The party season is upon us! Here’s our pick of the most exciting upcoming alternative music festivals around India
THERE IS SOMETHING magical about music festivals. Be it events set in serene locations or minimalist camping festivals, curators are going out of their way to create unique experiences. Beyond staggering stage productions and eclectic international lineups, nowadays, attendees also look for flea markets, food stalls, adventure sports,and so on. Usually, seasoned party animals skip calendar events similar to Sunburn, VH1 Supersonic, OnePlusMusic Festival and NH7 Weekender in favour of more distinguished offerings. So, we’ve lined up unconventionaloptions that cater to almost every musical niche and price range.To find out more, read on...
If you’re looking for an off-the-grid camping experience, choose Orange. Till 2015, this town in Arunachal Pradesh didn’t have steady electricity, let alone mobile network coverage! Nowadays, Dambuk, a haven for off-road motocross aficionados, hosts major artistes like Grammy-nominated German outfit Tangerine Dream. For their 2019 edition, organisers are roping in Californian hip-hop act Flipsyde, Indonesian pop band Ping Pong Club, and ’90s reggae quintet Big Mountain. On December 12-15.
Ranthambhore Music and Wildlife Festival | Rajasthan
It’s not every day that one gets to attend a world music gala in the middle of a forest. One set inside a palace, no less! That’s what this eco-friendly affair offers at Nahargarh Palace. Feeling adventurous? Venture out on a chambal safari. Prefer to get your dopamine fix through songs? Listen to renditions artistes performing at Ranthambhore: Indo-American flautist Rasika Shekar, folk musician Mame Khan, Bengali spiritual singer Arko Mukherjee and more. On December 27-29.
Outside the box
Magnetic Fields | Alsisar
When this upmarket affair, first appeared on everyone’s radar seven years ago, the focus was on its eclectic international lineup. The 2019 edition of Magnetic Fields, which unfolds in an actual Rajasthani Maharaja’s palace, is no different. Dutch techno exponents Kamma & Masalo, Swiss synthesist James Varghese, UK’s forward-thinking live electronica luminaries Maribou State, Lisbon-based DJ and dance music activist Violet are just some of the prominent names on the bill. On December 13-15.
DGTL | Bengaluru
After sold-out events in Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, Barcelona, and Madrid, this carbon-neutral, sustainable arts concept finally comes to in India. With roots in Amsterdam, DGTL is a travelling showcase that thrives on promoting cutting-edge techno and house music. For their maiden desi venture, slated for 2020, organisers are flying down a living legend known as the Godfather of Techno, Sven Väth, Austrian live act HVOB, and Melbourne’s experimental electro artiste Roza Terenzi. On January 11-12.
Echoes of Earth | Bengaluru
Touted as an ecologically-crafted music festival, this kitschy fete located on the outskirts of the Garden City. With a keen focus on pan-genre and art installations created with up-cycled materials, this four-year-old tribal gathering of sorts has several bigwigs on the roster. Philipino pop sensation ((( o ))), Brooklyn’s vinyl DJ Natasha Diggs, regional hypnotic rock band Gauley Bhai and world-renowned electronica artiste Acid Pauli are all major headliners at Echoes of Earth. On December 7-8.
Nivaan | Morjim
Eastern aesthetics meets Western influences at this three-day musical celebration. Nivaan blends world music, Carnatic ragas, folk tunes, and hangdrum notes. Set to unfold on the beaches of Goa, the names on this bill reflect the fete’s spiritual vibe. Portuguese handpan auteur Kabecao, famed flautist Naveen Kumar (you’ve heard his solos on films like Bombay and Roja) and award-winning Hindustani classical violinist Nandini Shankar are all on the lineup. On February 7-9.
Hill Top Festival | Vagator
Considered to be the mecca of psychedelic trance, Hill Top is nestled amidst a coconut grove atop Vagator Beach in Bardez. Poised to celebrate its eighth anniversary, the three-day musical gathering will play host to international artistes including Ajja, Ace Ventura, Shpongle, and Tristan. Homegrown DJs such as Digital Hippie, Starling, and Nitin will also be showcasing their prowess over the hi-octane sounds. On February 8-10.
Spirit Gust | Kodaikanal
After six successful editions, counting a few on the beaches of Goa, this underground event heads to the foothills of Kodaikanal. A collaboration between Kamino Records and Australian collective Lyserjunks, this three-day camping festival is all about exploring the nether realms of dark, forest, and hi-tech psychedelic trance. In order to do so, they’ve flown in over 40 artistes from all over the planet: Ecko (Spain), Mysterion (Argentina), Arjuna (Italy), and Captain Kirk (Finland). On February 13-16.
Loud ’n’ proud
Haq Se Hindustan | Worli
Music knows no language. And a motley crew of DJs, MCs, rappers, and hip-hop crews are out to prove this age-old adage. Over 10 urban acts—including Prabh Deep (New Delhi), Khasi Bloodz (Shillong), and Gubbi (Bengaluru)—will perform in nine different Indian languages, hoping to make a statement at Mumbai’s Famous Studios. Attend this day-long event and you’ll realise: there’s more to the desi street culture movement than Gully Boy. On November 14-15.
Goa Sunsplash | Mandrem
After launch parties in Paris and London, Goa Sunsplash is bringing the yellow-red-green tinted vibes to Indian shores. Head to this annual bash of dreadlocks, hand-built sound systems, articulated lyrics, and laidback yet rebellious tunes. Besides reggae-scene veterans like Jamaica’s Macka B (remember the viral hit, Step Up?), legendary British DJ Earl Gateshead, and Indian bigwigs like Bombay Bassment and Dakta Dub, attendees can also expect yoga, meditation, dance workshops, martial arts sessions, and social forums.
On January 10-12.
Four to the floor, no more
This two-year-old festival is equal parts educational and entertaining. With masterclasses on innovations in visual arts, discussion panels featuring the who’s who of left-field electronica, and an elaborate line-up of global performances, Disrupt is a truly unique experience. Expect names like Parisian Eastern-electronic duo Acid Arab, UK garage scene veteran DJ EZ and intelligent dance music stalwart Machinedrum from the US. Also on the roster is mysterious Indian beatmaker, Babloo Babylon. On November 23-24.
Far Out Left | Byculla
When engineered right, the exposed stone walls and high ceilings of a textile mill provide perfect acoustics for a warehouse rave. Despite the setting, however, the 177-year-old The Great Eastern Mills will play host a perfectly legal alternative music gathering. Far Out Left will feature Copenhagen-based breaks artiste Anastasia Kristensen, Frankfurt’s Roman Flügel, and a live act in the form of Detroit techno royalty Octave One. On November 15-16.