The ultimate music contest in town — The Hindu NXg Rockstar — saw Black Letters put up a high-pitched fight against 34 other talented teams to win the coveted title.

Saarang, the annual cultural festival held at IIT-M, just got better this year with The Hindu NXg Rockstar becoming a part of it. With teams from various colleges taking part it was definitely not a sleepy afternoon. Kickstarting with Acoustyx and Acapella competition on January 19, the event promised to rock the next three days.

The second day saw teams battling it out in the preliminary round of Power Chords to make it to the finals the next day. The high-energy growls, riffs and head-banging were enough to enthral the audience and judges alike.

The finalists were: 83 MPH, Black Letters ( Kochi), Ghost Note, Totem, The Terrorists, Monkey Skulls (Manipal), Eclipse Alchemy (Thiruvananthapuram) and Iterate.

Judges Noble Luke, Vocalist, Blind Image; Madhav Ravindranath, bassist, Grey Shack and Wayne, Manager, Media and Content Advancement at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, were the ones entrusted with the tough job of choosing the best.

The Hindu NXg Rockstar in association with IIT-M Saarang 2012 saw eight teams rock the stage on January 21, with Black Letters being adjudged the Rockstars of 2012 and walking away with a cash prize of Rs. 50,000. The Terrorists were judged first runner-up winning Rs. 30,000, while 83 MPH placed third, bagging a prize of Rs. 20,000.

The event was followed by performances by 10-year-old drummer Aditya Sunder and Hong Kong-based band T-Bone, who managed to entertain the enthusiastic crowds while having their own fun on stage.

Judges speak

Noble Luke, Madhav Ravindranath, and Wayne were very clear about what they were looking for. “We wanted good music. We wanted to see their creativity. And Chennai does have a lot of bands now but we wanted to see who would be Chennai's next best! The music that we get to hear now has become monotonous so we want a refreshing change and the band that gave us that was rewarded. However, we are also looking at band members who are good with instruments. And the last thing that makes the selection process most important is the question ‘are these bands entertaining?' Because we believe that they need to enthral the audience and not just think but also translate it through their music.”

Sponsors

Title sponsor: Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers; Associate partner: Hero Motors Corp; Style partner: Green Trends Hair and Style Salon; Television partner: SS Music; Radio partner: 92.7 BIG FM; Multiplex partner: AGS Cinemas; Event Partner: iads and events.

Prize sponsors: Landmark, VGP Universal Kingdom, Globus, Donut House, Univercell, Witco and Fitness One.

Prelims

The stage was set, the microphones turned on and guitars fine tuned. All that was left was for the participants to take the stage by storm and they did. The Hindu NXg Rockstar started in true rockstar fashion on January 19 with a total of 34 teams registering for the event under different categories of Acapella, Acoustyx and Powerchords. Apart from the teams from various Chennai colleges, there were also teams from Goa and Karnataka.

The Acapella round had a very enthusiastic audience singing along with the teams on stage. Six teams battled it out over two hours for the title of the Best Acapella Group which eventually went to the Western Music Club from Women's Christian College, Chennai.

After that, it was time for the Acoustyx round where the next three hours comprised guitars and drums and a tiny bit of headbanging. The winner of the Acoustyx round was the five member band called The Twelfth from Madras Christian College, Chennai.

Powerchords, Rockstar's ultimate rock competition, was held the next day, on January 20. The music was high and the drums beat loud, feeding the frenzy that was the preliminary round. Among the 28 shortlisted, eight finalists were chosen to battle it out for the title.

Rocking stars!

Stealing this bunch away from cheering friends and fellow band members turns out to be quite a task. After which, NXg somehow manages to get some sense out of the members of Black Letters — Sarang, Arjun, Sharath and Akash — who were on a high after the win. “This is big for us! This is one of the biggest steps we've taken as a band and it's very encouraging,” they state.

What started out as a passion between four high school friends four years ago, had taken a serious turn over the last year. Though basically from Ernakulam, Sharath and Akash had to move out to Chennai and Bengaluru respectively for their college education. “Meeting up to practise and work on new songs has been tough but we have managed. The gap that we've had over the past months owing to the move of the band members has helped us reflect on our work and come up with better music,” they introspect.

What do they plan to do with the prize money? Pat, comes the reply: “We're going to use it to fund our album, but first we're going to spend it on some celebrations!”

Watch out for these rockstars' album expected to be released this year. Meanwhile, you can listen to their debut track online at: https://www.facebook.com/blackletters

MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN

Prizes

Best team (Acapella): Women's Christian College

Best band: The Twelfth from Madras Christian College

The Best Acapella (Vocals): The Western Music Club

Best Own Composition: Under The Influence

Best male (Acoustics): Siddharth Kotwal of Paperkraft, BITS Pilani, Goa Campus

Best female (Acoustics): Shreya Sarah of Synchronize, Womens' Christian College

Best Guitarist: Anuj Shah of October Rush from the Vellore Institute of Technology

Best Keyboardist; Best Percussionist and Best Bass Percussionist: John Kirubai and David Joseph and John Jonathan from the band The Terrorist

Best Vocalist (Power Chords): Black Letters

Best lead guitarist (Power Chords): The Terrorist

Best Drummer and Best Bass Guitarist (Power Chords): 83 MPH

Best Keyboard (Power Chords): Totem

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