A Summer’s Day at the Turf Club in Mumbai played host to a wonderful crowd and some exemplary performances by Norah Jones, M Ward and some incredible homegrown talent.
Yesterday saw the first-ever A Summer’s Day festival in Mumbai. Headlined by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Norah Jones, and featuring performance by M. Ward, Karsh Kale Collectiv, Nischay Parekh, and others, Only Much Louder’s first venture into festivals in the Bay city seemed to have captured just that perfect summer vibe. Seven bands performed across the two stages at the festival, and here’s our report of what went down (in sequential order). We have a lot more about the non-music-related stuff in our gallery, so, this report will stick to all the music that was on offer.
4:00pm Main Stage – Ankur & The Ghalat Family
Singer-songrwriter Ankur Tewari’s Hindi pop-rock outfit kicked off proceedings at the Main Stage. Tewari’s an affable guy and all crowds usually love his friendly and funny banter between songs, and this day was no different. A Summer’s Day didn’t seem to suffer from opening-act-syndrome (not just a festival thing, really) and a fairly large crowd were in front of the stage before The Ghalat Family hit their first note. The band went through their most popular songs – ‘Chand Chahiye’, ‘Jannat’, ‘Khamoshi’ (dedicated to the Prime Minister, and to the god-awful silent treatment), and more. They wrapped up well, gearing the crowd up for the next set on the main stage.
5:00pm Think Pink Stage – Siddharth Basrur
Local/vocal hero Siddharth Basrur came on at the Think Pink stage next accompanied by Naina Kundu on guitar, and most of the crowd duly followed the music where it went. Basrur went through a short and sweet acoustic set of much-loved tracks like ‘Rain’, ‘Stay’ (video), the hunger-inspired ‘Make Me A Sandwich’, the rather suggestive ‘In Between’, among others. Basrur’s singing was bang-on, as always, but you couldn’t help wondering whether his slower songs could fare better with a lone piano accompaniment as opposed to acoustic guitar. The breeze at this point in time was sufficient company to his tuneful voice, though.
5.30pm Main Stage – Karsh Kale Collectiv
Known for their elaborate multi-instrumented performances, the Karsh Kale Collectiv, helmed by master-musician Karsh Kale sent a hungry crowd into a spin and then left them hungry for more. With Benny Dayal, Apeksha Dandekar and Shilpa Rao, not just singing but using their voices as instruments in the whole setup, and the general bad-assery of Warren ‘Blackstratblues’ Mendonsa’s killer guitar-work, KKC’s set elevated things to another level at A Summer’s Day. Stellar performances of ‘Peekaboo’, ‘Shedding Skin’, ‘Skyfall’ (007 theme cover), ‘Shiva’ and the extraordinary ‘Hallelujah/Ode To A Sunny Day’ (download) had many people in the crowd in a trance, which was great, because it helped keep their minds off the 35-degree Mumbai heat.
6:30pm Think Pink Stage – Nischay Parekh w/ Jivraj Singh
Kolkata indie singer-songwriter Nischay Parekh makes no bones about what he sings about – animals and relationships, almost exclusively. His set was the most summer-y of the previous lot, if you can call it that. With Jivraj ‘Jiver’ Singh of PINKNOISE backing his youthful voice on percussion and electronics, Parekh played freely to an adoring crowd who couldn’t get enough of his infectious pop stylings. After running through his catalogue, and with an extra five minutes thrown at him by the organisers, Parekh and Singh decided to cover Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ because, according to him, it was the most fitting thing to do. Honestly, the cover wasn’t great, but all the music they played before totally made up for it.
7:00pm Think Pink Stage – Spud In The Box
Mumbai’s teeny pop-rockers Spud In The Box got on the Think Pink Stage next, hoping to hold audiences’ attention through their acoustic set. They delivered, as they usually do, but you couldn’t help but think that an acoustic Spud In The Box set could have been more stripped-down. With three acoustic guitars, bass, keyboard, and percussion, it just seemed like an acoustic version of their electric set. The performance was faultless, though, and the boys ran through a bunch of their material off their recently-released debut EP Attention Please. ‘Lens Life’, ‘Attention Please’, and ‘Mannequin’ made the setlist, ‘Train Of Thought’ being SITB’s standout performance on the day.
7.45pm Main Stage – M. Ward
A calm and collected crowd made their way to the Main Stage for Portland indie heroes M. Ward’s performance, and waited to see what was in store. It was the band’s first time in a country largely (understatement) unfamiliar with their music. What started off with some basic chords and a little noodling, accompanied by soft touches of drums by Scott McPherson, and Ward’s signature lower register, was only the beginning of what would be a competent showcase of M. Ward’s music. Indie rock, folk, the blues and their myriad sub-genres were represented in his set better than they are at most festivals, and audiences were seen at times, staring up at the sky, looking at their shoes, holding their loved ones closer, and completely rocking out. Matthew Ward, Mike Coykendall, and Scott McPherson then took a bow in front of a very happy summer’s day audience before exiting the stage.
8:30pm Main Stage – Norah Jones
I can safely say that this was one of the best behaved audiences I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Even a girl who tried to shove her way through to the front rows was met with a “Darling, what’s the matter? Nobody likes to be pushed. Here, come stand in front of me.” 30-minutes into stage setup and still not much of a peep from the audience goes to show the respect an artist like Jones commands around the world. And then, Norah came on, took her initial place behind her red Wurlitzer, and launched into ‘Happy Pills’, sending all males and females in the crowd into a summer’s dizzay. Playing stuff off her latest, and balancing that out with crowd-favourites, Miss Jones played an elaborate 22-song, 90-minute-long set that explored the best of her diverse catalogue. A definite highlight was the switch to unplugged instruments and the rendition of ‘Sunrise, Sunrise’ that followed. Even with the night sky above, the song brought much love and light to an audience that were lapping up everything Miss Jones and band could conjure, screaming out their love for her between each song. Cries for an early ‘Come Away With Me’ were met with unbelievably endearing pleas for “Patience”. While lovers held each other, and single people sang out loud and in unison, Norah Jones played a virtuous set under the summer sky, capping off a memorable summer’s day in Mumbai.