Originally published in The Hindu Metroplus Bangalore edition on November 18, 2012


Mumbai metal band Bhayanak Maut’s vocalist Vinay Venkatesh threw a question to the crowd over at the Bacardi Black Rock Arena: “Are you happy, Pune?” And just as an affirming roar rose up from around a thousand metalheads gathered on day two of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival, the answer was evident.

Metal bands included, the third annual Bacardi NH7 Weekender brought the widest variety and possibly the largest number of artists all under one roof at Amanora Park in Pune last week. With 80 artists over three days spread across six different stages, the good folks at Only Much Louder (OML) can certainly retain their right to promote Weekender as “India’s happiest music festival”.

What made it equally special this year was a tie-in with the Australian International Cultural Council, which arranged to have progressive rock band Karnivool, indie rock duo Big Scary, indie pop band Sheppard and house group The Aston Shuffle play at the festival. They will be keeping the international names just as big when they set up camp in Bangalore on December 15 and 16, with headlining acts including thrash metal giants Testament, progressive metal favourites Periphery, singer-songwriter Fink and a few other familiar names that still need to be confirmed.

Over in Pune, the gig seemed perfect for two elements: firstly, a balance of Indian and international artists, which is uncharted territory for any music festival in the country. Secondly, the range of genres make for an interesting exercise in pick-and-choose for festival-goers. Everything from dubstep, electronica, and reggae to metal, rock, folk, and alternative is on show on each stage. Pune’s Amanora Park was swarming with people torn between attending The Manganiyar Seduction at the Jack & Jones Other Stage – a charming spectacle and sound show of Rajasthani folk music – and Mumbai’s finest metal musicians come together as the Bombay Metal Project to rip some mosh-friendly covers of their favourite songs.

And metal is very much the main agenda in Bangalore, but that need not put off fans of folk rock (Advaita, Indian Ocean and Susheela Raman play at the Dewarists Stage), electronica (Austrian beatboxers Bauchklang, Bay Beat Collective and Shaa’ir and Func play at Eristoff Wolves Den), alternative (British singer Martina Topley-Bird and Bangalore’s own 3 Sevens play at the Jack & Jones Other Stage), or indie rock (Blek, Sky Rabbit, the Bicycle Days and the Shakey Rays play at the Bindass Restless Fully Fantastic Stage).

The best part is that these are initial lineup announcements. Clearly, not everyone could go check out Weekender in Pune for the past two years, which explains why they brought the festival to other cities. There are few festivals as well-organised as the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, and after scoring full marks in Delhi and Pune, there’s little doubt that this lineup will disappoint at the concluding edition in the city. It’s about time Bangalore has the weekend that will equal several big-name concerts hosted in the city over the past few years.

Bacardi NH7 Weekender Bangalore takes place on December 15 and 16. Tickets are on sale at nh7.in/weekender/bangalore


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