All the World’s a Stage

All the World’s a Stage

As multiple artistes and stages come to define music festivals across the country,organisers talk about the dynamics of hosting an informed audience

There was a time when music buffs in the country would mark their calendars for the biggest concerts and “music festivals” of the year,waiting for them impatiently. And the biggest concerts,more often than not,were part of an Indian tour by an international band,Metallica or Guns N’ Roses for instance,or a heavyweight Indian band such as Indian Ocean or Pentagram. Fans paid through their noses,waited long hours for the artistes to appear and then went home happy. It was enough,just to be able to witness one of their favourite bands perform live. That was until Bacardi NH7 Weekender turned up in Pune in 2010.

With more than 50 bands performing simultaneously over three days,NH7 Weekender was truly a festival. There was something for everyone — electronic fans,metalheads and rockers. If UK-based indie band The Magic Numbers was grooving on one stage,Mumbai rockers Zero was performing on the other. And to complete the experience,there was food,drinks,art,merchandise and a lot more. That the concept caught on with the audience is undoubted,and come October 18,the fourth edition of the three-day festival will return to the city once again. It will then travel to Delhi,Bangalore and Kolkata.

“I think Bacardi NH7 Weekender was one of the first multi-genre festivals that focussed on giving people a true festival experience. People come to get away for the weekend and listen to new music. So of course,we would need multiple stages. Most people are happy to move from Bacardi Arena to Eristoff Wolves Den,to Breezer Dub Station (stage names) to listen to different bands,” says Vijay Nair,CEO of Only Much Louder,the festival’s organisers.

Ever since NH7 Weekender,several similar music festivals have cropped up across the country that take the experience even further,such as the Storm Festival in Coorg,which made its debut in 2012. The two-day festival had performances split across two stages,with hundreds of people camped out at the venue,as did the musicians themselves,a la Woodstock. In and around the venue,there were other things going on simultaneously — a paintball arena saw mock warfare and a midnight jam session around a bonfire with band members from Parvaaz to Swarathma among others. “Given the exposure level of the well-travelled audience,festivals have evolved into a place to bond,” says Lavin Uthappa,festival director of Storm and managing director of Liquidspace Entertainment

(festival organiser).


The latest entrant in the music festival circuit is the Enchanted Valley Carnival (EVC),which will debut in December this year at Aamby Valley. The first edition of EVC,an electronic dance music festival,will have three stages along with an additional after-party stage,spread across 30 acres in Aamby Valley. “A fan of trance might not want to listen to dubstep or house,so different stages will have performances of different acts and genres. This way,a curious listener can walk around and listen to other genres,while more specific fans can stick to their chosen genres,” says festival director Shoven Shah.

The larger scales of new music festivals also mean more complicated logistics. Bigger budgets,more artistes and performances to manage,a large enough venue — the list is endless,says Uthappa. Most importantly,the organisers have to ensure that music from one stage does not reach fans at the other. If all of that is not enough,the festival organisers have to keep innovating to ensure that they have something new every year. “We’re always exploring different stages and concepts each year,such as with the Red Bull Tour Bus this year,” says Nair of NH7 Weekender,which will introduce the concept of the mobile touring bus for artistes this edition.

“The music scenario is changing for the better. Today,innovation is the key factor,” says Uthappa.