This year Bacardi Nh7 Weekender had its biggest edition yet, with the festival travelling to five major Indian cities armed with an enviable roster of industry big wigs, underground surprises and some pretty awesome collaboratives. We at Festival Sherpa, applaud the folks at OML for pulling off this mammoth feat and are quite hopeful about the festival’s foreseeable future.
With the very same frame of mind, here are a few valid lessons we learnt through this year’s Weekender run.
1. A R Rahman should (most definitely) headline more festivals
We can picture you all, unanimously nodding along to this point. Adding AR Rahman to the roster for three cities, was a stroke of genius as the prospect of seeing him play was the reason why people attended the festival in droves. From what we heard through the grapevine, the Pune edition sold out on the second day itself thanks to the living legend’s much anticipated closing set on day three. If this is true (which is highly likely) that means Weekender fans are finally ready to embrace and accept homegrown artists as headliners over international big wigs.
2. Musically, we were left spoilt for choice
The very fact that maddening set clashes, like Rahman Vs FlyLo took place, proves that at Weekender you will not be left without new and amazing music to discover. Rodrigo y Gabriela’s nuevo flamenco, Megadeth’s gnarly metal, a tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Hidden Orchestra’s explosive synths, Flying Lotus’s genre-inclusive bass explosion, Mogwai’s post-rock genius, Soulmate’s perfect blues….the list goes on. It was all there, and ready to be experienced first hand. You just had to show up.
3. Tribute performances should be a Weekender staple
Vishal Dadlani along with a handful of talented singers like Richa Sharma, Harshdeep Kaur and Shekhar Ravijani payed homage to one of the godfathers of contemporary Sufi music, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Under this tribute aptly titled ‘Ustad’, we were dealt a well-executed and pleasantly surprising mix of genres in relation to famous and popular tracks and tunes by the man himself. If this is what tribute performances are made of, deal us in for life!
4. Pina Colada Bars? Hell yes!
The cutest little tropical shacks dishing out some seriously delicious rum + colada cocktails, had people running back for more. What was even better, was the cute pineapple shaped cups you got to nurse your drink in. Every year, Weekender ups the ante when it comes to drink choices, as a great way to make up for the lack of beer at the festival. The Swiggy Food Bazaar offered a dizzing choice of munchies, eatables and sweet-treats that no other music festival in India has managed to do (Bubster’s Pork overload, anyone?).
5. If done right, brand activation can work wonders
This time the Weekender flea market’s came with newer and cooler brand activations that actually vigorously engaged festival punters. Take for example the Bacardi OCULUS, a 7D roller-coaster Virtual Reality tour of the whole venue that had people from all ages and walks of life hooked. Among other awesome activations were The Stray Dog’s Jam room for amateur musicians to jam their asses off, Roposo’s DIY T-shirt stall for fashionistas, and Breezer’s Giant Jenga & Breezer Pong for inebriated punters who just wanted to have a good time.
6. It is possible to outgrow a beloved venue
Well, as implicitly stated by the owner of OML himself, Laxmi Lawns (in Pune) turned out to be a size too small for the festival, especially with the 60000-strong turnout this year. Delhi also faced similar problems, with the venue being a bit too cramped for an event that debuted A R Rahman’s Indian music festival performance. On the other hand, cities like Kolkata and Shillong lucked out with their venue choices, even though the travel (to and fro) turned out to be a bit of a headache. But as luck has it, OML CEO Vijay Nair stated that Weekender Pune will turn into a camping festival at an exciting new venue, next year.
7. No matter how large the festival gets, nothing can beat that legendary weekender vibe
Over six editions, we have seen a festival borne from the underrepresented Indian independent scene turn into a mammoth celebration of music. The festival through its laidback vibe, tight sound production and eclectic roster has managed to capture the hearts of the many who have religiously attended (The Sherp included) it from year one.