Isai, ‘the global music festival with a local heart’, didn’t feel as if it was confined to one space; the two-day music fest at Buddha Garden in Express Avenue had the flavour of street music shows where crowds floated by, the music livened the atmosphere, and you nodded your head to different tunes as the sky grew dark. Fittingly, French bassist Fantazio ended his performance saying, “In the future, I hope music can be played in parks where anyone can come and listen.”

Featuring 14 bands, some local and others from countries such as France, Japan, Mauritius and the U.S., the concerts varied from jazz and old school rock and roll to fusion and alternative music.

Eddie Prithiviraj, the organiser, says, “We started the festival last year and it has evolved into Isai. We find unique bands and invite them to perform.”

While every band had its own set of fans (some even taking to the dance floor), the crowds got thicker during the evenings, when many fusion and world music bands came to perform. Here’s a peek at five bands and performers that caught the audience’s fancy.

Fantazio and Joint Family

Fantazio is a man of many sounds. He hollers, cries, shouts, coos and flirts with the microphone, all the while plucking away wildly at his double bass. But his speed and the freshness of his tunes combined with Paul Jacob’s use of traditional percussion was compelling. The two were in a trance, matching each other’s tunes, while Fantazio’s music had everyone in the audience swaying. Jacob even picked up his guitar sometimes, shifting and playing with sounds.

Live Banned

With remixes, medleys and partial parodies of 90s’ Western and Indian cinema music, anyone would relate to Live Banned’s pieces. Hitting it off with ‘Naaku Mukka’, the band adds rock elements to popular Tamil cinema songs and Western hits such as ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Crazy Frog’. The band’s foreman deserves a special mention for his stage presence.


A band based out of Auroville, Emergence presents music rather differently. On the surface, it seems like a mix of Carnatic music and soft rock, but so many other elements keep popping out. Krishna Mckenzie’s Tamil won as many cheers as his music. Karthick Iyer’s Carnatic pieces have the violin fusing seamlessly with traditional funk and rock elements.


Frenchman Boogers is wacky, crazy and funny, dances with his guitar and electrifies the atmosphere around him. He gets picked for being the first to get the audience on their feet, crowding around him and even leaping into bouts of break-dancing. Every 10 minutes he would say, ‘Hi, I am Boogers’, sending the audience into fits of laughter. And like good old rock and roll, his songs are loud, foot-tapping and catchy.

Baa Band

It’s a motley group of Irishmen and a woman who combine Irish and Indian tunes. Its first song ‘Spirit Gift’, dedicated to Chennai, was such an Indian rendition that it evoked images of smoke-filled puja rooms. Other songs featured traditional Irish folk songs that seemed vaguely familiar, and even soft, mellow tunes that blended with the tranquillity of Buddha Garden.