• Thu, Jun 13, 2024

Odds and Ends - Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2013, Pune

gig Reviews Oct 23, 02:36pm

Naturally, a three-day music festival will have a lot of things happening, not all of which can be crammed into a review. So we thought we'd have this special section for stray observations made at the Pune edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival, held on Oct 18-20. Read on for Scribe vs. a heckler, the perils of drinking buckets, the Red Bull Tour Bus, dogs, sugar rushes, and more. Click here to read our complete review of the festival.
 Photo Courtesy: Shalaka Pai

Let’s talk about some of the more important things first – the Pune edition of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender was littered with dogs. Why did so many people bring their pet dogs to the festival? Dogs hate loud music, they also hate alcohol. Those are by far the two most important aspects of the Weekender. I’m not sure but I think there was even one who had a muzzle on (why?). It’s a mystery.

No prisons – or “enclosed bar areas” – this year. You could carry your drinks around wherever you liked.

There was this one forlorn-looking fellow, a goddamn hippie if I’ve ever seen one, who was seen lugging around this little board on which he’d very neatly written down “FREE HUGS”. There was some ‘peace, love, and music’ doodle on it too if I remember correctly. I don’t think too many people went up to him that time, although he got his fair share of curious stares (was that the point?). In any case, on the final day, when Party Scribe – a novelty avatar of Scribe performing with a DJ and covering ‘Drop it like it’s Hot’ and reworking their own songs for a light, fun, easygoing set – took the stage, their vocalist Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy (more on him later) got everyone in the audience to give that guy a long group hug, and everyone listened. The hippie had his day in the sun. And then it started to rain and the set got called off. Is that a sign?

All the cocktails – rum, vodka, and whiskey – were excessively sweet. They were filled to the brim with aerated soft drinks and other sweet stuff (the only respite being the Cucumber Collins served at the Wolves Den stage). I know the Weekender is packaged as the “Happiest festival” but getting people jacked up on sugar is cheating. Also, once the sugar rush wears off, you feel extremely tired and worn out and unhealthy.

Tajdar Junaid played on a song with Blackstratblues. Warren Mendonsa returned the favour, guesting on ‘Though I Know’ during Tajdar Junaid’s set, whipping out a 12-string Rickenbacker (Edit: it may actually have been a Danelectro as has been pointed out) to boot (the earth started to tremble at the sheer mastery and sincerity on display when both of them were on stage). Midival Punditz played with Karsh Kale, Dualist Inquiry sprung a surprise, performing as the Dualist Inquiry Band with Jiver and Sandunes. Siddharth Basrur played eight (EIGHT) sets at the Weekender. ‘Tis the season of collaborations.

Blackstratblues (Photo by Maanas Singh)

I know, I know, marketing and branding reasons mean that there cannot be any beer at the Weekender ever. But it’s less alcohol, it tastes far better, and it’s ideal to drink during the day. Plus your insides don’t get crammed with sugar. And there are more than enough bathrooms and portable toilet areas at the venue to accommodate the collective aftereffects of beer.

                                                                                           (Photo by Shalaka Pai)

Now for the big, contentious one. Scribe is one of the biggest metal bands in the country – they write fantastic music, and as a live act, they take it to the next level. Vishwesh is a brilliant frontman – he’s funny, witty, powerful, extremely talented and versatile – so when he speaks to the crowd, they listen, like they did when he asked for an all-girl moshpit, or when he demanded a group hug. So during Scribe’s set on the second day, they were faced with this one heckler who was evidently relentless and crossing all sorts of lines, constantly interrupting their set and putting them off their game, maybe. The band members looked visibly agitated, and Vishwesh decided to give it back to him. “I’ll shit in your mouth,” he said at one point (in Hindi). His retorts, just the way he was dealing with the heckler – some kid, probably drunk and overexcited – was hilarious and quite appropriate.

The guy apparently didn’t stop though, and this is where things got a little messy. Ticked off, Vishwesh asked the crowd to “show him how it’s done in the moshpit”, and he said this (or variations of it) repeatedly. When he couldn’t spot the heckler, he asked the crowd to find him and bring him up front. I don’t think the moshpit is the place to show anyone how anything is done – it’s a place for release, expression, aggression, metalhead bonding, not intentional physical violence or settling of scores. I know it was merely adrenaline in that one moment, plus annoyance at the guy, and technically, it’s not Vishwesh’s fault as such. But you’re the frontman for Scribe, playing at one of the biggest indie music festivals in the country, you have thousands of fans lapping up every word you say. I think it’s just slightly irresponsible to say something that five dumb people in the crowd might construe in a certain way and cause trouble. It’s a pretty sensitive thing and I’m not completely sure how to approach the subject, especially since free speech is involved, but it wasn’t cool, that’s for sure.

Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy (Photo by Maanas Singh)

Another thing is that because of this constant back and forth between him and the heckler, the first half of their set also suffered. He usually pulls out these completely ridiculous laugh-out-loud things, endearing himself to the most stuck up listener in the audience, and that was absent and we missed that one really fun element of Scribe’s set during that first half.

The next day, Scribe played a specially curated Party Scribe set on the Red Bull bus. There, Vishwesh did take out time to sort of apologize. He admitted he maybe shouldn’t have done what he did, although technically, I don’t remember him using the words “sorry”, “apologize”, or “regret”, but I could be wrong. And I’m just nitpicking. His words were something along the lines of “Maybe I shouldn’t have done what I did even though he was completely out of line but I shouldn’t have done it but maybe I should have because he was such a dick”. So there was a lot of conflict in his own words and maybe someone asked him to apologize about it or maybe he genuinely was conflicted about the whole thing. At least he had enough courage to come out and talk about it and it looked like he was earnestly debating the consequences and his own actions and, well, that’s just an admirable thing in a situation that’s a little untidy. It’s much of a muchness, really. He did promise to show the kid a good time and get him to crowdsurf if he ever came for a Scribe gig. 

I hear it’s cool to hate on him, possibly because he’s not indie enough or something, but Vir Das is a funny guy. He had thousands upon thousands of people watching Alien Chutney live and, by all accounts, the band didn’t disappoint. Vir Das even invoked his inner Weird Al Yankovic as the band broke into a resplendent version of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, replete with a backing chorus and everything. The lyrics were about Manmohan Singh finally gathering the courage to face up to Sonia Gandhi or something. In covering Queen, let’s just say Vir Das turned into Queer Das.*

* Just to clarify: Queer = Queen + Vir; also, ‘queer’ as in a synonym for ‘weird’ since Vir Das’s comedy troupe is called Weird Ass, so let’s take off the tin foil hats.

Alien Chutney (Photo by Francis M)

The Red Bull Tour Bus is a pretty novel concept – India’s the only country in all of Asia to have this bus, apparently. It’s a tour bus that also turns into a very cool stage for the band touring in it to perform. I was fortunate enough to get to take a tour to check out the interiors of the bus (most mainstream journalists get large suitcases of cash delivered at home, gift packages, cars, junket trips abroad; us music writers get to look inside a cool bus). It has space for eight people – six band members, a driver, and AN other. There’s space at the back to keep the dismantled stage, a ladder on the side to climb atop the bus when it’s serving as a stage, and even a sound console. The best part? A television in the bus which already has a PlayStation 3 alongside it.

                                                       Party Scribe playing ON the Red Bull Tour Bus (Photo by Maanas Singh)

Buckets are bad. All the bars at the Weekender have this thing available called the bucket. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a tub of alcohol in some mixer or the other, and you can practically drown in it. First the logistical concern – it costs 800 bucks, and it comes with a lot of straws. So you shell out a mean amount and then you’re left to share because the second someone sees a bucket, they attack it. It’s only natural. Next, the aftereffects. Most drinks at the festival are pleasant tasting cocktails. The bucket is just a bucket of those same cocktails. So you consume a bucket of alcohol which finishes in no time because the taste is good, and you keep walking around the entire time so you don’t feel drunk as such. And then, all the buckets from the day hit you. And they knock you the fuck out.

Below is a photo of a friend of this writer’s. He had one too many cocktails on the last day. Once the festival got over and he was ready to leave, he began walking out. He just about made it to the parking lot, which is when the weight of all the buckets he had had hit him. In that instant, he just knew he had to take a nap. So he settled down on the gravel path there, even fashioned himself a mini-pillow out of the gravel, and slept like a baby. Buckets are bad.

The visuals were fantastic. Most of the stages were designed in a way to get the full effect of the visuals, and the lighting works and the stuff getting displayed was really very nicely done. The best visuals were at the Wolves Den stage, which is understandable since the artists weren’t doing much, so more focus had to be projected on to the other elements of live performance.

I spent a fortune on food and drinks and other things on sale. Just putting it out there.

Click to read our full review of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender Festival 2013, Pune

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