After popular singers enthralled the audience late into Sunday evening, it was time for an eccentric bunch of musicians to take over Riviera, 2011, the cultural festival at the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT).

Rock bands from across the country and music enthusiasts flocked to ‘Headbangers Kall' on Monday, as ‘distortion' held centre stage. As different as the musicians were in terms of their music and appearance, the intent was the same. “We are here to leave an impression,” they said.

As ‘Shock Therapy' from Hyderabad swayed to emphatic beats and over-amplified sounds, a disgruntled audience member remarked, “They are just randomly playing.” Farther away, a group of fans seemed to visibly disagree, screeching and grunting to the beats of the heavy metal performance. “We are exploring a genre called Brutal Slam Death, our music is aggressive, but the message is not,” says Rahul Das, the vocalist of the band. “We want our music to be real, not everybody understands this language,” says Akram-ul-Haq, the band's guitarist.

Surrounded by hair-raising rhythms set to stories that only the band members could tell, the audience violently shook their heads and soon gasped for breath. “There is an appeal in the rawness, it all seems so divine,” said an ecstatic Prabhu Prasad from Mumbai.

Ultimately, whether one came across it by accident or recommendation, good music was what everyone searched for. “It has to be hunted down, and this is where you realise what exactly you enjoy,” said Shefin Sam from the audience.

And participants in Acoustic vibes, an event that focussed on softer music, seemed keenly aware of that. Two-time winners of the competition, where the music is simultaneously jubilant and philosophical, a group from Women's Christian College (Day), Chennai, seemed relaxed even as they were hiding their surprise element, a bright pink stool for the shortest band member. It is the variety in their music, ranging from nursery rhymes to Acapella and gospel music that helps win over the audience, they said.

Meanwhile, another band sat on the sidelines rather enthusiastic about its first performance. Pointing at fellow band member Sudhir Clement, Vaisakh K. of ‘Mirage,' a music band from VIT said, “We were at a concert once, banging our heads together, that is how we got to know each other.” And these budding artists have their share of concerns too on the regulation of art. For Siddhartha Mukherjee, a guitarist of the band, ‘After Dark' music is a lifestyle and the biggest inspiration, “No form of art is obscene, if music helps you vent your anger and hold on, it is as good as religion.”

Synchronisation and rhythm were also the key themes at the salsa workshop as participants danced to groovy numbers, and at the ‘Dance Battle,' which attempted to capture the hip-hop flavour of dancing on streets.

“The challenge is to coordinate your performance better on the same music your rival has danced to,” said Chaitanya Chhabra, the event coordinator.

The swish of colours and fancy designs at ‘Style Check,' a fashion show, accentuated the competition as contemporary fashion met comfort and style. The day's events drew to a close as Punjabi singer Daler Mehndi and south Indian singer Ranjith gave a scintillating, energy-filled performance. The Hindu is the media partner for Riviera, 2011.