It’s the last thing you would expect from an alternative rock band, but this six-member group from Mumbai tells you in so many words to “skip the (nicotine) addiction" and avoid drunken driving. ToT—comprising Sidd Coutto, Pozy Dhar, Neil Gomes, Johan Pais, Jai Row Kavi and Gaurav Gupta, who released their sophomore album Big Big Joke earlier this month—are playing next at the sixth chapter of the Escape Festival of Arts and Music in Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand.

“We’ll play songs from our new album, next album and old album," says Coutto. “We have a lot of songs." ToT (formerly Tough on Tobacco) will play songs such as Big Big Joke, Come on Down, Happy and Love, Love, Love at the festival, which opens on Friday. Coutto explains that by the next album he means a part of Big Big Joke, which was originally designed to be a two-part album.

The three-day Escape festival will feature a mix of old and new acts. Bangalore-based indie band Thermal And A Quarter (Taaq), which started out in Bangalore 17 years ago, will take the stage on Friday, and the four-member Gravy Train, which was formed in late December, will perform on Saturday.

Street Stories.

Gravy Train vocalist Tanya Nambiar says the six-month-old band hopes to connect with other artistes at the festival as well as play to a “musically inclined audience". The band, which has performed at venues such as blueFROG in Delhi and Cocktails & Dreams, Speakeasy in Gurgaon, will play a mix of original songs and covers. Among the set is What the Hell, an original about unreciprocated love and longing. “What the hell/might as well/ get on my knees/my pretty darling I am begging you please/I know that you don’t really need me/as much as I need you/where is the love that you once had for me...And now the time is passing/and all the hope within me dying.../I don’t wanna be here," goes their song about heartbreak.


Festival director Lalrinawma Tochhawng says, “Escape is an absolute creative retreat that is home to several forms of art." What began in May 2009 as a festival with six bands playing to an audience of just 60 over two days, grew to some 4,500 visitors last year, with acts like Them Clones pulling in the crowds. The festival directors also broadened the scope of the festival to include other art forms. Tochhawng explains, “While being a music festival that promotes a melange of genres—such as jazz, blues, folk, Sufi and rock—Escape also features artists, writers, photographers, painters, graffiti artists, performance artistes, tattoo artists and potters."

There will also be screenings of short films such as Curfew (2012) by American indie artiste Shawn Christensen and artworks by the likes of fashion designer Nitin Bal Chauhan and Bangalore-based engineer-turned-artist Aakash Anand.

The Escape Festival of Arts and Music is on from 24-26 May at The Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand. Tickets, 2,500 for three days and 1,000 for a day pass, available on Click here for details.