Gig Review: The High Holi Music Festival 2017

High Holi Music Festival 2017

One of the earliest Indie holi festivals to grace the scenario, Pune’s The High Holi Music Festival gave party-goers a refreshing spin on a normal holi party: one intertwined with an electronic elegance, an idea that successfully seduced crowds across Pune. So as the numbers kept mounting and the passes sold fast, Pune’s legendary High Spirits Cafe, the festival’s primary booster, decided to step things up a notch this year: they reinvented their indigenous holi festival into an expertly curated two-day festival of mammoth proportions.


Welcome to The High Holi 2017: where music meets a dash of colour. Divided over two days, the festival dedicated each day to a specific genre, then hauled some of the industry experts to show the crowds how its done. Day One was exclusively, beautifully indie, while Day Two, on the actual day of Holi, was a wide splattering of all that hardcore electronic dance music energy that is almost requisite of every modern holi party. Promising to keep things loud and loaded, High Holi 2017 churned out some of the best sound that the masses could access, and with it has consolidated its exceptional crowd-pulling ability.

Day One was quite a handful of the sound that colours the world of Indian Indie folk scene, with a lineup including some of the most popular and passionate music providers: Parvaaz, The Local Train, Ankur & The Ghalat Family and the singing sensation Prateek Kuhad.

As the bright rays of sunshine welcomed you into High Holi 2017 at the Westin Hotel Lawns, Parvaaz was all set to launch the reloaded version of the fest. A four piece outfit featuring Kashmiri artists based in Bangalore, Parvaaz is widely considered as the Indie scenes most fierce band, spawning tunes that hover within the rock and psychedelic music realm. With a set that was brilliantly blissful and filled with heart-wrenching harmonies and pristine percussion, Parvaaz teased the crowd and truly heated things up, creating tunes like ‘Beparvaah‘, ‘Gulshan’ and their newly launched ‘Baran’ (ironically inspired by the uncertainty of rain) that captivated the early crowds and was almost liquid in nature. Bonus point: it was Parvaaz’s Lead Guitarist Khalid Ahmed’s birthday and the screeching crowds imparted a helluva lot of birthday love to the main man giving them all the feels.

Parvaaz Lead singer celebrated his birthday by delivering some captivating tunes to fans.

After stirring up the venue, next was The Local Train, one of Delhi’s smoothest indie rock bands that are regulars at most college festivals, as they added just the right amount of Hindi Spice to the atmosphere.

A gaping display of fluid guitar strums, powerful vocals and crafted percussion, The Local Train ripped up all expectations with a blooming set, playing popular numbers like ‘Yeh Zindagi Hai‘ and ‘Aaoge Tum Kabhi’, before giving way to the flavour-loaded mastery of Ankur & The Ghalat Family. These Bombay boys, on their part, were quite the clap inducing group, as their commercial pop-rock tunes spiralled across the dimming sunset, grabbing each listener until they formed a part of the dance floor groupies that raised their hands and oscillated between transfixed and transcended.

As darkness descended, the fire of Holika (the festival generally celebrated on the eve of Holi, usually involving a bonfire) entered in the form of a dazzling firecracker: Prateek Kuhad, as he further ignited a charming sense of melody into the already melody-drenched air. Fans slipped into their usual frenzy, dancing along to the tunes of the striking strobe lights as one of India’s most notable singers took centre stage and offered his heavenly vocal chords to the festive atmosphere. Against the backdrop of a soft melodic guitar touch, the drums rolled in as Prateek Kuhad mesmerised the gathered audience with his magical music like ‘Raat Razi‘, ‘Flames‘ and ‘Oh Love’, artfully constructed a gentle vibe that kept the crowd on a permanent swerve-mode.

Finally, Prateek Kuhad’s guitar strums seamlessly expanded into a collaborative effort, as he teamed up with Ankur Tewari’s proclaimed musical family to serve a piping hot live version of  their team release ‘Dil Beparvah’ to the swooning fans. With sounds that were simple, sweet and had a wonderful outdoor acoustic concert appeal, the curtains drew on Day One of a festival whose anticipation was only building.

As Day Two dawned, the vibrant vibe of Holi was ripe and rampant. Once again, the festival had recruited a bunch of ground-shakers and music makers like Dub Sharma, DIVINE, Dualist Inquiry and SuReal to satisfy the festival-goers rising enthusiasm. Held at the Sprawling lawns of one of Pune’s finest hotels: the Westin, the venue was decked out in a handful of hues, right from the seating arrangements to the bar areas, that only added to all the festive vibrancy. Day 2 was left in charge of the highly capable hosting skills of General Zooz, of Reggae Rajahs fame, who pulled off the day’s commentary with all the gusto he could muster up, adding a tropical spirit at each interlude to cool the crowds down amidst the heated festivities.

General Zooz’s hosting game was on point as he indulged in some tropical hues to keep the audience moving.

Dub Sharma took the stage nice and early, spinning out some of his usual teasers that bubbled with bass, ambience and an anticipatory vibe as guests began filing in only to be greeted by floral garlands and endless warmth.

As the vivid faces expanded in numbers, so did the beats per minute with DIVINE and his group Gully Gang, a hip-hop fuelled rap-god team emerging from the streets of Mumbai, took centre stage, dropping songs like ‘Scene Kya Hai‘ & ‘Mere Gully Mein’ as they captivated the swooning crowds with their upbeat, fast-paced rhythm and raging energy.

The dancing bordered on fanatic as Divine and his co-rapper did one of the most seamlessly stunning synchronised numbers, shuffling their words, beat and feet to the haunting voice of Raja Kumari to keep the gathered masses on their toes.

This set the stage for Dualist Inquiry, one of India’s most popular indie-tronica artists, to smash right on with his scintillating tunes. Whipping out his monumental beauties like ‘Monument‘, ‘Exile’ and a stunning mashup of ‘Faded’ by Zhu & Isoterra, Dualist kept the atmosphere and audience swinging to his guitar licks and uncontrollable energy, making a colourful splash with the waves of music he sent out as faces drenched in explosive colour cheered him on.

As the colour got darker & deeper and energy levels peaked, out from the shadows of Dualist’s flawless sound stepped SuReal, loaded with a water gun full of some master blaster bass that were an absolute delight amidst the groovy atmosphere. Considered one of India’s most power packed Trap and Bass artists, SuReal stayed true to his signature DJ Twerk style by dropping some of the meanest, baddest booty-cranking, hip-swaying beats that added just the right amount of zest to the vibrant Holi celebration. His tunes hit as hard as water balloons, keeping the feet tapping and the spirit lively as beach balls were flung about and hundreds raged away to his pulsating swings.

SuReal & General Zooz finishing off on a spectacular note!

High Holi 2017 was a musical extravaganza propped up as the perfect excuse for a Holi party. It stayed loyal to its melodic roots, ensuring a zealous ambience to all those who wanted to shake a leg as they doused their groups in fistfuls of organic colour. The result: a hip, happy, kaleidoscopic celebration of one of India’s most energetic festivals, done in a paint-splattered manner that only High Spirits could famously pull off as they helped Pune peeps create memories that lasted long after all the post-Holi shower scrubbing!

Written By: Shamani Joshi

Photography: Swaraj Sriwastav and Anand Mohapatra

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.