Music: 8 Picks from Bacardi NH7 Weekender
Known to almost all of India now as the ‘happiest music festival’, the Bacardi NH7 Weekender sees artists from India and around the globe performing over multiple stages, additionally playing home to curated food stalls, urban art installations and covetable crafts. Having been privy to the flagship Pune unit three years in a row, we can vouch for the unbeatable vibe and talented acts — both nostalgic and novel.
The festival has already made its mark this year at Bangalore and – the newest addition – Kolkata, with Pune raging as we write, and Delhi to follow soon. Since it all coincides with the start of the season of celebration, now is a pretty good time to check out new performers and revamp your collection of music.
1. Fear Factory
One of the original acts to inspire metal-heads worldwide, Fear Factory will be quite the treat for Indian loyalists. The uber-aggressive Los Angeles industrial metal band has a sound that can be described as passionately complex, with the concepts behind their lyrics being stories that go from album to album. If you’re looking for killer guitar picking, dreamy vocals and maddening drumming, this one is for you. Fear Factory’s latest album, The Industrialist (2012), sold 9,300 copies in the United States in its first week of release. They are now working on their ninth full-length album, due later this year.
2. Songhoy Blues
Hailing from northern Mali, the four members of this hard-grooving Afro-blues act have been making news across the world. With their moving war-torn origin story, songs of peace and a regional plus religious mix of band members, Songhoy Blues are artists to watch. The band endeavors to merge traditional with modern, and is particularly influenced by Ali Farka Toure, Baba Salah, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. They have recently announced the release of their debut album, Music in Exile, which should be out by early 2015.
3. Alo Wala
Alo Wala, meaning ‘person of the light’ in a mélange of Bengali and Hindi, is a live electronic music act featuring Chicago-born rapper Shivani Ahlowalia and Tropical Bass pioneers Copia Doble Systema. This transnational project often taps the most innovating voices on the scene, also collaborating with cream-of-the-crop producers like The Clerk, Schlachthofbronx, Boody and even a feature on Buraka Som Sistema’s most recent album. Alo Wala’s energy is undeniable, and combined with sounds and styles from the dancehall scene and Shivani’s roots in India and Chicago, their latest EP Cityboy is an absolute delight.
4. Dinosaur Pile Up
This Leeds-based alternative act brings with it a ton of dynamism and a blend of grunge and alt rock that is very entertaining. They have two albums out so far, Growing Pains and then Nature Nurture, both very well received. Each member puts a load of energy into their performances, and their set won’t disappoint considering they play a beautiful selection from each of their albums respectfully. Frontman Matt Bigland’s pop-laced vocal harmonies and on-stage grunge persona is a breath of fresh air and the trio has managed to create a sound which can appeal to indie kids, hard and punk rockers.
Known simply by his surname, vocalist and keyboardist Sohrab Nicholson’s languid, brooding, gorgeous vocals perfectly enhance his elegiac writing. His debut EP, For What, is about human relationships and his sound relies heavily on electronics. The title track is one that I really love, but watching him live is an experience in itself.
This Seattle-based indie-pop-rock band is of a rare breed. Singer-songwriter Daniel Blue’s soulful vocals and nonconforming lyrics are the threads that bind the songs together through pop, electronica, glitch-folk and anthem rock. Their newly released 5-song EP, Idle Beauty, features an excellent track called Get Down and I particularly love the immersive rhythmic drumming by Forrest Mauvais.
7. Bhayanak Maut
Local metal brutes Bhayanak Maut already have a pretty colossal fan base in India, their music being a varied mix of groove metal, hardcore and death metal. They’ve just released their third full length album called ‘Man’, featuring a book with stories about serial killers (yes, really. It took four years to compile). The new sound features an assault of heavy riffs, but steers clear of breakdowns. Their latest set at Bangalore saw unbelievable adrenaline and a good balance of older and newer material. If you plan to attend a show, be prepared to walk away with a scratch or two.
8. The Vaccines
Here on their maiden visit to India, these English indie rockers actually have a very feel-good summer sound. They’ve toured and performed around the world with iconic bands like The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’d say they are probably one of the best acts to watch live, ideally with some close friends, a bucket of beer in one hand, a lighter held up in the other and flowers in your hair. Their debut album, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines, was followed by Come of Age, which turned out to be a massive chartbuster in the UK.