60 bands, different genres come together at music fest

By Madhushree Chatterjee, IANS

New Delhi : As many as 60 contemporary music groups from across India will play their “original music” belonging to genres like rock, pop and jazz at the East Wind Music Festival here, billed as the largest ever assembly of Indian bands.

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The fest, being held Feb 22-24, could well be India’s own version of the Woodstock Festival that shook the world with its sheer energy in a small American town in 1969.

Organised by event management group Prospect Advisory and Management, the musical extravaganza will be held at the NSIC Ground in Okhla. It aims to promote contemporary and original music in its “truest form” and will feature genres ranging from the popular rock, pop, funk and hip-hop to serious blues, reggae and jazz.

“The Indian music industry has come a long way over the last few years. Every year we see more and more international artistes performing their original music in India. We believe that the Indian rock fraternity is not behind them, they’ve also been a part of many shows that allowed them to play their own music,” said Adhiraj Mustafi, managing director of Prospect A&M.

According to him, the East Wind Festival is a “tribute to these artistes”. “It is about the audio-visual sensation of live performances that Prospect has been promoting for quite some time now,” Mustafi said.

In India, the contemporary music scene is largely limited to pub shows and gigs. The limited scope to perform compels several bands to spend their time “covering famous global artists than concentrating on their original numbers”, the organisers said.

“East Wind will allow them to play their own numbers – original music, composed by the bands themselves – so that they can establish their creative identity in the world of western music, which thrives on originals,” said a Prospect official.

The East Wind fest includes popular bands like Parikrama, Pentagram, Them Clones, Skinny Alley, Pink Noise, Half Step Down Thermal and a Quarter.

“This is history in the making, India has never had a festival like this featuring 60 bands. The great thing about this festival is that it will allow us to play original music,” Jayashree Singh, a vocalist with two Kolkata-based bands Skinny Alley and Pink Noise, told IANS over phone from Kolkata.

Jayashree feels all the music action is in Delhi now. “My bands have been performing in Delhi regularly for the past two-three years. The audience is wonderful. They encourage bands to play original numbers, unlike other metros. It will be really exciting to hear so many bands play their original scores.”

Her forte is a blend of rock-jazz and funk. “It is a very small audience, but quite devoted. We may not be having the same kind of numbers as Bollywood, but our compositions are in no way inferior or less pleasing to the ear. And Delhi is a great place to perform,” she said.

Agrees drummer Surujit Dev of Delhi-based rock band Them Clones: “This is the Mecca of western music now. We have been performing both in the country and abroad for seven years, and I can say Delhi has edged out Mumbai as the western music hot spot.

“Other cities should take cue and organise similar festivals where bands will be allowed to play their original numbers. This is almost like the Woodstock festival.”

Them Clones plays alternative pop-rock – popularly known as “indie” music in Britain – that traces its roots to the underground music movement of the 80s. It applies to punk-rock inspired bands that played on independent record labels, which did not fit into the mainstream music category.

“Western music has come of age in India and our originals are at par with the West in terms of sound and compositions,” said Surujit.