The Happiest Music Festival in India” is how Vijay Nair likes to describe the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Nair is the CEO of Only Much Louder, an artiste and live music company based in Mumbai which organizes the multi-genre music festival in Pune.
“We didn’t want it to expand too much. But we’re bringing a lot of other arts into the festival,” says Nair, referring to the inclusion of an international tattoo convention and an area designated for graffiti artists at the second edition of the festival, from 18-20 November.
With the opening riffs set for the evening of 18 November, this year’s event will have more than 60 artistes converging on six stages.
Come together: The crowd at The Dewarists Stage in 2010. Photo by Shiv Ahuja.
The idea for the festival germinated during a conversation that Nair had with friends in London two years ago. They were gunning for a “Europe-like multiple stage festival” to be held in India. After months of planning, Nair decided to launch the inaugural edition last year.
“Only Much Louder approached us with the idea,” says Arvind Krishnan, director, marketing, Bacardi India, the festival’s main sponsor. “It was about putting together a fest that supported Indian music, and we jumped in.”
“This is probably the only festival where you will see the lead singer of a hardcore metal band leap on to the stage and perform with a folk band,” says Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy, a vocalist with the hardcore metal band Scribe.
This year will feature three main stages—Eristoff Wolves Den (electronica, dance), Bacardi Black Rock Arena (rock, metal) and The Dewarists Stage (folk and fusion).
Curiously, Nair says he doesn’t want the festival to be the biggest music festival in India. He simply wishes to continue offering the people what he calls a laid-back musical experience. Here’s what to expect:
Eristoff Wolves Den
Devoted exclusively to electronic and dance music, this stage will have the London-based House group Basement Jaxx as the international headliners on Day 1. Indian artistes Bay Beat Collective and BREED will take the stage on 19 November.
Imogen Heap will perform on Day 2. Photo by Jeremy Cowart.
Look out for 24-year-old Sahej Bakshi, who calls himself Dualist Inquiry. Bakshi began strumming the guitar at 9, while idolizing Joe Satriani and Rage Against the Machine. In 2005, he left for Los Angeles, US, where he studied at the Thornton School of Music, and it was there that his brand of rock-influenced electronica was born. His affinity to Indian instruments and music is not lost in the sounds he creates. “It’s Indian music,” he agrees. “It has the guitar, it is electronic, yes, but Indian sounds affect my music profoundly.”
In March 2010, Bakshi performed at the Holi Cow! Festival (Delhi), his maiden performance in the country. He released his first EP the same year.
This is the first time Bakshi will be hitting the stage at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, although he did play during an after-party at last year’s edition. He is scheduled to perform for 45 minutes on the opening day.
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Bacardi Black Rock Arena
The last few years have seen Indian audiences headbanging to the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica. This stage will offer metalheads another chance to bring the house down with Pentagram, Bhayanak Maut and Demonic Resurrection.
Scribe, a hardcore metal band which will play on the closing day, is now synonymous with the Indian metal sound. The group came together in 2005. “Looking back, we have grown into each other, and grown stronger,” says Scribe’s Krishnamoorthy. Scribe has released two albums (Confect, 2008; and Mark of Teja, 2010) and two EPs (Have Hard Will Core, 2006; and Breadcrumbs, 2009). They will release their third album at the festival in Pune.
The Dewarists, and more
The Dewarists Stage promises interesting artistic mingling. If you find fusion more palatable, then this is the stage to head for, with the multiple Grammy Award-winning Imogen Heap as its international headliner.
Indian acts such as Raghu Dixit, the folk-rock group Swarathma and Hipnotribe will also be there. Papon, whose collaboration with Midival Punditz for the Hindi film Soundtrack received ample accolades, will also bring his mix of folk-fusion to the stage.
The festival will have three more stages, which Nair calls an opportunity to showcase all those genres that get left out of the three main stages. Pepsi Dub Station will have an alternative, edgy and experimental sound, while The Other Stage will present an opportunity for amateur singer-songwriters to take over. The last stage, called Bacardi Together, is intended as a surprise package for the closing day. But read carefully, the clues are out.
Tickets are priced at Rs 750 for any one day, Rs 1,500 for Days 2 and 3, and Rs 2,000 for all three days; student tickets are Rs 999 for all three days. For details, visit www.nh7.in/weekender/