I’ve been to a few music festivals in India & out, and Ziro definitely takes the crown as the most memorable. Just reaching Ziro itself is an adventure: flight to Guwahati, overnight train to Naharlagun (about 15km from Itanagar), and then a six hour taxi ride to Ziro through abysmal & at times non-existent roads. Because of these roads, taxis have a tendency to break down often, increasing travel times further.
We had booked a camp around a kilometre and half away from the main stage, and the camp was managed excellently: it had clean running water all the time, bathrooms weren’t full of shit even at the end of day 4 (a rarity in the world of porta-potty installations), and the food was great, even if the camp organisers were a bit stingy in doling out portions.
The short walk to the venue was never too tiring, even on the way back after a long day of standing around, and there were several restaurants on the way with excellent local food.
The venue itself had two stages, a “sun stage”, that played from noon to dusk, for slower music genres like blues and jazz, classical instrumentals and vocals. The “moon stage”, from dusk until 11PM was for the harder music to dance to: alternative, rock, rap, and electronic. Just the breadth of the program was something that I didn’t expect going in to the festival (most bands in the lineup I had never heard of before). It was great to listen to all kinds of genres for somebody like me who is not particularly into music.
The quality of the sound-stage was excellent. Even though it was an open air concert, I loved the sound quality. Except for one day when the main speakers on the sun stage gave out, everything was perfect.
And the bands were great. There were a bunch from the North East, but a lot more from all across India, and even a few foreign bands from Japan, the US and Europe. Not a bad showing at all. Here are a few I liked enough to jot down. The ones starred are the ones I really loved:
- 👏 Nubiah Garcia
- 👏 Ditty
- Small Talk
- 👏 Sukanya Ramagopal
- Search & Found
- 👏 Ambushed
- Cryptography 3.0
- 👏 Colored Keys
- Mathias Durano
- Adi Mandal
- Sam Paa
As might be obvious, my music tastes lean heavily to the slower kind of music, but I did enjoy the rap and some electronic sessions.
This is the second trip in a row that I haven’t taken my Leica on (this time because of fear of rains), and this one really suffered for it. I would’ve loved to photograph the great yellow rolling fields with a better lens, and there were certain shots that were just begging for a good RAW edit. Next time!
The North East definitely deserves a deeper look. This was my first trip to the region, and hopefully will not be the last!
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