2022 rock music festival return

When the few indie musicians who attended All About Music this year left, they didn’t say goodbye, but “See you November 5th.” It was a no-brainer that if not sooner they would meet on the day the legendary Independence Rock (I-Rock) will be back after a nine-year hiatus.

For Indian indie music fans of a certain vintage, and especially those based in Mumbai, Independence Rock wasn’t just the biggest indie music festival, it was pretty much the only one. And it remained that way from its launch in 1986 until the early 2010s, when events such as the Bacardi NH7 Weekender debuted.

Being from that certain vintage, for me, the return of I-Rock was one of the most exciting developments in the Indian music scene this year. When the tickets have been announced and published, I signed up and took one of the early bird passes. Then after seeing that I had paid almost Rs 2,000 for them I realized that it was not quite the same dust and grime filled experience one would remember witnessing at Rang Bhavan or Chitrakoot Grounds. It will be I-Rock, the chic version, which will be staged at Bayview Lawns, the location of the latest iteration of the very whimsical Mahindra Blues Festival.

Indus Creed

© Indus Creed

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Everything should eventually evolve. But then I thought about how I-Rock was also one of the most inclusive events in the country, a place where rock and metal fans could congregate and literally let their hair down and hit the head without censure or judgment.

The organizers surfed on the wave of nostalgia that swept past participants in social media post both video clips from previous editions as well as photographs of ticket stubs. The images show that until the 1990s, the entrance fee remained below Rs100. For many years in the 2000s, you didn’t even need a ticket – you just bought a copy of the newspaper sponsoring the festival, like Mid-Day or Mumbai Mirror, and that served as your pass.

Of course, we’re going to get a much sleeker version of I-Rock and given the average ticket prices for music festivals these days, the Phase 2 tag of Rs 2,000 per day is in line with rates current market for similar experiences. Still, the old-school indie fan in me can’t help but scoff at the fact that I-Rock, of all events, sells a “lounge” access ticket, including a “premium seating area,” for Rs10,000. Who sits at a rock festival? It is revealing that even if two phases of the season ticket are sold out, the “early bird” offer for these VIP seats remains available five weeks after the tickets go online.


© Naman Saraiya

Again, I realized that the target audience for I-Rock was no longer the youth. For proof, just look at the name of the title sponsor. In the early years, these included cola brands such as Pepsi and Thums Up. Starting this year, I-Rock will be known as Mahindra Independence Rock as the automaker has added it to its roster of music-centric IPs which includes Mahindra Blues Festival, Mahindra Kabira Festival and Mahindra OpenDrive.

Perhaps the idea is that the majority of people who come to I-Rock will be an audience segment that is now in a different, older demographic with higher disposable income. Long hair, wearing black t-shirts, jumping the walls of yesterday and becoming today’s upwardly mobile corporate honchos.

But looking at the list of artists playing this edition of Independence Rock adds weight to the idea that rock is no longer a genre for young people. And that it’s a style that doesn’t quite have the same dynamism as ten years ago. As enjoyable as the lineup is, none of the bands headlined for 2022 are less than five years old. Here they are with the year of training in parentheses.

  • Indus Creed (1984)

  • Parikrama (1991)

  • Pentagram (1994)

  • Zero (1998)

  • Avia (2003)

  • Parvaaz (2010)

  • The F16s (2012)

  • Awake Searching (2013)

  • Thaikkudam Bridge (2013)

  • Bloody Wood (2016)

The F16s

© The Bucket Sessions

When I reported this on social media, I expected to receive mildly offended responses from musicians who shared the names of rock and metal bands that carry the gender flag. Except that all but one of the acts mentioned were formed over five years ago.

  • Antarich (2012)

  • Diarchy (2015)

  • Girish and the Chronicles (2009)

  • Gray Cabin (2007)

  • Gutslit (2007)

  • Last Minute (2013)

  • Mocaine (2018)

  • Pacifist (2017)

  • Peter Cat Recording Co. (2010)

  • Skrat (2006)

  • Soulmate (2003)

  • Light years explode

  • The Local Train (2008)

  • Thermal and a Quarter (1996)

  • Zygnema (2006)

continuing to search

© [unknown]

It should be noted that the youngest group on the list, Mocaine, is four years old and started as a solo project. That doesn’t mean rock is dying. Far from there. I maintain a regularly updated list of Indian indie music albums and EPs released each year and so far in 2022, more than 30 rock collections have been released. However, that compares to more than 60 hip-hop, 40 pop singer-songwriters, and 40 electronic music efforts. In these rock releases, there are a lot of new acts.
The lack of new rock stars, as opposed to rock bands, isn’t exactly a recent problem. Journalist Lalitha Suhasini documented the scarcity of headline-worthy performers in a Rolling Stone cover in 2015. At the time, his article angered a few rock musicians. In the meantime, India’s independent music scene has spawned several headliners, most of whom are rappers, singer-songwriters and electronic musicians.

If we look beyond releases and gigs, once again you will find that electronic, pop and hip-hop bands dominate the gig schedules much more than rock bands, which was not the case. 10 years ago.

Thaikkudam Bridge

© Thaikkudam Bridge

I agree with some of the comments made in response to my post – that programmers need to broaden their horizons and broaden their definition of “rock”, which was extended to metal a long time ago. To me, it seems their definition equates to “Acts that may cause a mosh pit”. That’s true for most bands playing this year, so maybe we’ll soon see Skrat and The Lightyears Explode at an I-Rock. But leaving out veterans like Indian Ocean, Soulmate, Swarathma and Thermal and a Quarter is doing the genre an injustice.

Perhaps the band competition, a segment that served as a springboard for many future Indian rock idols, will offer participants, as in the past, the opportunity to hear subgenres that don’t fit the landscape. limited sound of the groups programmed the year. after year.

Hopefully, when I-Rock returns next year, organizers co-founder Farhad Wadia and Hyperlink company Brand Solutions will be encouraged to experiment a bit. I know the festival is still a month away, but I’m already looking forward to the landmark 30th edition of I-Rock. May he be bigger and better in more ways than one.

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