A plethora of music from various genres, food and gift stalls, and loads and loads of fun marked the fifth edition of the NH7 Weekender Festival held in Meghalaya last week. One of the most anticipated live music experiences in India, this year's edition of Bacardi NH7 Weekender was held at 'Wenfield' - The Festive Hills, Thadlaskein, Lad Mukhla, Jaintia Hills. Spanning across two days, the festival witnessed a spirited response at its fifth edition, drawing huge numbers of crowd from across the Northeast. Music lovers of Assam and Meghalaya were seen flocking to Jaintia Hills in large numbers to be part of the festival and stay in the numerous campsites set up in and around the venue.
With the likes of Megadeth, Steven Wilson and Steve Vai performing in the previous editions, music lovers were expecting a major headliner this year too. Many people were complaining that the organizers had announced a very weak line-up but the ardent fans kept their hopes alive. The wait was finally over when the organizers declared that guitarist legendary guitarist Martin Friedman, will be the headlining act along with Tesseract and US-based Indie rapper Raja Kumari.
The much awaited event opened its doors to fans from across India, who attended in droves to see Australian rock band Karnivool (who were celebrating 10 year since the release of their landmark album Sound Awake) and Canadian progressive metal band Intervals (in India for the very first time). Shubha Mudgal enthralled festival goers with a powerful performance, with this being her first performance in Meghalaya, with Benny Dayal & Funktuation also performing hits from their EP to a thrilled crowd. The event also saw some of India's finest acts make their debut performances at the happiest music festival like Pakshee, Antariksh and The Koniac Net in North East India.
Local artists from across the east of India also played to a very diverse audience of music fans. Featuring everything from rock, blues and shoe-gaze, acts like Blue Temptation (hailing from Shillong themselves), Lo! Peninsula (from Imphal), Fame the Band and the Andrea Tariang Band (both from Meghalaya) set the stage for the multi-genre and multi-stage music festival.
The second day featured some stellar acts, including legendary thrash guitarist Marty Friedman (playing in India for the very first time), British prog metal giants TesseracT (playing in Meghalaya for the first time) and a special set from local favourite and blues legends Soulmate, with the special act - the North East Blues special.
We had a number of bands with extremely diverse sounds from across north-east India showcase their acts right here at the happiest music festival. With acts like rap group Khasi Bloodz, dub reggae band Small Axe Sound and hip-hop artist Meba Ofilia (from Shillong, Meghalaya), jazz-pop act Avora Records (from Aizawl, Mizoram) and funk-rock band Minute of Decay (from Imphal, Manipur), no genre was left behind this year at BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender.
To represent the sounds of a truly global festival, artists from different parts of the world played to an adoring crowd. England based Indo-jazz artist Sarathy Korwar, Sri Lankan soul band The Soul and US-based rapper Raja Kumari enthralled the audience, with each of them playing in Meghalaya for the first time.
"2019 marks our 5th year in Meghalaya and year 10 of the festival. We're very attached to the people here, and the enthusiasm and heart that they show towards music and the festival is incredible to experience. The festival sits in the middle of the hills and by far is the most unique festival venue in the country. We can hardly wait to be back again next year and bring back more music and a world class production to the beautiful people of Meghalaya", said Supreet Kaur, Festival Director, BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender.
The festival opened its doors to not only music from across the world but cuisines and art too, with bustling flea market offering local favourites as well as a food court featuring top-notch local delicacies.
The Discovery of a New Festival Venue
The NH7 Weekdender has led to the discovery and consolidation of a new venue for live music festivals in the form of Thadlaskein, Lad Mukhla of Jaintia Hills. 'Thadlaskein', a small village located in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya hosted this year's edition of the festival as it has done in the last editio. Located around 150 kms from Guwahati and 50 kms from Shillong, it provided the perfect ambience for hosting a music festival. Reaching the spot was in itself a delight. Impeccable road condition, brilliant picturesque and access to delicious local cuisine, made the 4 hours journey from Guwahati to Thadlaskein a memorable one. The actual venue was surrounded by pine forests and a number of campsites accommodating the festival goers. The campsites too had their own after-event acoustic set performances.
The festival grounds also included a vibrant Bazaar with shops displaying and selling fashion accessories and local finds. Food stalls catered to various tastes and were a great way to check out a lot of local cuisine, especially for fans travelling from outside the region. The setting of the festival, the proximity to the Thadlaskein Lake and the hilly region made it a fantastic day to remember with fans clamouring for the second day of the festival.
Marty Friedman enthrals Northeast crowd
As mentioned before, many music fans were cribbing over the fact that the weekender group always had a step-motherly treatment towards Shillong with regards to the selection of bands. So the initial line-up which was announced by the organizers met with a lot of resentment and many people voiced their resentments on social media. Maybe judging the angst of the people, the organizers made some modifications in their line-up and added few new acts, mainly legendary guitarist of Metalica fame, Marty Friedman, and British metal giants Teserract.
Now Marty Friendman is one guitarist that every musician and guitarist of the Northeast swears by. His name alone was enough to pacify the rock crazy crowd of Northeast India. And true to his fan following, Friedman's fans drove in all the way from Mizoram, Nagaland and Kolkata to watch him live.
Stars Galore: Music for every Mood
Besides these legends, the festival also witnessed performances by some of the biggest names of the music industry. A number of celebrated artists, spanning across musical genres and age, travelled across the breadth and width of the country to perform for the music lovers of the region.
Several home-grown artists from the Northeast also performed at the event and their performance too met with an enthusiastic reception.
The Festival is here to Stay
Last year, the OML group had decided to make Meghalaya a regular destination in the Weekender calendar. Talking with The Sentinel a couple of years back, Vijay Nair, CEO of OML Entertainment had said, "Every year, fans from the Northeast justify our decision to set up a festival in Meghalaya. If the 2015 edition was an experiment and the 2016 edition was the confirmation that things could be here to stay, the 2017 edition will be remembered as the year where the Meghalaya edition will be cemented into our calendar."
And to justify Nair's statement made last year, this year's festival director Supreet Kaur said, "2019 marks our 5th year in Meghalaya and year 10 of the festival. We're very attached to the people here, and the enthusiasm and heart that they show towards music and the festival is incredible to experience. The festival sits in the middle of the hills and by far is the most unique festival venue in the country. We can hardly wait to be back again next year and bring back more music and a world class production to the beautiful people of Meghalaya."
OML is a global, artist-first company that creates intellectual properties (IPs) for content platforms, live entertainment and brands, that have become synonymous with pop culture in India and across the world. OML's global creator network spans 200+ artists across genres and across 20+ countries.
Working at the cross-section of content, talent representation and live experiences, OML has produced promoted and presented sold out tours in India and abroad for some of India's biggest entertainment properties, from BACARDÍ NH7 Weekender (described by The Guardian as "India's answer to Glastonbury") to Breezer Vivid Shuffle (India's largest hip hop festival) and LOLstars and Headliners in comedy. They have also produced 200+ hours (3.6Bn minutes watched) of memorable and iconic online properties, series, standup comedy specials and content pieces across genres for television and various multimedia platforms such as Sound Trippin', The Dewarists, Comicstaan, Laakhon Mein Ek, Pushpavalli, Chacha Vidhayak Hai Humare and Queens of Comedy.
OML works with a wide range of brands (BACARDÍ, YouTube, Cadbury's 5-star, Britannia, RedBull, Levi's, FlipKart, Amazon to name a few) and creators including 150+ YouTube stars and some of the biggest independent comedy acts, dancers, writers and storytellers in the country including Zakir Khan, Kanan Gill, Kenny Sebastian, Kaneez Surka, Sumukhi Suresh, Prashasti Singh, Sidin Vadukut and Melvin Louis amongst others.
Bacardi Limited, the largest privately held spirits company in the world, produces and markets internationally recognized spirits and wines. The Bacardi Limited brand portfolio comprises more than 200 brands and labels, including BACARDÍ® rum, GREY GOOSE® vodka, PATRÓN® tequila, DEWAR'S® Blended Scotch whisky, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin, MARTINI® vermouth and sparkling wines, CAZADORES® 100% blue agave tequila, and other leading and emerging brands including WILLIAM LAWSON'S® Scotch whisky, ST-GERMAIN® elderflower liqueur, and ERISTOFF® vodka. Founded more than 157 years ago in Santiago de Cuba, family owned Bacardi Limited currently employs more than 7,000, operates more than 20 production facilities in 11 countries, and sells its brands in more than 170 countries. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.