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Festivals To Watch Out For

Here’s our roundup of must-attend festivals across the country

Anurag Tagat Nov 21, 2014
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(right) Vieux Farka Toure will perform at Blackberrys Sharp Nights in December. Photo: Daniel Boud/Pressjunkie PR

(right) Vieux Farka Toure will perform at Blackberrys Sharp Nights in December. Photo: Daniel Boud/Pressjunkie PR

Whether you like to dance all night to the biggest house hits, laze in the sun all day while a singer-songwriter plays on or get your mosh boots on for your favorite metal band, the next five months of festivals have got your playlist covered. International artists like UK indie rock band The Vaccines, American blues pioneer Buddy Guy and electronica artist Bonobo make their India debut, while American alt rock band Mutemath and Australian prog rockers Karnivool return to the country to play in new cities. Here’s what to look out for.


November ”“ It’s the Weekend

The Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival takes place in four cities in its fifth edition all through November, featuring Mutemath, industrial metal band Fear Factory, Brit electronica artist Jon Hopkins, prog metal band Skyharbor and more, in Kolkata [November 1st and 2nd], Bengaluru [November 8th and 9th], Pune [November 21st to 23rd] and Delhi NCR [November 29th and 30th].

On the weekend of November 15th and 16th you have to choose between two fests. Season V of bike and music festival Harley Rock Riders kicks off in Mumbai featuring performances by Mutemath, hardcore band Scribe, instrumental rock band Blackstratblues experimental rock/ metal band Pangea and more and the first edition. Meanwhile in Goa, New Wave Musicfest takes off during the same weekend with Japanese pop punk band Shonen Knife, Kolkata rockers The Supersonics, Delhi psychedelic rock band Peter Cat Recording Co. and more on the lineup.

Also kicking off in November is menswear apparel brand Blackberrys Sharp Nights ”“ Masters of World Music, featuring Malian folk musician Fatoumata Diawara, and fellow Malian folk fusion guitarist and singer Vieux Farka Toure. While Diawara will be performing in Delhi [November 19th] and in Hyderabad [November 22nd]; Vieux Farka Toure performs in Pune [December 3rd], Bengaluru [December 6th] and Mumbai [December 10th]. With this one of a kind five-city world music tour, Blackberrys also brings home-grown geniuses Barmer Boys, Catharsis, Highway 61, Shoonya and Rajeev Raja Combine in respective cities and a charity fashion sequence showcasing Blackberrys AW 14 look, the proceeds of which aim to nurture Indian traditional music schools.

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December ”“ Party Down

Electronica festivals in India got a big shot in the arm last year, when Sunburn [December 27th ”“ 29th] found new competitors with the debut of Vh1 Supersonic [December 27th ”“ 30th] in Goa and Enchanted Valley Carnival [December 19th ”“ 21st] in Aamby Valley near Mumbai. This year, the three are vying for electronica fans in round two. While Sunburn is bringing down EDM’s big names such as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Australian duo Knife Party and trap music DJ Baauer, Enchanted Valley Carnival’s headline acts include David Guetta and New World Punx ”“ the EDM duo comprising DJs Ferry Corsten and Markus Schulz. Goa-goers are spoiled for choice, choosing between Sunburn and Vh1 Supersonic, headlined by EDM artists like Paul Van Dyk, American duo the Chainsmokers and Above & Beyond.

If a festival at a palace floats your boat, the second edition of the Magnetic Fields returns to Rajashthan between December 12th to 14th, hosting dream pop artist Dream Koala, UK producer My Panda Shall Fly and more. Also returning stronger this year is Johnnie Walker the Journey, and arts and culture festival which hosts electronica producer Bonobo aka Simon Green for a live set, along with American jazz/funk/pop band Snarky Puppy and more on December 13th in Mumbai.

Also showcasing some of the best talent from across the country this month is one of the biggest festivals in the North East ”” The Hornbill International Rock Contest. The annual festival is held in Kohima in the first week of December. Bands have faced tough competition over the years and also taken home the biggest cash prizes ”“ between Rs 10 to 5 lakh.


January ”“ The Great Outdoors

You’re either camping outdoors or moshing in a warehouse this month. The fourth edition of the camping and music festival Storm kicks off this month. Tentatively scheduled to take place at the end of January, the festival moved from Coorg to Bengaluru last year, but still kept its big name folk and electronica artists, from folk rockers like Swarathma and Papon & the East India Company to DJs such as Tuhin Mehta and Pearl.

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The first edition of the BIG69 Festival [January 17th and 18th] also takes place this month in Mumbai. Metal goes supersized with rap metallers Hacktivist playing alongside Italian tech-death metallers Fleshgod Apocalypse and two more international headliners. The festival season gets into fourth gear at campuses across the country with IIT Madras’s Saarang festival, with Australian prog rockers Karnivool returning to India for the third time to perform on January 10th.

Bengaluru-based folk rockers Swarathma's bassist Jishnu Dasgupta at Sula Fest in Nashik. Photo: Shrey Chauhan/Courtesy of Sula Fest

Bengaluru-based folk rockers Swarathma’s bassist Jishnu Dasgupta at Sula Fest in Nashik. Photo: Shrey Chauhan/Courtesy of Sula Fest


February ”“ Buzzed on blues

Bikers, wine lovers, adventure sports enthusiasts have February to look forward to, with the annual Sula Fest in Nashik [slated to take place in the first week of February], India Bike Week in Goa, between February 20th and 21st and the second edition of adventure sports and music festival MTV Xtreme in Delhi NCR [dates to be conf irmed], which hosted thrash metallers Megadeth as headliners in 2014. Also slated to return in mid-February is the Mahindra Blues Festival, celebrating its fifth year in 2015. With big names in blues such as Herbie Hancock, Jimmie Vaughan and the Tedeschi Trucks Band on previous lineups, this year’s confirmed artists include blues guitarist Buddy Guy, who performed at the debut edition of Mahindra Blues in 2011 and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who performed with the Tedeschi Trucks Band in India last year.


March ”“ Color Yourself Psyched

When Holi is around the corner, it’s also time for long-running Delhi-based festivals such as Holi Cow, Holiguns and Rang in early March, the North East gets its own festival, Musicblast, which is slated to take place in Guwahati. While an American metal band is being confirmed for the event, BITS Pilani, Hyderabad’s annual college festival Pearl, who brought down. Australian psychedelic rockers Wolfmother earlier this year, are expected to announce an international headliner in 2015 as well.


This article appeared in the November 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

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