Chennai is opening up, no doubt. But a typical weekend at the club still means a rundown of ‘top 50 global tracks’ from an audio streaming app. Or predictable genre-specific music through the night. Despite a smattering of live acts, Chennai is yet to celebrate the return of live performances in a big way.
Circle of Love Festival, a two-day multi-disciplinary arts festival with a focus on homegrown talent attempts to do that. Spread over two evenings in Radio Room, it promises music, visual art, games and food: shrunken in scale, but vast and diverse in talent.
“The whole point was to make an eclectic mix of music and put Chennai on the map,” says Sameer Sethi, who conceptualised the limited-capacity event with a larger theme that points to ‘togetherness’.
DJ and curator Manny, explains, “The whole idea of the community platform Circle of Love is to break barriers among genres, artistes and everyone in the music community. So many styles of music are coming together in one festival and venue in Chennai, which typically has a separate set of audience for each style.” This versatility can be expected across artforms, he adds.
“Over two days, you will travel from House music to commercial House, independent artistes to disco,” says Sameer. Two stages and over 20 artistes are the USPs of the festival that has an impressive line-up of performances: Nikhil Chinapa, JBABE (the solo project of F16s’ Josh Fernandes) and Mali to name a few. The curation focusses on talent who have not had the chance to play in Chennai in a while.
- Nikhil Chinapa
- Stalvart John
- Bread & Jam
- DJ Manny
- DJ Skip
- Sharan Nichani
- Black Fern
“Nikhil Chinapa hasn’t played here in three to four years. Mali, JBABE, Bread & Jam are all acts from Chennai. And they tend to book more gigs outside, which is disappointing,” says Sameer.
The main stage will be indoors and the second smaller outdoor stage will be open from 4pm to 8pm, on both days. Nikhil will be headlining Day 1 while most of the live acts will be on Day 2, which will be closed by DJs Kayan and Stalvart John.
Josh sees this as a “culture build-up” rather than an event. “I will be doing a lot of new tunes that have not been released yet. Hopefully, I will also get a few people on the line-up to join me on my set.”
Not just him, The F16s crew will make appearances with their own acts — “Harshan (Radhakrishnan), our keyboardist, is playing his first DJ set here under the moniker Henny. Abhinav Krishnaswamy (Booby), our guitarist, is hosting the open mic and Shashank (Manohar), our bassist is curating the playlist for Focus Group Radio. All of us in the band are taking part in this festival in very diverse roles,” says Josh.
DJ Manny has planned a back-to-back set on Day 1 with Skip, who is currently ranked as the number 1 turntablist in the country. It is his first gig in Chennai after the second bout of lockdowns. “We have been playing together for years and usually we do melodic techno sounds. We thought this would be a great place to create something different.”
An open mic targeted at young artistes will also be held on Day 2, 5 pm onwards. Twelve to 15 people will be selected from the applicants. Apart from music, the evenings promise innovative creations in terms of art and decor. Without giving away too much, Sameer says, “Inside Radio Room, there will be projection mapping on a couple of walls by Bengaluru-based artiste Black Fern. We are also putting together some games like giant jenga.”
The showcase vows to take COVID protocols seriously. Only those who are fully vaccinated will be allowed into the event. The participating artistes too, are fully vaccinated.
Circle of Love Festival will be on October 15 and 16, 4 pm onwards at Radio Room, RA Puram. Contact 9884109074 for tickets and further enquiries.