The Zoo Zoo Twitterati Collective Orgasm Award
Winner: NH7/Harley Rock Riders
There was this one particular day a few months ago when there was nothing to spit venom about on Twitter. Bored out of their bandwidth, hundreds of people started tweeting about a notional time in history when the city formerly known as Bombay "rocked", using #WhenBombayRocked. People started narrating accounts of defining moments from India's not-glittering rock 'n' roll history, leading to a virtual group hug between fully grown men and women — plenty of digital tears and memories exchanged. Soon enough, the guys responsible for the trending hashtag, the good people at NH7, revealed that the Harley Rock Riders gig would be happening in the city, with an explosive line-up to boot. It was a brilliant way to capitalise on nostalgia, as it rightfully should be exploited.
The Hoobastank Butthole Surfers Best Name Award
Winner: Inspector Maal
He is Sahil Mehndiratta, former Faridkot/Indigo Children drummer/percussionist, aspiring booty-shakin' hip-hop musician, who plays live drums with usually solo electro-producer Frame/Frame. Not that it matters. All that does is the moniker: Inspector Maal. Delhi's psy DJ Kumbhkaran comes a close second.
Zero PSP12 Reunion Secret Gig 'Tribute to Ourselves' Award
After a decade of mucking about — even transforming into Indigo Children for a good period of time — Delhi's favourite garage band, The Superfuzz (just Superfuzz now), is back. They've released an album too, can you imagine? It's a really good seven-song EP called Inner City Waster, featuring songs that any kid who lived in Delhi pre-EDM explosion can sing along to — School, What Every Kid Wants, Rat in the Dirt. The angst doesn't seem as furious or blood-curdling as before — maybe because the band members are now closer to 30 than they are to their teens, or maybe because I am — and they've mentioned on their Bandcamp page how the release is a "tribute to ourselves", so this award was a no-brainer, really.
Andy Warhol Really Stretching It Award
Winners: Pepsi MTV Indies
Use of "Indies" in this new TV channel is apparently a contraction of "independent". Suffixed by MTV, which is suffixed by Pepsi, ahem, let's just say we beg to differ. The on-ground work they're doing is great, and the channel provides much-maligned "exposure" to bands, so this isn't exactly a slight on their vision, just the misleading name itself; It's a lie. Maybe someone should spend some time to clearly define what indie really is — not like it's a badge of honour or any such myth, just that some clarity would be welcome.
The Didier Burkhalter Destination Wedding Award
Winner: Ziro Festival of Music
Each year, hundreds of people head over to the Ziro valley, Arunachal Pradesh for this festival. It's a long ways away from any kind of civilisation; a flight/train to Guwahati is followed by a rickety, often-violent, painfully uncomfortable 18-hour bus/cab ride to the open fields of Ziro. Yet not a soul has ever complained about the place, that's how captivating the phenomenal beauty of the valley is. Or maybe the rice beer there — which everyone raves about — is spiked with a potion of happiness. Whatever it is, Ziro comes out trumps in this category, beating some of the others — Sunburn, for one — hollow.
Curtly Ambrose Bucket List Completion Award
Winner: The Reggae Rajahs
The Reggae Rajahs, the reggae soundsystem trio/quadruplo from the Caribbean, New Delhi, finally made the hallowed trip to Jamaica, the place of their soul-ancestry, this year. Sometimes, you just have to hold your hands up, applaud someone's genuinely legitimately impressive achievements, and say: "Well done, jaah all; that's massive."
The Daler Mehndi Import-Export Award
Winner: Shonen Knife (Japan)
"Arigato", shouted out the clever audience members when Japan's legendary/cult all-girl punk three-piece Shonen Knife were playing their headlining set at the first ever Vans New Wave Musicfest in Goa in 2014. "Arigato", responded vocalist Naoko Yamano. "Arigato", shouted our Indian friends again. "Namaste", she replied. This went on for a while. Really, arigato means "thanks a lot".
Anyway, Shonen Knife played a memorable set that night to a few hundred people. International bands, both contemporary and has-beens, aren't that uncommon in India anymore — a sure shot sign of India's status as a superpower. So we're quite spoilt for choice these days. But Shonen Knife had the kind of energy that seemed genuine, honest, even though they've been at it for close to three decades. There was an intimacy all around that seemed pure. Even the moshpit that surfaced in the front seemed peaceful and pure in a way (minus the few rotten eggs who knocked over this writer's beer).
The Public Enemy Public Enemy No. 1 Award
Winner: Amit Trivedi
Having headlined the biggest supposedly-indie festival in the country across multiple cities, Trivedi is naturally in the line of fire. It's not him, per se, but what he stands for that's so pissed off the indie imperialist gladiators. It doesn't bother me personally all that much, but I'll try to explain my interpretation of the ire. I like Emotional Atyachar (both the song and the TV show), love it even. But I don't want to be reminded of it. When I'm reminded of it, I get angry.
Usain Bolt 100m Award
Winner: Krishna Jhaveri (Skyharbor, Pangea)
Bassist Krishna Jhaveri was busy headlining the Red Bull bus that moonlights as a stage with his band Pangea on day one of the Delhi leg of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Skyharbor, his other band, were scheduled to headline a different stage immediately after, so, once done, he had to jump off the bus, carry his gear and literally sprint over to the other stage. Next, he was running around on stage trying to locate signal for the wireless connection between his guitar and the amp. His guitar went off, so he ran off to the back of the stage to fix it. Sources have revealed he was last seen galloping around the back alleys of Mumbai — laughing like a madman — and that Tom Hanks is very upset.
Bappi Da Bling 182 Award
Winners: The Ganesh Talkies
Bright, colourful, delightfully kitsch, the Ganesh Talkies are the rightful heirs to the throne of Sir Bappi Lahiri's legacy (if he ever decides to bequeath it). They prance around on stage, they sing about item songs and dancing-dancing, they wear matching, thunderingly splashy outfits screaming excess, and they display their rich Bollywood, disco-era affectations proudly on their shining sleeves. And beyond that, they play endearing, entertaining music, and they do it well.
Subramanian-Swamy-One-Man-Party Do-It-Yourself-Because-No-One-Else-Cares-Anyway Award
Winner: Control-Alt-Delete (CAD): Metal Chapter
We'd love to be malicious and mock metalheads and this gig, but there's really no way to; the metal edition of CAD was by far one of the standout gigs of the year. Mumbai's Blue Frog, generally the domain of scotch-swigging muppets talking about smooth jazz and other bourgeois nonsense, was packed beyond capacity (literally) by over 750 metalheads, every single one of them paying (probably much) more than what they could afford to watch a whole bunch of explosive Indian metal acts in this purely DIY crowdfunded venture. Each band was supported wholeheartedly by the audiences, there were intense moshpits, stage dives, crowd-surfing, the whole deal.
Jakob Dylan-Rohan Gavaskar Imposter Award
Winner: All India Bakchod
Vir Das is a funny guy (even if a lot of people disagree). The guys from All India Bakchod (AIB) are also hilarious. Vir Das has a band with whom he sings funny songs. So now, the AIB guys do musical comedy too. It's not even like the jokes aren't funny, because they often are (if a little derivative to cater to the sheer volume of people who want to check them out these days). The problem is with the form itself — Govinda may have made a killing lip-syncing to songs with uproarious lyrics, but there hasn't been a person before or since to have done the same, because the genre itself is flawed by design. Weird Al is just about bearable in short doses, but then there's Jack Black. He's a sh*tbird if ever there was one. So Vir, All, Jack, Weird, you can all stop.
Wrought Iron Most Metal Metal Band Award
Winners: Undying Inc. and Bhayanak Maut
Delhi's Undying Inc. came out with their EP, Ironclad, in 2014, a vicious kick-in-the-gut whirlwind of a release. Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai) released the very elaborate, volatile and stormy Man. Both turned out to be exceptional releases, but only one band was going to win this award. After debating endlessly over who we'd rather piss off — Bhayanak Maut or Undying Inc. — and not reaching any kind of conclusion, this award was duly turned into a giant cop-out.
Suhel Seth Caviar Cabernet Sauvignon Bourgeoisie Gentrification Pretentious [Redacted] Award
Winner: Enchanted Valley Carnival
OK, this one's a bit of a stretch — I don't know all that much about this electronic music festival and won't pretend to either. But what I do know is that it happens at Aamby Valley, which seems a bit fancypants. And they have this thing at the festival called the "Enchanted Village". I was still uncertain at this point. But I really like the name of this award. What tipped me over the edge was their website, which blares out unsolicited rubbish music as soon as one logs on. That's just the worst.