NH7 Weekender is a crazy music festival that happens every year in a few cities in India. And when it happens, things go down. It’s amazing if you know what I mean. I pretty much had a ball of a time at NH7 Weekender Delhi! So here’s a rundown of the cool stuff I saw and experienced.
- Red Bull Tour Bus
The first band to play on the tour bus was Moondogs, a band that seemed to play good indie rock which was nice to listen to and they provided some fodder for the newly-arrived people to get into the groove for the massive festival ahead.
Next up on the bus was Bombay Bassment. Having seen them perform a mind-blowing set last year, I didn’t really find them that engaging at first, although they gained momentum later on into the set. Maybe it was the stage or maybe it was just general helplessness due to the fact that there were so many acts to catch up with. I think repeating artists playing on NH7 generally doesn’t seem to be a good idea since people tend to skip. Nonetheless, Bombay Bassment did attract quite a crowd. I just wasn’t around long enough to listen to them.
Hey Geronimo, an Indie-Pop band based out of Brisbane, seemed to be having some good fun playing their tunes and just rocking out on The Red Bull Tour Bus and that’s something everybody just loves to see when they’re at a festival. They had a short set but it didn’t fail to generate a buzz.
Another band to look out for was Cochin-based act Black Letters that played alternative rock and had an Incubus-meets-shoegaze sound. It sounded refreshing and it was exciting to hear a band from a totally different part of the country. The kind of songs they played made me reminisce about the last Cloudkicker record and what a beauty that was.
Fuzzculture was another artist I was looking forward to see since they have written quite a lot of material the past few months. They recently came out with their new EP ‘Indulge. Divulge’. It was good to see that their sound has evolved quite a bit from their early days where there were greater electronic influences. Their new direction seems to be more alive and dynamic.
We Were Promised Jetpacks, an Indie rock band all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland were playing some interesting stuff. Citing themselves as Alternative/Pop, their music seemed diverse. Alternating between heavy grooves on top of dominating bass-lines and part-heavy part-atmospheric guitars, WWPJ seemed to have a unique sound of their own.
- Dub Station
The first artist I saw on the Dub Station was Frame/Frame and he seemed to be doing a pretty amazing job playing his well-known bass and glitch-infused set. As far as Delhi artists are concerned, 20-something Nikhil Kaul seems to be doing brilliantly and only gets better with every set.
I heard Moniker playing some diverse dub melded rather uniquely with glitchy drums and reggae samples, something that really sets their sound apart and made them a treat to listen to.
Dubtron sounded like a heady mix of D’n’B mixed with old school reggae. Listening to music like that in the middle of the afternoon is really the best thing you can do, as the sun is up and it does chill you out completely, before taking you to the next level, of course.
Spoonbill, another electronic artist seemed to have quite a few interesting sounds on display. Even though a lot of tracks seemed to be a little on the minimal side to begin with, it seems like Spoonbill can really turn a song on itself and create something entirely new sonically, not to mention the tunes were catchy and had some interesting climaxes.
- Dewarist’s Stage
Faridkot played their heart out at the Dewarist’s stage and they sounded pretty good. They seem to be a versatile band and a really popular one at that too. They recently had some line-up changes and brought in Akshat Taneja (Guillotine) on keyboards which probably only adds to the diversity of their sound.
Down The River swooned away to a very minimal folky setup consisting mainly of an acoustic guitar, tons of vocals and a drumkit. There were a lot of beautiful vocal harmonies being used in their music and they seemed to be quite a hit with the ladies. I could draw a lot of parallels sonically with Sigur Ros in terms of influence and sound.
Another act that absolutely blew everything else out of the water was The Manganiyar Seduction back at the Dewarist’s stage. Consisting of an ensemble of performers inside a giant installation shaped like a rectangular box with about half a dozen cubicles each containing a performer playing a different instrument, it was visually stimulating as well as very engaging for the festival crowd that did not lose a single opportunity to click photographs, take videos and make a lot of noise in general.
Nischay Parekh, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Kolkata took center-stage and played his music to a large number of people. Another good thing about NH7 is the fact that acts from all over the country can be heard and it’s quite a delight to hear that in the Delhi scene where it is mostly over-saturated with Delhi bands.
Another artist I caught a glimpse of was Noori, a band that came all the way from Jammu was a delight to watch. I’m not a huge fan of Hindi Rock but these guys just took the genre to a different level, everything was perfect. Ranging from the bad-ass attitude to the crunchy guitar sound. If anybody can make Hindi Rock interesting, it’s definitely these guys and a band to watch out for, as well.
- MTS Other Stage
The first act I managed to catch on this stage was Prateek Kuhad. A singer-songwriter playing his acoustic set, singing out in Hindi while strumming the guitar to what sounded a lot like dreamy indie-pop, there seemed to be definitely a different charm to his music than many singer-songwriters I’ve seen in the past. The minimal setup and close-up stage definitely added to the performance as well.
Kate Miller-Heidke played some interesting songs that struck just the right balance between folk and pop. Even though at a festival like NH7 where most acts are exceedingly loud, it can be a downside when the volume is low and the mood is mellow.
- Eristoff Wolve’s Den
J.Viewz seemed to be the biggest highlight of the entire festival for me. They are an electronic duo that has completely redefined the genre of electronic music as a concept. Their music takes the typical stereotypes of electronic music and completely throws it out of the window, providing a fresh perspective to music that is organic and at the same time touches your soul in a way very few artists have the ability to do. Armed with nothing except for a keyboard and a guitar, these guys have an amazing and diverse stage persona, not to forget such varied musical sensibilities.
I managed to catch bits and pieces of every artist on the Eristoff Wolve’s Den ranging from Nucleya to Sampology. One artist that took the cake was Benga whose music seemed to have a lot of dubstep. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the larger-than-life wubs and bass drops and the beats were absolutely sick. I had a hard time getting them out of my head. I had to come back home and check out his music. That’s one of the good aspects of festivals like NH7, you get to know interesting new artists and their music.
While Fuzzculture was more of a fast-paced act with tinges of DnB, Sandunes playing at the same time at the Eristoff stage had a completely downtempo and chilled out vibe going with her set. I recently discovered her music and it seems to be quite interesting. It was nice to see more of synth-fiddling happening in her set and some pads seemed to be atmospheric, reminding me a bit of Air.
Michael Menert also dominated the stage in the evening by setting up a unique plethora of sounds to invade the ear-spaces of everyone present there. His music has the unique quality of making you want to get up and dance. Playing with his stage name ‘Pretty Lights’, his music summed up in one word, was exhilarating. One thing that set him apart from all the other electronic acts I had heard up till that point was the fact that his music has a very urban vibe to it, something that probably makes it more accessible to people not very deeply into electronic music, other than the fact that he kicks ass, obviously.
- Bacardi Arena
The first act to play at the Bacardi stage was SundogProject, and it would be fitting to call their live set an experience. What I like about the band is that they use a lot of electronic beats and samples and hybridize it with the live guitars, drums and bass. Some of their music seemed quite atmospheric and the electronic bits really meshed in with what they were playing live and it sounded beautiful. I can’t help feeling that they could have had a longer set. Thirty minutes was too less.
Mutemath were brilliant. There’s no other way to say it. The band truly defies the laws of physics and human logic. If you didn’t watch them, you missed a truly golden opportunity. Darren King was doing some very interesting things on the percussion that included standing on top of the drum-set and playing on two different occasions. Paul Meany added some more ‘chaos’ and vibrance into the mix by constantly going back and forth between various keyboards and providing vocals, not to mention the crazy half stage-dive that almost succeeded. And then there was the finale of Mutemath’s set, where everything got turned upside down. A complex setup of drums was prepared to create some interesting music that consisted of three of the group’s members playing odd kinds of percussion.
The Bacardi stage is where all the cool bands hung out. ‘And So I Watch You From Afar‘ an Irish four-piece act was one of them, that left no stone unturned as far as captivating the audience would go. A lot of their music seemed to rely on funky bass-lines and guitars that crashed and complimented each other at the same time. The stage presence was noteworthy as well. Tough on Tobacco played a killer set which mixed your typical alternative rock with a touch of reggae and funk.
And then there was Scribe, a band that never fails to deliver as far as performance and pure kick-assery goes. There was moshing and random bumping into strangers, not to mention falling down in the middle of a moshpit. But it was all worth it. The staple songs were all there, from ‘I Love You Pav Bhaji’ to ‘Calendar Khaana Lao’.
Headlining the first day were Meshuggah. And they were a class act to say the least. Moshing and head-banging were abound and prevalent everywhere. With their giant artwork banners behind them, the stage radiated a presence seldom seen at stages in India. The lights did an exceedingly good job at adding an aura of chaos and absolute mayhem. I fell once moshing and another time got my jaw kicked in, but it seemed to be worth it. Being the last act of the day, everybody seemed to be enjoying the badass pioneers of progressive/experimental metal. Notable songs played were Future Breed Machine and Rational Gaze, two of my favorite songs.
The festival ended with the NH7 All Stars line-up that consisted of everybody ranging from Scribe, J.viewz, Shaair n Func to Nucleya and Karsh Kale himself collaborating and jamming onstage to their heart’s content. It was a complete delight to see so many artists on one stage collaborating and creating music on such a huge scale. They played all kinds of interesting songs, some original some being partly covers. By the time it ended, most of us were probably too sloshed to even notice where we were anymore.
Some other notable acts were Shiva Soundsystem, Dhruv Vishvanath, The Ska Vengers,Swarathma and Tarqeeb. There was Soundclash with their signature dub collaborations up at the Dub Station and Dualist Inquiry playing at the Tour Bus with an all new line-up that consisted of Sanaya Ardeshi, the musical mind behind Sandunes at the behest of programming and samples. There was also Rajasthan Roots playing up at the Dewarist’s stage with their signature Rajasthani folk music combined with some interesting instruments that included saxophone and some signature ones all the way from Rajasthan.
Alas, the NH7 Weekender had ended, the bubble had burst. Real life came crashing back. It was time to get back into the car and go home to our lives and wait for another year to see another edition of the NH7 Weekender. Of course, merchandise and CD’s and all kinds of other things were bought and cherished as well.
But 2014, come soon.
– Post and Photos by The Magician