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News |  04 Jan 2017 20:31 |  By Mallika Deb

Sunburn 10: Whither 'ultimate music, ultimate fun'?

(Photo Credits Rudgrcom)
(Photo Credits Rudgrcom)

MUMBAI: The Sunburn festival that has grown into one of the seminal global music festivals, celebrated its 10-year long dominance over the EDM landscape by shifting to the outskirts of Pune this year from 28-31 December 2016. Percept's brainchild outdid its own history with a ‘record’ in this, its tenth edition. Here's why.

India's largest dance music festival used to boast to be the best in Asia, but succumbed to anarchy this time. Radioandmusic.com visited Sunburn 10 for and came away with both sweet and bitter taste.

Last year, Sunburn Goa had a record attendance of over 350,000 visitors from across 50 countries, with the main stage, perhaps the largest in the world, and an artist line up that was unparalleled. Pune, by contrast, had hardly over 8000 people on the first day followed by over 10000 on the second day! According to our sources, there were over 30000 people on the last day of Sunburn 10 (31 December 2016).

First, the bad news

'Sunburn Hills', a 62 acres huge hilltop property aimed to gather youngsters at the four-day long musical extravaganza, failed to live up to its promise. Attendees had to trek up a hill for almost four kilometres from the box office to the venue that successfully drained out almost all the enthusiasm. After the day was over, people had to walk for four kilometres downhill at midnight to get to their cars. And, people who didn’t have their own cars? Let them walk for another few kilometres! Because, OLA and other shuttle arrangements were not available as promised. Also, just one or two shuttle busses (They charged 699 for round trips) for the masses? Coming back to the performances, there were no maps, charts or line-up details provided to the fans. How would someone know which artist is playing at what time? By running around from one stage to another? 

Narrating his side of the story, Sunburn Global and Percept Live CEO Karan Singh said, “Since there was a change of venue this year, I think not everything was at the right place on the first day in terms of the setup and logistics. According to our fans, the venue was grand though they had issues to arrive at the site. As first day, we were also new to the job and not familiar with many things, quite a few things were not seamless. Having said that we tried to resolve the issues on Day 2, made changes to a lot of things including the transportation and set up which turned out well.”

And now, the good news

The good things about Sunburn 10 were some of the acts, which are worth mentioning. As always, the main stage 'Dance Garden' was very crowded, having all of the headliners perform their epic sets. The Percept people might need to be excused for having forgotten to inform the crowd or media that they had rescheduled the set of Afrojack for the next day (Day 2).  

The 500 feet plus Main Stage ‘Dance Garden’ drew its inspiration from nature in its unmasked magnificence. Amongst heavyweight names, Angerfist’s hardcore style of music set a high-octane tone for the following artists. Dannic’s electrifying high-energy production made way for the headliner of the evening.

About the same time, Broz Rdz played an inimitable mix of progressive and electro house and closed the Rayban Stage for the evening. In addition, a sun down hardstyle set by Miss K8 and Teri Miko turned up the energy at the Gionee Stage for the evening. The first part of the evening was almost empty in front of the techno stage and, later on, when one of the headliners, Armin van Burren took the main stage, there’s no denying that he literally owned it. Trance legend Armin dropped chartbusters like ‘Intense’, ‘Not Giving Up On Love’, ‘Mirage’ which kept the BPMs high throughout the course of his 2 hour ensemble.

Reality check

According to the lineup provided by Sunburn previously, many artists didn’t actually perform at all in the tenth edition of the EDM festival. According to on ground reports, Tom Swoon was listed for day one, where was he actually played on day 2, 29 December 2016. Jai Wolf was supposed to debut at Sunburn 10, he didn’t even make a guest appearance. Also, Lost Stories and Krewalla didn’t play at the festival.

Explaining it all Singh stated, “Krewalla and Jai Wolf couldn’t make it to India because of visa issues, also Sunburn team was informed at the last moment. Afrojack only travels in his private jet that faced visa issues on Day 1, clearly a situation out of our control.”

After an exhausting first day at Sunburn, the party carried on, with some stellar performances lined up on Day 2. On the second day too, there were no lineup and timing details and attendees ended up dragging themselves from one stage to another. Acts worth mentioning were Kerano, Zaeden, Tom Swoon, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike along with Afrojack later in the evening.

In addition, Krewella (USA based electronic dance music duo) couldn’t make it to Sunburn 10 this year because of visa issues as the duo consists of Pakistani-American sisters Jahan Yousaf and Yasmine Yousaf. The Sunburn team kept this information to itself, it was through Krewella who put up a post on social media one day prior to the festival saying that they could not make it to Sunburn this year, that fans got to know what was happening.

Coming back to the performances, the first female artist to appear on smash the house, MATTN mixed some underground and main stage styles proving her prowess as one of the hottest young female artists in the electronic circuit. Kerano's edition of  'Muqabala Muqabala' left the audience flabbergasted, as no one had trekked up those kilometres for some Bollywood numbers at the biggest EDM festival of Asia. The Delhi based DJ closed his set with his recently released track ‘Fade Away’.

The Polish DJ Tom Swoon set the trail with his high energy progressive house sets. Nevertheless, he tried to play the India connect card by playing a rendition of Bollywood number 'Wakhra Swag'. We will not be shocked if there are some Garba or Bollywood artists next year at Sunburn. 

What we liked on Day 2

Breaking away from the bog room acts, the Vinyl Stage in the form a mobile ambulance featured Ignatius Camilo Ignatius Camilo aka Iggy (G.U.T/ Gandu Records) , Fintushami, Matsehora (Raunchy Poses) and Thee J Johanz (Ballyhoo Records) gave an underground vibe to the festival and that's what we liked.

Last but not the least, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike’s and Afrojack’s power packed set were truly the ‘Ultimate’ ones. However, the audience got to hear Coldplay’s 'Hymn of the Weekend' on a loop from both the headliners. Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike made the evening electrifying with live combination of DJ sets and crowd-busting MCing. The Dutch electro house music producer/DJ Afrojack kicked in with a banger of a set, wizardry playing his evergreen hits like ‘Turn Up The Speakers’, ‘Ten Feet Tall’, ‘No Beef’, ‘Can’t Stop Me’, ‘The Spark’ and more. His set was a typical Afrojack set, filled with the kind of drops he is famous for and he made sure fans who came in to see him perform weren’t disappointed.

With Sunburn 10 at the Sunburn Hills, be it management, be it performances, Pune actually let us see the mishmash of the biggest electronic dance music festivals of India.

Sun shone brightly on Day 3 and Day 4

After a whole lot of mismanagement and several requests in first two days, the Sunburn team did the needful and gave a complete line-up and schedule on Day 3 and Day 4.

Chartered accountant turned music producer Sartek, the desi bass producer Nucleya pumped up Pune's cold wintery evening. Salvatore Ganacci , Kryder on the Gionee Stage and Christian Smith and Yotto on the Rayban Stage played brilliant sets and while live mixing their music also danced very well at the turntables. The headliners on the Main Stage Axwell ^ Ingrosso kicked things off for the closing set for two hours and had the festival goers in full fist-pumping euphoria.

Day 4 was spectacular and paved the way for a grand closing night. One of electronic music’s most influential independent record labels made a debut at this year’s edition as part of the label's global expansion plans with NDS , Karmatek, Puppet, Haywyre and Pegboard Nerds featuring on the programming of the Monstercat Stage. Also, VAEYA, Jay Ramani, Sonic Species and Vertical Mode on the Psy Trance Stage kept the crowd engrossed in their progressive and psychedelic music. We heard from our sources that the stage in the VIP section collapsed on day 4. No one from the management team shared details about it. 

Marnik kick started the madness on the main stage with their energetic and interactive set, full of groovy progressive house tracks. Next up were Dutch duo Bassjackers who sent the crowd into overdrive by dropping ‘Fireflies’, ‘Memories’, and ‘Wave Your Hands’. Bassjackers made it a point to make it a night where lovers of all genres of electronic dance music would get what they yearned for. 

The closing act was by KSHMR who has built a thriving brand around his electrifying big room productions. He played an ideal ‘New Year Eve’ closing set for what was probably the largest crowd a gig in India had witnessed. He played ‘Secrets’, ‘Voices’, ‘Creep’ and most of the recent tracks from his label. Once again, there was total madness for a while there when he dropped some Bollywood numbers. Tracks like ‘Jammu’, ‘Wild Card’, ‘Secrets’, ‘Invincible Children’, ‘Dhoom’, ‘Bazzar’, and ‘Mandala’ mended the perfect ending of India’s largest dance music festival Sunburn 10.

According to Karan, Percept managed to replicate the ambience of Goa at Sunburn Hills, Pune in terms of the experience. He further said that this year’s ticketing revenue turned out pretty well. “Compared to last year, the ticket sell was strong this year and demonization did not reflect on Sunburn 10.”