International Indie Music Rocks Kerala’s Kovalam for Five Days

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The indie music festival, a rarity in the state, featured seven bands from out of the country and 14 from within.

Passing through the Kovalam Bypass, miles from the bustling town of Thiruvananthapuram, no one would suspect that there is a vast, sprawling campus brimming with arty items down a side lane. The Arts and Crafts Village, located at the end of a lane near Vellar, was opened to artisans from remote areas to create, display and sell their work. Expanding its reach, over the past five days the ground has also transformed into a venue for a rare independent music festival in Kerala.

Twenty-one groups – Indian and foreign – took part in the festival, organized by two musicians from the city, Jay and Manoj, who had left behind their group dreams in the 1990s and returned to them a quarter of a century later. Jay and Manoj teamed up with Kerala Tourism Department Arts and Crafts Village to organize the show, which hosted seven groups from outside the country.

On Saturday, November 12, when we drove onto campus, small groups of young people, mostly dressed in black metal t-shirts, were flocking to the music festival. Outside the main hall, a young woman was strumming a guitar and singing Elvis Presley for a few pickers. Saturday’s program had four bands on the menu – three of them metal and one Carnatic rock. Inner Sanctum and Chaos, calling each other brothers, performed heavy, explosive music that rocked you from miles away. Even those who claimed to dislike metal found themselves nodding vigorously to the beat of head-banging fans.

While Inner Sanctum comes from Bengaluru, Chaos comes from Thiruvananthapuram. Going back to their home country has always been great, said JK, lead singer of Chaos, and then sang a Malayalam metal song the band composed for the film. S Durga.

Rudra, singing Sanskrit metal and hailing from Singapore, was the third band of the day. After them was Agam led by Harish Sivaramakrishnan, a familiar figure who not only has a wide vocal range but also occasionally gives speeches on social issues.

On the first day – November 9 – a group from Kerala singing Malayalam protest songs, Oorali, opened the festival. Two foreign groups followed the act. Among them was Anslom, a reggae musician from Papua New Guinea, who is his country’s cultural ambassador. Sami Chohfi from the United States, who has made albums in India, performed on the second day. Job Kurian, who is active in independent film and music in Kerala, had a rock show, with his famous single “Padayathra”. On the third day, When Chai Met Toast, another popular indie folk band from Kerala, performed after a British pop band and a Malaysian rock band.

The festival ends on Sunday with a performance by singer Sithara Krishnakumar’s band performing Indian folk numbers. Organizers Lazie J – Jay and Manoj’s band – will play classic rock, while Will Johns from the UK will end the show.

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