The Pune edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender kept its promise of a happy vibe, kick-ass artistes and memorable experiences. Here are the hits and misses from the festival
If you have been a Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Pune regular and attended this year’s edition last weekend, you couldn’t have missed noticing how the majority of attendees have suddenly got younger. Laxmi Lawns this year was filled with compulsive selfie-clicking, shorty shorts-wearing high-school girls and their cigarette-smoking, peck-planting, shoulder-surf-offering boyfriends. To be seen (read broadcast one’s presence via Facebook) at a music festival is probably the new cool for the 14-18 age bracket. The scenario reminds me of the time when the plush F-Bar & Lounge — the nightclub that derived its upscale-ness courtesy association with F TV — had opened in Delhi a few years ago. Apart from the loyal, wealthy 40 plus clientele, the exorbitantly overpriced nightclub used to — and probably still continues to — draw an astounding number of 16-year-olds on Saturday nights. Armed with the latest camera phones and the pointiest shoes on the planet, the post-pubescent boys and girls obviously knew all the rules to fit into the ‘it’ crowd.
Back home in Pune, regulars familiar with Laxmi Lawns knew which stage was where; the revised nomenclature of two of them (MTS Discover and Micromax Mega Mix) was probably the only new change. A bigger food court was a welcome change, and so were the umpteen brand promotional stalls. The ladies’ favourite was the Elle/Juice stall that offer free make-up and hair styling.
The stage backdrops were pretty but somehow did not match to the breathtaking beauty of the ones in 2013.
Singer-songwriter Nikhil D’souza hit all the soulful notes with his delicious and mellifluous voice
Songhoy Blues brought the house down with its foot-tapping grooves and catchy call-and-answer melodies
The Manganiyar Classroom was one of the most heart-warming performances we’d seen at the festival in all these years
The headliners for the first day — Goldspot — had the crowd hoot-requesting for its hit song, ‘Friday’. And when the band finally played it, The Dewarists stage was a sea of a few thousand songbirds singing in unison. Surreal!
We wished the flea market had a grassy ground instead of the cobbled one as the latter made it tedious to walk around and generally hang in the area. That could probably explain why the place never really got buzzing with people
Monica Dogra’s solo set might have been pitched as a showcase of her reinvented identity as a solo artiste, but to us, it seemed more stage histrionics-centric than anything else. The singer-songwriter has always relied on her stupendous stage presence to fill some music gaps that we feel are beginning to get wider now that her jump-dance-scream act has become almost boring-familiar
The second day saw the festival come fully alive — with all five stages active and many thousands more on the venue.
With three big acts playing overlapping sets — Amit Trivedi, Fear Factory and Duke Nucleya — day two saw fanatic fans scurrying from one stage to the other trying to catch a bit of each act
The Bartender struck an instant chord with the the crowd thanks to the heavy dose of retro/nostalgia/the familiar injected by the band through its Bollywood covers
The unassuming Luke Sital-Singh was charming as ever. His set was tight and his vocals, flawless
Although we couldn’t catch their acts, we heard people saying good stuff about the sets played by Zygnema and Neeraj Arya’s Kabir Cafe
We felt filmi tremors on the first day itself when Monica Dogra sang a cover of ‘So gaya yeh jahan’ and Goldspot cashing in on the popularity of ‘Ina mina dika’, but day two was the real Bollywood Day at the festival. The Bartender ignited the fire and it was fuelled by Amit Trivedi. The crowd went mental every time a rehashed yesterday tune or a popular original one was played. Indie seemed overrated then.
The final day of the festival was when the venue turned into a massive sea of people. At one point, navigating through the packed food court became a mean obstacle race. The scene at The Dewarists and Micromax Mega Mix stages was no different.
Raghu Dixit’s set saw a record number of people thronging to The Dewarists stage. Dixit has played many Weekenders in the past and consistently surprised audiences with his gripping act every single time. This time, the dancers and shadow puppeteer were the highlights
All India Bakchod was one of the most anticipated acts at the festival, and needless to say, the boys lived up to every expectation. People were in splits throughout their hilarious and entertaining performance, which closed with a 21-song medley of Bollywood numbers that are composed on the same three chords
Indian Ocean’s tunes aroused the same old emotions among people that it usually does — the older melodies pressed nostalgia buttons while the new chant-like anthems pumped in feelings of an urgent need for any kind of social activism. The best part of their act was the collaborations with many artistes — from the charming Shubha Mudgal to the formidable Vishal Dadlani and prodigious Selvaganesh
Bombay Punk United and The Ska Vengars were the other highlights of the last day
The Vaccines’ set was rocking no doubt, but it somehow fell short of being headliner-worthy. They wasted their most popular number, ‘Post break-up sex’ too early on and if not for the final peppy number, theirs would have been an anti-climactic close
EXPERIENCES WE LOVED
– The Elle/Juice free hairstyling and make-up stall
– Ferris wheel ride
– The burgers at the Woodside Inn stall
– The freshly baked giant pizzas at Bubsterr’s
– The Hokey Pokey ice-creams
AND THE ONES WE HOPE GET BETTER NEXT YEAR
– The distance between the loos and the stages was too long. Plus, most of the ladies’ porta potties near the Bacardi Arena had no locks
– Accessing the shuttle service was a confusing affair, complained many attendees
– We also hope the organisers put a cap on the number of people allowed on the venue on the last day. This year was maddening, with some stage spaces getting too claustrophobic to even move, let alone enjoy, the festival
(Cover Image Courtesy: Bacardi NH7 Weekender Facebook)