It takes a lot of doing, and the stars and the gods aren’t usually in favour, but there is still such a thing as a good night out – a genuinely good night out, I mean, not one of those where you have to grit your teeth and force yourself to believe that yelling yourself hoarse over an oblivious crowd drunk to idiocy is somehow more genuinely fun than just staying in and wanking to cam sites, listening to the Heebie Jeebies’ Greatest Hits – and, no, not even the broken, ill-lit ugliness of this city, nor the deadening conviction that the little happiness you squeeze from it is provisional and frail, can take that away.
The smartest thing the minds behind the Bacardi NH7 Weekender do is to cut the festival up into bite-sized pieces: instead of a single, vast, dust-ridden field, you get six manageable, more or less isolated gigs running all at once. This works for a number of reasons. When the programmers at NH7 book their acts, they do it from across the board: you have everything from acoustic balladry to dancehall, from indie to novelty fusion. Separating it by theme is not only a bit of clever space management, it also weeds the neo-hippies from the scrappy indie kids, the EDM bum-wigglers from the weepy folk-music waifs, and the metalheads from everybody else. As a punter, you get to make up your own listing as you go along. As a performer, you aren’t burdened with having to pull a whole stadium’s worth of crowd. The fact of it is, few of bands the bands on the roll have any particularly sizeable following: the Weekender turns this marvellously to its advantage, and gives you six cosy, tidily done festivals for the price of one.
This is a photograph from last Friday night. The occasion is a “pre-party” event for the NH7 Weekender, which happens in Bangalore this coming weekend. The four people you see on stage are Adam & the Fish-Eyed Poets, who are responsible for one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. The three others are the crowd.
Oh, well done, Mr. Pawar. Your lot were never much liked by us plebs to begin with, but you’ve proved once again what we sometimes start to forget: that, much as any civilised state needs policing, you’re as far from a force for the good as it gets, and the sooner we’re rid of the likes of you, the happier we’ll all be.
This weekend, as all manner of stoners and misfits converge upon a hapless Ooty for the MAD festival, I find myself at the other end of the peninsula, meeting Easter Sunday with a cracking hangover. I’ve clearly done a boo-boo: had I known earlier, Easter would have been made to wait in favour of tramping up and down hills, running my bank balance to the ground, being sick in the port-a-potty, and doing all the other nice things that people do at music festivals. But there we are.
Get off your high horse, you pompous arse: you’ve run a perfectly good airline to the ground and now you come around selling your appalling, exorbitantly priced idea of a “good time” to the citizenry. Two thousand rupees to get a foot in the door, never mind what the neanderthal who attends to the cars demands, and I can’t even bring in my own cigarettes. I hope you break both your legs.
I’m going to step off my Fish-Eyed cloud for a moment to survey the calamity that was the rest of the Great Indian Oktoberfest. There is something cardinally wrong with a community which can support an overpriced display of clueless bad taste over no less than three full days; the task at hand is to now spot it, isolate it, and put it to a speedy end. Every time I watch someone like the Ska Vengers I think of putting out the victory flags and announcing amnesty and free pardon to all of India’s various musical offenders; every time something like this obscenity rolls around, my little bubble bursts – pooft – and I know the plebs are alive and well and breeding as we speak.