One nation under groove
The GoMAD festival, a commune for artistes and musicians, was a multi-genre live music festival initiated by Sanjith George, Nawabb Abdulla, Biju Thomas and Binu Thomas of UrbanOwl Entertainment in 2012 at the Fernhills Palace, a time when EDM festivals were far and few. Following its second edition in 2013 featuring over 50 artistes, GoMAD which promised to usher in a Woodstockian vibe in India went noticeably missing from music festival calendars.
Regrouping after a hiatus of four years in 2018, the third edition of GoMAD’s two-day camping festival will see a roster of 26 indie music acts set up against the lush green backdrop of The Nilgiris and the Fernhills Royale Palace. “GoMAD was one of the first music festivals in India to bring a concept of camping under the stars. At the inception, there were only a handful of festivals, but very soon the frenzy caught up. So we stepped back and took cautious measures in order not to lose out on the competition,” explains Nawabb Abdulla, COO & co-owner, UrbanOwl Entertainment.
Partygoers in Ooty will be grateful for the festival experience. With bands like UK-based Reggae act Jeremiah Ferrari, happy music creators When Chai Met Toast, guitar-wiz Dhruv Visvanath, former lead singer of Motherjane’s new musical outfit Suraj Mani & The Tattva Trip and alternative hard rockers Switcheroo among others will turn up the volume at the third edition of GoMAD 2018.
A four-piece all-white band from the UK might not be the first image you conjure up when you think of Reggae or ska, but this seven-year-old band from Leigh has been earning its stripes with a clever fusion of reggae, funk, rock, and ska. Never ones to settle for a puritanical sound, lead singer Ryan Paul Mario Barton says, “I think part of what people like about our music is the fact it’s not ‘strictly’ reggae or ‘strictly’ ska.” Second time at the GoMAD festival, the band has been on tour with their musical heroes The Wailers, all the while working on material for their new EP and the release of their video, Sign of The Times in December 2017. Often compared to the sounds of Bob Marley, Maytals and Sublime, the band tells us, “The Police are a definite influence on us that not many seem to mention.”
While the band will be playing music from the Dubby Rock, Jeramiah Ferrari and Sign of the Times EPs, keep an ear out for our favourites: the punk-inspired Mindless Riots and reggae-tinged Dubby Rock.
When Chai Met Toast
The music of When Chai Met Toast is upbeat and seems straight out of one of your happiest memories, so much that you can’t help wonder how a bunch of musicians with myriad tastes and experiences in music — from classical and experimental metal to Malayalam movie OSTs — came together to form probably one of the most loved sounds in the indie music sphere. Their song Firefly from their EP Joy of Little Things which released in mid-2016 garnered over 5,35,000 views on YouTube and sounded like a refreshing mix of Snow Patrol, Mumford and Sons and the one-hit wonder band Goldspot (remember Friday?) Primarily a four-member band of Kerala boys, this band prefers to sing in English, Hindi with the occasional catchphrase in Tamil. “Unfortunately, writing in Malayalam doesn’t come very easily for any of us. We aren’t against the idea, though,” says Achyuth Jaigopal.
We certainly love the colourful, pop-art themed song Fight but our winner to listen to at GoMADlike most fans, is Firefly.
Dhruv Visvanath, the only Indian to find mention in a recent 30 Great Guitarists under 30 list, alongside names like Ed Sheeran, transcends the boundaries of guitaring with his unique style — tapping, plucking and slapping the guitar, to create a percussive rhythm (much like August Rush). The 25-year-old who put out his first album in 2015 is gearing up towards the launch of his second album, slated for release in April 2018. Intent on telling his story through music Dhruv says, “Like everything I’ve ever made, it has a massive story that precedes it. The more introspective you are, the more relatable your music becomes.” Apart from fine-tuning and honing his skill over the last couple of years, Dhruv tells us that he's been working on making his performance an experience.
Expect to catch an exclusive playlist of songs from the upcoming album The Lost Cause and of course fan favourites like Rain and Four.
Suraj Mani and The Tattva Trip
Suraj Mani is a pro at writing lyrics. Fans of the erstwhile lead vocalist of rock act Motherjane knew it and enthusiasts of the singer’s new act Suraj Mani and The Tattva Trip continue to experience it. “I knew they’d like the lyrics and the thought process, because with SMATT that is what has become more diverse and emotive,” shares Suraj. With lyric driven compositions, most of the band’s shows sport an LED poetry wall that draws audiences into the trip. “The Tattva Trip is the musical journey of a mythical traveller in which the ‘Tripper’ can travel through time and space and see into the hearts of others and sing us their stories.”
While the band is keeping their performance list close to their chest, we hope to hear Ain’t That Something and Mahabali.
The rebel in her is deeply ingrained but there’s something about Tanya Nambiar that reminds you of the song Put Your Records On by Corrine Bailey Rae and makes you want to put your hands up, let your hair down and just sway to the music. With pronounced jazz and R&B influences in her music, the singer of former rock and roll band Gravy Train launched herself as a solo artist in 2016. Crediting her ‘sass’ to musicians like Amy Winehouse, Etta James, Peggy Lee and Erykah Badu, Tanya tells us that her EP Good Girls Gone is a reflection of herself. “The EP is about a girl who is an emotional rebel. If doing things my way makes me a bad girl, then I’d rather be a bad girl for life!”
We hope to hear the singer’s rendition of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game alongside her brand new single at the festival.
Alternative Hard Rock band Switcheroo combines the best of sounds of the mid-’90s and early 2000s: think a mixture of Tool, Alter Bridge and Rage Against the Machine. The year-old Bengaluru-based band is characterised by mostly clean vocals, heavy grunge riffs and an unrelenting drum. “I think people associate heavier music with things such as being angry and wanting to break things or flip tables. It’s a type of music that is meant to bring up the energy levels in the room,” shares vocalist Austyn Goveas. The band that was on a month-long tour called Enslaved by The Establishment, went on to tour Nepal where they got to meet and work with Chris Adler (Lamb Of God, ex-Megadeth), Matt De-Vries (Chimaira, Fear Factory), Jim Gillette and Michael Angelo Batio. Looking at finishing up their album for a summer release, the working title Enslaved by the Establishment addresses how people are giving into, what the band likes to call ‘corporate slavery.’
Featuring a list of songs from their entire discography, make sure you catch their single Bring it.
Other acts not to miss out on at GoMAD
• Ahmedabad-based postrock band Aswekeepsearching
• Aritmija, a Slovenia/Indian fusion band
• Bengaluru-based pop/rock band Lagori
GoMad 2018 will take place on January 26 and 27, 2018 at Fernhills Royale Palace.