Towards the fag end of last month, I travelled down to one of the extreme frontiers of the country – Mizoram – to watch the tiny State hunt for its new music idol. Scavenger Rock Idol, as the event was christened, was the brainchild of two highly proactive musicians – Victor Vanlalhruia and Booma Hansing of Scavenger Project and Boomarang respectively. Dubbed as the first “national rock competition” of Mizoram, the entire music fraternity of the State came out to support the duo.
Like other States of the Northeast, the people of Mizoram too swear by music. The State is home to bands like Boomarang and Scavenger Project and musicians like Mami Varte, Liadingpuii, Pensy B, and the like who are increasingly carving a niche for themselves in the international circuit. But although highly vibrant, the music market here is yet to develop at the same pace as those of the other States, primarily because of the lack of government support. Event management companies are a non-entity and Victor runs the only group that manages artists or bands. Scavenger Rock Idol, therefore, was truly a landmark event, which Victor hopes, would force the government to take musicians of the region a bit more seriously.
Scavenger Rock Idol, however, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. As many as 21 bands from different parts of the country came out to participate in the competition, which offered a prize bouquet of Rs 1,00,000 in cash for the winners. Held over three days, the bands battled it out amongst themselves to remain in the race.
The craze for music amongst the youth of the Northeast could be gauged right from the preliminary rounds of the festival as young school kids, who were almost as tall as their guitars, also joined in the fray. I would make special mention of two young teen bands – Shair and Faithhealers, both made up of school going boys, who left the judges and rest of us dazed!
While the participating bands were required to sing one of their originals, they also had to sing their own rendition of Beatle’s popular number, While my guitar gently weeps, which is supposedly based on the concept of changes. Be it rock, new age electronic or metal, the number of makeovers that this song went through for the three consecutive days would have certainly had George Harrison interested. Though I don’t know about the rest, but me, yes it surely did.
The Scavenger Rock Idol also had a new concept that could be noticed for the first time in the region. The organizers had tied up with LPS, one of the biggest cable networks in the State, and also online radio station www.radioflambit.com, thanks to which they introduced the concept of online voting. The entire show was streamed live by these two channels and listeners of nine countries were able to vote for the participating bands. The online votes acted as the fourth judge in the competition. While I wouldn’t dwell on the effectiveness of this concept in a region where there is a very limited audience, it is really nice to see organizers here experimenting with new innovative methods.
In the end, Stacy’s Penitence was adjudged the winners of the competition while Prophets and Prophecy ended up in the second and third spot respective. Guwahati-based Digital Suicide, who was in the running for the top spot, however, managed only the fourth spot.