Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music 2011
Bangalore is not new to concerts of International standard or to music festivals running on to the wee hours of the morning. So what makes the Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music special?
This music festival takes place every year at the Fireflies Ashram off Kanakpura Road. Siddharth, the founder of the ashram, is the man behind the festival. This year the chosen theme was food sovereignty. The proceeds from the show will be utilized for the education of tribal children in Kabini, which is quite near to Mysore and beside the Rajiv Gandhi National Park.
The evening was an eclectic one with various genres of music fusing together to create a harmony. There was carnatic classical music mellifluously fusing with Kabir’s dohas and jazz artists and folk singers belting out tracks with equal verve and energy. Bangalore’s very own Thermal and a Quarter performed like always and the band’s vocalist Bruce Lee Mani kept the audience enthralled with his powerful. Clock read 2am when they came on stage and it seemed as if the show had just begun. At one point Mani got the crowd sing in chorus to the song ‘Stay with me’.
The chief guest for the festival was Dr Siddalingaiah, who is a well-known poet in Karnataka and has written about the dalits. He was awarded the Fireflies International Award for Human and Earth Freedoms. The sculpture presented to him symbolized the ethos of Fireflies. The sculpture represented the bosom of a tribal woman with a tree growing and bearing numerous fruits and birds.
The stage at the amphitheatre with the banyan tree as the backdrop was the perfect setting for this musical frenzy. Swarathma added a ‘nautanki’ touch to their performance. The folksy beats, innovative lyrics and Vasu Dixit’s rustic vocals made everyone dance to their tunes. Performances by The Bicycle Days, Moon Arra and Esperanto kept the audience on their toes and Spinifex with Dr Mysore Manjunath infused energy into the crowd. The musical exchanges between the violin and table, played by the Manjunath’s was electrifying. There was also a traditional Dollu Kunitha performance. At the end of their piece the Dollu Kunitha group took a round of the venue and made the revelers dance to their beats.
Something Relevant, a Mumbai-based group, charged things up. Their repertoire was a unique blend of jazz, funk, reggae and blues, with everything in between thrown in, a sort of a musical ‘bhelpuri’. They sang for gay rights. At the break of dawn Vedanth and Bindu took the stage. Abhishek accompanied them on percussions. They presented Kabir’s dohas in a different way and Bindu’s vocals complimented the music excellently. Abhishek played the mridangam and also used a water can for percussions. There couldn’t have been a better start to the day.
Fireflies 2011 saved the best for the last. The number of people at the amphitheatre had reduced by the time Parvaaz came onto the stage, but the ones who waited this long were thoroughly compensated. Parvaaz a band from Kashmir was fronted by lead singer Khalid and lead guitarist Kashif. Khalid’s powerful vocals reverberated through the early morning stillness. ‘Azaadi’ was their most popular track and everyone present sang along with the band. The drum solo by Sachin at the end was excellent and was followed up by and encore of ‘Azaadi’.
More than 4000 thousand music lovers thronged the Fireflies Festival this year giving the organizers a great boost. The gates had to be closed at 1 am as there was not enough space to accommodate the hundreds who were still pouring in. The festival, often called the Indian Woodstock, lived up to this adage and the wait for next year and another night of soulful music will be a long one.