The parking was a sprawl. Everything seemed in order. We had arrived quite early. An accessible get away from the city, if transport is sorted. Not so far like the ones where the tents come out either.
I could hear muted speakers and feedback howls in the distant , the quintessential welcome to all live music festivals . A group in black t shirts started walking faster, the speakers came to life and i could hear a metal band taking stage.
Right behind the entrance with ample security gates the space opens out, one could catch a glimpse of all the stages in the front row. From there one can choose the broad paths and follow the sound of your likening.
Finally the true reflection of the post modern music consuming youth.
Choose your aisle, shelf, stage and plug in; noise canceling headphones not guaranteed. Flip the channel if it is not working for you.
The cloud of black t shirts kept walking towards the 'Bacardi Black Rock Arena '.
I was quite excited at this proposition, i could check each stage, test if the sound was captivating enough or walk off to another one. Soon i figured it was all easier said than done.
There were times when layers of growl, distortion, digital drum and synth monotony, became a layered kichdi paste entering one ear while the other one struggled to listen to a folk cry.
The stages seemed close by, but the venues were not that easy to shuttle between.
|Delhi Sultanate & Begum X on Pepsi Dub Station Stage during sunset. Photograph Bharath Haridas (c)|
Hidden behind these massive stages in the front were two other smaller stages . One playing dub,ska and the other for 'bands'; a generic stage.
There was a festival app to help one move around and figure out schedules.Yet there was confusion among the drunk crowd, stuck between stages, in transit, socializing or caught quibbling figuring out where to go next.
The numbers started increasing. The festival atmosphere was on. The Dslr kits were out. Bucket drinks were getting passed around.
The Dewarist stage had fusion/folk bands in the list . Not really representative of their television series. Lagori was pleasant but i struggle to write more. I must confess its been a few days since i was at the venue, but I only remember them like a staple meal. Good, pleasant but not a flavor that get s stored into memory with fascination .
After walking around a bit i came back to the same stage to see Susheela Raman, There was a lot of hype and excitement around this act. Having heard her before i was quite curious too. Tamil + husky bass Bjork + Voodoo medicine woman. She definitely had something up her sleeves. I remembered tasteful fusion, new blends , high energy, mystery from whatever i had heard before.
She started with one guitarist, and the rest of the line up appeared one by one. The guitar and vocals played a subtle dance. This built my expectation. Then as her vocals started opening up, and her stance changed literally, the sound shifted gears and tempo picked up. The voice became that aggressive bassy open cry. Her face started distorting, intense emotions seemed to bolt through her body,face,mind and voice. This got the crowd excited. It sure can, it is a rare energy to be witnessed on stage.
But the voice crackled. It all felt too open, careless and weak. It missed the sweet spot between being honest and composed.
When one of the accompanying artist 'Kubla Kahn' voice beamed out, it sent out that shiver, that she was trying too hard to hit.
I couldn't tell if her throat was having a bad day. The blend was still unique; Tamil devotional song with Rajasthani percussion. She gives a lot into the performance, but the intensity and madness in her body didn't match to the music. I was tempted to grab hold of a schedule sheet.
I waited till the entire line up showed up on stage . Then a few more songs down, it was time to flip the channel. There was a novelty that works for the first few minutes, but Susheela Raman and crew definitely need to explore the musical meat of the performance to make it a long drawn captivating full course meal. Maybe the energy of her vocals need to be colored differently by the ensemble.
Delhi Sultanate & Begum X
I had seen Ska Vengers before, i was told it was the same guys without the band. As i walked into this stage it felt good, more so in contrast. The duo captivates the audience well. The Jamaican Indian sound didn't feel like a big farce as it could sound in writing. The DJ and the loops provided the instrumental base for the duo, who kept a similar dynamic from ska vengers, except the two beat dance drum rhythm peculiar to ska and the band.
The vocals and spoken word fell in interesting rhythm over ska loops and dub step grooves. " Lets revisit the basics , the origins of dub ", said Mr.Delhi Sultanate . This is where the digital ease of the laptop becomes a weak link to live music performance. " DJ you are just playing a track, stop pretending like you are making it on the go, or taking effort into moving the knob and punching the sequencer." Good ol dub was a lot of work , lot of analog play. I think that's the next level for this act. An engaging/experimental analog back up.
Part2 in a few days.