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 Weekenders four editions – November 1-2 in Kolkata, November 8-9 in Bangalore, November 21-23 in Pune and November 29-30 in Delhi.
Speaking about this years 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 weve 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.
From critically-acclaimed international headliners, to homegrown musical heroes, this years 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 years home of electronic music, mmx.beat, will also host some incredible live performances.
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 bands 2012 follow-up Come of Age charted at #1 on the UK charts upon its release. Theyve toured and performed extensively with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arctic Monkeys and other huge global rock acts.
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 2012s 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.
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.
In her decade-long career Sarah Blasko, a singer-songwriter hailing from Sydney, Australia, has released four acclaimed solo albums (I Awake, As Day Follows Night, What 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.
British singer-songwriter Luke Sital-Singh emerged on the global music scene when he was announced as part of the BBCs 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.
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 Bamakos 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.
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 Networks Bobby Friction (himself a performer at the festival in previous years). Qureshis debut EP, Equator, was released in 2012 and highlighted his immense talent and unique approach to electronic beat-making.
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.
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 Jacksons The Lovely Bones alongside Brian Eno and Leo Abrahams, 2010s indie hit Monsters, and 2013s How I Live Now. Hopkins will play at the Bangalore edition of the festival.
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 Jacksons 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, 2010s Growing Pains and 2013s 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 Lahores 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 theyve been called Pakistans Buena Vista Social Club, and Lahores answer to the Blues Brothers.
A savoury blend of New Jersey and New Delhi, US indie pop act Goldspot have plenty of fans in India. Siddharth Khoslas band has been described by the Los Angeles Times Magazine as A hint of George Harrison at his transcendental best. The bands 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.
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 bands self-titled debut and forthcoming follow-up. The band will perform at Pune and Delhi editions of the festival.
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.
Indias 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 theyve gone on to play at some of the worlds 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 Projects music, including the bands 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 bands latest album Tandanu, their seventh studio release, is a series of collaborations with some of the countrys 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 Abels 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 Abels 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 publications editorial guidelines are), are Indias 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 scenes most recognizable figures, and promise to take fans through a musical journey that spans Indian and international punk and alt-rock influences.
Monica Dogra is usually known for her dynamic vocal and visual performance as ‘Shaair from electro-pop act Shaair + 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 Shaair + Func to finally launching her solo career and performing at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, shes grown into one of the countrys leading song writers and also one of our most recognizable female voices.
One of the countrys 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 years Bacardi NH7 Weekender. BM will play all four edition of the festival this year.
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, Pentagrams 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 bands live prowess – a stripped-down Unplugged set featuring reworked renditions of many of the bands popular songs.
Full City-wise Lineups
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), Shaair + Func (Mumbai), Sickflip (Mumbai), Sky Rabbit (Mumbai), Soulmate (Shillong), Su Real (Delhi), Superfuzz (Delhi), The F16s (Chennai), The Inspector Cluzo (France), Them Clones (Delhi).
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 F16s (Chennai), The Inspector Cluzo (France), The Supersonics (Kolkata), Thermal And A Quarter (Bangalore), Undying Inc (Delhi).
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 Aryas Kabir Cafe (Mumbai), Nicholson (Mumbai), Nikhil DSouza (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 F16s (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).
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 F16s (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.
The South Asian Bands Festival is the annual festival held as a part of the SAARC regional integration through culture, organised by ICCR. In its seventh edition, this is one of those festivals whose sound gets lost in the din of the mainstream, alhough theres a certain edge TSABF enjoys over the rest. The amazing cultural diversity, the stellar Purana Qila as the venue, and of course the free entry undoubtedly takes the cake.
Delegates and alike filled up the VIP seats and the crowd started gathering around the stage on a pleasant evening. With balloons kicking off the first day of the South Asian Bands festival, the evening at first seemed a quiet one. The line-up for the day included Barefaced Liar and Circus from Delhi, Biuret from South Korea, LRB from Bangladesh and ZnG from Bhutan.
With no entry charge for the festival, one would expect a lot of people attending, but the numbers looked scanty. Barefaced Liar opened the act and enlivened the atmosphere at Purana Qila which was lit up in warm red and pink lights. The stage was full of colours and flags of all the nations were pinned up. The band showed immense energy and eventually called their newest member Darshan who joined the band with his mesmerizing violin. By the end of their list, the crowd had woken up and had started singing and swaying in joy.
LRB from Bangladesh was next and started their list with heavy guitar-chugging. Their act included a couple of Bangla originals and they mostly did some covers of popular numbers including ‘Smoke on the Water’, ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ and ‘We Will Rock You’. They sounded a little rusty, however they managed to make the crowd jitter and shout out almost all of the songs that they played. Well done Bondhu!
The Bhutanese band ZnG was a nice change as they started out with mellow and soft music followed by some rock as well. The vocalist had a soothing touch to his voice and all the members were wearing traditional clothes which resembled the Scottish kilts.
The boys from Delhi, The Circus, jumped right after ZnG and caught everyones attention with their non-stop loops and excellent sound mixing. The band started off with their usual and popular cover of Nine Inch Nails song Wish. This was followed by their original tracks including It Feels Good When the Medications They Kick In and Bats. The crowd was loving it and surprisingly singing along to the songs.
The show took a HUGE turn when the band from South Korea, Biuret arrived at the stage. The lead vocalist was a pretty girl with long hair and a Fender guitar in hand. The crowd suddenly seemed to have doubled out of nowhere. While the band sounded like typical South-east Asian band, the act seemed to pull a lot of attention. The lead guitarist, Happy Jackson, was super enthusiastic and kept shouting the words Namaste and Dhanyabaad after every song. The band also covered well-known songs like Dancing Queen and Lady Marmalade
The performances did not disappoint. We even bumped into people who had travelled from other cities just to get a glimpse of the festival. All in all, a warm and soothing atmosphere covered the evening on the first day of the South Asian Bands festival.
By the time we made it to Purana Qila on Day 2, Stigmata, the Sri Lankan band that had started the evenings proceedings, were wrapping up their set. We were filled with anticipation, for Papon & The East India Company were playing that night, as were Strings, the melodic phenomenon from across the border. But before that, EmansConspiracy from Maldives took to the stage. Eman Thawfeeq, the bands eponymous vocalist, asked the Delhi crowd if it was ready to rock. And boy, did they rock! Right from the first track, they showed they meant business. Lots of energy, all the right moves, and a chorus with a great vibe, with a guitar solo thrown in for good measure yes, this was a good start, by any standards. The band then moved to a song about a girl called Rezna, whod allegedly been a bad, bad girl. Again, very tight, with a solid groove and catchy chorus, the song inspired much dancing and headbanging.
Oh, and did we mention that the band was not singing in English, or Hindi? Yes, all their songs are written in Dhivehi. Even though not a word was understood, a brilliant time was had, because, like Eman Thawfeeq put it after the song, you dont always need to understand the words, because music is a universal language. The conspirators then followed it up with a heavily funk-driven number, reminiscent of RHCPs Walkabout. A lazy rhythm, underpinned by fluid basslines and Sunday-afternoon-repose drums, was rounded off by a wah-pedal solo, making everyone sway. Changing gears, they moved on to a song about tickling. Yes, you read that right. And what an amazing song that was. The bass held a frenetic rhythm, as the high energy song chugged on. Every member of the band was on overdrive. The vocals holding the high notes comfortably, the twin guitar attack unceasing and on target, and the rhythm section churning out a serious groove. The song ended amid hysterical laughter from all band members. One couldnt help but marvel at the connect that the band had built up with the crowd, which was swelling by the minute. The fact that these guys are gifted musicians individually is beyond dispute. But theres more to them than that they are great performers. They traded witticisms with the crowd, acknowledged the roars of approval, and put on all the correct Rock-God poses. Swell, especially when one considers the fact that they are a fairly recent unit, having come together only in August this year for a gig. After they completed their last song, they promised to come play in India again, and we hope to see them live again. Eman, youre right, music is not restricted by barriers as inconsequential as language.
The atmosphere had built up and reached electric levels by now, and there was a deafening roar as Papon & The East India Company started their set. Over the last few years, Papon has built up a massive fanbase, and Delhi welcomed him with open arms. A small sound glitch at the beginning of the set was resolved quickly, and for the next hour, Papon & The East India Company had everyone present at Purana Qila under their spell. Khumaar was easily one of the best performances of the evening. The rapt audience hung on to every word, arms waving, singing along. This rendition was as good as, if not better than the Coke Studio version. One definitely missed Kalyan Baruah on the guitars, but Jeenti Dutta handled the guitars with equal parts aplomb and finesse. Papons mellow vocals perfectly suited the sensous song about love and longing. As the song ended amid a thousand waving arms, the only word we could come with to describe the experience was Sublime.
Up next was another Coke Studio hit, Dinae Dinae. The band played a different, faster version of the song, with Papon taking on both the Assamese and Punjabi vocals. After some banter with the crowd, Papon regaled the audience with Kyun from the soundtrack of the film Barfi, and had everyone singing along. This was followed by Tokari, from the previous season of Coke Studio. This is a traditional song from Assam, which talks about the antics of Lord Krishna. Combining the traditional vibe with modern pop and EDM sensibilities, this is a song that one cant listen to standing still. The feet move, the head bobs, and the arms trace patterns in the air, all of their own accord. Keeping to the Coke Studio theme, the next song was Tauba Tauba, a vastly improved version as compared to the one with Benny Dayal. Jiyein Kyun was another highlight, a song with so much soul. It conveyed pain, sorrow and nostalgia in a heady mix, brought to life by Papons magical voice.
Here is a man who sings from the deepest part of his heart. If you havent heard him yet, ladies and gentlemen, we urge you, please do. Deciding to infuse some frolic into the proceedings, Papon gave into the crowds demands and launched into Banao Banao. Now this song has become an anthem of sorts, with references to how green the, ahem, grass, is. Papon recounted his days in Assam, his college life in Delhi and his quest for making music. A fictional Babaji apparently espoused the virtues of grass (ahem again) as the cure for all of lifes tribulations. The gifted raconteur that he is, Papon weaved his tale as the crowd lustily sang Right Now to the Banao Banao refrain. That was to be the last song of their set, but such was the crowds demand for an encore, that the band obliged with Pak Pak, a breezy Bihu song. One felt again the universal language of music – this song was entirely in Assamese, but looking at the crowd who were lapping up the dance party and folk fest, all in one, one would never guess. Papon tutored the audience on Bihu dance moves and invited them to join him. The band deserves a special mention, seamlessly blending folk instruments with new age music and rock riffs. Birthday boy Tanmay on the drums, Kirti on various percussion instruments, Deepak on bass, Brin on keyboards and Jeenti on the guitars provided a perfect foil to Papons vocals.
It was time for the final act of the night. Having been around for years and boasting of a long list of hits under their belt, Strings really need no introduction. They have played a number of shows in India and their melodic tunes and thought-provoking lyrics have won them many admirers. Their first song of the evening was Naa Jaane Kyun, and it was followed up by the upbeat Koi Aane Waala Hai. Two things were immediately apparent in guitarist Adeel the band have a virtuoso, and Faisal seemed to be holding the vocals back for some reason. This is not to say that anything was amiss with the music that the band was dishing out. Anjaane was delivered in a new avatar, segueing into the riff of Sweet child o mine and then to Socha Hai from Rock On before ending back where it started.
Special mention must be made of Aahad, the drummer. Looking like a young Mike Portnoy, he matched the legend in terms of his energy on stage, and treated the crowd to a fantastic double bass drum solo. Adeel, meanwhile, showed his guitar prowess in every song with racy, melodic solos. Faisal took the crowd back to the yesteryears, making them sing along to Ye Dosti Hum Nahi Todenge and Jaanu Meri Jaan, altering the latters lyrics slightly to bring forth the friendship between India and Pakistan. It was a theme throughout their set, and Strings emphasised how much they appreciate the love they have received in India. Faisal, always humble, effused warmth and invited those present to visit Pakistan and partake of their hospitality. Ah! Such great ambassadors of friendship music gives us!
Yeh Hai Meri Kahaani was welcomed with a thunderous applause and given the full crowd singalong treatment. Chhaaye Chhaaye was reinvented for the stage, and the songs infectious groove insiped much dancing. Next, Bilal took on the vocal duties and sang Sar Kiye Ye Pahar which was one of Strings earliest hits in India. Weve always thought Bilal to be the better singer of the two, and he didnt disappoint at all. The eager crowd was clamouring for their favourite songs and shouting for Duur and Dhaani. Reassuring the gathering, Faisal said Itminaan rakhiye. Itni duur se aaye hain, saare gaane gaake hi jayenge. Duur was received with much cheering and singing along, and Dhaani of course, was a huge hit. This was followed by the bands introduction, with every member wowing the audience with his dexterity. After Aahads breathtaking drum solo, Khaled on the bass and Haider on the keybaords acknowledged the cheers with a display of their talent. But the showstealer was Adeel on the guitar. He played Saare Jahaan Se Achcha to wild applause and marched on to showcase some deft runs on the fretboard, putting the whammy bar to liberal use. It is a testament to the bands popularity that the crowd sang along to every song, often singing the whole verse while the duo held out the mics to them. This is a band that always touches a chord with the audience. Needless to say, we’re already looking forward to seeing them on stage again.
Day two of the South Asian bands festival was a fantastic experience and made for some great music, and sure gave some good memories to take back. Live, we always feel, is how music ought to be.
Whats in the Name was the first band to go on stage and boy they sparkled! These wacky boys (with even wackier get-ups) from Mumbai set the stage afire with their brand of straight-outta-school alt-funk-rock, albeit with an added chutzpah. Their energy was oozing out and perhaps the lead singers ankle bore the brunt when he twisted it in an awkward fall. They sang kitschy numbers like Hey Bhabhi! and finished their power packed set in half an hour. All in all, a pretty good warm up for rest of the evening.
Men from Afghanistan followed and they were called- Pardis. Inherently Persian in nature their music relied more on rhythm. They sang in Hindi too and it was an absolute delight when accompanied with their thick Pashto accent.
The crowd though was getting increasingly impatient and were vociferously cheering Al-ba-tross, Al-ba-tross, who were to perform later in the evening. We are not talking about Mumbais Albatross here. This was the band from Nepal, the most anticipated act by the crowd by far. There was still time for them to take the stage. And when Susmit Sen walked out with his band on the stage, we could sense a palpable anguish amidst the Albatross fans. Though The Chronicles were rather unperturbed and their performance was an epitome of serenity. Definitely that calmed the junta for a while. Flavours of jazz, folk and the ever organic Indian classical when blended together always work as a great therapy. This was the first time we watched the Chronicles perform after Susmit quit Indian Ocean and devoted attention fully for the solo project. Our curiosity and expectations were both satisfied and they sounded way tighter than they had before. The Chronicles are surely evolving but theres the stereotype of sounding like Indian Ocean they would certainly like to get away with soon.
Next up – Albatross. And then a mad rush ran through the crowd. This is what they have been waiting for and the sizeable Nepali contingent at the venue had revolution on their minds. They sang their lungs out, they jostled, and they moshed (even to the mellow numbers) and at times misbehaved with women too. Everything in their unbridled excitement. The ever-aggressive Delhi was out again and now wore its heart on the sleeve.
The emotions calmed down ostensibly (for the good) when the maverick from Bangalore – Raghu Dixit took the stage. He stuck to the promotion of his latest album Jag Changa much to the dismay of the crowd who demanded his more popular numbers. That was not disappointing though for we got to hear the new numbers that were equally vibrant. Raghu eventually did give in to the popular demand and ended his stellar set with Mysore Se Ayi. Which meant the curtains fell for a final time at this years TSABF. It had been truly magnificent and the mix of different types of music from all over Asia hit the right notes and honestly, this years South Asian Bands festival was been bigger, better and well organised.
Deep Chakraborty, Shubhodeep Datta and Kunal Khullar