We had heard about this place called Fireflies ashram in Bangalore on Kanakpura road which I always wanted to visit. One day, I was just casually browsing through their website and to my surprise there was a music festival happening there soon.
So, 19th of febraury, Sunday, that is where I was. That was THE place to be in Bangalore that day. If you were not there, I am kind of sure, you have wasted a day in your life.
Most music fests these days are priced very high. That is reason I missed the storm festival in Coorg and October fest too this time.
But here at fireflies, the entry was 500 bucks, which is not too high compared to the other fests. And also the website said that we could bring our own snacks.
We had a fair idea of the volume of people it can hold. So we reached the venue at 1 pm.
We had not missed much.
Vaiyali had just started, about 2 songs through.
Ok, first impressions about the place first. The venue was a pretty earthy looking amphitheatre with the centre stage being under a pipal tree. The amphitheatre was canopied by trees and had adequate shade. The stage at the centre was under a huge pipal tree with branches twsited and extended gracefully which would later in the day serve as support for lighting up the stage. Gave a very quaint look and feel to the event with some dried leaves spread all over the place. The setting was perfect for a sunny afternoon to be spending listening to music under a huge tree. Not too fancy, just some earthy charm. Just behind the tree there was a small river bringing in a cool breeze to the amphitheatre.
Picture perfect. Couldn’t have asked for a better setting.
Since we went early, we also got a place in the second row from front. So we did not budge till 10 pm.
I have added some videos for ur viewing and tried to supplement them with some pictures.
So, I was talking about Vaiyali.. I dont think its even a band as u may call it. It was a group of guys from a small town in Kerala making some real awesome music with their humble instruments. Sort of like temple music made in their own way. Their attire was also quite simple. They did not have cool tees or rock star long hair or even any intriguing instruments. Simplicity is the word.
Take a look at them.
They were a bundle of energy packaged locally.
Next to follow was a band from Bangalore, Agam. Bangalore! did they say. This up the ante for me!
Their music was a blend of Carnatic and rock. We may have heard many bands off late making this sort of music, but was great to hear them play. Boy! did they pump up the crowd. I personally love this kind of music. The highlight of their performance for me was blending rock influences with Kerala boat festival music.
To be playing after Agam would be quite intimidating as Agam’s music was loud with heavy drums and vocals. Coffee’s was mellow and soft. Their music was driven a lot by flute with an Indian classical influence. The vocalist, Swarupa Ananth was terrific. She could juggle between drums, tabla and vocals and did a superb job of it. Their songs were very pleasant to hear and I have been watching their videos on youtube ever since.
La Pongal was a totally fun band to watch and listen to. They are total audience material, interact with the crowd very well. And most of all, they look like just any of us who might be roaming in office on a given day. But on the stage, they transform to performers in high spirits. With their Aye ulle Giriyamma, they had the crowd swinging and swaying, singing along. And their brand ambassador happens to be, the Holy Cow! They had bursts of cracking jokes between songs which made their performnce very entertaining. Love you guys.
We all must have read some kabir ke dohe in school. We know that Kabir was a great saint and poet who lived who lived many centuries ago and emphasized on man’s bondage with God. But during the later years, we forgot all about this saint and his songs. Shabnam Virmani brought to life these poems again. The powerful voice of hers, engaging us in the poems/songs along with a narrative of each left everybody present, mesmerized. This was the first time, I ever listened to somthing spiritual and did not get bored. I did not understand the language but still was hooked on. For people interested in this form of music, she is associated with The Kabir project.
They told us that there is always Jazz at fireflies. Jazz! I had a notion that Jazz is this slow, calm instrumental European music that I would not be interested in and that it could’nt liven up a crowd(how stupid! you think?). But OTO3 changed my perception of Jazz. I had never thought of Saxophone as being so sexy. There was a slow and steady build of tension in the music. Reminded me very much of the boat race song from facebook(the movie) by Trent Reznor. The music took over my senses and I was lost. When they were playing, people were just involuntarily hooked. For me, it messed with my head and my heart was beating faster.
I wanted more of it.
Next to follow was, Something relevant with music mainly in the rock genre with Jazz influences.
This group was the biggest in the festival with about 7 to 8 people. Nice set of guys making upbeat music. Awesome it was to watch them sing and perform. A girl from the crowd even did a hula hoop gig to one of their songs. My highlight- A thin guy from this band, was on the guitar, he was very crushy(he can crush you and you can have a crush on him. U should never go to lengths explaining a joke and likewise…).
Talavya: Pandit Divyang Vakil’s Tālavya, started off explaining to the crowd how they would be a let down if the crowd expected fast music. They said that they are a bunch of guys just using one musical instrument, the Tabla and a modest harmonium and that they would not be able to pump up the crowd.
They had 3 levels, the first being the slowest and each of the later being faster than the previous.
Guys, I am sorry! I do not have enough words in my vocabulary to explain in any way what-so-ever about their performance. Trust me. I wrote and erased a couple of times, not being able to make justice to what I saw. Its true that words cannot express what music does. I was spellbound and had goosebumps, literally. It would make me cry, had they not wrapped up so soon. Do checkout their performances if you get a chance on youtube. No wonder, they had the audience begging for more and a standing ovation. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF TABLA. As I write this, I am still listening to tabla.
There was not one dull moment in the whole day. I was introduced to Jazz in its true form and re-discovered the Tabla. I was devoured! The best part of the event was, it was an amalgamation of various forms of music, each at its best.
I will be be at fireflies for their annual event every year. That’s my word.