Mohali came alive last weekend.
‘Party like the Punjabis do’ – is a popular saying for a reason. They sure know how to throw one helluva party, and the third edition of The Lager N Barrel Festival was a testament to it. Set in the picturesque resort of Aura Vaseela in Mohali, the Gaana Lager n Barrel co-presented by Carling Club Glasses was a two-day fiesta full of music, entertainment, food, and tons of Carling beer. Families, couples and groups of friends attended in full swing, having pre-reserved their 16th and 17th September evenings to party hard to some good music and build booze-filled memories. Here is a lowdown of what this edition had in store for its attendees:
The one thing that North India does better than the rest of the country is find really pretty venues to host their shows at. Aura Vaseela has the charm of a modern-day village, complete with mud walls, ethnic displays and green fields surrounding it. The festival was hosted on the green lawns adjacent to its central property, wide enough to accommodate the inflow of enthusiastic revellers for the evening festivities. We arrived and left the venue facing no difficulty along the way, which brings us to the point that traffic was well routed throughout, with attendees taking care of minor snarls along the way quite efficiently. Once inside, we procured our bands from the box office with ease and merrily made our way to the venue (it’s refreshing when things are glitch-free on arrival at a festival).
On entering the main festival area, we had to first go past a wide section filled with installations that were specially built to cater to the selfie-clicking audience. And boy, did they serve their purpose. Once we got our selfies in place, we made our way to the place where it was all taking happening.
‘Pretty’ was most definitely the first adjective that came to mind because the entire festival was buzzing with a youthful spirit and carried a bohemian vibe to it. As you walk past the giant headphone installation by Gaana, you look straight at the island bar in the middle of the venue.
When it’s a beer festival, you cannot expect anything else. Turn a little to the right and a grand stage comes into view, where the performers rocked the socks off revellers, right from 4.30 pm to 10.00 pm.
A little more to the right lay a grand entertainment zone, filled with numerous games that brought back some major childhood memories. People had fun competing with their friends and other attendees, all in good spirit.
The organisers did well by setting up a special place for kids to play, something more festivals should take note of.
To the left of the island bar stood the grand F&B zone with little spaces organised in between for people to sit and eat, another thoughtful addition to make it a crowd-friendly place.
With a line-up that featured independent artists, Punjabi favourites and a few nationally-recognised headliners, it was a good mix for music lovers. The artists came well-prepared with a set list to cater to their crowd, and this was a good decision on their part.
Kick-starting the event were two local favourites – Ronit Vinta, followed by Nissi Band, both of who gave us a taste of talent brimming in the northern parts of India. Taking the stage next were the soulfully energetic Bombay Bairag, who successfully wooed the crowd with their contemporary music rooted in Indian Classical & Sufi traditions. And then came the Punjabi invasion. Punjab’s blue-eyed boy, Gurnazar, got relatable with the crowd, singing songs that got everyone to hang on to his every word.
The next act, Millind Gaba, joined Gurnazar on stage for a foot-tapping final number, after which he sent the dance floor into a frenzy, with the crowd in high spirits at this point.
And finally, the headliners of the night, Raghu Dixit Project, took the stage in Chandigarh for the very first time. Raghu Dixit was more than kicked about performing in Chandigarh for the first time and kept letting his audience know how much he appreciated the fact that they were grooving to his music with complete enthusiasm. He also got them to sing along in Kannada, stating that the only Punjabi word he knew well was ‘Changa’.
DJ Shanon was about to take the stage next, but as things were running quite late, she was unable to perform.
Once again, the first slots were handed to local talents – Runway Project, followed by Stanley Live, who each gave us a taste of some good ole’ rock and pop. Following them was Mellow D and his troupe. They brought a ton of new-age Punjabi flavour to the audiences and received much love for the same.
Himanshi Khurana came up next and the guys couldn’t stop swooning. She floored them with her musical prowess and beauty (even we couldn’t take our eyes off her).
B Praak, the hit Punjabi music director and composer, came up next and entertained the crowd with his vocals and compositions.
There was a long gap in between his set and Shirley Setia, who came up next. The reason being Shirley had been unwell for a while. But, once she took the stage, the atmosphere was transformed. Her fan following knows no bounds, as both guys and girls followed her right from the dressing room to the stage and then obediently found the closest spot near the stage to watch her with rapt attention. She delivered as expected, and nobody would have even guessed that she was unwell had she not mentioned it.
Asees Kaur came up next and her voice is something we have been a fan of since the Mumbai edition of Bollywood Music Project. Her rendition of ‘Ikk Kudi’ from Udta Punjab was a winner.
And finally, the crowd made way for headliner Mohammed Irfan, a favourite from the current crop of Bollywood lead singers. He gave the much-expected soulful performance and got the crowd to sing along to all his hit numbers. The only drawback was the fact that his performance was delayed by a good hour, thanks to things running late prior to it.
Food & Beverage
There was an exciting mix of food stalls, but we sorely missed some Punjabi flavour there. The usual quick-fix meals like Burgers, Pizzas, Kebabs and Rolls were found in abundance. There were some Pasta options as well, along with Biryani for rice lovers. But leaving a stall or two, there weren’t any stalls catering to local flavours like Parathas and Kulchas and Chole Bhaturas. We would have loved to see more variety there. The meals were decently priced, ranging from 150 to 250 bucks for a dish that was good for one. Payment could be made by cash or card.
As for beverage, beer was the winner that night (after all the festival is called Lager n Barrel). There were interesting beer cocktails on the menu too, so those who did not like the bitterness of the beer could opt for a beer cocktail for the same kick. Hard drinks could be found a little away from the main area, within the Aura Vaseela compound itself.
A few food stalls had some innovative non-alcoholic drinks on sale as well, so teetotallers were not left behind.
Reaching the venue wasn’t a problem, thanks to the availability of Ola and Uber services for those who didn’t bring their cars along. Security was tight, and we did not see or face any problems when it came to safety. There were a few glass bottle installations that were hanging low and within the reach of small kids, which the organisers could have been a little careful with.
We did see some mothers rushing to stop their kids from playing with the bottles. Everything was clearly marked around the venue, so there was little cause for confusion. Overall, things were organised well with little to no glitches.
All in all
The Sherp had a gala time bouncing around the venue in true Punjabi-style. The people brought so much zest to the festival, that it was infectious and fun. There is an edition coming up in Gurgaon, so if you missed this one, make sure to catch the one in Gurgaon on the 6th and 7th of October. Thank you Lager n Barrel, it’s been quite the weekend.
Image Credits: Lager n Barrel Festival and Gagan S Photography