Think of a music festival not bankrolled by some big corporate entity, but pieced together by the spare change and fervent wishes of real people. It's like when you're rooting for Arsenal, not because they always win, but because they're your team. That's the essence of crowdfunded concerts. They're not about the glam; they're about the music, the people, and the shared experience of something genuinely grassroots.
The artists at such are handpicked raw, unpolished gems that resonate with something deep inside you. These musicians are the real deal, pouring their souls into every note and lyric, not for fame or fortune, but for the love of music. And the fans are not just there to “be seen” or to tick off a box on their social calendar.
They're there because they believe in the music. They're the ones who still buy vinyl, not just for the nostalgia, but for the authenticity. The atmosphere at these festivals is something you can't manufacture. It's a bit like walking into a pub where everyone knows your name. There's a sense of community.
It's not just about passively watching a band on stage; it's about being part of a collective experience, a communal celebration of music that's untainted by commercialism. Crowdfunding these festivals is like a modern-day version of passing the hat around. It's a democratic way of saying, “We want this, and we're willing to put our money where our mouth is.”
Comeback of CAD
One such is Control ALT Delete aka CAD or India's biggest crowdfunded music festival. It's the underdog of music fests – unconventional, not mainstream, but absolutely brilliant in its execution. With 45 artists across 5 stages for its 2024 edition, CAD is making a post-Covid comeback in January 2024 at the same venue (Roaring Farm in Malad).
Now, the thing about CAD is that it's fiercely independent. Since its inception, CAD has been free from the clutches of corporate sponsorship. The entry fee? That's where it gets interesting. CAD operates on a Pay-What-You-Want model. It's a festival that's 'by the people, for the people,' and it wears this ethos like a badge of honour. The Pay-What-You-Want entry fee is CAD's way of saying, 'We trust you to value this experience.' Contributions start from as little as a rupee, akin to crowdfunding a beloved project. Everyone chips in what they can to create something extraordinary. This approach is transparent, inclusive, and fosters a sense of collective ownership among attendees.
The festival is a bit like a talent scout with an uncanny knack for spotting the next big thing in music. For over 11 years, it has been a crucible where over 180 Indian artists have been forged. CAD has a history of featuring artists and bands just before they hit the big time. These performers – rap superstars Divine, MC Stan, and Emiway Bantai to name a few, were once the underdogs of the music world. Beyond the music, CAD is a place where everyone's welcome, ideas are shared, and eccentricities are celebrated. The festival breaks down social barriers, creating a space where status and labels are irrelevant.
Line-up of 45 acts
After a pandemic-induced hiatus, the festival is making a comeback with a lineup that's as eclectic as ever. The 2024 line-up features hip-hop, rock, electronica, metal and other genres in between. This is the kind of music that doesn't play on every radio station, but should. It's where you'll find the kind of tunes that stick in your head, the kind that you'd play on a loop on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You've got Naezy, Chennai's The F16s, and Delhi's rock group Komodo Jane and Hashbass, Sikkim's Konflicts and Pune's Infestation.
The festival's stages are like chapters in a book. CAD's stages are battlegrounds where genres clash and meld. The Alt and Metal stages are sanctuaries for the sonic rebels. The electronic stage is a vortex of genre-defying performances, a place where the likes of Anushka Manchanda as Kiss Nuka and Tyrell Dub Corp redefine what music can be. The 'Survive This' stage will feature the likes of metal gurus Bhayanak Maut and Inner Sanctum. Experimental talent like MaryKali and the EXCISE DEPT will play another. CAD where you can lose yourself in the poetic fusion of Bawari Basanti or the raw energy of hip-hop collective Wild Wild Women.
The absence of a fixed fee means everyone, regardless of their bank balance, gets to experience the magic of live music. It's a place where social status takes a backseat to shared musical passion.
CAD is a place where you can volunteer, learn new skills, and be part of something bigger. They are offering volunteering and skill-building programmes this year. "Every year, we put together a team of volunteers who help manage and run the festival. We will also be introducing an apprenticeship programme in association with OffSet Education called ‘Off Course’ helping cultivate the next generation of sound engineers, light designers, stage technicians, and managers," says festival director Nikhil Udupa.
The diversity at CAD is not just in its music genres, which range from the guttural screams of metal to the soulful rhythms of electronica. It's in the very fabric of its being. After being silenced by the pandemic, CAD is roaring back to life coming January, and everyone's invited.