The Letter: NH7 Weekender 2016, Pune

Posted on 13 December, 2016 by Team Wishberry

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Nucleya’s set was full of incredible crowd please.  
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

Hey Weekender 2016,

I had booked my ticket for this year’s edition back in August itself. It might have been a smart decision economically, but it was taken more out of excitement. I love you, Bacardi NH7 Weekender. There is music, there is joy and there is an incredibly friendly vibe all around.

So come December, I was in Hinjewadi, Pune, making my way through security, to embrace my favourite time of the year. I mean, if not a music festival, how else will you watch an average of 10-12 artists a day, and hear about 60-70 albums in three days? I was unable to contain my excitement from a week prior and when the day came, it was only increasing.

Day 1

I was well in time; I had to be. Gumbal was up on The Bacardi House Party Stage. I had never heard them before, but I was curious. I saw a bit of it and they sounded good. I missed parts of their set; it was a sunny afternoon and a man needs his drink. But, I missed it majorly because the transactions took time. PayTM setup wasn’t working, the card machines seemed not to be connecting to their banking overlords, and cash, well, you know the situation with that one.

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Zoya’s hard hitting voice mesmerised the audience.
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

Right after that, electronica/guitar hero Randolph Correia aka Func took the Bacardi Arena, and boy, he delivered a powerhouse set. Following him on the Bacardi House Party Stage was Zoya, a Berklee graduate who has peaked interest in her music recently. I was equally curious, not only to see her live, but also watch what it is that has made Ajay Jayanthi one of the most sought after violinist in the Bombay music circuit. I got my answers. Zoya slammed the set, and she won my special regard when she performed a stupendous slam poetry piece before starting one of her songs. Ajay was incredible with his parts and stage presence, especially considering how mighty difficult it is to be jumping around onstage with the violin.

By the end of Zoya’s set, the area in front of the Bacardi Arena had started filling up. It was Kolkata rockers Underground Authority next. Though, personally, their mix on the PA for the first couple of songs sounded a little odd, once it was rectified, they proved why they deserved to be on that big stage. Azaad sounded the biggest and if you have heard it, you know that was bound to be. One of the most promising Blues bands, Kanchan Daniel & The Beards was up next. Kanchan is a powerhouse vocalist with an equally poised softer side to her vocals. The powerhouse side was on full display that evening, but personally, I would’ve liked to see some more of her softer vocals, as well. The band was pretty tight and was a joy to watch.

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Rap-rock outfit Underground Authority came with a power packed set.
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

Now, I had only heard of Sapta, to be honest. So I was not sure what to expect. But, boy when they started, the electronic live act was the perfect opener for the headliner of the day. Their use of South Indian musical elements really pumped the crowd up. Nucleya then took the Bacardi Arena and made it feel like an arena. He picked up where Sapta left, took that energy to another level and never, even for a moment, let it drop. With that energy, the Day 1 concluded on a high note.

Day 2

My day 2 started with Goddess Gagged. Oh, how amazing it feels to have them back! They ended their super tight set with, arguably, their most popular song, Visionary. What a great beginning to day 2, I thought. I moved to the Other Stage to watch what River brought to the festival. They brought flow and grace, standing true to their name. I could only catch a part of their set, but those three women upfront know how to weave magic.

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Oh, Goddess Gagged, it is so good to have you back!
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

I moved back to Bacardi stages. The F16s were up next. I had enjoyed their album and was curious how they perform that on the big stage. They did incredibly well. Though, they’re now being talked about for their guitar smashing shenanigan, I missed that bit, again thanks to the beautiful queue at the ATM. The next band was Aswekeepsearching. I had heard good things, and they did not disappoint. Right from the word ‘Go’ they were pumping energy back into the crowd which was mildly shocked/surprised at the guitar smashing business.

A huge crowd had started gathering in front of the Bacardi Arena. After all, it was the Eid ka chaand of Indian bands, Skyharbor, which was up next. I was slightly displeased at their initial oddly louder vocals compared to other stuff, but they got their mix in place a little while later, and bam! You had djent in all its glory spread with superb visuals and great sound.


The F16s might have been in the news for controversy, but that doesn’t take away from how kickass their set was.
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

I was a little confused about whether to watch Jose Gonzalez, about whom everyone had been raving, or stick around to watch something unheard of. I went for the latter, only because The Joy Formidable from Wales had already begun, and they were sounding fucking sweet! They were super tight, conversant, and had some of the best music at the festival.

It was time then, for the pappa of all acts at the festival, the King of prog, Steven Wilson to bring some misery, like he said, to the happiest festival. A joke enjoyed by all. But, not more than his music. He proved why he is where he is. Lazarus got the crowd really going and it didn’t stop after that. Thank you and Good night probably felt the saddest at the end of that set. Was the sadness for the fact that that was all from Steven Wilson or was it because of his dark songs? Who knows. I slept like a baby that night, a tick off the bucket list does that.

Day 3


Mali has one of the best voices in the country and she capitalised on it with a truly breathtaking performance.
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

I had missed all the times Mali had performed in Bombay. She seemed like an incredibly talented singer/songwriter from her recordings, and as I rushed to catch her live, she proved me right. Her voice is graceful and powerful all the same and her songs relatable. After her set, I just had to shift the direction I was facing to watch the next act, Spud in the Box, one of my favourite bands from Bombay, and they performed their debut album, Lead Feet Paper Shoes, incredibly well. They were energetic, perfect and damn, both the boys sing like a dream.

When Chai Met Toast’s Fireflies was loved by a lot of people as soon as it had released. They are a fun band with nice, peppy music. Their stage act only complimenting their music. It was a lot of fun during their set with the crowd’s energy being a highlight. When Suyasha Sengupta, the vocalist of The Ganesh Talkies meets you in a regular situation, you would not believe that she is a monster on stage, both in terms of vocals and presence. This unassuming bunch of people went on stage to make everyone dance the fuck out of their minds and that they did.

I moved my ass to the Vivid Village Stage to watch Tripura rapper, Borkung Hrangkhawl, about whom I had heard a lot. As good a rapper he is, I was disappointed with the mix which had the beats too much on top of the vocals and that just takes the fun away from a good hip-hop act.


Naezy brought Mumbai hip-hop to Pune, and Mumbai Sattar was personified.
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

I stuck around that stage since rappers Prabhdeep and Naezy were to perform. As it was written Naezy X Prabh in the schedule, everyone had somewhat assumed they would perform together and there might be some interesting stuff. But, Prabhdeep came on stage, showed off why he is one of the best Punjabi rappers around and went off to make way for Naezy, and everyone said hurray (sorrynotsorry). Naezy has time and again bettered himself and he is one of the few rappers who sound at par or even better than they sound on record. After a power-packed performance, Divine made his way on stage and Rajakumari joined him. Divine can probably give any rapper in the world a run for their money on his best day, but this one was not exactly one of those days. I am a big fan of his music, but I just felt that he probably could have done a little better than he did that day.

I had to literally do a mental coin toss to choose between Shankar Mahadevan’s special set and Anoushka Shankar. I chose the sitar virtuoso for the sole reason that I have not seen her live before and another sitar God, Niladri Kumar, had blown my mind in the 2015 edition. As soon as she appeared on stage, the vibe of the place achieved a certain serenity, and it only kept getting better as the set progressed. I love watching sitar live, and the versatility that Anoushka Shankar brought with her compositions only gave me another reason to fangirl over her for almost two days.


Anoushka Shankar and her sitar delivered what was the most serene yet incredibly powerful performances of this year’s Weekender.
Image source: NH7 Weekender Facebook

That was it. THE music festival was over for this year, and with promises of next year, I bid adieu. In this shitfest called 2016, this was a great change. The happiest festival, as you are dubbed, maintained your reputation.

See you next year, Weekender. I hope it only gets bigger and better.

Thank you.


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