5 Offbeat Music Festivals of India
I always refer to these COVID-ridden times as ‘not-so-pleasant’ times rather than calling it ‘bad’ because although it doesn’t make a difference at least it gives you the strength to deal with it and make your slightly optimistic, much like the famous “All Is Well” concept from 3 Idiots.
Being a fond follower of the entertainment industry and an avid music lover, the first thing that I’d be desperately waiting for is the concerts to start again.
From the point of view of a musician, nothing gives more satisfaction to an artist than experiencing thousands of fans swaying to their music and having a joyous time while screaming out the lyrics of their songs. Being the audience, the energy and electricity that a live concert generates is unmatchable and is extremely rejuvenating.
For a moment, lets’ look at concerts beyond the cliched Sunburn, VH1 Supersonic and NH7 Weekenders or even Strawberry fields. No denying the fact that these are probably India’s best concerts when it comes to providing that experience to ones attending them because, in the end, it’s all about the experience.
But here, I’m going to list out 5 offbeat or non-conventional music festivals in India which every music and entertainment lover music visit once in their prime days.
1. The Jodhpur Riff, Jodhpur
As the name suggests, this festival takes place in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in the month of October. Although for those who play the guitar or have some idea about it, a riff is a short, repeated, memorable musical phrase, often pitched low on the guitar, which focuses much of the energy and excitement of a rock song, which quite suitably matches with the whole consent. But here, RIFF stands for Rajasthan International Folk Festival. Started in 2007, Rajasthan's gorgeous Mehrangarh Fort hosts it with over 250 musicians from all over the world coming together. The Maharaja of Jodhpur as its chief patron and Sir Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones as the international patron, the festival rustic tones of Rajasthan with music from across the globe. It has always tried to inspire collaborations between various musical traditions and is a treat for all those who aren’t inclined towards the EDM and metal side of music.
2. Hornbill, Kohima
The North-Eastern part of the country is known for its love for rock music and is home to many wonderful musicians like Papon. This festival, which happens in the first week of December, primarily focus on reviving and celebrating the best bands across the globe. The Hornbill Music Festival, also known as "The Experiential Music Festival" is now India's biggest music festival. With more than 50 bands performing from all over the world, this festival is backed by some of the biggest sponsors in the industry like Casio. Despite supporting different genres of music, the North-Eastern states are known for their love of Rock music and culture. To help travellers have a better trip to Kohima, the road from Dimapur (the closest airport) is under renovation.
3. The Storm Festival, Coorg
Cosy nights-out in the lap of nature, a community campsite, misty mornings, lung-friendly quiet walks, yoga sessions, music workshops on-the-go, camp-jams, bonfires, roasted marshmallows, multiple genres of music, never-before never-after musical collaborations...the list has just begun. That's Storm Festival.
Conceptualised over a decade ago by the brother-in-arms, Lavin Uthappa & Sachin Bopanna, Storm Festival debuted in 2012 in Napoklu, Coorg in the middle of unspoilt natural beauty. The concept, of course, had been a fairly unexplored territory but somebody had to tread the way. The meticulous concern towards preserving the environment happens to be just one of the highlights of Storm, besides the festival celebrating togetherness, camaraderie and religion called Music. This is what makes it a camp-out music festival, where camaraderie lingers long after the entertainment dazzlers go off stage... An escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, an escapade to unwind the souls which are bound by the stress of everyday life.
4. Ragasthan, Jaisalmer
This one of a kind event usually takes place in the first week of February in the serene deserts of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. With more than 2000 people attending it from over 37 countries, Ragasthan sends you back with an experience like none other. This 3-day camping festival, not just caters to your love for music but provides with an overall artistic extravaganza. The festival is divided into 3 stages, the first being Morio (means Peacock) starting off the festival with much grandeur and has Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop and other genres kicking in. The second day is called Birakha (means Rain) offering a completely different experience with Indie music where singer-songwriters get to perform with closer access to the audience. The final or the closing event is Ammara(Shining Star) with live DJs spinning EDM into the night awakening all your musical senses by the end of it.
5. Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Festival, Kasual
Organized in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, this is a festival with a cause. This music festival raises funds for the treatment of terminally-ill children. Upcoming artists are given a platform to perform alongside legendary singers like Usha Uthup, Shilpa Rao, Leslie Lewis, Sonam Kalra, Rabbi Shergill etc. This is not just a celebration of music but also, a celebration of life. Till a few years ago, one would only imagine what it must be like in the far states but with ventures such as these, not only are there attractions that bring in an international crowd but the states are also accessible for the Indian crowds as well. Music has always held the gravitational pull for cross-cultural interactions and harmony and with these music festivals, one sees different people leaving behind their humdrum and coming together as one.
By- Debasmith Chakravorty.