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News |  26 Sep 2016 19:03 |  By Suhas Thobbi

Lager N Barrel Festival: Mohali knows how to rock n roll

MOHALI: Hungama's latest live initiative in association with Speed Records and EYP Creations opened the second edition of the Lager N Barrel Festival in Aura Vaseela on 24 September 2016. Set on the outskirts of the tri-city, the festival’s experience begins on the road to the venue with scenic visuals that extended to the venue through several art installations.

When in Rome, do like Romans

The entire festival set-up revolved around Punjabi culture – food, installations, stalls, music, and the ambience – but also ensured that the locals were exposed to the concept of a music festival. With a line-up featuring the Nissi Band, Runway Project and African Boys, it was the local emerging artist Gurnazar who raised the roof with originals that most of the 1200 attendees sang along with. Gurnazar stands as another example of the sheer fan following of Punjabi underground artistes who, for some odd reasons, have never found their way to mainstream or commercial success in other regions of the country. A global music festival concept integrated with local talents surprises and Gurnazar exactly provided that. The young songwriter’s original compositions coupled with his ability to engage with the crowd makes him an ideal live performer.

Pakistani band sings Indian goldies

As soon as Gurnazar and his bandmates left the stage, fans followed the ‘rockstar’ wherever he went. However, not for long. The following act – an Indo-Pak band ‘Raeth’ – took to the stage as revellers were still cherishing the Carling (co-presenting partner) beer in their hands and Gurnazar’s verses in their ears. Raeth, led by Pakistani frontman Wajhi Farooqi was joined by Indian bandmates for a performance that the band and the attendees would remember for a long time. With some of the evergreen covers to a couple of the band’s originals, Raeth provided the fans a reminder that the countries – India and Pakistan – shall and will never let art and culture be affected. It was indeed a sight when couples, families, and a group of friends and relatives cheered the band after every performance.

From ‘Allah Ke Bande’ to ‘Dama Dam Mast Kalandar’, fans surely did not miss on good music. But what topped the band’s performance became the highlight for the first day of the second edition. Wajhi Farooqi possibly became the first Pakistani national to sing ‘Vande Mataram...Maa Tujhe Salam’ since Independence. “I chose the song because it is a reminder to us that we were once one. We are still brothers and nothing can stop us,” said Farooqi while speaking to after the performance.”We have been performing in India for a long time. Most of the musicians in the band hail from India, we look similar, we talk similar and our music is extremely similar. So what are we even fighting for?” Farooqi acknowledges that a couple of incidents have hurt the band’s morale, but also added that “99 per cent of the time, I have never faced discrimination for being a Pakistani national. When I stay in Delhi, no one looks at me as a foreigner or anything. From landlords to strangers, everyone has accepted me. And I guess, music has a lot to do with that.”

The frontman further said that the band is currently working with Speed Records for the release of a new music video.

More music

The headlining act for day one – Divya Kumar and Yashita Sharma – featured some of the grooviest party anthems across the last two decades. Not a single pair of legs stopped itself from joining fellow revellers for an hour-long set executed by the Divya Kumar band. The night ended with a DJ act, however, Gurnazar’s authenticity, Raeth’s passion and Divya Kumar’s elaborate line-up offered the region a new understanding of the concept, that of a music festival.

CEO of speaks

Says Hungama CEO Siddhartha Roy, “The festival is all about right collaborations on a B2B perspective. For us, this market (Punjab and north India) is extremely important. For the last few years, we have been increasing our ground presence. People want to see different renditions of some of the originals, and that is where these live shows offer that content. Lager N Barrel was built on the lines of Oktoberfest – combining beer and music. Punjab continues to be our key markets for live opportunities. Hungama and Speed Records share a relationship for ten years now on the consumer front, and we extended that partnership on the business front recently, with associations that already exist (Lager n Barrel, Crossblade).”

Live IPs have gradually become a vital element of Hungama’s DNA, and stats like these – at least 10,000 live streamed the first day on Hungama Play and Hungama Music Apps – further encouraged Siddhartha Roy to continue penetration into the North Indian market. Ticketed events usually do not attract huge response in this part of the world, however for a line-up that did not involve a Diljit or a Honey Singh or other commercially popular artistes, selling 1200 tickets on the first day could be counted as success.