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After Acoustics Charm the Audience, Take Home $10,000 as Winners of Project Aloft Star

The Pune-based band will now compete at the South-East Asia Finals in Bangkok tomorrow

Mohan Kumar K Oct 06, 2016
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Pune-based quartet After Acoustics perform live at Project Aloft Star.

Pune-based quartet After Acoustics perform live at Project Aloft Star.

Even before the winners for the third edition of Project Aloft Star were announced, there was little doubt that the Pune-based quartet, After Acoustics had made an impact. Their cheerful brand of country rock music managed to shake up the audience more than any other band at the India-wide competition, leading to them winning the title, $10,000 in cash and a chance to compete at the South-East Asia finals in Bangkok tomorrow, October 7th. The band comprises Anurag Singh on guitars, vocals and bass drum, Akarsh Shetty on lead vocals and bass guitar, Gaurav Waghal on the keyboard with Unni Krishnan on percussion duties, and Mihir Samak dabbling with the mandolin.

That’s not to say the other bands didn’t leave an impression of their own.  While Mumbai-based band Rohit Vasudevan Diaries got the ball rolling with a tight opening set, things didn’t go as smoothly for Kochi-based acoustic rock act When Chai Met Toast. Both their songs — including the folk rock, banjo-laden track “Firefly”— were marred by sound issues that prompted one of the judges to caution the band’s sound engineer. New Delhi rapper Muhfaad delivered the closing set with his solid hip-hop grooves and evocative lyrical onslaught on par with the current underground hip-hop trends in the country. The only dampener was the performance of Rajasthani singer Abhishek Sharma and his band, which begs the question as to how the act even won a spot in the finals.

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Highlights included Rohit Vasudevan Diaries vocalist Rohit Vasudevan and drummer Saket Rao’s performance of their Hindi-rock number “Zindagi Ek Khoj,” which was their entry into the competition. Vasudevan’s pumped-up performance on guitars and vocals grooved well with the saxophone solos. Despite technical issues, the judges hailed When Chai Met Toast’s songwriting prowess and agreed that they have potential to go international. To seal the night, last year’s winner, Pune-based act Run Pussy Run, led by singer-songwriter Gowri Jayakumar busted out a funky set with tracks such as “Roaches” and “Inertia Kills”.

After Acoustics won $10,000 in cash and a chance to compete at the South-East Asia finals in Bangkok tomorrow, October 7th.

After Acoustics won $10,000 in cash and a chance to compete at the South-East Asia finals in Bangkok tomorrow, October 7th.

Before Project Aloft Star, After Acoustics had got their first break by winning the Radiocity Freedom award for their track “Meethi Chori” in 2015, followed by an appearance in Monkstar Live season 1. When it comes to their sound, the band cites British folk rock act Mumford & Sons as a big influence. “The idea for using single kick drum came from them (Mumford & Sons),” recalls Singh about his style of singing and playing the guitar while keeping time on the bass/kick drum. The band intends to pour their winnings into the production of their upcoming nine-track album titled, Another Milestone.

This year’s five finalists were shortlisted based on a round of online polling and selections by a jury comprising renowned names in the industry such as Mixtape founder Naveen Deshpande, Soumini Sridhara Paul, Vice President of Hungama Digital Media, and others. Apart from India, the project is also scouting for talent from eight countries in the Asia Pacific region, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau and Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan.

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