The five bands that made it to the top of the 2016 edition of Sennheiser’s Top 50 listing are a varied lot. The one thing that holds them together of course is the fact that they can now legitimately call themselves among the best emerging bands in the country. As many as 370 bands participated in this year’s selection process. The Top 50 selection was done via a combination of online poll and jury deliberation. The top five bands will now battle it out to top the 2016 ranking at Mumbai’s Hard Rock Café on September 22, in front of a heavy weight jury consisting of Indus Creed frontman Uday Benegal, singer Angaraag ‘Papon’ Mahanta, and recording engineer/music producer Ashish Manchanda. Sennheiser Top50 is powered by Johnnie Walker The Journey, and Rolling Stone India is the magazine partner
The Bengaluru-based band weave progressive rock, psychedelic and blues with the most poignant lyrics in Kashmiri, Urdu and Hindi. Formed by vocalist-guitarist Khaled Ahamed and guitarist Kashif Iqbal, the band also includes bassist Fidel D’Souza and drummer Sachin Banandur. They came together in 2010 and since then, their Led Zeppelin-meets-Pink Floyd sound has continually transitioned, propelling them to bigger stages across the country and even more fans who sing along to everything from “Gul Gulshan” to “Behosh” and “Beparwah”. Parvaaz, who released their debut EP Behosh in 2012 and followed up with their stellar poetic full-length Baran in 2014, are now working on newer mellow material, as best show in their live performance documentary Transitions.
Mumbai-based quintet Daira have been on the up and up ever since they came together in 2014. Using the momentum of a newly formed band, they released their debut album Daira in September 2015 and already have a new single released earlier this year. The alternative rock band’s energy is not just powered by vocalist Piyush Kapoor’s bellowing voice, but also a solid groove section, with drummer Pratik Kulgod firing on all cylinders. Songs like “Maaya”, “Kaabil Jahaan” and “Meri Soch”. Newer unreleased songs like “Bhukamp” and “Mahaul” are already crowd favorites. The band is completed by guitarists Shivam Pant and Vikalp Sharma and bassist Govind Gawli. Check out their latest single “Trouble” where they raise the fun quotient up a few notches, with help from rap ensemble Swadesi and singer Kalyaani here.
Bengaluru gets double the representation in this year’s Sennheiser Top 5, and with good reason. Peepal Tree are best described as a veteran new band, formed in the image of veteran heavy metal band Bhoomi, guitarist Tony Das, vocalist Sujay Harthi, drummer Wilfred Demoz and bassist Praveen Biligiri. But that’s about where the comparisons to Bhoomi end. Peepal Tree present an infectious multi-lingual pop rock sound influenced by everything from jazz to funk to folk rock. They’ve only got demos out at the moment, but that’s been more than enough coming from veteran musicians such as Das (a regular on the Bengaluru circuit) and Demoz (who has performed with the likes of Vasundhara Das, Suneeta Rao and Raghu Dixit). They’ve already performed in Myanmar once and regularly around Bengaluru, regaling audiences with songs about everything from sisterhood to a tribute to legendary Tamil actor Rajnikanth.
Delhi modern rock band Barefaced Liar (BFL) have been around for nearly a decade now, coming together in 2008. Currently led by guitarist-vocalist duo Akshay Chowdhry and Sumanth Balakrishnan, the band has three albums to their name – the self-titled debut in 2010, Toe the Line in 2012 and Mind Over Matter in 2015. BFL have honed their sound from a typical hard rock/classic rock-inspired setup to a more rock & roll-driven modern sound that even includes a hint of indie rock. They’ve been featured on all the major publications and performed at all the big festivals, so it’s no surprise Barefaced Liar are in the top five of the Sennheiser Top 50.
Filling up the final place in the top five are Mumbai progressive rock/metal band Symphony Novel, representing the heavier end of the music spectrum on the Sennheiser Top 50. Comprising frontman Rachit Sachdeva, guitarist Vivek Khati, Indian classical vocalist Suvarna Tiwari, singer Gauri Aayeer and keyboardist Nikhil Abraham, Symphony Novel’s sound builds on a unique combination of Hindustani classical elements with mind-bending prog riffs and beats. One of their must-hear songs includes “Ethereal Ash”, which features something for prog fans of all ages – from crunching riffs to a stirring cello layer added by Jake Charkey and virtuoso guitar solos, all set to one of the best rhythm sections in the country guesting for them – bassist Sheldon D’Silva and drummer Gino Banks.
When - 22nd September, 7 pm onwards
Where - Mumbai’s Hard Rock Café
This article is written by Anurag Tagat