Let the music play on

Three new music festivals rocked India last year with something for every kind of music buff. the guide goes backstage to understand the mojo and the music that made these overnight successes

The recently concluded Supersonic could well become the poster child of music festivals in India. In its second year itself, there was no ground this beachside outing in Goa hadn’t covered.

The lit up South stage  at the Magnetic Fields festival that was held in Rajasthan in December 2014.
The lit up South stage at the Magnetic Fields festival that was held  in Rajasthan in December 2014.  Pic Courtesy/ Raoul Bajaj

The impressively diverse line-up included the gods of EDM — Above & Beyond, Paul van Dyk, Dillon Francis, Dash Berlin, The Chainsmokers; the festival venue, with its three spectacular stages, had something for everyone — from a large play arena and a special selfie booth to a three-tier VIP section and a spacious food court, complete with beachside benches and canopies.

Held in the peak holiday season (December 27-30), this edition drew over 75,000 people, as compared to 50,000 in 2013.

“The shift from 2013 to 2014 has not been easy. A lot of brainstorming, ideating and ground research has gone into prepping up for 2014,” reveals Jaideep Singh, Senior Vice President and Business Head, Viacom 18, the organisers.

Gareth Emery at Supersonic
Gareth Emery at Supersonic

No crowd too big
The weekend before, around 35,000 people attended another music festival in its second year, Enchanted Valley Carnival (EVC). This included fans travelling all the way from areas that one wouldn’t typically associate with Electronic Dance Music (EDM) culture — like Surat, Ahmedabad, Kolhapur, Nashik, and Indore.

Although only one edition-old, the festival, which is held in Aamby Valley in Lonavla couldn’t have offered revellers a more tempting music debauchery — headliner David Guetta (who, it must be mentioned, descended on the festival in a seaplane), a most breathtaking and mammoth main stage, adventure sports right inside the music arena, and what-have-you.

A chaiwallah at Magnetic Fields. pic courtesy/Nishant Shukla
A chaiwallah at Magnetic Fields. Pic courtesy/Nishant Shukla

“The main stage production was twice as grand as last year’s, and we had more people coming in than we what we expected. We plan to stick to this scale for this year, maybe add a stage for the 2015 edition, but the focus now will be to give people a better experience,” says Shoven Shah, director, Twisted Entertainment, the organisers.

At 2,000 campers, the campout area at the festival might have been bursting at the seams, but it also spoke of another success — the victory of pulling in five times the number of campers as the debut edition last year.

A giant-sized chameleon lords over the venue of the Enchanted Valley Carnival
A giant-sized chameleon lords over the venue of the Enchanted Valley Carnival

The weekend prior to this hill escape, a desert festival managed to draw the crème de la crème of lovers of non-mainstream EDM and visual arts. Magnetic Fields, held in the magnificent Alsisar Mahal in Shekhawati, Rajasthan, saw a beautiful and somewhat odd marriage between the past and the present; the 17th century structure provided a spellbinding backdrop to the stages where young DJs and musicians performed their futuristic fare. The festival witnessed twice as many people as last year, and the tickets and stay packages sold out in a jiffy of being announced.

A flying start
What is surprising, or maybe not, is that while most now-established festivals have taken a good four to six years to perfect themselves, these three festivals attacked the scene with all guns blazing in their first year itself; the result being that the second was a scaled up version of the first.

The reason is obvious: as businesses, music festivals have a huge market to tap into, one that is populated by consumers who are mainly young college-going spendthrifts. Make hay while the sun shines, seems to be the catchword.

Each festival cashed in on its biggest USP — location — and went ahead and added bonuses such as niche or popular artistes on the line-up, grand production scale and on-ground experiences to make it a holistic affair.

So while at Supersonic, one marvelled at the sheer innovation of the stage designs themed around Industrial Revolution, at EVC, the camping was the adventure (campers had to make do with half a bucket of water for bath!), and at Magnetic Fields, the prospect of enjoying eclectic music rolling round the clock attracted many.

Branding it right
An important part of the preparation of a successful annual event is to ensure that the brand of music festival stays active throughout the year, and especially reach out to the 18-30 age bracket. Not to mention an engaging social media presence with its well-oiled machinery of feeding in regular festival-related information.

“In the run-up to Supersonic 2014, various artistes have performed in clubs, college festivals and opening shows as part of our brand extension, Supersonic Club Nights, Supersonic 101 and Supersonic Arcade. In 2014, we have had close to 100 events as part of Supersonic. Our plan is to reach out to more colleges and clubs in our endeavor to connect with larger audiences,” signs off Singh.

Another music fest debuts

Goa will have another music festival next week, which will see artistes such as Alisa, Dolphin, Parikrama, Karsh Kale, Mara, Kohra, Janux, XP Voodoo and Christ Burstein FT.
On: January 24 and 25
At: La Brise, Beach Road, Candolim.

A hit music festival must offer these
>> An offbeat location, so that there’s loads to do inside and outside of the festival.
>> A diverse line-up of artistes with international headliners, so that no one who comes is disappointed.

Supersonic’s second edition in Goa
Supersonic’s second edition in Goa

>> An amazing ambiance (think bonfire gatherings, after-parties, pop-up music gatherings).
>> Safe and clean camping areas and good on-ground facilities (read: porta potties; restrooms, for the uninitiated, ATMs, food courts, shuttle service).
>> An active and interactive social media presence so that any query can be addressed straight to and answered by the organisers. 

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