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Festival Review: Bacardi NH7 Weekender Shillong Day 2

Rock and metal reigned over the second day of Shillong Weekender, but did Megadeth live up to the hype?

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Nabeela Shaikh Oct 27, 2015
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David Ellefson of American thrash giants Megadeth. Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

The story going around on the morning of the 24th was that a local religious body had objected to Megadeth’s performance on the second and final day of Shillong’s very first NH7 Weekender. But that didn’t stop local headbangers showing up to the fest wielding black Megadeth and Vic Rattlehead flags which they would proudly wave during the American thrash metal band’s headlining set later that evening.

Despite this fear of a cancelled headliner, Day 2 of Weekender took off on an easy note with Moto Spotlight winners Polar Lights from Dimapur performing pop rock and local Shillong rockers Dosser’s Urge playing to a happy crowd. Their act was followed by Shillong-based pop/punk trio Street Stories, who got off to a shaky start with soundcheck issues, but proceeded to play a fun, upbeat set with tracks off their EPs The Apple and the Clown and Summer Calling.

Israeli band Acollective were all sax solos and bass drops on the Jack & Jones stage with their eclectic rock-meets-country-meets-jazz-meets-electronica sound. On their tracks “Whisky Eyes” and “OTM,” the seven-piece project featured harmonica along with synth sounds, making them sound like Mumford and Sons in electronica overdrive.

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Skrat frontman Sriram TT “bringing out the guns” at the Bacardi Arena . Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

Back at the Bacardi Arena, which continued to run late by 30 minutes for the rest of the day, Chennai garage rock band Skrat were still midway through their set, performing some of their most feisty tracks like “Bring Out the Guns” and “Machete.” Every now and then vocalist Sriram T.T occasionally gushed about how the band loves Shillong and that this edition of Weekender was the largest stage they had ever played. The trio ended with perhaps the most popular track of their discography, “The Queen,” as they made way for Guwahati rock band Lucid Recess.

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A three-member alt-rock band, Lucid Recess recently released their third album Alive and Aware. At the festival, the band had a modest crowd of local fans chanting out their name even before they began playing. The cheers continued even as they kicked off their set with the anthemic song “Socially Active Warrior.” Although sound issues plagued the band’s set more often than not, the band made their way through tracks like “Changes are Sold” and “Wireless Junkies.”

Simultaneously, Mumbai-based blues giants Blackstratblues took stage back at the Jack & Jones All Star Jamm stage, bringing their signature bluesy brightness on tracks like “Ode to a Sunny Day” and “E Major Blues” despite the thinning audience. The majority of the crowd had gathered to cheer on Delhi metal act Undying Inc’s set at the Bacardi Arena which began at around the same time. The band’s 40-minute set by the groove/thrash metallers witnessed some heavy headbanging.

With no spoken introduction, Mumbai-based instrumental metal band Pangea went on at the Moto Spotlight soon after, as part of the last stop of their Gliding Tour. The five-piece band [which included Jai Row Kavi who had performed in the previous slot as part of Blackstratblues] sounded massive and managed to hold a growing crowd throughout their performance.

Known to raise hell at their live shows, Mumbai metallers Bhayanak Maut did not fail to deliver as they blasted out tracks from their most recent release Man [2014], setting the tone for Megadeth later in the evening. At the same time, Delhi-based music producer Nucleya kicked up his own dance riot with tracks off his new album Bass Rani at the Breezer Beat Camp leading up to the audience invading the stage.

Delhi-based music producer Nucleya

Delhi-based music producer Nucleya. Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

Mumbai’s biggest hardcore export Scribe made their first North-East appearance after the lineup change at the Moto Spotlight stage, with vocalists Siddharth Basrur and Viraaj Saxena regularly instigating walls of death: “Delicate people, get out of the way. This is going to get ugly,” warned Basrur. With the arena now almost full in anticipation of the headlining act, Scribe drew in one of the biggest audiences of the night, and even won them over with their improvisation of “I Love Pav Bhaji.” Mid-way through the song, Basrur stopped and said, “Wait wait wait. We’re not going to say pav bhaji, because I don’t think y’all eat pav bhaji here, right?” and proceeded to close their set with “I looooove dohsniang!” referring to the local Khasi dish.

Drummer Chris Adler performing as part of the new Megadeth lineup at the Bacardi Arena. Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

Drummer Chris Adler performing as part of  Megadeth’s new lineup at the Bacardi Arena. Photo by Ron Bezbaruah.

Soon after, the area surrounding the Bacardi Arena started teeming with eager fans awaiting the headlining act by Americam thrash metal icons Megadeth. However, technical issues kept springing up even as the band performed classics like “Tornado of Souls,” “Peace Sells” and “Symphony of Destruction.” A barely audible Dave Mustaine seemed less than enthusiastic to perform to an audience of almost 10,000, the biggest turnout the festival had witnessed. However, his new bandmates ”“ guitarist guitarist Kiko Loureiro and drummer Chris Adler — looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage. The band might have closed their set with the breakneck “Holy Wars,” but overall, their much-hyped headlining act at the debut edition of NH7 Weekender Shillong was quite underwhelming.

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