Last weekend’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender Bangalore came with a whole lot of great music and a whole lot of rain.


From the moment Cochin-based The Black Letters played their opening song at this year’s Bengaluru edition of the NH7 Weekender, the drizzle around the venue had grown to a medium outpour, and from that, to a little less than a heavy shower, that lingered on for the entire day. The Black Letters didn’t get to play after that, nor did The F16s, but 22 other bands did. A few people did not stay back, but a majority of others did, hoping for a clear sky. That was Day 1 in the city; one when the festive spirit of the city’s indie music lovers was tested perhaps the most.

Rain arrives and bean bags become umbrellas

And pass with flying colours, they did. Pouring showers weren’t enough to stop people crossing stages to catch the next exciting band on the schedule on time. At first, people had started taking shelter in the shaded bars near the stages which were a little far from the stage, but as the evening progressed and the rain showed no signs of relenting, they decided to give up and come out in front anyway. Every arena by then resembled a big rain dance party with folks either wearing make-shift raincoats and head covers or abandoning any cover at all, the constant downpour doing little to deter their spirit.

Winit Tikoo  from Kashmir croons through ‘Paagal’
winit tikoo


Day 1 began with Mumbai based songwriter from Kashmir, Winit Tikoo, who was one of the fresh new voices at The Dewarists arena. The crowd took to his very regional voice and contemporary lyrics instantly, singing along at his choruses as well as to his popular track ‘Pagal’, which also felt the most aptly suited in the rainy weather. Later on in the day, the stage featured industry heavyweights Lucky Ali and Kailasa, both of whom delivered handsome performances, followed by Shaii’r n Func, which left the rain-dodging crowd with sorer leg muscles from all the frenzy that comes whenever Monica Dogra takes centre stage.

Lucky Ali – “The rain likes you, and the mosquitoes like me” 
lucky ali


The Breezer Dub Station was a one-stop for EDM lovers as Dakta Dub, Pippin and Spoonbill kept them on their muddy feet all day. Downtempo group Thievery Corporation’s Rob Garza played a solo DJ set to a near packed crowd, while Sam Poggioli employed stellar visuals with his set to create quite a few awesome moments during his set.

Rory Friers from And So I Watch You From Afar
rory friers


Post-rock arrived all the way from Belfast through And So I Watch You From Afar, and theirs was a steady instrumental set with group vocals at places. Finally, a fascinating audio-visual exhibition by Royston Abel’s The Manganiyar Seduction was what made it worth for people standing in the rain all day.

Vasu Dixit from Swarathma getting into corporate affairs for his band
vasu dixit on bicycle


Thankfully, rains spared the grounds on Day 2. Alt rockers from Chennai, Skrat and their loyal crew took full advantage of a bright and sunny day to play some of their most energetic and popular numbers while in stark contrast, but equally good to hear was Until We Last, a post rock group from Bengaluru who played a half hour long ambient set. The evening slot was taken over by Swarathma, a gig which Vasu Dixit sincerely marketed all day on the Bacardi bicycle. A very mobile band is what Swarathma is, and the Red Bull tour bus on which they were perched seemed inadequate for them, but their set was fun, quirky and full of gags nevertheless.

Dry the river – A  folk rock group from London
dry the river


Proceedings at the Dewarists stage began with a high pitched shriek ‘Mareeecha’ by Parvaaz front man Khalid and from then on, the trio played out another fine set of psychedelic rock interspersed with blues. London’s Dry the River came on just as the sun was setting, and their melodious folk rock  in an hour long set had people lying down on the grass with their cocktails and swaying to the tunes.

Over at the Eristoff Wolve’s Den, Dutch EDM trio Noisia received a rousing welcome and they promptly delivered a high energy set. New Delhi-based electronic artist Nucleya had the crowd wearing Koocha Monster masks while tripping to his booming bass.

 Kolkata musician Nischay Parekh earning a bunch of new female fans
nischay parikh

The Other Stage played host to upcoming artists like Prateek Kuhad and Nischay Parekh, each of who attracted a mix of devoted fans as well as new ears who keenly kept watch on acts on this stage.

The Fender Benders is a bunch of the most talented Fender guitar owners in the country, and as they got together to play their first ever gig at the Bacardi Arena, it seemed an unrehearsed set. Even if you choose to believe that, with musicians like Warren Mendonsa, Loy Mendonsa, Rudy Wallang, Jay Row Kavi, Sanjay Divecha among others, a jam is just about as good as anything else. A group of musicians to watch out for, especially if they team up again sometime.

Raghu Dixit, conjuring a fun fair out of a folk rock concert venueraghu dixit


Specials for the day surely came with Raghu Dixit. His 90 minute set unfolded in the most bizarre, but pleasant fashion towards the end of the day. An unexpecting crowd was treated to an album launch that had fantastic shadow puppeteers, talented dancers from Nritarutya dance company, colorful stilt walkers, jugglers and an ensemble of musicians joining Dixit on stage. The final act of the festival was another collaboration, this time by Karsh Kale, and featuring Papon, Shilpa Rao, Vishwesh Kishnamoorthy, Bobby Friction and Dualist Inquiry all of whom formed the NH7 All-Stars. Throngs of people gathered to enjoy the last and only gig happening at that moment at the festival.

What the Artists had to say..

Rory Friers, And So I Watch You From Afar (post-rock, Belfast, Northern Ireland)

“It’s our first gig here, and it was great. We had a few issues with rain spoiling some of our stuff. But I hope everybody enjoyed the gig in spite of the rain; it felt like people understood that we are all in this together. I went up to talk to some of the people in the front after the gig to ask how it was like to stand in the rain, soaked completely, and everyone was so nice, they came up to talk to us. There’s something pretty special to see people commuting to see live music, and when the music starts, all the differences stop and all the people are now level; that for me is a special moment. After this, we go for a festival in Delhi and then to Blue Frog in Mumbai. We hear it’s one of the best live venues in the country!”

Sriram T.T. & Satish Narayan, Skrat (alternative rock, Chennai)

“Fantastic to perform here. Audience doesn’t come with pre-conceived notions, they don’t care if it’s any genre. Just come to have fun. We really got lucky with the weather. We had a great time slot, people came in early on a Sunday. Yesterday, we did a little marketing, gave off some merchandise to people and asked them to come for the gig. Our Skrat crew has been super supportive – taking care of everything from merchandise, promotions, logos, badges, tshirts, music videos, albums, to travelling for all our shows in spite of having jobs. It’s more than we could ask for.”

Winit Tikoo, singer-songwriter, Kashmir

“It’s lucky we got to play today (the band replaced Mekaal Hasan who couldn’t make it because of visa issues), although it’s sad it came at the expense of an artist I respect a lot and who I would have liked to see live. It was incredible playing at both editions of Weekender till now. The best part is the crowd coming in with null expectations, so it’s totally up to you to draw anything from them.”

Nischay Parekh, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (Kolkata)

“I grew up listening to Nat Cole, Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and The Beatles on my mom’s cassette player, so I feel I naturally developed pop sensibilities, sweet American jazz and stuff. Oceans (debut album) has been a long time’s worth of material which I have tried to weave together into a story that I hope people will like. (On his live performances) We are always trying to incorporate experimental elements into our tracks and re-imagine the songs live, because they sound completely different on the album. I wish to play a few shows outside India, and write new material. Aim is to put out an album every year, let’s see if I can live up to that.”

Written by Vishal Shah and photographs by Harsimran JS Basra