The Bacardi NH7 Weekender saw its third year in Pune this month.  The festival has now expanded and there was a two-day edition at the NCR in Delhi and another one is to follow in Bangalore. So where does this leave the original Pune edition?

God knows!

Yes I have seen noobs turning into ‘indie whores’ after attending the previous versions of the festival. As far as I am concerned, I have even had the chance of working behind the scenes for the Weekender last year. This year, it was even bigger. Sprawled across the vast Amanora Park Town, it hosted six stages and saw thousands of attendees.

But did this edition change my opinion?

I decided to attend the festival with an open mind along with a Weekender virgin, Swathy. Here are my observations:

The guarded gates

The security at this year’s Weekender was really tight. They made airport security look shitty. They made people take off shoes. The insides of my camera lenses were examined. Swathy tells me that it was worse for women. Going by what she said, she was very touched by the gesture.

Overheard at the Weekender: She touched me everywhere, I don’t know if I feel safe or molested.

Pappu can’t drink saala

Keeping in view the archaic excise and alcohol laws of the state of Maharashtra, alcohol was served to only those above the age of 25 in closed bar areas. I think the most affected were the ones who were 21 and above but below 25 (and mind you in Pune that’s a sizeable population) who could legally drink beer though there was none served.

The Weekender is a little less fun without booze. Maybe I’ll just return four years later when I am 25 or I’ll probably download the Weekender bootleg and get high at home.

Overheard at the Weekender:  Even my friend who is volunteering at the bar can’t get me alcohol!

The Lineup

The lineup looked perfect on paper; I loved how the festival programmers decided to get new acts and collaborations instead of what we have been used to in the past. I even remember supporting about this lineup in various arguments with my friends.

Well, it worked for me because:

  • I listen to just about anything.
  • I like listening to new musicians irrespective of how catchy their tunes are.
  • Bad musicians make for fun conversations later on (true story!).

I observed that a majority  of the  crowd flocked to the Dewarists stage because it had all the big names. Manganiyar Seduction especially was a really fresh act. It was obvious that people would enjoy acts such as Raghu Dixit’s even if they only knew a few lines from ‘Mysore se Aayi’. Such bands are popular in India and are still indie simply because they aren’t popular enough.  This was evidently seen even when Alien Chutney performed on the last day.

The saddest thing about the line-up was that there was no BLACKSTRATBLUES!  This solo project of Warren Mendonsa’s is probably one of the best things that happened to us non-EDM music lovers in the country.

Overheard at the Weekender:

Guy1 – Dude, which band is this?
Guy 2 – I dunno man, but I think the guy said they’re MGMT.

(When NH7 – The Future played a cover of an MGMT song )

My dick is much bigger than yours

The Weekender brings in huge amount of folks every year, a large portion of who believe they are photographers.  It goes without saying that a lot of them are actually very good. But being good or bad isn’t the question. This Weekender saw some of them shutterbugs flaunting their big dicks lenses. And these were those really big ones. I felt really inadequate with my trusted 50mm block. Just then a woman pulled out her tablet and shot something. I felt nirvana I think!

Mobile network fail

There’s something about all of these fancy townships. Amanora Park Town as well had really poor mobile network connectivity. What good is an iPhone or my HTC Sensation without connectivity? Nothing but a very fancy stone.

Also, you get bombarded by gazillion notifications as soon as you reach an area with connectivity.

Overheard at the Weekender:  How am I supposed to download the NH7 Festivapp?

Revenge of the auto folks

If the word does suffer a nuclear apocalypse, I am pretty sure two species will survive; cockroaches and autowallahs. The auto guys charged anything between your heart and your kidney to take you home. By the meter? One and a half? That’s a thing of the past (and also a TAAQ song). You pay us what we want. Yes there are those radio cabs and dial an auto services but those work better only when you plan in advance not when you suddenly realize that you have to get home.

To conclude?

It wasn’t the same. No, I wasn’t terribly depressed or sad but I felt bad. This isn’t the Weekender I had fallen in love with. That was a happy mad house. Don’t get me wrong here. I will have great memories from this one too; like when Gandu Circus debuted their new song (actually a 100-year-old song which falls under Rabindra Sangeet) from Q’s Tasher Desh after what was a highly energetic but a frantically glitch-ridden gig.

But a festival is happy when the festival attendees are happy. I know a lot of people can’t get over this but honestly speaking the previous Weekenders may have been smaller but they were definitely happier. And that’s why I came home and watched the Weekender documentary from 2010 and the Weekender show from last year.  And I felt happier.

__________________________________________________________________

Photo of Manganiyar Seduction by Kunal Kakodkar.

Photo of the venue and the ‘camera man’ by Aniket Dasgupta.