iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Indrajit Hazra, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 07, 2013
Why on earth would you want to go to one of India’s most stunning hill stations tucked away from the usual crowd at a time of the year when the weather is Chill Lite superb? To catch the annual Ziro Festival of Music 2013 would be the sahi jawab.

For the second successive year, Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh, 167 km by road from Itanagar airport, will be hosting this one-of-a-kind gathering over September 20, 21 and 22.

Surrounded by a misty mountain hop landscape of hills, forests, streams and riffs, the fest gathers India’s finest rock, folk, dance and indie music talent.

Bands like Delhi’s Menwhopause and Peter Cat Recording Co., Mumbai’s Sky Rabbit and Your Chin will rub fret-boards with Kolkata’s Gandu Circus, Bengaluru’s The Bicycle Days and Sulk Station. Nagaland’s fab new indie-act, Polar Lights, will share Ziro space with Arunachal’s very own all-girl pop-rock band, The Vinyl Records.

But if there’s one act you need to come here for, it’s the two core engines of American alternative rock legend Sonic Youth, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley. This will be a headline act rock junkies can afford to dismiss only if they’ve moved over to the Justin Bieber-One Direction side.

So how and why did Ziro happen? Anup Kutty, Menwhopause guitarist and creative producer of the festival, explains that his band was touring the Northeast in 2011 when their gig in Itanagar was postponed due to political unrest. “Our promoter took us to his hometown for a couple of days and we all fell in love with it. Sitting on top of the hill overlooking the World War II airstrip in the middle of paddy fields, we all talked about how cool it would be get down a few bands here and do some concerts.” A few months down the line,  Ziro 2012 happened.

If it’s heavy music and heavier natural vibes away from the heat and dust of your cubicle that you're looking for, start packing your bags and toothpaste. “I can’t think of any other festival that has alt-rock legends like Ranaldo and Shelley hobnobbing with Manipuri folk artist Rewben Mashangva with rice beer flowing.” Kutty’s just given you ‘another’ reason to head to Ziro.

PS: Walking shoes are a must.

Ziro Festival of Music is on 20-22 September. For more details www.zirofestival.com