Audiophiles have a hectic calendar this December. The month begins with jazz enthusiasts’ yearly carnival, Jazz Utsav, stepping up to a headbanger’s ball in the much-delayed I-Rock. A popular city club celebrates its third anniversary with a gig by USA’s Tortured Soul, and then comes a culmination of all this, with a three-day festival featuring jazz, rock, heavy metal, folk and electronic music, that may see a mass exodus from the city to the lush grounds of Koregaon Park in Pune.
Bacardi NH7 Weekender will start on Dec 10, featuring over 50 acts (30 of them from the city) and will include performances by seven international acts. “The idea was to get together music acts from India and around the world. We realised that there was a dire need for a true music festival experience here,” says Only Much Louder’s Vijay Nair, a co-organiser of the festival. “The scale of the festival made us pick Pune as the venue. There is no location in Mumbai to pull off such a show,” Nair explains.
The festival features a good mix of UK and domestic acts, thanks to the collaboration with UK-based artiste manager Stephen Budd and Glastonbury festival booker Martin Elbourne. “The idea is to recreate the experience of a musical festival in India on the lines of Glastonbury,” adds Arjun S Ravi, editor of NH7, an Indie music website. “There will be music, multiple stages, art installations, food and drinks, everything that complements the festival feel.”
Though in the past, music festivals such as the Ladakh Confluence, Big Chill and Mumbai’s One Tree Festival have had a promising start, their success has been short-lived. Ravi and his team, however, are optimistic that the weekend festival will become an annual affair. “We’ve got the right sponsors and experience behind it. So there’s no doubt we’ll have a Weekender in 2011 and 2012 and so on.”
The highlight of the show this year is the headlining act, Asian Dub Foundation, who will perform for the first time in the country. While the outdoor rock arena will feature shows by rock and metal staples like Parikrama, Bhayanak Maut, and Scribe, another stage called the wolves den will have electronic acts like Reverend Soundsystem and Jalebee Cartel. A third stage will see performances by folk and fusion artists such as Indian Ocean, Raghu Dixit Project and Magic Numbers. “There will also be a mini-outdoor stage for singer/songwriters,” confirms Ravi.
The organisers expect anywhere between 4,000 to 7,000 music heads with knapsacks heading to Pune for the weekend. “It’s not just people from Mumbai, I’ve got groups from Delhi queuing in for the tickets,” adds Nair.