Mumbaikars! Get ready to groove at these 3 music festivals

As Totem Pole, a new music festival readies to hook young audiences, others like Stage42 and Nariyal Paani hope that line-ups and locales will work wonders. What's the mantra to make music buffs groove till dawn?

Like on any other day, Mumbai's young brigade will be spotted at a popular Lower Parel mall today. Except, this time, they will get the chance to shake a leg, thanks to a new, three-day music festival that will kick off in its courtyard. Targeted at teenagers and school bands, Totem Pole boasts of a line-up of Indian and global artistes.

Music fans at the first edition of Nariyal Paani in Alibaug last year
Music fans at the first edition of Nariyal Paani in Alibaug last year

Catch 'em young
The festival is curated by Flying Carpet Productions headed by industry expert Ashish Manchanda, who has worked with Grammy Award-winning producer of Michael Jackson records, Bruce Swedien. Watch out for Top of the Pole — a school band competition that will select some of the best musicians from the city's school circuit. A one-of-its-kind idea, it will help the winner/winning band create an EP mentored by experts in the music business. The winning artiste(s) also get an opportunity to create a video of their top single, which will be directed by industry professionals who've contributed to large-format videos.

"There is a serious dearth of music festivals and properties in India. To top that, teens can't attend most music festivals due to the age bar, which is largely the result of a smoking and alcohol-driven environment," shares Ujjla Manchanda, founder of Totem Pole, who believes that youngsters are big consumers of music. "Music serves many purposes beyond entertainment. The more youngsters get exposed to music and art, the better it is for their overall development. We wanted parents to be able to take their kids along to a music festival. It's why we put our heads together and created a festival where youngsters can enjoy great live music, in a comfort zone," she explains adding that the name of the festival was based on several group chats with youngsters.

Raghu Dixit Project will perform at Totem Pole
Raghu Dixit Project will perform at Totem Pole

It's cool and necessary
Industry insiders believe that the focus on the youth is the way forward. "Not only Mumbai, but India too needs festivals like these. It will help develop talent and foster holistic growth for our young generation," says composer Ehsaan Noorani. Composer and singer Vishal Dadlani, who has also been part of music fests across India with his band Pentagram, asserts, "It's about time that the music business took notice of young talent. Across the world, teenagers become musical stars, and grow into icons."

Vocalist Monica Dogra says, "Younger audiences comprise a huge sector of the independent fan base, and music festivals are the best way to reach out to them as they allow artistes to explore live production." Musician Clinton Cerejo adds "Youngsters need a platform to showcase their talent, so every opportunity to do that makes them grow and learn as artistes."

Ranjit Barot Pic/Sameer Markande

Meanwhile, veteran percuss-ionist Ranjit Barot raises a valid point that many alcohol companies have huge budgets and tend to sponsor music festivals, making younger audiences miss out. "My daughter couldn't attend some of my performances," he reveals. Musician Loy Mendonsa says that there is a time and place for everything and at times, age limit is essential.

Ehsaan Noorani. Pic/Suresh KK
Ehsaan Noorani. Pic/Suresh KK

According to Nikhil D'Souza, "as long as there is parental guidance and restrictions on alcohol permits for younger children, festivals should open their gates to these audiences also." Drummer Gino Banks thinks that more platforms for artistes will help raise awareness of the performing arts, adding, "this will help build a strong audience for festivals."

Nucleya will perform at Stage42
Nucleya will perform at Stage42

16 to 60
Two more festivals scheduled in Mumbai and Alibaug around the same time choose to stay away from the 'young' label. "We are not just 'youth-inclined'. We cater to a wide demographic of music lovers. Last year, we had college students, young professionals, families with kids, Alibaug residents and 60-somethings. We believe we are the most inclusive music festival in India. Parents are informed of the line-up and are aware of restrictions before hand," says Sid Khanna, founder, Nariyal Paani whose second edition will roll in Alibaug on January 23 and 24. Meanwhile Vijay Nair, CEO, Only Much Louder, whose music and comedy festival Stage42 will take place in Mumbai starting January 23, says, "Age restrictions are placed for content and safety reasons. We like to encourage people across ages to explore fresh music talent and discover new festival experiences for themselves."

Monica Dogra
Monica Dogra

Play our list
Festival organisers maintain that the line-up remains a huge draw. With a programming line targeted at the youth, artistes like UK-based collective, Kefaya, Bellatrix (UK's first professional female beatboxer) and Navid aka. B-Boy Spaghetti will groove for the bachcha party at Totem Pole. This apart, desi artistes like Raghu Dixit, Best Kept Secret, and Dharavi Rocks will do their thing. "We want to expose young people to all genres. Hence, we have hands-on workshops too, ranging from Beat Boxing to Jazz," says Manchanda.

The second edition of Stage 42 will feature the likes of Nucleya, Baba Sehgal and Naezy under one roof. "The idea is to capture a good mix of the best on the current music and comedy scene in India and internationally. While fans get to enjoy their favourite acts, they also get to discover new shows and artistes," shares Nair. Nariyal Paani will showcase talents like Prateek Kuhad, Mavambo (Brazil), Ranjit & The Ambassadors and Laxmi Bomb. "We pick the music we like, and then listen to these bands live. All this is then carefully curated to fix the line up," adds Khanna.

Location, location
Nariyal Paani's location is one of their biggest draws. Both organisers, Tanvi and Sid are active in Alibaug, and spend a substantial part of the year there. While Tanvi runs a café, Sid moved there to start his design and development company. Both realised that they shared a love for Indie music, art and good food. "We took a risk and put Alibaug on India's music map. We are boutique, and choose to stay that way. Alibaug is highly underrated as a tourism and arts destination. We discovered that there was a gap in the market and believe a festival will work here", shares Khanna. "Festivals like ours bolster the local economy and are sustainable. More than half our work force is trained by us and is hired from villages around. We also have local carpenters and electricians working on production, while residents supply food at stalls," he adds.

On the other hand, Stage42 is a multi-city festival. Apart from Mumbai, it will head to Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Meanwhile, Totem Pole will continue to be based out of Mumbai and hopes to become an annual feature.

"Though we are not on par with other cities yet, live music venues in Mumbai are growing. The Race Course, for instance, has regular shows where music buffs are ready to pay R5,000-plus for a ticket. Our shows at Phoenix (Kurla and Lower Parel) have seen a tremendous response," shares Rajendra Kalkar, President (West), The Phoenix Mills Ltd. "Mumbai is starved for good music gigs and all festivals should be welcomed," concludes Barot.

Fest ready reckoner

>> Totem Pole
On: January 15, 16 and 17, 12pm to 9 pm
At: Courtyard, High Street Phoenix, Lower Parel.
Call: 43339939
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Entry: Free

>> Nariyal Paani
On: January 23, 24
At: Morapada, Rewas Road, 6km/20 min from Mandwa Jetty.
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>> Stage 42
On: January 23 onwards
At: blueFROG, Todi Mills, Lower Parel.
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