‘I-Rock is a feeling’: India’s own rock festival is back; old-school music fans can’t keep calm

25 September,2022 08:50 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Nidhi Lodaya

India’s answer to Woodstock is back after a nine-year hiatus at a new venue, and with a lineup that promises pure rock nostalgia

I-Rock, one of the oldest and biggest rock festivals in India, used to be held at Rang Bhavan in Mumbai around Independence Day

In 1986, when Independence Rock, simply referred to as I-Rock, debuted at Rang Bhavan in Bombay, it created a massive buzz, drawing comparisons with the iconic Woodstock festival. "My rock n roll dreams were fulfilled here," recalls musician Sidd Coutto. "It was an event that even if you hated, you remembered," he adds. Coutto*s now dissolved band, Zero, first performed at I-Rock in 1998. After a nine-year-long hiatus - I-Rock was last held in 2013 - founder Farhad Wadia is bringing back the festival this November, and old-school music fans couldn*t have been happier.

Farhad Wadia

"The rock scene in India was buzzing [back then], but didn*t have an occasion to come together," says music lover and exponent Brian Tellis. "[I-Rock] was instrumental in bringing rock shows out of the college scene and Rang Bhavan became the default venue," he adds. Since the venue has long shut down, the Mahindra Independence Rock will be held at Bayview Lawns, Princess Docks
in Mazagaon.

Indie music manager and PR professional Schubert Fernandes, who is eagerly looking forward to the festival, says that "the intensity and excitement is so high. It is more of a feeling than a festival". "Such festivals are hardcore and built around micro communities of rock music lovers," he says.

Wadia told mid-day that "this year they have shed the band competition format and will be showcasing some of the best Indian professional talent there is". The lineup consists of the original rock bands, which have headlined the previous editions such as Parikrama, Indus Creed, Zero and Pentagram, along with the newer bands such as Bloodywood, Avial, The F16s, Aswekeepsearching, Thaikkudam Bridge and Parvaaz. "I think it is a brilliant mix," says Schubert. "The lineup in the previous years too, has always brought in newer acts."

Back in the day, I-Rock established a sense of community with people marking their calendars for the fest, held around Independence Day. Wadia assures that it will not be a one-off event, "Here*s to the next 25 editions!"

WHAT: Mahindra Independence Rock Festival
WHERE: Bayview Lawns, Princess Docks, Mazagaon
WHEN: November 4-5, 4 PM onwards
PRICE: Rs 1,750 onwards
TO BOOK: insider.in

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