Of metal T-shirts and head-banging

Of metal T-shirts and head-banging

The sound of drums and the strumming of guitars drew curious onlookers to Vivekananda Metro Station recently. Be it people sauntering across the station, motorists or music afficionados who had come to groove, they only wanted to watch some young artistes jamming live.  


The 19th festival of ‘Freedom Jam- No Bread’, a live music show, was a three-day weekend festival held at various venues across the City like Rangoli Metro Centre, Chaitanya Smaran Amphitheatre and at Peenya. The festival, which started way back in 1996, during the nation’s 50th anniversary celebrations, mainly seeks to promote original music by providing a platform for emerging artistes to bring their own compositions on stage.

Alex, one of the organisers, says, “This is not a competition. This is an invite for bands to promote their own compositions and to the city to enjoy music. A lot of other music festivals have restrictions on which genre to perform but at ‘Freedom Jam’, we aren’t genre specific. We have organised classical concerts, acoustic sessions and rock and pop shows this weekend. This is also not a commercial festival as it’s a self-sustained event by us and free for the audience.”

Alex, who has seen ‘Freedom Jam’ grow over the past four years, adds that the bands had to register in advance to perform.  “There are a lot more bands who are participating and the audience reception is also growing, which is a positive factor. However, the music scene is a bit difficult because of lack of sponsors. It’s a tough time for artistes to make a name as well as they aren’t able to sell their CDs.”

However, ‘Freedom Jam’ was a festival like no other with energy bustling as people enjoyed the remixed versions of ‘Scooby Doo’ and ‘Vande Maataram’. Popular bands like ‘Atharva’, ‘Angel Share’, ‘Flee’ and ‘Broken Membrane’ made their way at the festival playing compositions and covers in a variety of styles — from indipop to fusion.  Santosh, a professional says, “It’s great to see many bands perform for free. All the bands are talented and it’s a good way to spend the weekend.”

 Alan Rego, another organiser, says, ‘‘Freedom Jam’ started as a small music session in 1996, where a small group used to meet up in the weekends and jam at Cubbon Park. Soon, the horticulture department had a few problems and we shifted it to something bigger and called it ‘Freedom Jam’. It’s a free event and hence called, ‘Freedom Jam- No Bread’.

However, a successful music festival like this which has sustained for over 19 years comes ridden with challenges. “Getting permission and space is a very big problem. One of the ‘Freedom Jam’ festivals at Palace Grounds a few years back was a big event, where we had over 300 bands coming in and playing.”

Alan added that  there are opportunities for young musicians. “We give them a platform but they have to take off from here and grow bigger.”

‘Freedom Jam’ looked more like a mini-college fest, with youngsters sporting heavy metal T-shirts and head-banging to a crowd of different ages. Bharat, the guitarist of Broken Membrane says, “It was great fun to perform at ‘Freedom Jam’ and witnessing other bands bring their own compositions. “

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