by Devanjali Banerjee and Srijon Mukherjee
Srijon: *hands quivering because is initiating experimental article*
S: So this year’s Weekender. I remember not being sure what to think about it before going this year, cause the bands called in this year were pretty different from the lineup last year. Now, before we get into that, let’s all go for a short intro about the festival? You know, protocol.
Devanjali: Of course, hand over protocol duty to the law student. Verrrry naice. *borat-esque*
But I must say, music festivals are a new thing for India- we have a pretty nascent indie scene.
The Indian indie scene is this small incestuous community of scattered artists who tend to come together only in case of national music festivals like Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Also, I gently weep as I say this, but music festivals in India are mostly limited to local gigs in the few metropolitan cities that are knee deep in enough moolah and enough leisure-time to actually be in a position to go and spend said money. So that’s mainly Delhi, Bombay, Pune and Bangalore. Calcutta barely figures on that list. And the only oasis of big-budget festivals in the musically-arid desert that is Calcutta, is Weekender.
S: Aaand the law student delivers. Yes, now about the NH7 Weekender…
D: *interrupts because pushy lawyer*
It was kinda like an anti-climax, wasn’t it? Like abhi Weekender-gasm hoga hoga, okay no Weekender-gasm. Right.
S: *laughs because sexual pun was very effective*
Yes, I get your point. However, I did get some sort of ‘Weekender-gasm’ during the The Wailers concert, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but yes, compared to last year, this year was pretty mellow.
I may have danced and had a good time, but last year I remember, there was constant ringing in my ears, and a voice in my head telling me I was at home. This year? Eh, home could be a little more chirpier. *shrugs*
D: Amen to that. But The Wailers. Damn. Although a mutual friend termed their performance as “crude fan-service” and “basically just a cover band", they did manage to push all the right buttons. I remember thinking that if they played 'Buffalo Soldier', I would cry- and they did, and so did I. I didn’t expect the vocalist to have such energy and charisma. What I’m trying to say is...they really owned the stage that night and sue me for saying this (don’t- I’ll counter-sue you) but I could have sworn I could see Jamaica if I opened my eyes while that number was on.
S: Well. I see why they can be called a ‘cover band’ but truth be told, while I always value OCs over covers, when I heard about The Wailers performing I got excited BECAUSE of the covers. I mean, this is reggae, and while they’re not Bob Marley, they’re the closest we’ll ever get to Bob Marley, right? And damn, the crowd danced to their songs, almost involuntarily, like it was their last day on this planet. Hell, I don’t remember the lead asking the crowd to dance even once.
Now, another certain reggae band, however, didn’t just ask you to dance, they literally made you dance on their terms.
Well, no need to be politically correct now. The Reggae Rajahs WERE crap. And to paraphrase something Noel Gallagher (don’t kill me for this) had to say about Alex Turner - the Reggae Rajahs look good but I’ve got a cat that’s more reggae than all of them put together. They literally NEED that royal adjective in their name to compensate for the terrible fake accent and dance moves they force on to unwilling audiences.
S: *rolls eyes into back of head*
Oh yes. I remember standing there, and wondering about their accent. It sounded like an Indian trying to fake a rap accent. Rap accent mind you, not reggae. If you’re going to fake an accent, why not do it properly instead of half assing it? Then they stopped the music and started the Zumba classes. If you made me listen to an audio of their performance, and asked me to guess the connection between their band name and music, I probably would’ve said that they were rich-as-fuck rajahs (royal brats) who decided to try and be reggae by buying out Jamaica and then doing whatever they wanted to.
D: You gotta be hella rich to pull that kind of shit off and be invited to Weekender….
But wasn’t it really ass-holey of Weekender to slot Shaai’r and Func in the same slot as The Wailers? Like no one went, I think. Oh, but headliners aside, there were so many small acts that were so good and so underrated.
S: *Slyly ignores comment about Shaai’r and Func because he didn’t care too much about them to miss them, well, he did last year, cause he had a crush on Monica Dogra, but the music disappointed him*
*He’s a pretty deep guy*
*Srijon for president*
D: Please stop we have an article to write
S: Oh yes. Neel And The Lightbulbs put up a really fun and groovy show. Nothing like sweet and perfect indie rock’n’roll to start off a music event, right?
S: And oh my, Parvaaz was an absolute beauty, I remember, I hadn’t heard of them before, and hadn’t even considered watching them. I was all set to visit another stage for Prateek Kuhad, but then they started playing on a stage near them, and I couldn’t move. Watched the entire show, loved the vocals, the jams, everything. They pulled in quite a crowd too!
But that’s what saddened me the most, I guess. The lack of variety in the acts this time was quite a let-down - especially for those who are new to the indie scene. My first Weekender was the one in 2014 and I remember being shocked by the sheer number of acts I’d never heard of. It made me ecstatic to run around discovering new kinds of music and whole cultures with them. So back to my rant - it’s indie for god’s sake, you need to invite as many acts as possible. Do you agree or are you still raving about The Wailers?
S: *I wanna love you, everyday and every night..*
Oh yes, done a long time ago, obviously.
Umm, anyway, yes, of course I agree. I remember last year, I had three separate groups of friends to hang out with, and I ended up running around alone, trying to check out all the bands playing, cause I’d never heard most of them and it was exhilarating, discovering new favorite bands right on the spot. I felt like a kid brought to a wholesale store for the very first time in his life, and told to try out all the toys.
I missed that a lot, this year.
Anyway, Parikrama and Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate were huge successes, weren’t they? Parikrama owned the stage and showed us why they’re so loved in this country, and Baiju Dharmajan...well, never seen anyone utilize Carnatic scales so simply and proficiently.
S: We also saw two hugely popular vernacular acts this time, Papon and Kailash Kher, what’d you think about them?
D: Woah, how elitist, Srijon. “Vernacular”, indeed.
*Srijon looks around for a Starbucks so he can sip it stylishly, doesn’t find any because Calcutta has like one CCD, thus decides to let the jab pass*
Well, I thought Kailash Kher was quite the crowd-pleaser. His live performance lacked a bit of luster and the ten minutes of his show that I did see, turned out to be one where he brought up a long line of PYTs and made them sing-after which he proceeded to hug them. So, I wasn’t too impressed - forgive me for hasty generalisation.
I loved Baiju though-I had never seen that kind of fusion music before and I loved it. Parikrama was great, as usual. Quite a tight set there.
Oh! And Papon was quite good. Loved the folk numbers - Assamese, they were, weren’t they? He does have a very soulful voice and I DID NOT expect a bromance jam session with him and The Wailers. It was really impromptu the way the lead was like, “Hey, that’s my friend Papon in the front. Come on up and sing for us!” And damn, did he.
S: Well, yes. I’ve never liked his music much, it’s not really the type I listen to.
It’s the same for Papon too, but I have to say, he put up a great show. The audience went crazy with him, and I had a good time. Also, he exceeded his playing time by at least ten minutes.
Funny thing actually, the act following him, Nicholson, was an act I was really looking forward to, which is why I was standing near his stage, just opposite to Papon’s, because I wanted to be in the front. They were all so visibly irritated, they kept getting ready and taking their positions thinking Papon would finish, but then he turned out to be the perfect troll, repeatedly breaking out into extended jam sessions, everytime the song seemed like it was coming to an end.
The conspiracy theorist in me likes to think that he did it on purpose, because of some argument they had when they met. Damn. That’d be pretty amusing, wouldn’t it.
D: Nicholson is so cute,though. Really, REALLY cute.
D: Well, I thought he had a really great minimalist set up-too bad the venue was so badly organised that the bass from a metal band in a nearby stage kept filtering in. But all said and done, I loved his set although it was riddled with technical difficulties. But hey, those same difficulties allowed us to witness an impromptu rendition of ‘Bad Man’, which was more like spoken word poetry than music, but was beautiful all the same.
Speaking of mellow, what did you think of our very own PINKNOISE and Nischay Parekh?
S: Ah, yes Nicholson. The whole time he played, I stood at the front, watching him, and wondering if it could be possible that he did a Robert Johnson (Popular blues reference made, 10 points to Srijon) ,because that falsetto was out of this world. (The temptation to write ‘dat’ was really strong, but hey, Srijon for president)
Nischay Parekh was really good. Very simple and cute (if you can call it that) songwriting, and played perfectly well. All topped with a lovely voice, almost made for indie music. Also, Jivraj Singh-
D: *cuts in*
Fun fact, Jayashree, lead of PINKNOISE, is Jivraj’s very own mum - the genes in that family OMG-
S: *visibly irritated*
Like I was saying - Jivraj was the drummer associated with him and he did a swell job.
He incorporated pretty complicated beats, and made it look really easy.
PINKNOISE, I have to say, is a very talented band. Jivraj Singh as drummer, Jayashree Singh, the woman with the killer vibrato as singer, and the great Amyt Datta as guitarist. Very very talented band and they’re perfect live. Now,while I couldn’t enjoy their music too much, because well, I found their music a little too complex to grasp, I really appreciate the experimentation they’re incorporating into their music, and it somehow made the tone of Weekender as a top notch music fest a little more serious, if that makes sense.
D: Elitist Srijon shows a plebian streak, niceee - you’re more the rocking out type, in terms of your taste anyway. *chuckles*
Like, I really liked Nicholson, Nischay Parekh and PINKNOISE a lot although like you very rightly pointed out, minimalist sound is an acquired taste and takes some getting used to. I could see some dull (see what I did there) metalheads trying very hard to either groove or rock out to PINKNOISE but then stopping and frowning because they just couldn’t. And speaking of metalheads, I like how we’ve been sneakily ignoring what was arguably the biggest headliner this time - Megadeth. I mean, I’m not really a metalhead, my taste in music is quite versatile but hardcore metal is really not my cup of tea and I was quite happy stuffing my face with lemon pie in the food arena. But you went off to watch them for a while, didn’t you?
S: Yes, I did. I used to be a metalhead myself, back in ninth grade. Damn, I spent all of ninth grade listening to metal, and a few months in eleventh, too.
Okay, a month in twelvth too, don’t look at me like that, jeez!
*Devanjali stashes away deathly lawyer stare for another day-was effective*
But then I started listening to other bands, and was never really able to come back to the genre. But shit, at the venue that day, when I heard them playing the opening riff to 'Sweating Bullets', which used to be my favorite song of theirs, I couldn’t resist. So I checked them out there, and man. They were playing a really really tight show out there! It would’ve made a ninth grade me faint in excitement at least thrice in a row, and then maybe one more time after a five minute break.
S: Every ‘pure’ (only ‘true’ metalheads will get this code of honor, haha aww those cute kids) metalhead got his/her money’s worth, more importantly, their time’s worth, all that Nicholson and PINKNOISE must have been aggravating, huh?
Oh stuff it - you’re just tripping on nostalgia anyway. But speaking of, I remember you mentioning this and now it makes a lot more sense to me - this time’s Weekender seemed to buy into music stereotypes in such a naked manner. I can just see Weekender management thinking this one out loud - oh, Calcutta na? No need to send them Mogwai. Let’s send Mogwai to Pune because their student population actually has money and complains about bad sound engineering. Intellectual stoners, right? Send them a skeleton lineup with The Wailers (a thousand bongs light up with holy Marley fire) and Megadeth (metalheads mosh furiously). I guess I felt the city was kind of labelled into this little box and catered to and that just didn’t go down well with me. Thoughts?
S: Yes, I ranted quite a lot about that, didn’t I? I just don’t get it. I’d be willing to pay more for tickets.
*At this juncture, Srijon is gently reminded that Devanjali got him a free ticket last year*
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So, why this neglect? And, yes, Mogwai not coming to Kolkata was so disappointing for me. I’m a huge fan of the band, and so are a lot of my friends here, who are based in Kolkata, the city that Mogwai did not come to. (Yes, this was a disguised rant, bet you didn’t see it coming)
Then again, you know what? I remember when the lineups were announced, all those lucky assholes (I’m a very bitter person) from Pune kept complaining that they didn’t get enough metal bands and that they wouldn’t mind cutting off half their lineup just to have Megadeth play for them.
So, I guess the grass really is greener on the other side, you know?
D: *thinks about it*
Nope, Take Me Somewhere Nice - Pune would have been better.
*Srijon smirks, appreciating the pun, and feeling nice, he always feels nice when he gets puns*
But hey, all in all, I guess you can’t really complain about a music festival where you end up teary-eyed (and bawling when it came to The Wailers, but let’s not go there) for almost every alternate act. It was a great weekend, it was a great Weekender and that’s a wrap.
S: Yes, yes it was. Here’s to next year.
D: *whispers* I’m not getting you a free pass if the ticket prices soar,you know.
S: *whispers* I don’t mind if soaring ticket prices means we’re getting Mogwai. Or Grouplove.
*stops whispering, slowly getting more and more excited* Or Bombay Bicycle Club.
*starts shouting* OR KULA SHAKER, THEY’RE REFORMING IN 2016, WHAT ARE THE ODDS.
D: *screams* OMG BBC I LOVE BBC AND KULA SHAKER! SHOWER YOUR LOVE--
The next part of the conversation has not been transcripted here, as it mainly involves two people shouting incoherently and is of no journalistic use to this very professional article.
Image Credits: Vedanta Bagchi for the Megadeth pic, Meghomala Bhowmik for all the rest