Singer Hariharan during his performance at NH7 Weekender last year.

 The eagerly awaited Sunburn Festival in Goa has now been rescheduled, “new dates” are yet to be reported. Much like Sunburn, the Covid-19 emergency has prompted numerous such celebrations in India and abroad being dropped or deferred to one year from now—from Tomorrowland (Belgium), Coachella and its down home music branch, Stagecoach (both in California), to Ziro Festival of Music and Orange Festival of Adventure & Music (both in Arunachal Pradesh). The scene is unquestionably not empowering for music darlings and artistes. 

“The pandemic has affected the entire ecosystem. And music industry is one of the worst hit industries. Artistes and audience look forward to such events every year… such festivals aren’t just about music, but also about meeting new people, trying local cuisine, exploring the destination and holidaying. It helps in boosting tourism and many other businesses,” says Anup Kutty, one of the coordinators of Ziro that gets a footfall up to 8,000 in each of the four days. ZIRO will be held in September 2021.

Kobyum Zirdo, head organizer, Orange Festival, shares they’re getting unlimited questions on whether there’s a chance of the fest occurring with restricted gatherings. “But it isn’t. Our 7th edition in only happening on December 2021. Thankfully our organisers and fans are understanding,” adds Zirdo.

The situation has influenced autonomous artists more given that such fests help them acquire, give them perceivability and associations for future work.

“Unlike established musicians who’re somehow surviving these times are difficult for independent artistes who wait throughout the year to perform in such festivals,” says artist arranger Shankar Mahadevan, who has acted in Weekender before. Repeating a comparative feeling rapper Kr$na shares huge numbers of these craftsman have gone jobless.

Indeed, looking for some inspiration in the midst of these flighty occasions and to open up a couple of entryways, NH7 Weekender is going virtual in December. ZIRO, however mostly, is teaming up with FOCUS Wales 2020 for a virtual grandstand this month. According to sources, Sunburn is examining going on the web, however there is no affirmation yet.

DJ-have Nikhil Chinapa, who has been a piece of different concerts, believes that virtual has developed “as a new and viable business for the industry”.

“It needs a lot of work and development though, both on the platform and the artist sides. The entertainment industry is first-out-last-in in situations like this. It’s amongst the hardest hit and we have no idea when things will return to “normal”… we as a whole are attempting to adjust and adapt,” he adds.

As per Gunjan Arya, coordinator of NH7 Weekender, online appeared to the route forward, “NH7 Weekender like most music festivals is a very visceral experience and we’re trying to make it as interesting as it could be online. Since such festival is to be enjoyed with friends, we would’ve virtual rooms for friends to chat and enjoy performances together. There are watch parties, private chat rooms, direct fan and artiste interactions and more. If fans appreciate this, we might continue online experience and on ground festival in a hybrid way.”

Rapper Krsna, artist – arranger Shankar Mahadevan and DJ-have Nikhil Chinapa talk about the impact of the pandemic on performances.

While Mahadevan feels nothing matches live insight, Kr$na, who acted in Sunburn a year ago and is a piece of Weekender’s this year, is energized.

“These festivals are not just about music but the entire feel of the nature, people, food, destination… If I want to hear artistes like Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock perform I might log in, but the satisfaction won’t be same. But I understand things can only happen online now,” says Mahadevan.

Kr$na finishes strong, “Finally we’ll be able to take the stage, though the scenario is different but something is better than nothing. Hopefully next year things we’ll be better.”

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Creator tweets @Shreya_MJ