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Vijay Nair: ‘Weekender 2017 Twice as Bigger, to Focus on Curated Music Acts, Not Comedy’

OML might be “pulling back and rejigging things” internally but will pull no punches when it comes to its flagship music property Bacardi NH7 Weekender

David Britto Aug 03, 2017

On this year's lineup for Bacardi NH7 Weekender, OML Founder and CEO Vijay Nair says,“There is a focus on curated acts that are coming in.” Photo: Courtesy of OML

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It was in July last year that India’s premier media enterprise Only Much Louder (OML) announced the dates and headliners for the upcoming 2016 edition of their flagship music property – Bacardi NH7 Weekender. By August 5th, posters featuring artists like Steven Wilson, Anoushka Shankar and Dinosaur Pile-Up started flooding social media timelines, urging revelers to flock to the “happiest music festival” in the country.

In contrast, there’s been an unexplained delay this year. The announcement for the presale of tickets was made as late as two days ago. There has been no lineup revelation whatsoever so far and the festival­—entering its eight year—has only given out dates for two editions.

Slightly more puzzling is the fact that in the two dates revealed so far, one is referred to by its state name (Meghalaya) and the other by the city (its home ground edition in Pune). While the Meghalaya edition (previously known as the Shillong edition) will be held on October 27th and 28th, the three-day Pune edition takes place from December 8th to 10th.

OML Founder and CEO Vijay Nair says, “For Shillong we’re going to be making some announcements in the due course because that’s been by far the fastest growing festival for us among all the editions we’ve done. In terms of sheer scale and everything else compared to last year, we’re going to make it almost twice as large if not bigger.”

Reggae band The Wailers at the 2015 Shillong edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Photo: Ron Bezbaruah

The past few months have witnessed a major shake-up in the OML roster. From managing over two dozen music acts ranging from Swarathma to Sandunes till earlier this year, their artist profile now boasts five acts (Anish Sood, Ankur & The Ghalat Family, Nucleya, Dualist Inquiry and Ritviz). On the other hand, their comedy profile has expanded humongously (the company represents 31 big-name comedians such as Rohan Joshi, Mallika Dua and Kaneez Surka among others, including the successful comedy collective All India Bakchod). In an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone India in April, Nair was quoted as saying, “We are in the process of rejigging things.”

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Could this mean that the 2017 edition of Weekender would feature more comedy than music? Says Nair, “From all the acts we’ve previously had, 98 percent is music. Sometimes we have one comedy act as filler, but that’s about it. We’re not planning to bring any of that into this festival at this point. At some point of time will it expand into that, I think it’s something to kind of see in the future.”

Nair goes on to reveal that there is going to be a lot more diversity in the lineup this year, with many acts performing at the festival for the first time. He says, “There is a focus on curated acts that are coming in.”

A major makeover is also on the cards, apparently. “We’re working on reinventing the look of the festival and what the experience will be. We’re slowly trying to compete with festivals internationally as opposed to India.”

Just like in 2016, the organizers will host day-long ‘Express Editions’ in several cities this year too, the dates of which are yet to be announced. “I think we’ll do about eight express editions and two festivals, so about 10 cities all together,” says Nair

While the lineup will take a few more weeks to launch, tickets are now on sale until August 7th at an early bird price, with Meghalaya tickets selling for ₹1,299 [General] and ₹999 [Under 21] and tickets for the Pune edition are priced at ₹2500 [General] and ₹1499 [Under 21].

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Buy tickets for Bacardi NH7 Weekender here.

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