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Mood Indigo’s Livewire Skips International Headliner This Year

IIT Bombay’s long-running cultural festival, which has hosted the likes of prog bands Porcupine Tree and Karnivool in the past, sticks to Bollywood composer/singers Shaan and Pritam as headliners this year

Anurag Tagat Dec 10, 2015
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Bobin James

Steven Wilson, frontman of prog band Porcupine Tree at the 2009 edition of Mood Indigo Livewire in Mumbai. Photo by Bobin James.

For more than three decades, Livewire has been IIT Bombay’s claim to fame among up-and-coming and established bands and music fans. Hosted as part of annual cultural festival Mood Indigo since 2008, Livewire as a competition scaled up and booked international headliners. The result – everyone from prog rock band Porcupine Tree and punk rockers Simple Plan to death/doom metallers Katatonia and Australian prog rockers Karnivool made their India debut courtesy of Livewire.

This year, however, organizers have decided not to program an international headliner for Livewire. While prog rock act Neal Morse Band ft Mike Portnoy [formerly of Dream Theater] headlined the event in 2013 and Dutch symphonic metallers Epica debuted last year, this year’s headliners include just one international name – American electronica music producer Borgeous. Bollywood singer Shaan will headline Nostalgia Nite while composer Pritam will perform at Popular Nite at Mood Indigo, which takes place between December 18th and 21st. Media head Nishit Dedhia says, “The [Mood-I] team decided to provide the audiences with concerts that they can relate to better and also promote Indian music and culture.”

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The festival cites a “change in ideology,” as the main reason to skip booking an international act. Mumbai extreme metallers Demonic Resurrection, who have competed between 2000 and 2004 and eventually headlined Livewire in 2006, hope that a change in concept means more chances for Indian acts. Frontman Sahil Makhija aka Demonstealer does, however, note the importance of international headliners at Livewire. He says, “Before music festivals took off in a big way, these [college festivals] were the only places that had budgets to bring down big bands.” However, Makhija adds that this year’s arrangement might just be a one-off. He feels there’ll be plenty more European or American bands making their way courtesy of the IIT cultural festivals. “It’s a matter of prestige and accomplishment to bring an ‘international artist’… They want bragging rights of bringing an ‘international artist’ so I don’t see it changing anytime soon. If it does, maybe finally, there will be some more gigs for the local artists to headline.”

Deepak Gopalakrishnan, a 31-year-old who works at a digital agency in Mumbai and is a regular at Livewire, says he’s disappointed that there isn’t an artist matching up to the likes of Mike Portnoy jamming with Neal Morse or even Indian headliners like Benglauru rockers Thermal And A Quarter this year. “Not that I’m against homegrown music, but we have plenty of opportunities to see the best of Indian talent and Mood-I was one of the few guaranteed ways to see a good international act,” he says.

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Mood Indigo takes place at IIT Bombay between December 18th and 21st, 2015. More details here.

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