Scribe frontman Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy looks back upon three days of music and madness at the inaugural edition of NH7 Weekender
To make the Bacardi NH7 Weekender a perfect music festival experience, the festival needs to implement two things. One, erect a huge arch at the entrance with the name so everyone knows where it is. Two, everything else should be exactly the way it was.
From December 10-12, at Koregaon Park, Pune, lay an indie music haven that through its own volition, carved a mood, a feel and a vibe that were previously unknown. The first day sparked something, the second day left you curious and oddly happy, and by the third day, every single person present could sense this was something exceptional. A new level has been attained. With four main stages and four indoor venues, the Weekender hosted over 50 crackling bands, including seven international bands.
From the first day, I could see the beginnings of an incredible energy that pulsated through the weekend that followed. It all started with Pune metallers Noiseware opening the festival at the Black Rock Arena with their 8-stringed low ends sputtering out of the PA. Since then, numerous flashes made their way in between generous gulps of scotch. A jumping Japanese Kabuki who played bass for Infernal Wrath. Cameras clicking away as I clumsily tumbled down the wings when Akshay [Rajpurohit, Scribe guitarist] and I invaded Undying Inc’s set. A moshpit on stage with members of every band that played that night when Scribe played ”˜Buddy’. Playing mock-cricket in the middle of a song. Bhayanak Maut’s ginormous performance closing the mainstage. Pentagram’s hip-hop set at the HRC; and screaming a chorus line from the audience when Vishal passed the mike to me. Drunk Demonstealer’s parking lot stand-up performance. And the final stroke before passing out in an anonymous car was aiding Aditya “Amidstya” Gopinathan from Bhayanak Maut in stealing a pillow from the artist lounge as a sign of protest. Apparently, the finger food was over. I forget all after-party experience. No matter. Papaya for hangover. Melons for mood-uplifting. On to Day Two.
Lessons from Day One: Since the festival starts at 2 pm, a hangover can be dealt with easily. Pune has the best melons and papaya in the country. Walking can make you tired.
Day Two began at The Dewarists stage with a bountiful serving of sunshine, whiskey and cushions on the grass. Airport, Ankur Tewari and the Ghalat Family and singer/songwriters at The Other Stage, a spittle away from the main stage, ensured that this grassy, cushiony, lanterny area turns into the happiest place in the universe. Hukkah smoke wafted in the air as people trickled in, soaking up the sun and having a laid-back Saturday afternoon with great music, friends and booze. Meanwhile, I prepared to perform a cameo with Swarathma who were dressed impeccably in character. The rest, as most inebriating activities ensure, was a blur. I remember a thunderous applause for Swarathma who were a delightful troupe of performers dancing, prancing and filling the landscape with colour. I also remember Susheela Raman spooking and fascinating me with all those familiar Muruga chants. I quickly scooted, now to the Wolves’ Den for BBC, Shaa’ir + Func and Pentagram. All I remember from afterwards, is waking up in my room the next day with a desperate craving for papaya and melons.
Lessons from Day Two: If one’s day is not planned, one might miss out on awesomeness and feel like a dumbass. I missed so many bands!
Day Three had all stages on full power! This was not easy, by any means. Loyalties were challenged, with so many incredible bands playing all at the same time. I chose to go see the Riot Peddlers who opened the Black Rock Arena only because I thought their gig flyer of a photocopied 100 rupee note was ingenious. I moved on to The Dewarists stage and decided to stick around because of Projekt S’s incredible sound. And then I found PINKNOISE, my favourite band of the festival – so new and so indie. Then came the one act that I held my breath in for – Asian Dub Foundation. And they didn’t disappoint. They made the ground rumble and by the middle of their set, I couldn’t remember my own name. This was the perfect act to end the perfect experience.
At the end of three days, I couldn’t feel my legs. That could well be for two reasons. I was phenomenally exhausted from all that walking between stages or I was walking above the ground. Frankly, I’m certain it’s the latter. Scribe did all sorts of shenanigans this year including unleashing our inane antics and presenting our credentials to an unsuspecting (albeit gigantic) audience in Oslo as part of the Inferno Metal Festival. But NH7 Weekender served as the most validating experience of independent music. On Day One, the entire metal fraternity started a moshpit on stage. Day Two saw Indian Ocean, Susheela Raman, Swarathma and everyone in the vicinity come together and sing in unison. And on Day Three, every single member of the indie community watched Asian Dub Foundation close the festival with a crash-boom-bang that made the whole arena dizzy.Â Everyone came together ”“ metal, rock, pop, folk, electro. Because this is for real. This is the scene, and it’s happening right now. The music is on. And the song has only just begun.