Leveraging the Rock Music Scene to a new height in Manipur
Shirock 2017, the first-ever mega Rock Music Competition being the biggest attraction, left no stones unturned in making itself the “creating history” genre for all events ever held in Manipur. It was the first time that a musical concert of international standards would give opportunities, which was long due for the talented musicians from the “Jewel of India”. It was no doubt that people had numerous doubts about how the organisers would pull-off such a mega event, in a place where the resources were limited, so many to do and so little time; however, when the event was done, it had created a landmark in events being held in the state until date.
To drop down a few informatics, Shirock 2017 was an exclusive entertainment event, a part of Shirui Lily Festival 2017 which was held in Ukhrul, Manipur. Unlike most of the grand events that happen in the province, this was one of the biggest musical events which focused on the rock genre, giving a precise meaning to the numerous rock bands and fans in the territory. Shirock featured renownedrock Bands and Solo Artistes' performances from all over the northeast India. Most importantly, it focused on giving the numerous rock bands of the commonwealth a chance to excel beyond the mindset of the regular, the Shirock Band Competition 2017.
Bands from all over Manipur were invited for this fantabulous opportunity. While some may have hesitated to participate in such a huge competition, many other understood that this was the biggest opportunity that they could experience. The winning prize and status were extremely recommendable. Impressive cash prizes of Rs 2,00,000/-, Rs 1,00,000/- and Rs 50,000/- for the top three respectively and six other individual prizes of Rs 10,000/- each for Best Vocalist, Best Guitarist, Best Rhythm Guitarist, Best Bassist, Best Original Song and Best Drummer. It was 'the' opportunity.
Auditions for the Competition started on 8th May, 2016 at Imphal Hotel from 10:00 hours onwards. Rock bands from all over Manipur including bands who had good eminence, came down to the venue to be a part of the grand auditions. Manipur born bands from across the country, flew down just to jam in this auspicious band battle. Some of them travelled in town buses and waited in the sun and stairs, just to be a part of Shirock 2017. The auditions went on for two long days, with each day coming to a close as late as 22:00 hours. The judges took upon themselves to produce the best on the Shirock platform. While several bands had registered and performed in the auditions, only twelve bands emerged on top which made it to the list of Shirock 2017 performers for the splendid finale. They were, in no particular order, Aces of Underdog, Purple Math, Innocent Eyes, Salt And Light Travelling (S.A.L.T) Band, Friday, The Wishess, Brainstorm, Khudombi, Extremist, Virgo Diamond, Matam and Retrosonic. All of these bands had to battle it out with four songs, of which, one song “Holy Diver” by Dio, was made compulsory. They had 30 minutes on-stage time-frame, within which, they had to conquer the world.
th Day 1: On 16 May, 2017 evening, Shirock 2017 had a flawless opening with local artistes from Ukhrul performing on stage at Bakshi
Ground, Ukhrul Headquarters. Need to be reminded, these brilliant entertainers were also screened down just to have them walk the Shirock 2017 platform. Now the official kickoff of Shirock 2017 was obvious when Guru Rewben Mashangva, the brand ambassador of Shirock 2017, came on stage. He was accompanied by none other than Momocha Laishram, the veteran Drummer of the former rock band 'Cannibals' and Ringo Golmei, the amazing bassist of the current rock group 'Phynyx'. The sight was such that the pouring rain could not match the cheering sound of the crowd. And when Tetseo Sisters started their magical performances, it was evident that the rain could not stop the show and people were increasingly flooding into the venue. Phynyx performed as a final act for the evening, which the audience did not want an ending to. Local MLA, Alfred Kanngam Arthur, received a standing ovation when he sang a number from Bon Jovi 'In these arms'. Later, everyone was talking about the sound quality that was projected that night. Soundwave, SSS and Ramngachan Kazingmei Shimrei from Gravity Entertainment made it happen.
Day 2: The second day was an equal glimpse of the first. A brilliant performance by Tribal Euphony was observed by the
th spectators on 17 May, 2017 as the first official act, right after the young entertainers from Ukhrul had performed. Fiona Pachuau from Mizoram rocked the stage with her slow but energetic numbers on stage as well. Mentionable enough, the crowd went “Chaoba.. Chaoba..chaoba..” just before “Chaoba Khudei and The Rock Band” came up on stage. These cheers did not die off until the band was done performing their last number for the evening. As one of the biggest names in rock history from northeast India was stepping foot on Shirock 2017 stage, every single one in the audience was
engulfed with the “Girish and The Chronicles” aura. Beyond the anticipation, the performance defined what it was like to have a rock concert, period. The drizzles could only add to the magnificent staging at night.
Day 3: The streets of Ukhrul was crowded more than the usual. People from all over India had come to witness the first-ever Shirui Lily Festival 2017 and its major attraction Shirock 2017. And not quite surprising enough, these entertainment seekers had landed their foot on Bakshi Ground that evening. Ruthi Chalthansawmi Ralte from Mizoram opened the evening with her heart-throbbing numbers after the local artistes from Ukhrul had performed. At the backstage, the participant bands were gearing up for the battle. As “Aces of Underdog” from Delhi (born Ukhrul) came on stage, it was but obvious that the Shirock 2017 band competition finale was underway. Their enchanting cover of Megadeth's “A tout le monde” had left the crowd on numero uno energy. Purple Math (Churachanpur) came on stage as the second official participant band for the finale. The listeners could feel them rocking their hearts out with their original tracks. The third entry was “Innocent Eyes” (Imphal). The audience had no option but to swing to the high vocal cover of “I Remember You” by Skidrow. S.A.L.T aka Salt & Light Travelling band (Ukhrul) who flew in from Delhi, came in as the fourth finale band, however, the first band with a female vocalist. Their version of “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns N' Roses left people screaming childlike. With their funk on, “Friday” (Ukhrul) entered the stage as the fifth finale band. Their performance of Limp Bizkit's “Take Alook Around” left the crowd jumping in midair. As the sixth entry and the last for the night, “The Wishess” (Imphal) came on stage, their cover of “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2 left the audience lighting up their torches sky-high. Needed to be told,
they were the only band to compose a song about Shirui Lily called “Our pride”, which they performed that evening.
Day 4: After what happened the previous night, the crowd had already gathered at Bakshi Ground arena by 17:00 hours to secure a front row view. The young and energetic artistes of Ukhrul had started entertaining the anticipating viewers while the remaining finale bands rushed to their respective greenrooms. It was “Brainstorm” (Ukhrul) stepping inside the Shirock dome making the seventh finale entry but the first for the evening. They left the onlookers awestruck with their cover of “Angry Again” by Megadeth. “Khudombi” (Imphal) was the eighth entry to the finale. Their mindblowing cover of Megadeth's “Secret Place” convinced the patrons to hum along. In the ninth ingress, “Extremist” (Ukhrul) who flew down from Delhi, captured the heart of the concert-goers with their cover of “Pull Me Under” by Dream Theatre. Further, “Virgo Diamond” (Imphal) entered stage in the tenth slot. They made sure that everyone was singing “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams. The eleventh entry was “Matam" from Imphal. Their performance of Wolfmother's “Joker and The Thief” left the spectators wanting for more. The final and the twelfth entry of the finale, last band to perform for the night as well, was “Retrosonic” (Ukhrul), who also flew down from Delhi just to be a part of Shirock. They killed it with the performance of their original track.
After the show was over at night, the judges, Len Gangte,
Soreichan, Nutan and Ahem Panmei had sat down beyond comfort to tally the scores and come to a conclusion as to who will take the grand prizes home.
th Day 5: The evening of 20 May, 2017 was the heart-stopping moment for the participating bands of Shirock 2017 band competition. It was also the in the interest of the fan following each of these bands and the general audience as a whole. The Shirock atmosphere was on halt as the final rewards where to be announced but then, it had to happen and so it did:
The winner of the first prize of Rs. 2 Lakhs – The Wishess (Imphal)
The winner of the second prize of Rs. 1 Lakh – Retrosonic (Ukhrul)
The winner of the third prize of Rs. 50,000 – Purple Math (Churachandpur)
Best Vocalist – Raj from Innocent Eyes (Imphal) Best Lead Guitarist – Reisangam from Retrosonic (Ukhrul)
Best Drummer – Chingkhei from The Wishess Best Bass Guitarist – Shanchui A. Samshok from Salt and Light Travelling Band
Best Rhythm Guitarist – Bona from The Wishess Best Original Song – Retrosonic
It was a moment of cheers for the winning bands but a disappointment for the rest. Nonetheless, the participant bands gave it a resilient edge and hence, the transcendence of Shirock. “Rugsa” took over the celebrations as well as the stage with their tales filled songs, leaving the people wandering into the storyline of the lyrics.
It is a point to mention that internationally famous designers, Sailex and Asa Kazingmei, were showcasing their designs for the first time in their hometown. And right after the prize distribution, Sailex left the stage beautifully adorned with the models who were selected via auditions as well. The stage frame was decorated with luxurious Sailex's for more than 25 minutes. The spectators simply went awe. “Purple Math” and “Retrosonic” continued their celebrations right after Sailex left the stage. Their power-packed performances were but a treat to the viewers as well as the bands themselves. Asa Kazingmei then engulfed the stage with his elegant designs. His leader gears stormed the stage, riding on the well-build and beautifully crafted models. Ukhrul had never seen such a glance. Asa was very happy to have shown his designs at the place he was born, Ukhrul.
As the winner of Shirock Band Competition 2017, “The Wishess" took stage and also the opening act for “Soulmate”. They
were but having fun with the crowd in unison with immense sense of belongingness. As the final act of Shirock 2017, “Soulmate” performed their renowned tracks to entertain the concert-goers.
Shirock 2017 was an integral part of the first Shirui Lily Festival 2017, which was organized by the State of Manipur, in support from Manipur Tourism. The Shirock event was managed by Youth Street News and Events.
As Shirock 2017 triumphed, people who have attended the most happening act in rock music in the state until today, ascertained, “It can only become bigger and better!”. And this may be very true as most of us are aware, 'Rockstar' is a myth in a place where doctors and engineers are the “ideal” professions to strive for, and hence, rock music is very less welcomed, in spite of the huge fan following and especially the rock bands that wish to make a livelihood through music. Well, Shirock has changed the perspective, a little for now and will continue to do so, eventually making people realize what is not easy to understand today.