The Pune edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender Festival delivered what the schedule promised. Almost.
This was a great year for Weekender rookies. Most Weekender regulars (those who have attended at least two editions) knew exactly what they had signed up for as far as the lineup was concerned. Some of us were even talking about how the music wasn’t going to be the biggest draw for us this year and we were going back for sheer nostalgia value ”“ the sprawling Laxmi Lawns was the venue for the second edition of the festival in 2011.
So for me, of the 60-odd artists who performed at the fest, the highlight was reggae metal band Skindred and I wish I’d watched their show from start to finish. I also wished the sound at the Red Bull Tour Bus stage were better. Two sets that I was really looking forward to ”“Â Kolkata artist Tajdar Junaid and The Supersonics ”“ were on this stage and both were set back by poor sound.
The Other Stage would have been perfect for upcoming bands from across the country. The F16’s and BLEK are definitely not headlining acts but they would have fit right here. Of course, I would have been pleased with nothing less than at least two new bands from the North East on this stage (It was on the same stage that I watched Akhu Chingangbam of The Imphal Talkies perform for the first time. This was back in 2011.) but was thoroughly impressed with singer Suman Sridhar’s set. It was experimental for sure but this is exactly what a stage named The Other Stage is meant for – a set that hits right out of the park. For the first time, I got a sense of drummer Jivraj Singh’s potential. Jiver played some really impressive grooves in odd time signatures, improvising all along to Suman’s spoken word and singing.
The Dewarists stage has always been a favorite, but old timers like me are looking for new hooks. Big hitters such as The Raghu Dixit Project had performed a set packed with guests at venues across the country last year, and the novelty of collaborations had already worn off even if the group was debuting their much-awaited second album, Jag Changa. But it was only recently that I heard about someone who discovered Raghu at the festival this year and couldn’t stop telling me how much she loved the band. This was in fact second-hand information from the new TRDP fan’s mother, and I know that the whole family will set out for Weekender next year.Â Several friends, who had returned to the fest after attending it for the first time last year, told me that their experience was as memorable this year, and those who walked into Laxmi Lawns for the first time raved about the time they had. Artists couldn’t stop chanting “epic” and “awesome,” but I’m not counting those votes.
I had high expectations from the NH7 All Stars finale, which I hoped would be the standout performance of the fest, but only made me wish that I’d left early. Karsh Kale, as much as I admire his ability to put together massive jams such as this one, needed to bring in crowd pleasers on this one ”“ a set like this one couldn’t ride on “Get Lucky” alone.
We’ll be back next year. If for nothing else, then for the good ’ol vibe.
View photos from Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2013 in Pune below
Photos: Prashin Jagger