lights from way back when. Ankur Tewari then crooned his signature – ‘Sabse peeche hum khade’. I had a feel good lump in my throat after listening to their set. Later on I bumped into him, and told him how much I enjoyed his song and could I buy them online? His humility, when he said thanks and I could get some songs online at Flipkart, is something I will not forget.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

Next, Them Clones took the stage. They were accompanied by Nikhil Rufus of Indigo Children on bass, while Adil Manuel subbed for guitarist Joseph. They played a tight set, belting out their hits, and had the crowd singing along. For their last song, ‘Zephyretta’, the band was joined by Abhay Sharma on the saxophone. Amazing how a single instrument can alter the whole sound of a band. The last track was a moving experience, and the strains stayed with me long after the song ended.

Rudy Wallang and Tipriti of Soulmate tore into the stage with their brand of red-hot blues. Rudy’s guitarwork was a masterclass in blues playing and Tipriti poured her feelings out with her voice. The one catch, again, was the sound. Too loud and too trebley, it marred an otherwise awesome set.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

It was now the turn of Blackstratblues and friends. Warren was joined by Jai Row Kavi on drums and Adi Mistry on the bass, and he showed, again, why he is so in demand. I am running out of phrases to describe his guitar playing. Always in the pocket, never playing too fast, never playing too many notes. And always putting melody first. We have our own Eric Johnson here! Karsh Kale took over the drum duties and Apeksha Dandekar showed off her vocal prowess. As it turned out, Mr. KK can really play drums. Wickedly well. Nikhil D’Souza, Vishal Dadlani, Uday Benegal, Prithwish Dev all took the stage with the man playing the Blackstrat and the crowd, which had swollen by the minute, lapped it all up.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

It was now time for the big one. The Black Rock Arena was crowded with black tees, and more were sweeping in. The backstage cam focused on Dave Mustaine as he queried ‘Are you ready for Megadeth?’ a huge roar went up, anticipation building up by the moment. Megadeth take the stage to massive applause, and immediately launch into ‘Trust’, off the ‘Cryptic Writings’ album, followed by ‘She Wolf’ from the same album. The one thing that becomes apparent is that surprisingly, the sound folks have failed to get it right for Megadeth too. Chris Broderick’s guitar sounded too loud and whiny, while Mustaine’s vocals and guitars seemed to be controlled by an on/off switch. David Ellefson was pretty much inaudible too. Apart from the messed up sound, another downer was Mustaine’s patronizing speech in the middle, where he droned on about how he appreciated people coming out to see them, having had to make so many sacrifices, and spending money. Thanks for your concern Davey, but all of India isn’t exactly destitute. Blah! Talk about stereotyping!

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

The crowd, though, was living it up. The masters then chugged through their ‘Countdown to Extinction’ album. Tracks such as ‘Symphony of destruction’, ‘Skin o’ my teeth’, ‘High speed dirt’ and ‘Sweating bullets’ led to many a sprained neck. The crowd sang along to every song, hysterically, ecstatically. Megadeth played two songs off their new album ‘Thirteen’ – ‘Whose life is it anyway’ and ‘Public  enemy number one’. Youthanasia, surprisingly, got just one nod, with ‘A tout le monde’. Megadeth threw in ‘Hangar 18’ in the middle and ended the proceedings with ‘Holy wars’. I sorely missed ‘Tornado of souls’, but then everyone has their own ‘deth favourites. The band took a last bow, Mustaine saying ‘Thank you, you’ve been a great crowd, we’ve been Megadeth’. As the speakers went silent, I had the last hour rushing back, reliving the Megadeth experience. The line from ‘Turn the page’ playing repeats in my mind – ‘The echoes of the amplifiers ringing in your head’. Did the Megadeth experience turn out to be what I expected? Did the four-year wait seem worthwhile? In all honesty, the answer is no. I went to watch Megadeth expecting a whole lot of anarchy, and came away with a little bit of malarkey.

The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit

Thus ended the Delhi debut of the NH7 Weekender. Judging by experience, the claim of ‘The Happiest Music Festival’ is not entirely unfounded. It was well organized, the audience was well cared for, and it showcased some fantastic music. The 300 km drive, the aching body, the decimated throat were all worth it. It reaffirmed my faith that live music trumps recorded music everytime. Granted, the sound flattered to deceive. But I am sure that will be looked into, next time around. I can’t wait!

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Deep Chakraborty

Deep Chakraborty is a guitarist and singer with The Unwind Project, based in Delhi. Whatever time he manages to salvage from his daytime management consulting job, he dedicates to analog stompboxes, his retriever Mishka, daydreaming about meeting John Frusciante someday, and attending as many gigs as he can.

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ZIRO – Mud, music and madness

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It was three days of love, peace and music – not in Woodstock, but Ziro. As the picturesque meadows echoed with sounds of 20 ensembles from around the country, the Northeast swayed to its first indie fest of tunes.

Every time someone talks about a music festival the first thing that comes to one’s mind is indeed Woodstock 1969. Often hailed as the “mother of all music festivals”, it never ceased to acquire a mention whenever there is a reference to a magnificent association between love, peace, harmony and music. But guess what, all of that is about to change and especially for the people who were at the Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh from September 14 to 16. From now on every time someone mentions a music festival, it will be the one in Ziro that will secure an immediate mention among the people of Northeast and trust us, rightfully so.

Whether it was the magnificent festival venue nestled amidst lush green meadows of the hamlet between Ziro and Hapoli, the rainy weekend, 20 musical ensembles or having a gala time swaying away to music in muddy fields and sipping on local rice beer, Ziro Festival helped all those who were present at the do to relive moments which many of us have usually savoured in the videos of festivals such as the Woodstock 1969. And we should very well say this that the first edition Ziro Festival will go in the pages of history as one of the pivotal moments that changed the music scene in the Northeast by providing enough exposure to the region for the world to acknowledge it’s splendid grandeur.

The attendees to the three days of “Eat, Drink and Merry” festival (as the tagline of the fest goes) were not confined to the Northeast alone. There were people from all walks of life and with different geographical sensibilities. Though the attendance was paltry (considering all three days), but notwithstanding that it was festival that managed to re-establish people’s faith in the power of music and how it can get people together despite differences. And music took the center stage with the artistes and audiophiles – many among who were visiting the Northeast for the first time.

Day One

The first day kicked off at around 3.30 pm and went on late till late in the night. Frisky Pints and undoubtedly Bombay Bassment (among the others) were the bands to look out for on the first day’s schedule. It was a busy day not only for the organizers but also for the festival-goers as all of them was busy getting prepared for the next two days to follow. Setting up of tents, doing a recce of the venue, tasting the available delicious culinary offerings and savouring the scenic beauty of the festival venue took up most of the time. But all that didn’t take anything away from these bands that offered a fantastic platter of songs that shook Ziro on the first day and set the tone for the next two days. Bombay Basement with their eclectic blend of tempo-driven hip-hop, funk and reggae gave a fantastic ending to the first day. However, people continued to flood the stage arena long after the music was called off for the night, which gave an impression that people simply wanted more. Those staying at tents at a plateau around some 200 meters from the stage continued jamming with djembes and guitars which they had brought along with them and it continued till the wee hours of the night. The serene environment of the hamlet echoed with music and we all waited for the sun to rise and mark the beginning of yet another fantastic day of music.

Day Two

Echo of acoustic music from djembes and guitars woke us up in our tents the next morning. Early birds were already on a musical high when we came out of our tents to find out what is going on. After seeing a few of our fellow festival-goers pounding percussions and strumming guitars, we joined in and that set the mood to enjoy performances by the professionals who were lined up for the day. Our impromptu jamming was on a all time high when a soothing cover of Alanis Morissette’s song grabbed out attention. We knew it was time for the first act of the day – Alisha Bhatt. A singer-cum-songwriter, recently Alisha has been in the news for her soulful urban folksy performances something one can relate with the likes of Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco among others. After a performance in front of a 50 or so people, she left the stage for Aftertaste, a five member alternative rock ensemble from Mumbai.

Here it is imperative to mention that the rains never stopped pouring  for more than a few hours in all the three days, but that didn’t hinder anyone’s enthusiasm to watch these acts out which were not only independent in their approach towards music but also unique in their appearance on stage. More importantly, till this festival, we had only heard about many of these acts but never had the chance to witness them live. But, they were experienced festival performers who knew when and how to get the crowd going and it was very much evident right from the time they stepped on to the stage. Aftertaste, as a band, was a pleasure to watch. And right from the word go, these musicians manifested how to articulate a performance, even when one is performing in a venue for the first time in front of a crowd which probably they have never entertained for. Their professionalism was apparent when some technical difficulties struck guitarist Michael Lee’s setup and Keegan Pereira, vocalist of the band, broke into a spontaneous song with some random yet meaningful lyrics and candidly confessed to us that it was a gimmick to buy some time for his fellow bandmate to fix the problem. They were well received by the crowd and had to oblige to encores. As the day bid adieu and evening set in, it was time for some metal. The only representative of metal in the entire line up of the three-day fest was Lucid Recess (LR), the three member alternative metal guys from Assam. Those who have known LR and their music would know that they are pretty neat in their live performances, but guess it was a bad day at work for the trio at Ziro. LR was followed by some much-needed girl power. And no brownie point for guessing as it was the only all-girl ensemble in the line up – The Vinyl Records (TVR).

TVR got a great slot to perform at the festival as they got to perform in the evening on day two. As many of us would know they are good at what they do, but in Ziro their performance didn’t have the zing that could make the crowd tap their feet. The highlight of day two was indeed Peter Cat Recording Co. (PCRC) and organizers Menwhopause. We got to know from sources that prior to the festival PCRC were desperately hunting for opportunities to perform in the Northeast and their wishes were granted when they were given a slot in the lineup. They did a fantastic job. Those who haven’t heard these alternative musicians, we would like to tell them that the ensemble is an unique blend of genres that evokes certain emotions – probably something like as if Sid Barrett’s technical and psychedelic imagery is having a romantic date with that of The Doors’s introspective lyricism and lively showmanship. But, the band which stole the show on day two was Menwhopause. The organizers were also blessed by the rain Gods and the audience could savior their music blessing them for coming up with the festival that will be in the coming years one of the most sought after festival in indie musical the map of India (provided it’s organized again).

Day Three

The last Day of the festival was once again kicked off by yet another soloist from Delhi – Dayglocrazie. The guy with an acoustic guitar is a subtle musician that might remind many of the likes of Jack Johnson and Ben Harper among others. But, here is the catch – unlike any of the above mentioned musicians Dayglocrazie’s music had a hint of regional elements. To be precise his compositions smelled of baul music of West Bengal cleverly weaved with western music sensibilities to give it an urban avatar. In fact the opening two acts – Dayglocrazie and Tritha Electric (which followed him next) – offered some Bengali flavour to the audience in the middle of Arunachal Pradesh in the fest. If Dayglocrazie sounded like baul music, Tritha sprinkled rebellious poetry of Kazi Nazrul Islam, the Bengali poet, blending it with a bass guitar and a well toned drum. In fact looking at the line up of day three it seems the seven bands were paired in accordance of the genre of music they play. For instance after the first two Bengali-inspired poetic acts, it was time for some alternative punk. The Dirty Strikes and Street Stories unleashed their punk-inspired power and at times covered contemporary pop like that of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ to attract the rain-soaked crowd. But if we are to choose one between the two, our vote will go with that of Street Stories. Mainly because of their exquisite stage presentation and some crazy (we mean literally) guitar playing.

The next two similar sounding bands to occupy the stage one after another were Digital Suicide (DS) from Guwahati and Sky Rabbit (previously known as Medusa) from Mumbai. Music enthusiast in the Northeast are well acquainted with DS’ post grunge sound. Though it took them quite a while to get their preferred sound out of the speakers and it did irritate the audience who were anxious to savior some of their lucid riffs and distorted bass slap. But once they got going the crowd swayed away to their music forgetting the initial technical hiccups. Sky Rabbit was a soothing surprise as we have heard them when they were a metal ensemble named Medusa. Their sound and compositions echoed of a peculiar British neo-rock tinge which was appreciated by the crowd.

The Finale

But, it was celebrated veteran pop/rock musician Lou Majaw and his friends that took the third day of the festival to a crescendo. We all know Majaw and his music. Being in the Northeast he is no surprise as we get to see him every time there is a rock concert of some magnitude. The veteran clad in his trademark shorts and multi-coloured socks yet again gave a reason soothing enough for the crowd to go berserk and scream for encores compelling the artiste and his associates to render one song after another long after they formally bid adieu to the crowd. But, the love for music in the Northeast was evident when the crowd refuse to left the concert venue even after the organizers called it a night, So much so that they were left with no other option but continue playing music – so what if it was CD recordings. From Pink Floyd’s overplayed ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ to Jon Bon Jovi’s previously unheard remix version of ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ there was everything that shaped many of our tastes in rock.

Well, there was no Jimi Hendrix, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker or Sly and the Family Stone for the crowd to savior. But will it be too much to say that the lineup definitely had the potential to become one of these great acts and hence Ziro Festival was nothing short of what they call a perfect field day for musicians and music lovers. We sincerely hope the organizers give it a serious thought to organize the festival next year so that those who could make it to the festival and were on a “wait and watch” mode will get a chance to relish some serious independent music that too in Apatani style. Till then keep your fingers crossed!

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Debarun Borthakur

Debarun Borthakur has been a journalist for the last 7 years in many national as well as regional news dailies. His forte is music and loves to be honest with his words. He has been strumming the guitar for a decade now and swears by authentic Delta blues and Seattle's grunge.

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The Mad Festival Experience

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