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Parvaaz Win Sennheiser Top 50, Peepal Tree and Barefaced Liar Runner-Ups

The grand finale at Mumbai’s Hard Rock Cafe Worli last night was a spectacular display of excellent music, stellar showmanship and fan frenzy

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Sep 23, 2016
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Over 1,000 people attended the grand finale at Mumbai’s Hard Rock Cafe Worli. Photo: Prashin Jagger

There’s perhaps nothing more exhilarating for a band than to play to a packed house with crowds singing along to their songs. The grand finale of the nationwide band hunt Sennheiser Top 50 saw the biggest turnout that Mumbai’s Hard Rock Cafe Worli has witnessed in recent times. Over 1,000 fans gathered to witness the top five bands of vying for the winning spot. The finalists comprised New Delhi rockers Barefaced Liar, Bengaluru psychedelic/prog band Parvaaz, pop-funk act Peepal Tree, Mumbai-based alt rock act Daira and prog rockers Symphony Novel.

The evening kicked off with an intense set by Symphony Novel, who with their distinct classical-meet-prog rock set, managed to grip the audience’s attention right off the bat. Singer Gauri Aayeer was at her showperson best, rabble-rousing the intently watching crowd and even playfully chiding them to shriek out, “Gauri, we love you.” Of the three songs that the band performed, it was their 2015 single “Ethereal Ash” that stood out — the band pulled off its dual nature of complex riffs and soothing string-laden arrangements with remarkable ease.

Peepal Tree, who played next, wooed everyone with what seems to becoming their flagship song — “Magizhchi,” their tribute to actor Rajinikanth which released this July after the band “felt the need” to express themselves upon watching the teaser of the super star’s film Kabali. They switched gears with “Roshan-E-Kaafile,” their first single which came out in 2015. The song played to Peepal Tree’s strengths — tight grooves and haunting guitar work. The band did manage to win over the judges, comprising folk artist and Bollywood playback singer Papon, veteran rocker and Indus Creed vocalist Uday Benegal and renowned recording engineer Ashish Manchanda from Flying Carpet Productions.

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Bengaluru rockers Parvaaz pose with their trophy at the grand finale of Sennheiser Top 50. Photo: Prashin Jagger

Peepal Tree’s set was followed by Parvaaz, whose performance was nothing short of breathtaking. Vocalist Khalid Ahamed’s plaintive vocals cast a spell on the young college-goer crowd that watched the band’s entire set with the rapt, disciplined attention of an operatic audience. Parvaaz performed songs off their 2014 LP Baran, such as “Roz Roz” and “Beparwah.” With their unique mix of rich lyrical content comprising Hindi, Urdu and Kashmiri underlaid with a bed of robust guitar work, it was no wonder that the band went on to win the competition.
Parvaaz’s quiet onstage charm was followed by the riot that were Daira. The rock band have amassed quite a following in the past two years thanks to their catchy tunes and vocalist Piyush Kapoor’s fiery vocal prowess. A short set at finale such as this one requires a band to play their best chops and Daira didn’t disappoint, bringing it on with songs like “Maya” and “Meri Soch” from their eponymous 2015 debut album. Their fanatic set peppered with extended multi-climactic endings witnessed a crowd full of headbangers, not a usual sight at a Hindi rock band gig. Daira’s exceptional performance raised the bar at the contest which saw another unrelenting contender putting their best music forward: Barefaced Liar held their own like the pros at Sennheiser Top 50. The Delhi band is not new to contest and their tight set was one of the most enjoyable ones of the evening.
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New Delhi rock band The Local Train played a smashing headlining set featuring both old and new material. Photo: Prashin Jagger

The grand finale was headlined by 2015 Sennheiser Top 50 winners The Local Train. The New Delhi rock band played their first show at Hard Rock Cafe Worli to a crowd that knew every lyric to all the songs from their set. Vocalist Raman Negi sure was a happy frontman with backing vocalists ranging in hundreds. The band played material from their 2015 album ‘Aalas Ka Pedh’ such as “Manzil,” “Bandey” and “Dil Mere” and tested the waters with new songs like “Khudi” (“We aren’t competing so even if sounds bad, it won’t matter!” chuckled Negi). This was followed by the “Aap Bhi Sunao” dedicated to the “old fucks who keep telling us what the fuck to do,” and the irreverent “O Ganje”, a “desh bhakti song” in tribute to a certain bald freedom fighter responsible for  partition and the subsequent communal violence.
Parvaaz emerged winners at the contest while Peepal Tree and Barefaced Liar took the runner up spots. Parvaaz bagged a two-year endorsement deal with Sennheiser, a chance to record with Flying Carpet Production and gear worth lakhs.

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