Scavenger Rock Idol Shows Promise
Mizo favorite Stacy’s Penitence wins a cash prize of one lakh rupees and a recording deal
If you ask mizo artists, about the state of music in the North East, they’ll insist that it’s soccer that gets all the attention and, in some cases, government support as well. Guitarists Victor Vanlalhruaia and Boom”“ two enterprising musicians from popular local acts Scavenger and Boomarang ”“ decided to take matters in their own hands and launched a music talent hunt titled Scavenger Rock Idol last year. The first of the nation-wide series (the contest was held on a state level last year) happened last month at the Vanapa Hall in Aizawl, where over 20 bands from all over the North East battled for the title, which would get them Rs 1 lakh in cash and an opportunity to record an album. The event, sponsored by a local music store ”“ Thansanga ”“ was held over three days. Gospel music is big in the state. At the Scavenger Rock Idol Hunt, a majority of bands from Aizawl were gospel with names like Soul Serenade, The Prophets, Faith Healers and Prophecy. Special mention goes out to 13-year-old Ruatdika ”“ guitarist for Faith Healers who worked the crowd with his slick shredding. The event was closely followed by over 1 lakh people in Aizawl over a local cable channel.
A tie-up with an online radio channel, which streamed the show live, also ensured that viewers could access the show from across the world. Digital Suicide fromAssam”“ a three member pop-punk outfit ”“ stole the show on all three days and made it to the fi nals along with local favourites Stacy’s Penitence and The Prophets. The close contest was fi nally won by Stacy’s Penitence after Digital Suicide lost out on the SMS round where viewers were encouraged to send votes by SMS. The jury, apart from members of various bands also included PB Lianthangpuii, the PRO of the State Government of Mizoram, who was also part of a Seventies Beat group named Forbidden Fruit.
Finding financial support has been the biggest challenge. While the church has promoted music, it has also stopped it from being an industry because of the liquor ban. Unlike in other parts of the country where the contemporary music scene is growing with increasing marketing budgets from alcohol companies, Mizoram has no revenue model. “It’s not like alcohol is not available but if we make it legal, it could bring in money and perhaps make the music industry more profi table,” says Victor. Nagaland, another North-East state which is officially “dry”, has a Music Task Force, a government body that works to ensure that music could be a career option for Nagas. The massively successful Hornbill Festival held every year in Kohima is an example.
The Scavenger Rock Idol has all the makings of becoming a regular annual event on the Indian rock circuit map. An ease on the alcohol ban would obviously help.