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Papon readies to take music lovers by Storm

- Two-day festival to feature bands across the country in the midst of Coorg’s breathtaking beauty

Bangalore, Jan. 4: Some relived the local Woodstock legend. Others got to fantasise about Glastonbury. The end result? Storm arrived as a multi-event music festival to be seen at.

Music lovers who gathered at Coorg in the Western Ghats, nearly 260km from Bangalore, had wanted more last year. And this year, they are sure to get it on February 1 and 2.

Angaraag Papon Mahanta, popular singer from Assam, will be seen performing there next month with his band for the festival that beat estimates and attracted thousands of music lovers in its first edition last year.

“We are playing at the festival this year and we are super-excited, because you get to play for a real crowd, and secondly, it’s out in the midst of nature,” Papon told The Telegraph.

The camp-out experience with multiple bands playing throughout the day till 10pm is returning on a bigger canvas.

Storm 2013 is scheduled to enliven the 22-acre hillside estate, now called Stormfields, in Napoklu, Coorg, with 43 artistes already lined up to energise the makeshift music village.

What lured Papon is Coorg’s breathtakingly beautiful landscape and the audience. “The landscapes immediately set the mood right to play and listen to music. And I personally love hills, mountains and forests,” Papon said, recounting his experience of blending music with nature and the effect on musicians and the audience.

A true blue protagonist of multi-event music festivals, Papon strongly believes in the end result.

“You are exposed to different styles and genres in one place. Since the mood is festive, one is more open and receptive here. And people go back home musically richer,” he added.

Papon and The East India Company is listed as a headline act and he is excited about playing at Storm with his unique style that transcends regular genres, language and culture.

“Festivals have begun to attract people from the Northeast as one gets to experience several varied acts in just a couple of days. Festivals are like holy places for music lovers. And as it may otherwise not be possible to witness so many interesting bands back in the region, it’s worth spending that much to come for a music holiday,” says the talented musician who also sings in Hindi and Bengali and always has something up his sleeve.

The headline acts for Storm are the Swarathma, South Indian fusion band Agam, Devika Chawla from the UK, Lagori, Coshish, Astitva, Agnya, besides Papon and the East India Company.

Four DJs will also help step up the mood in the evenings. Local boy Nikhil Chinappa, who gelled with the teens during his MTV days, leads the list.

“It’s not just about the music, it’s also the experience that helps you enjoy the music better,” said Lavin Uthappa, managing director of Liquidspace Entertainment and chief organiser of the show.

The 22-acre estate is being converted into a secure area for music lovers to camp out and virtually breathe music.

“We gave our mind, body and soul to make the first edition a massive success and we are already on to making this one bigger and better,” said Uthappa.

Nearly 800 2x2 (for two persons) weather-proof tents, 250 chemical toilets, and shower cubicles with hot water, will help house fans who wish to enjoy the camping experience. Like last time, special arrangements will be made for parking — with 1,000 slots for the audience and 500 for the campers.

“Don’t worry about the security, we have 16 CCTV cameras, including night-vision cameras, and more than sufficient security personnel watching the area,” said Uthappa.

Specially-trained sniffer and bouncer dogs brought from Kochi have been brought in to sniff out any narcotics that the more adventurous may try to smuggle in at such events. “We had to send out an entire band last time. We have zero tolerance for drugs,” said Uthappa.

A multi-cuisine kitchen will serve breakfast, meals and everything in between for the guests.

The event did run over some roadblocks last year when some local activists sought its ban, as it was allegedly harmful to the environment. But the court promptly dismissed the petition on the grounds that it lacked reason.

“We are locals (from Coorg) and will never do anything that spoils the serenity of the place and disturb its ecosystem,” said Uthappa who is a hobby drummer and an environment lover.

“There’s not much money in this since we are getting the best of everything from props to sound gear. But let’s first have some great music,” he added.


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