Festival Review: Control Alt Delete 10
The 10th edition of the crowdfunded gig series’ something-for-everyone gamble paid off, with established and emerging artists on each stage pulling their own weight
On a weekend crowded by other majorly backed festivals, Control Alt Delete proved it was an indie brand like few others. With five stages across two days (and three running simultaneously after 6 pm) and over Rs 4.5 lakhs raised online by the end of the super-sized festival edition, the crowdfunded show featured an equal amount of excitement from both artist and audience.
The proving ground? The deep-within Roaring Farm, which fit the aesthetic of each stage quite well – from the breezy lakeside singer-songwriter stage on day one (which went from the calm of singer-songwriters such as Ramya Pothuri, Zoya, Nush Lewis to the somewhat amped-up indie rock of Jishnu Guha aka Short Round’s band) to the torch-lined metal stage, which actually had a stage and a pit, just in case any moshers needed indication.
The Capital Invasion
Featuring eight performing acts from New Delhi, Control Alt Delete lent their stage to the rarely-seen artists such as dominating electro-rock act Karajimo, festival highlight and instrumental rock band Zokova, post-rock trio Ioish all in succession at the alternative stage on day one (whose vibe completely changed with the happy soft-psych rock of Kolkata act The Ritornellos). Meanwhile, the live electronica stage featured the eclectic Komorebi.
On day two, the alternative stage kicked off with the percussive guitar-skilled string-breaking, awkward joke-making Dhruv Visvanath, featured the dance rock of Mosko and closed with experimental rockers The Circus’ incendiary set spanning their three albums, where just prior both vocalist Abhishek Bhatia and drummer Anshul Lall were on the live electronica stage, Curtain Blue making people move.
The only thing CAD didn’t get down from the capital were any metal or hip-hop artists. Despite that, it was a heavy-hitter lineup that drew possibly the highest crowd on day one, featuring the straight-up thrash metal of Carnage Inc., the two-piece gigantic sludge of Bengaluru act Shepherd and Mumbai favorites in Thiruvananthapuram thrash masters Chaos slamming through with groovy and varied tempos, picking songs old and new and a cover of Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell,” which they said they’re now retiring from the set, in preparation for the launch of their second album All Against All.
Day one closed with the impeccable Demonic Resurrection, performing new songs such as “Matsya – The Fish” and “Buddha – The Teacher” off their upcoming album Dashavatar, nailing their new live show like never before.
It was a similar pattern on day two for metal, taking to more technical metal, including the somewhat muddled but brutal performances by Mumbai band Killibrium and Bengaluru act Orchid, while seasoned thrash band Sceptre sought to prove just how much the city loves its thrash. Ending proceedings were Shillong death metallers Plague Throat, delivering that faultless set featuring tracks off their just-released debut full-length The Human Paradox, even inviting DR guitarist Nishith Hegde on for a guest solo.
Hip-Hop Rides High
As soon as you walked through the gate on day two, there was an air of raucous energy already flowing, with rapper Emiway commanding the crowd of hardcore fans from the gullies of Mumbai, who were singing along to even the fastest, sickest bars. By the end of it, the hip-hop stage by the football practice nets became an afternoon party like no other – Ganpati songs, police escapades and superfast freestyling from Emiway, Mumbai crews Dopeadelicz and Swadesi took the reigns and became instant superstars, introducing new rappers such as 100 RBH, who had come to throw down verses from Amravati.
If you needed any more indication of why rap is exploding, it was here at Control Alt Delete. They were giving an outlet to everything, from partying to poverty and struggle. That included Mumbai rapper Enkore’s live band, Mumbai’s Finest getting their own crowd and Shillong act Khasi Bloodz setting the stage aflame.
It seemed like a free-for-all at times, when artists at different stages were just expected to draw their own crowd. While that worked for the most part, it’s not how CAD used to run the show – considering they had a single venue on a single day, with a straight flow of artists, none of whom you’d miss unless you showed up late. In the melee of running around on the dirt and occasionally hanging by the food trucks or petting dogs for a stall setup by an animal welfare charity, there were a few tough decisions to be made about which artist needs an ear, especially by the end of the show, between the trio blues of Make the Scene to prog jams from The Family Cheese.
Everybody was at every stage. The metalheads wearing Chaos T-shirts settled down in front for singer-songwriters, the hip-hop crews gathered around for the likes of Mumbai rockers Gumbal and later, closing off the festival, Chennai electro duo Sapta. That’s a unifying force for you, something that no other multi-genre festivals still hadn’t got a hang of. Until now, that is.
Photos: Prashin Jagger