Mumbai: It all began three decades ago. The year was 1986 and two of the city’s most famous bands, Rock Machine (now known as Indus Creed) and Mirage, were slated to perform at St. Xavier’s intercollege fest Malhaar. Only a week before the gig, the bands were informed that their show was cancelled as the principal didn’t approve of their music. Needless to say, there arose a public furore. Amongst the outraged students, was one incandescent individual - Farhad Wadia, a die-hard rock-and-roll fan, who set out with other students, and rock bands to organise what eventually became the first edition of the country's oldest and largest rock music festival - the Independence Rock, subsequently held at Rang Bhavan.
What followed was three decades of a roaring rock scene in the country which saw the inception of some of the most popular names who have now become mainstream rock sensations. Since then, Independence Rock or I-Rock as it is famously addressed, has been at the very core of the rock and metal wave in the country, growing into legendary music, cultural and lifestyle movement.
With throbbing drums, pulsating guitar riffs, sing-along head-banging and swearing vocalists, the I-Rock music fest - a mainstay of India’s rock-and-roll scene all through the 80s and 90s - left a deep imprint on the country’s Gen X rock spirit over the years. Up until its last edition in 2013, I-Rock served as a cradle of indie rock music that offered an aspirational stage to underground talent and campus rock bands.
Such was the scenario - days before its popular preceding talent contest--where amateur bands would vie for a chance to perform with popular bands ranging from Rock Machine (now Indus Creed) and Pentagram (which gave Bollywood Vishal Dadlani) to Parikrama and Down Sterling (the band in which a certain AR Rehman started as a keyboardist)--several unsolicited cassettes from exposure-starved canteen bands would land up at the homes of organisers. Some died at the hands of luck while some rose to fame and found their purpose in the world of rock.
However, it all came to a halt with I-Rock's last edition in 2013. As the tide of rock then began to ebb, there echoed an unsung anthem to resuscitate the country's own rock show in all its glory. Heeding this call after a nine-year-long hiatus, Hyperlink Brand Solutions and Paytm Insider have joined forces with Farhad Wadia to revive this iconic rock festival for a larger-than-life avatar, via its much-awaited comeback this November 5-6 at Bayview Lawns (Princess Dock, Mazgaon) in Mumbai.
With some of the most celebrated artists from the rock industry, the resurgence of I-Rock’s uptempo celebration in 2022 aims to be a renewed representation of India's thriving rock scene, with a promise to regain its cult status as a music festival unlike any other. This new chapter will see the iconic festival continue to democratise music as it unflinchingly questions the status quo and reflects on social and cultural changes. Through music alone, I-Rock aims to honour India's rock legacy and provide the youth with a creative platform to express non-conformist ideas, freedom of speech, inclusivity, and equality.
Mr Farhad Wadia, Founder of Independence Rock, said, “Intimate storytelling, realistic humane emotion, accomplished musicianship — so much is encapsulated in rock music. With Independence Rock, we celebrated this spectacular genre of music. It's my great fortune and privilege to revive Independence rock in partnership with my dear friends Jairam, Neale and Jaishankar at Hyperlink and give a new generation of Rock Fans the opportunity to experience the oldest running rock festival in India, also known as the Woodstock of India.”
The country’s original and the oldest rock festival ever, Independence Rock is undoubtedly the stage where it all began - from power-packed rock music concerts, giving several huge names their big break to sparking the Indian rock spirit. The festival has always been a platform to showcase fresh new talent in the scene, and will continue to do so this year.
Mr VG Jairam - Founder of Hyperlink Brand Solutions said, “Rock music reflects a social and cultural change in society and is a force in its own right. As the original generations of rock & roll fans matured, the music became an accepted and deeply interwoven thread in popular culture. With its core vision of multidimensional storytelling, creating cultural movements and connecting consumers with culture, Hyperlink has partnered with Farhad Wadia & Paytm Insider to resurrect and re-introduce this iconic marquee music, cultural and lifestyle movement to today’s millennials..”
Mr Varun Khare, Business Head, Live Entertainment - IPs & Partnerships at Paytm Insider, added, “The live events industry is currently enjoying the post-covid boom. At such a time, the comeback of something as massive as I-Rock is a masterstroke. Undeniably, people are going to be euphoric and we are thrilled to be part of this historic comeback, more so because it will be unlike any of its previous editions. The resurgence of a platform, rather a movement, that has familiarized some of the most famous rock bands to India does not only mean good news for fans and aspiring artists, but also for the industry."
The history of rock music has seen a celebratory, volatile yet unpredictable emergence in India, making a huge impact on its millennial mindset. Undoubtedly, rock music will keep evolving, drawing from its rich history while continuing to keep its ear open for the next sonic reinvention. In India, Independence Rock has been that reinvention. As Farhad, Paytm Insider and Hyperlink, bring I-Rock back, they will emulate the hard-rock traditions of the past while also giving it a contemporary spin.