Tag Archives: Vishal Dadlani

Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Rao on Farout Media and ‘Mutant Macha’

Share

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, Music Publishing and Talent Development Company Farout Media has created a new song ‘Mutant Macha’ and licensed it to Star Movies for the television premiere of X-Men: Days of the Future Past on 19th April, 2015. The song ‘Mutant Macha’ is a collaborative effort between Farhan Akhtar, Vishal Dadlani and Chennai-based band Skrat. 

We spoke to Farhan Akhtar and Anurag Rao, founders of Farout Media about ‘Mutant Macha’ and the other interesting projects they have lined up this year!

WTS: Tell us about Farout Media and the vision of the company with respect to contributing to the indie scene. 

Anurag: Farout Media is a start-up focused on music publishing, music and its IP management and a talent development company formed by Farhan and me. We’re incubating multiple ways of creating and enabling artist-centric independent music, which creates new avenues of distribution, monetization and promotions.

Farhan: There are three aspects to the business model : Talent Development, Music Licensing and Content Monetization. Our vision is global and reflective in the partnerships we have created so far. The founding team of Farout Media brings about very successful media entrepreneurs and diverse experiences.

WTS: Can you give us more details on how you intend to bring indie artists from India into the mainstream and monetize content?

Anurag: Through music innovations, it’s monetization and Cross Media Partnerships (TV, Film, Advertising, Sports and Digital). In the case of ‘Mutant Macha’ we pre-sold 100,000 digital music downloads and created a new revenue stream for the content.

Farhan: At the incubation stage of the company we are narrowly focused on a specific skill set in musicians i.e. singer-songwriters and performers. Our efforts are to drive this aspect and infuse it with large global partnerships which leads to the monetization aspect. We firmly believe that in the changing landscape of the music business, pre-sale of content is the best way to monetize independent content or rather new music works that are yet to be released. Hence, we bundle Artist Association, Artist Engagement, New Musical Works in Brand Marketing Partnerships and Corporate Social Campaigns.  A component of that is pre-paid music in the commercial transactions.

Two campaigns have gone out so far: ‘Chulein Aasman’ (a song illustrating Gender Equality) in partnership with Google’s HWGO Campaign and ‘Mutant Macha’ (a song about finding the ultimate hero) in partnership with Star Movies’ X-Men Days of the Future Past TV Premier.

The second aspect of monetization is Music Licensing across the existing retail of music, for which we have a partnership with Times Music. Our music is available globally and across the main platforms of music consumption – iTunes, Spotify, You Tube, Facebook or local majors Gaana, Saavn etc.

And, the third aspect of packaging this to main stream is bringing in unique artist collaborations within our talent roster and breaking indie musicians through co-creation of new musical works with successful and mainstream musicians or talent.

WTS: Tell us more about ‘Mutant Macha’. How did the collaboration with Skrat and Vishal Dadlani come about? 

Anurag: Mutant happened after we created a ‘Music Synchronisation’ opportunity with Star Movies around their On-Air Programming.

Farhan: Anurag played me Skrat’s Music and I really liked their sound. They seemed apt for this project and Vishal Dadlani agreed to participate as a Co-Writer and Curator. This lead us to the studio session and creation of ‘Mutant Macha’.

WTS: What made you pick Skrat over other Indie bands for this particular project? What was it like working with the band?

Anurag: Skrat is a very talented band from Chennai and both Farhan Akhtar and Vishal Dadlani love their music.

Farhan: Skrat’s music demonstrates a great understanding of Progressive Rock. Sriram is an extremely talented singer-songwriter. As a 3-member band they are kickass, Sriram’s guitar riffs come screaming out loud. The best part about Skrat is that they won’t compromise on their integrity for anything, that’s why they make such brilliant music.

WTS: Is ‘Mutant Macha’  part of a series of song and music videos you are making for Star Movies?

Anurag: This is a beginning of a new relationship with Star Movies and we will continue to build music innovations from here.

Farhan: This is the first opportunity and yes we are discussing more creative collaborations which help everyone in the value chain.

WTS: What is your opinion about the absence of indie artists in film music? It is incredibly hard to find music by any musicians and singers from the indie scene that is part of a film soundtrack. Do you have any plans of making this happen?

Farhan: There are two dynamics of the film soundtrack that are changing – we have more bands and performers composing music now and each work of film is Indie in itself, if you think about it. The musical work is unique and never heard before.

We believe with the growth of Music Publishing side of the Business, licensing musical works is not too far, in fact, it is already happening in many cases and it will continue to grow. At Farout Media, we are in conversation with multiple movie studios to work on such assignments.  One part of Farout Media’s Music DNA is being a Music Publisher as well.

Anurag: The industry at this stage is dominated by Bollywood and as a musician, one needs to be networked with powerful and influential people, to get the music heard. At the same time there is a lack of Music Supervisors and A&R skill-set who can connect the dots between the music projects – new music and artists.

The film music OST is changing as well, music is being made with various artists and licensed musical works are becoming hit songs. Our effort is to take the new music and emerging talent and amplify them across multiple media consumption platforms.

WTS: What other interesting projects do you have lined up in the near future?

Farhan: We are working on multiple artist collaborations and artist-fan direct connections and will share that information over time.

Anurag: Our current focus is on couple of things : unique artist collaborations, artist-fan engagement models, indie works monetization models, global presence, strategic and scalable partnerships and amplifying the MARD initiative through creativity. Projects are subset of this direction of the company and we believe with every opportunity we create and make visible in the market place, the universe of music business gets a positive impact.

The interesting part is to make contributions in the changing landscape of the music business and the new music industry formation. We are making a contribution in safeguarding the interests of the talent, their fans and our partners in the value chain that includes the existing record labels, broadcast, digital and social eco-systems.

WTS: Which other bands and musicians are you keen on working with next?

AnuragWe are working with multiple songwriters and composers, creating collaborations between the emerging and established artists.  Sunidhi Chauhan, SEL, Ram Sampath, Raghu Dixit, The F16’s, Indus Creed, Shruti Haasan, Lesle Lewis, Sparsh, Shaair n Func are a few names I’m keen on working with.

Comment

NH7 Weekender Line Up Announced

Share

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.

Comment

NH7 Weekender’s Long Awaited Debut In Kolkata

Share

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

Comment

Pentagram at CounterCulture, Bangalore

Share
Comment

Tough on Tobacco’s Big Big Joke album launch at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

Share

On the 15th of May, somewhere in Mumbai a bunch of doctors successfully performed a rare heart operation, construction work came to halt, and Mahesh Bhatt noticed that Sanjay Dutt had been crying. Away from all of this, within the stylistic confines of The Blue Frog, a hundred or so people grooved as if in a trance. Mumbai based band, Tough on Tobacco had transported its audience from the usual laptrap of the city, into the world of funk, reggae, rock and eccentricity.

The band was launching their second album Big Big Joke with a gig at the Frog that night and they started off their set with ‘College of Life’. The catchy intro on rhythm proved to be the perfect crowd puller and by the time the band moved on to their next song ‘Come On Down’, the crowd really had come down. The only setback was the backing vox which could hardly be heard through the mix. The reggae, funk styled song had most of the house on their feet.

The band then moved on to ‘Rock N Roll Party’. The chirpy upbeat tempo alternating with a headbang-worthy beat proved to be a rare treat for the audience. The crowd jumped and nodded their heads to the unabashed rhythm of this energy avalanche and appreciated it with a generous amount of hooting. This was followed by the song ‘Dog’ that saw Jai Row Kavi go crazy on his drum-set and ‘Door’ with Gaurav Gupta on vocals for the intro.

“This is a song about you”, said Sidd Coutto before beginning with the band’s next song, ‘Wonder’. The song was magic combined with the effect of the blue gobo-filtered lights and caught the audience spellbound. It was the perfect build-up required to play ‘Happy’ which seemed to completely consume the audience in a sort of musical hug. The first half was given the perfect end with the song ‘Alone’, which was a crowd favourite.

Sidd Coutto finally took a break from his robo-hipster influenced stage antics and got down to talking about their new album. ToT’s second album was being launched after a hiatus of four years, he said. The projection screens started to drop down as the band announced “Watch this video about the making of the album and the album art.”

What ensued was an absolute cracker. The people in the audience were beside themselves with laughter as they saw Jai(aunty) pointing disgustedly with an “eeee” at her daughter(Johan Pais) as she(he) spitted food out. The video captured this being repeated around four times in order to capture the perfect shot.  Jai(aunty), was clearly the crowd’s favourite for the night with a stride and pitch that was very much stereotypically lady-like and actions that were not at all. The video was a piece of marketing wizardry with five humorous lads/band mates/family members trying to tickle every bone in your body.

Then video ended, the screen was lifted up and ToT dived straight into the first song from their new album, ‘Do What You Gotta Do.’ It’s not really new material since the band has been playing songs from its second album before official release since 2010. The song, ‘Yahweh’, came next and like its predecessor saw many in the audience singing along with the chorus. The third song from Big Big Joke was ‘Follow Your Dreams’. Sidd Coutto is perhaps one of the few front men out there who don’t look down upon their audience from above stage. Whether he is singing about following your dreams or singing about how happy it has made him to do so, the lyrics can be seen reflected on his face as emotions. Raw and real, just as he is. It’s probably this very quality that enables Coutto to engage a viewer and truly be able to move them.

Songs ‘Ordinary’, with Gaurav on the lead vocals and ‘Big Big Joke’, the title track, were played in quick succession. The soft mellow tunes were like a sweet balm, add to this Pozy Dhar’s sweeping solos, and you have a very happy audience. Rock ballad ‘Love Love Love’ followed by ‘Blow Yourself Away’ were the highlights of the night in terms of Coutto’s dramatics. The band members were grinning playfully at each other and making comical faces. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves on stage.  Midway through ‘Blow Yourself Away’, Coutto introduced the band in his typical sing-song manner.

The set, as usual, was ended with a hot favourite ‘Smoke Some Ganja’ with a guest appearance by Tracy Pais, wife of Johan Pais. Coutto called her on stage to celebrate her birthday. Jai Row Kavi is handed a mic and Tracy and him work out a funny on-the-spot Marathi improvisation laced with nonsensical exclamations and animated voices that has the audience rolling on the floor, laughing. Then the song reached its climax and the audience and band members went crazy in unison jumping and dancing to the upbeat second half of ‘Smoke Some Ganja’. The song ended too soon and the band was already packing up as Sidd thanked the audience and briefly explained where one can get access to the download codes.

Among the audience that seemed to be coping with what looked like withdrawal symptoms after having consumed some very addictive tunes, one could see many celebrities from the Indian independent music scene. There was Vishal Dadlani, Karsh Kale, Gino Banks, Vinayak Pol, Warren Mendonsa , Bobby Talwar, Rohit  Pereira, Akshay Rajpurohit to name a few. As the show concluded, they all had one thing in common as did everyone else in Blue Frog.  Smiles of contentment.

Drashti Thakkar

Drashti Thakkar is a Mumbai based writer, a freelance drummer and loves working with lights for live gigs. Her idea of an epiphany is anything that gets through while reading the IPC. Her idea of a good time is a ride on the bike. No, She don't drive.

Comment

Pentagram at The High Spirits, Pune

Share

Shrey Chauhan

Shrey Chauhan is a dreamer. When he's not sleeping or eating, he loves taking photographs and sometimes writing his heart out.

Comment

Pentagram at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

Share

Pentagram, the four-piece techno rock band from Mumbai is currently promoting their latest album Bloodywood in HRCs throughout India as part of their Album Launch Tour. They played HRC Bangalore to a sizable crowd of around 200 people on 7th April 2011.

Pentagram, as I reckon, make music to appease two kinds of audience that stand at two extreme ends of the musical spectrum. The first: cool, hep, Armin Van Buuren worshiping, club-going kids. The second kind: average hard rock enthusiasts. However, the problem and a huge one at that is, they do not play two separate genre songs to these two kinds. Instead they play a hybrid mixture of music trying to please all kinds of music enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts in a unary attempt. Their music can be categorized as – heavy dose of sampled techno beats combined with hard hitting guitar riffs mixed terribly with rather surprisingly brilliant vocals rock.

Frankly, the tag techno/electro rock was the reason I never bought their music or listened to it. However, the fact that they (the lead vocalist Vishal and his partner Shekhar) have been working in the Indian music industry for more than a decade now and the band cuts a new album titled Bloodywood generated a kind of curiosity to check them out. Were they mocking the kind of music the lead vocalist produced with his partner for the Indian film industry in the past? Were they now disowning their legacy of “cool” and “hep” club music with that kind of a title? Or were they making the same kind of music they have been making but naming the album Bloodywood as just a juvenile attempt at word play? One way to find out -attend the gig. Attend I did and I wasn’t much too pleased with most of the setlist.

They started off with a rather brilliant hard rock number with strong elements of South Indian commercial music ‘Tomorrow’s Decided’ off their new album which sounded devoid of their usual electro beats. But the pre-recorded/generated beats were later the major ingredients in the remainder of the tracks for the night.

Pentagram, let me be frank, are brilliant in two departments: vocals (more than perfect for a hard rock group) and guitar riffs (melodious yet pretty hard). The disappointing element that spoils their efforts is the inclusion of techno and house influences. I am sure they have a following, every band has its following and Pentagram having been around for long in the scene is no less, however, I do not find them aesthetically rich enough to please musical senses of a person out there to feel, experience and absorb.

Also, like many mature bands, they know their strengths. They know when they’ve made a good song. They know the crowd pleasing tracks. They know what stage performance actually is. They know a lot about performance and music making compared to the bands that we have in India currently. They went on to play ‘Tomorrow’s Decided’ a second time without even an encore because it’s a bloody brilliant track. However, the rest of their tracks not so. You may jump and gyrate and scream under the influence of the ambience and alcohol. But that’s that. At the end of the day, it’d be just be another gig like going to a club and listening to repetitive electro beats. Your senses crave for something hard, yes, heavy, hell yeah, but also sensual.

Comment