So you see the title there? You know what this is going to be about. Writing this post here is a person who had been blown away by an amazing day till the clock struck nine, and then witnessed Karnivool play. He returns home in a warm afterglow and sits down to describe everything. Bear with the apparent ‘high’-ness, the exhilaration, and the few man-crushes that will come along.
So let’s start with NH7 itself. The festival calls itself ‘The Happiest Festival in India’. And with good reason, too. Although it can be tiring to navigate, it is beautifully laid out. Everything is easy to find, everything is there. They have chemical toilets. I mean seriously? In India?
The crew is helpful, the decor is pretty much perfect, there are lots of things to do, and STUFF IS CHEAP. Pepsi is for 20 Rupees. Honestly. I find that hard to believe as well. With ice.
Now for the lineups. NH7 Weekender prides itself on the fact that the genres are eclectic. And they have good reason to be proud. You just cannot go to the festival and stop yourself from drifting off to see an act you otherwise would not. It’s sheer choice that introduces people to good music from all over, and they love that. There are no unhappy fans going BC MC or throwing bottles because as soon as you get bored, you can go someplace else. Nice and easy. So people are generally happy. And wackily dressed.
This being the last day of NH7, I had to attend it. I missed out on the first two due to examinations, which are required by law to ruin all good things in life. But the third day, I made it. Access to the venue was temporarily blocked by a herd of unmanageable sheep (I kid you not) and there was much walking to be done (I had been warned), but I was inside. Trusting my instincts more than the festival guide, I went to the first stage that caught my interest : The Dewarists. I also took the blessings of Guruji from Metal Bharat. This would be a good day.
The only time I have seen TAAQ live so far was at a Dire Straits tribute gig at Hard Rock, Mumbai. And I’d heard that Bruce Lee Mani kills it live. Well, it’s only right. TAAQ had a great sound setup. I was particularly impressed by the bass tone, which as Indian concertgoers know, has a little more chance of being rightly done than I have of seeing Pink Floyd live. TAAQ had a great rapport with the crowd as well, joking around and being generally awesome, in the music as well as the presence. Of course, Bruce Lee Mani was deft with his guitarwork. A good set, all in all, and a nice start.
Honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to see Alien Chutney (Supergroup with Vir Das on vocals. Yes, weird ass Vir Das.) Then I decided to, just like that. Alien Chutney do “comedy rock.” What one might expect is bad humour on a one-five-one-five bassline. Well, the thing is, when you come to NH7, leave the expectations behind.
AC was funny. Not the hey-I-chuckled-there funny, the hey-I’m-a-stuck-up-metalhead-but-AAH-MY-SIDES funny. I can imagine how horrifying it can be to have a crowd like that in front of you and to hope to make them laugh, but Vir Das did it. In style. With a guitar. And no one was spared. Haryanvi men? Rapists. Bomaby chicks? Ugly. Delhi chicks? Stupid. Punjabi guys? Moobies. Harry Potter? Slut. Himeshbhai? Awesome. This could’ve gone very wrong but the crowd went crazy. Vir Das knows how to play them. And the guitar. Very, very well done set, considering stand-up comedy + music = improvise like hell.
Since I was wandering around at this point, meeting people I know and being annoyed at them not recognising me due to my recently-shaved head, I missed out on the full set. I did catch two songs though. The first being My Life, the one which got them on TV. The crowd knew the lyrics, all of them, and it must have felt amazing for the band. They were pretty tight. They finished with a longer version of Zephyretta with an extended solo, and the crowd loved it. Girls were swooning and all. That’s the shit right there.
If you have not heard of BBC, you kind of suck already, but that’s the point of NH7, making people suck less, three days at a time. BBC was to play an acoustic set. Now, the thing with acoustic sets is, that they are very personal. The band is essentially jamming, opening themselves up to you, and being lost in a different version of their own music. So the one thing that does not go well with an acoustic set is, a DUB SATION STAGE blasting its beats too loudly for anyone to hear BBC.
One thing that struck me about BBC is the honesty. They started by saying that since this was an acoustic set, they might not hold our attention as much, but hoped all of us would enjoy it. SERIOUS AWWWW MOMENT. And I’m a guy who likes watching roadkill. They played a great set with the crowd’s favourites, and sounded wonderful on the acoustic guitars with the harmonics being absolutely beautiful, and the amazing vocals we love. But god damned dub station. BBC even said that there was too much noise for them to play. Only gripe, NH7!
Before this, I have never seen Kailasa live. And I have this (now proved wrong) presumption that bands that have sung for Bollywood will not sound good live.Well.
Kailasa’s soundcheck started it for me. Lots of eclectic instruments. Sounding perfect. This would be good.
And was it good! Kailasa was probably one of the best live acts I’ve seen. They were totally tight. Nothing out of count, tune or place. Perfect vocal harmonies. Perfect percussion. Kailash Kher’s energy! That man is a powerhouse. And the music? We had mohawked guys in Mayhem T-Shirts jhoomoing to Rang Deeni. We had chicks with New Jersey accents (I don’t even know what that is) losing themselves to rustic Hindi lyrics about love and devotion. The crowd went bonkers for Teri Deewani. They finished with Saiyyan and every face had a smile on it. I was a Kailasa skeptic but I’ll say, this is one band that’s better live than recorded. And you know that very few people deserve that.
I have been sitting here for ten minutes now, thinking of what to write. Let me start with a video I once saw on Youtube. Karnivool are sitting in the back of the Gibson Tour Bus, and they do an acoustic version of All I Know. I was blown away. Since then I’ve heard both the albums in detail, more times than I can remember. I was going to see this band live now.
The soundcheck. Loud drums, and for once, a perfect snare. A great bass tone. The clean-glassy tones we have come to love from the guitar. This would be good. They came on stage.
And after that, I remember little.
I know, I’m being biased, but honestly, one cannot think analytically when just an hour ago, you’ve seen a band you’ve always wished to see live ever since you heard the first riff. I remember parts of it, like being in a trance during All I Know. Kenny is god. His voice is magical and the man did not even stop for a drink of water. Vool were playing without a break, pausing only to switch guitars. The tones were orgasmic. Yes, it wasn’t loud enough, and that was sad. There should’ve been at least some moshing, yes. And other such things. But I’m blown away by how perfect the band itself was.
For the encore we had A New Day.
And that was it.
The crowd was lost.
In the song.
Few concert endings have been so perfect for me. There’s nothing else that would’ve made sense there. How on earth does Karnivool come up with such energy is beyond me. Wow.
Anyway. Now I’m full of that sad feeling you get when concerts are over. The neck pains, the foot aches, and worst of all, the sad, empty, and strangely contented feeling at the end of something beautiful. NH7 is not something you would want to miss. And concerts and events can learn a lot from it. Most importantly, so can the crowd. NH7 will grow bigger. So will the crowds, and the list of bands that sound too good be true. But it’s been a good year for India in that sense. Let’s hope things keep getting better that way.
- A phenomenal performance by Seun Kuti & Egypt 80.Photo Courtesy: Lijo Thampy [Exclusively for MoZ]
I am aware that there are many good artists that I did not cover today, and they’re worth checking out too. Big cheers to Lijo for helping out with the photographs, you should check him out.And this is the end.Of all I know.