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Festival Review – Ziro Festival Of Music – Day 4

The third edition of the Ziro Festival of Music draws to a close on a high

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Anurag Tagat Sep 29, 2014
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Uday Benegal of Indus Creed | Photo Credit: Pranab Doley

It’s close to 10 pm and Indus Creed are firing all cylinders at their headline set. Their set on the Piilo stage included everything from “Bulletproof” to their new single “Thief.” With drummer Jai Row Kavi in the US, Mumbai extreme metal band Demonic Resurrection’s drummer Virendra Kaith filled in. With shouts for their hits like “Fireflies,” Indus Creed went in full nostalgia mode, with their encore including “Pretty Child” and “Top of the Rock.”

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Guitarist-vocalist Ananda Sen of The Supersonics | Photo Credit: Pranab Doley

Earlier in the day, it was difficult to imagine that over 800 people would show up for the fest. While day one’s free entry for locals worked to draw in numbers, there was a slump in turnout right up until Nagaland indie rockers We the Giants and Kolkata rockers The Supersonics took to the stage by 8 pm. Runners up at Hornbill International Rock Contest last year, We the Giants turned it up to 11 with a massive made-for-arena rock. Girls were screaming out for frontman Kevi Pucho and he gave it back when they played the math rock-leaning “Joker for You.” The Supersonics were just as flawless with their sound, the psycheledic guitars reverberating through the valley on songs like “Yeah Whatever,” “Strawberry” and “Come Around.”

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The only bands who played unmissable sets to a mostly-empty festival were Manipur band Imphal Talkies, who raised the political awareness flag with protest songs against army camps in colleges, Kolkata singer-guitarist Tajdar Junaid, who played his starry-eyed bluesy heartbroken songs off his debut album, What Colour Is Your Raindrop? And blues/jazz rock band Still Dirty, a project comprising vocalist-guitarist Jeet Thayil, bassist Tony Guinard, with special guests Shiv Ahuja on keys and vocals by Suman Sridhar. Although Thayil later told us there’s no sure word on more Sirdhar/Thayil playing in the future, they did get together to perform Sridhar/Thayil’s debut album STD.

Earlier in the day, Suman performed a solo set at the Danyii stage, using a synthesizer and loop station. Apart from the few rounds of obligatory applause, very few ‘got’ Sridhar’s set of synth, spoken word and ambient loops.

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Sridhar/Thayil performing from their debut album ‘STD’
Photo Credit: Pranab Doley

The Danyii stage also saw a low turnout, possibly because most people were leaving by the afternoon to make it to their workplace on Monday morning. The rest of the crowd, however, spread out on the grass and caught the enchanting folk of New Delhi-based Kharbi singer Warklung. Manipur’s blues veteran Guru Rewben Mashangva took over with some sunny blues and dirty, double-entendre jokes about how he loves women, even though he has a wife. The peace and love vibe worked best for the Danyii stage, where heads were either nursing hangovers or continuing to build the high. Kolkata’s Neel Adhikari even brought on his fellow scenesters from Nicholas Rixon (of acoustic duo Ifs and Buts) and Ganesh Talkies guitarist Ronodeep Bose and bassist Roheet Mukherjee, with his songs about everything from getting laid to democracy. It was no surprise to find Punajbi folk artists the Sajda Sisters seated in the front of the stage, cheering their mentor on.

With a destination festival like Ziro, which has something for everyone, the locals got a sense of music from across the country and people from outside the North East experience it like never before – right in the valley. Most of all, how many times do you hear an organizer thank the government for putting up a gig? Three years down, Ziro is steadily building its audience, but still continues to be a small-sized festival in many ways. Says organizer Bobby Hano, “It’s a destination festival first. It needs to be a bit niche in terms of audience and music because that way everyone feels special.” 

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