I was in Goa recently for the first festival edition of the gig series Live From The Console. For those not in the know, LFTC is a series of concerts that takes place at Mumbai’s legendary Mehboob Studios. Console is special though not only for the venue in which it is held, but also its stellar programming, which, since 2011, hasn’t strayed from being a showcase of up-and-coming indie talent. Having attended several editions of the concert in Mumbai, I was looking forward to the first festival edition of the franchise. The two-day edition of LFTC was held at the end of December in South Goa (a welcome change from the other big music festival in the north at the same time) and featured a line-up of Indian indie talent alongside a few international indie, dub, and reggae acts. However, while the organisers – Sony Music’s indie outpost Day One and events biggies Oranjuice – seem to have nailed the formula for Mehboob Studio, the first festival edition of the event faced a few teething issues.

The last couple of weeks witnessed a large number of music-based events held in Goa; not just the barrage of New Year’s Eve parties, and Sunburn. Kicking things off in the holiday season was the Windsong music festival, which featured a solid line-up of indie and popular talent (including Rabbi Shergill and Lucky Ali), but by all accounts was one of the most poorly attended events in the region. While that may be a function of inefficient marketing, things haven’t been helped by a more stringent view on these events by the Goan authorities. In fact, the state government went as far as to (reportedly) create a monitoring committee that would oversee the wide variety of permissions required to host the Sunburn music festival. They also instituted a crackdown on smoking (a friend of mine was handed a challan in return for Rs 100 the minute he lit up a cigarette outside the LFTC venue; Mumbai alt-rock act Tough On Tobacco even parodied it during their set) and were vocal in the press about their increased vigilance towards the consumption of drugs (TOT did get away with playing their most popular cover ‘Smoke Some Ganja’ though). Even a new festival (for Goa) like LFTC wasn’t left unscathed by the authorities; the event was shifted from Colva to Cavelossim beach in South Goa and permissions for the event weren’t passed till the last possible minute. Still, the organisers managed to pull off the event without too many hiccups.

Even a new festival wasn’t left unscathed by the authorities; the event was shifted from Colva to Cavelossim beach in South Goa and permissions for the event weren’t passed till the last possible minute

Dropcap OnDay one of the festival coincided with the final day of Sunburn, and while that could, to some extent, account for the poor turnout, the programming (which was perfect for a night at Mehboob) wasn’t entirely ideal. When American rock act AWOLNATION pulled out of the festival, it left a hole that was too big to fill for cutesy Brooklyn indie poppers Cults. The result was a lacklustre day one with the real highlight being Mumbai’s Sky Rabbit, who many of the attendees had already watched several times before. The second day of the festival fared much better though, with a stronger attendance and a headlining performance by Julian Marley and The Uprising. Cheap drinks, some interesting food options and proximity to the beach all helped the event’s cause.

While LFTC had a reasonable first year in Goa, I’m sure the festival organisers are already planning for year two taking into consideration all that could be improved from 2012. Programming for a destination festival is always tricky and I’m certain we will see improvements next year. A smaller stage for singer-songwriters would also be a welcome addition. The folks at Day One and Oranjuice have been involved in gigs of all shapes and sizes for many years and it won’t take long before LFTC becomes another highlight of India’s now-flourishing festival calendar.