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Rock mela

(From top) Drummer Jivraj Singh is all focus as he performs with Pink Noise on Day 1 of the Eastwind Festival, Siddharth Coutto, frontman for Mumbai band Helga’s Fun Castle, leaps during the band’s performance on Day 3, Selva Ganesh performs with the Leni Stern Band on Day 3,Leni Stern in performance

Three Days! Three Stages! 60 Bands! Original Music!...The largest music festival India has ever seen!


So read the event tagline of the Eastwind Festival, organised by Prospect A&M. After a zillion phone calls and some contract papers signed, I found myself on a night flight to Delhi with my band Five Little Indians, set to perform on Day 2 of the festival on February 23.

Being selected to be a part of the inaugural edition of the festival was indeed a great honour. Also performing in the festival were our fellow bands from Calcutta — Skinny Alley, Pink Noise, Cassini’s Division and Span.

AWRY ARRIVAL

Famished after a delayed flight, we arrived at our hotel in the Greater Kailash area at about 1am, after almost a crazy hour’s ride in the semi-empty streets of Delhi, thanks to our driver! And the first people whom we bumped into were a bunch of musicians.

The entire hotel was buzzing with musicians, crew, groupies, roadies, hangers-ons — the works. “This is going to be one BIG party,” we said to each other, excitedly. The mood was set.

STAGE STORY

The big day! After a brief revision of our set list and an equipment check in the morning, we bundled ourselves into two cars and headed for the venue. A short 10-minute drive later, we found ourselves at the NSIC grounds in Okhla Industrial Estate.

Greeting us at the main entrance were four huge tents which housed the three stages (RSJ, Rumble and At Home) and an exhibition area. From these tents emanated distant strains of music being played simultaneously by the first set of bands of the day.

Brimming with anticipation, we headed towards the RSJ stage, where we were slated to perform. We took the stage after a promising young band called Blend from Delhi wrapped up their show.

Despite a few sound glitches, we managed to deliver a tight and energetic set. The crowd of approximately 200 people who had gathered to watch us seemed to like what they were hearing.

Our gig was done but the festival wasn’t. We were as eager to catch many of the amazing acts lined up for the day as we were to play at the festival.

BANDS THAT BLEW

Myndsnare, a three-piece thrash metal band from Bangalore were one of the first acts we caught, taking the stage right after us and proceeding to blow the crowd away. We went on to catch popular bands like Half Step Down, Galeej Gurus and Jalebee Cartel rocking out their sets. I was a tad disappointed at not being able to watch Cassini’s Division and Soulmate from Shillong.

I then went on to check out the exhibition tent in which there were stalls selling CDs and merchandise of Indian artistes released by Indian record labels. There was also quite a crowd queueing up to get some fresh ink at the tattoo parlour set up by Delhi-based body design studio Funky Munky.

Outside, in the main arena, besides the food stalls,there was a “jam stage”. The largest crowds, however, were at the beer counter where the brew seemed to flow endlessly. If one wanted to look for a lost friend or meet the who’s who of the Indian music fraternity, this was definitely the place to start.

However, the highlight of the evening was when we had to hop between the three stages catching bits of heavyweights Skinny Alley, Thermal and a Quarter and Pentagram, who were playing simultaneously!

LEAVING ON A JET PLANE
The next day, on our way back home, we met members of Skinny Alley at the airport and couldn’t stop raving about the experience.

Eastwind more than lived up to the fare it promised. In case you missed out this year, be around whenever it happens next, as a musician or even otherwise.

Allan Ao
The author is a guitarist with Calcutta bands Five Little Indians and Cactus
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