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Hornbill is rock

Hornbill Rocks. Because any band worth its, well, rocks, has to earn its stripes from Hornbill. Preferably by winning. With screen days crowd of over 15,000 and close seven times that on the finals, the benchmark is well set.

Bring it on...stage, set

“When we started the Hornbill rockfest, there were only two small speakers…the sound seldom reaching till the entrance gates,” said Neingulie Nakhro, event director, Hornbill Rockfest. “But look at us now, we have the best acoustics in the country today and all the leaders of the industry want to join hands with us.” The biggest achievement, Nakhro feels, is that ‘Nagaland has the biggest rock fan base of the country’. When the invites for this year’s instalment was announced, over 100 bands from all over the country applied out of whom 24 were screened and nine shortlisted. “Today is gonna be crazy,” said Ngipwang Angely, event secretary, excited in her yellow boots and electric purple jacket. “From the nine who made the shortlist, we will choose the winner today. And the two runner-ups.”

Jared: Drumming for an encore

“We sing about love, life and hope,” Jared of the Bengaluru-based band Final Surrender says. “The Naga crowd have had enough of violence and drugs and sex.” Jared was making an informed guess as he was on the drums with the last year’s title winner, Slain. New name? New fame? It was more like fate – it will happen and you have no option but to move on. “I started Slain with my brother. We had creative differences and we decided to part ways.” Jared says without a blink; rockstars are not ones to give away any emotion. Nor do they delve into any.

Dec 7: IG Stadium in the spotlight

Check. Check. Check. The Indira Gandhi stadium woke up to acoustic checks and practise beats. It was December 7, the grand finale of the rockfest and the festival itself. Long haired guys, lighting up, hunched against the cold, ‘bro’ing each other, lounged about with a deceptive laziness. Whom they couldn’t hug they signalled peace. The Indira Gandhi Stadium, five kilometres from Kohima town, was slowly grooving into the rocker world. Awaiting their turns, the nine finalists tapped toes, shared cigarettes, pinky-fingered their ears with good humour at errant notes.

Melody metal: Manu

“Melody metal,” was Manu’s mantra. Manu had come from Saket, New Delhi, with his band Arcane Deception. “We hope to stand out from the rest with our generous sprinkling of melody in our metal. Hope this will be a new brand of music the crowd hadn’t heard before.” On the genesis of the band name, “Oh, I love the word ‘deception,’” he said.
“Where did you get the funky hat, bro?” I asked him about his woollen hat cut like a Mohawk. “From the Night Bazaar,” he said and went on to proclaim his love for most things Naga. “For vegetarians, staying here for more than a few days can be a nightmare,” he pointed out.

Bonhomie, camaraderie

It was the turn of ‘Final Surrender’ to set the acoustics and Jared was setting the drums on fire. Some technical glitches were delaying the practise sessions and the organisers were getting a bit jittery. The members of the band, ‘Grammy Winning Effort’ – whose turn it was next – stood there, enthralled, encouraging and egging him on. It was humbling, watching one artiste openly appreciating another – his talent, his music. Welcome to a beautiful world – one of constructive camaraderie and blotless bonhomie.

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