When Bacardi NH7 Weekender Festival came to Kolkata last year, they said they were overwhelmed by the response. So, they decided to do one better.
This year the four city music festival kick-started on November 1 at the beautiful Nicco Park, Kolkata that turned out to be a weekend of 39 artists, five stages and a whole lotta fun!
At 01:30 P.M. on a lazy Saturday, Nicco Park Grounds was abuzz with last minute activity as the organisers and their crew seemed to leave no stone unturned for a glitch free, happy Weekender. The gates opened at 3 P.M. and a steady trickle of poured in. The Weekender had officially begun.
Mad Boy/Mink was one of the first acts to start off the proceedings with their high energy NU/disco sound keeping the crowd enthused. MTS Discover band competition winners Tetseo Sisters from Nagaland charmed the crowd with their folksy set. The sun had gone down by the time Blackstrat Blues and city rockers Gingerfeet had taken stage; the former a Warren Mendoza blues rock brain child making the crowd had swell considerably.
Ankur and The Ghalat Family had the crowd tapping their feet with their signature sound while F16s lived up to its fighter jet name and bombed the crowd with a fun filled frenzied performance. Money For Rope, a garage rock band from Australia set fire to the stage with an incredibly powerful performance that left the crowd wanting more. Monica Dogra was mesmerizing and a clear crowd favourite.
The jack in the box, however, was Mr. Woodnote and Lil Rhys with their own form of saxophone/wind pipe infused reggae dubstep that got the crowd dancing in gleeful delight.
It was a big day for Bangla Rock as front-man Rupam Islam put it, as Fossils took the Dewarists stage, and belted out hits harking back to as far as their first album. Personal favourite, Them Clones rocked the stage with their typical all-in-a-day’s-work alt rock act, ending their set with what is arguably their most famous song, ‘my life’, which the crowd obligingly sang along. Ensemble project Calcutta Local had musicians from different bands in the city (The Supersonics, Pink Noise, The Ganesh Talkies, Zoo and others) collaborating together to put up a very nuanced performance.
Metal marauders Bhayanak Maut owned the stage with their killer, high energy set that had the crowd head-banging and moshing with impunity. Peking Duk made the crowd put on their dancing shoes with their own brand of EDM. Amit Trivedi’s performance was the perfect end to day 1 with the crowd thronging and jostling and singing along every single song.
Sunday started slightly early with As Animals taking the MTS Discover stage with their form of melodic rock and powerful locals finding a small, albeit attentive audience. British indie rockers Houdini Dax got the crowd to its feet even as the sun beat down harshly, setting tempo to what would go on to be another rollercoaster day.
French band The Inspector Cluzo maintained the tempo of the day, entertaining the crowd with their power packed Funk’n Roll music, as well almost managing to re-ignite the flames of the hundred years’ war between the French and the English (Yes, their favorite line on stage was – “We are not the fucking Brits. They can go and fuck themselves.” Or words to that effect.)
Personal favorite part deux Sky Rabbit, took to stage and lived up to expectations, dishing out their usual nonchalant uber cool fare. Indus Creed wowed the crowd with their killer set and their signature alt/indie sound. Indian Ocean’s Tandanu featuring Selvaganesh blew away the minds of the crowd, fusing the band’s own sound with the Carnatic percussionist’s rhythmic beats. Shaair and Func were their usual, impressive self with Monica Dogra pulling off a second stellar act in two days.
The one name however, that was hung about in the air all evening with the weight of gigantic expectations was Mutemath. The American alt rockers did not disappoint, blowing the crowd away with favorites like ‘Chaos’ and ‘Typical’, in a power packed performance spread over 90 minutes, ending the festival with a bang.
However, NH7 Weekender is not just about the music. In a nutshell, it’s about having an overall amazing weekend. The atmosphere and the ambience were infectiously effervescent. At the heart of the venue, were various stalls set up catering to the compulsive shopper and the impulsive hogger. The street food stall included phoochkas (golgappa/panipuri to the rest of you guys out there) which is a Kolkata. The compulsive shoppers made a beeline for tees and accessories displayed in the flea stores. One even had a yellow ambassador taxi parked inside with tees displayed out of its open trunk!
The alcohol connoisseurs and fellow drunken brethren alike had enough madira to satiate their needs. Glasses, mugs and buckets- almost everyone had their favorite tipple in their hands while they swayed to the music or lounged about in the sitting area or the chill zone as I would like to call it. The furniture headboard art design was visually arresting and was designed by city artist Bobo.
There were adequate fire safety and first aid measures in place, so full marks to OML for that. Security was reasonably tight and getting into the venue was relatively painless. There were adequate token counters strewn about the venue and cleaning drives taking place every couple of hours.
Overall, the weekend was smooth with occasional glitches here and there, but nothing worth writing about. The ten odd thousand people who attended had a good time and the festival did live up to its tagline.
They said it would be the happiest music festival you’ve attended.
They weren’t wrong.
(Images Courtesy : Bacardi NH7 Weekender)