SulaFest for the last 8 years has been a festival which just knew how to take it’s game to the next level, like advancing from base to base in a baseball game. But come its 9th edition this year, and they hit a home run! We have never been to a festival till date which was so complete in the experiences it had to offer. Right from the hygiene at the festival to the quality of wine sold in a corner stall, from the revamped tasting room to Kailasa’s hilarious crowd talks, one must say SulaFest ’16 was a top notch affair.
Here’s diving a little deeper into the aspects of the festival of which we are already a fan & looking up to their 10th edition next year.
Stage, Setup & Venue
Sula Vineyards is an elegant place, no doubt. It’s pretty much a tourist spot which puts the silent Nasik on the world map thanks to its beautiful scenery and of course, wine! With an expanded tasting room & re-mapping of the festival to include the then much secluded Atmasphere stage within the festival are and thus giving it a much more bigger place which it deserves, you have to say SulaFest & Soma Project were really thinking ahead of tide to provide a better experience for the masses. The Techno stage had a clear cut Techno Vibe while the Main stage stuck to its theme of being the liveliest of creatures out there. Two good stages with brilliant productions and even though they were just yards away from each other, there was no sound mixinghappening at all, take a bow you sound engineers.
The well crafted food stalls & placement of bars was near perfect too, we say near because mapping more than 20 stalls & 5-6 bars in a limited area which is the only exit and entry points to the main stage arena does take some articulate planning which they aced it clearly. You could enjoy the pleasant view of the Vineyard by just sitting on the pastures and just turn around on your place to enjoy an artist playing on the main stage too.
Music & Artists
Maintaining the tradition of having extremely diverse lineups, SulaFest ’16 didn’t disappoint this year either, with acts ranging from Kailasa to Edu Imbernon to the Reggae Rajahs. Just like last year, Rodney Branigan performed stellar guitar sequences every 10 minutes, keeping the audience enthralled as the next act readied themselves for the raucous crowd.
The Cat Empire were the head liner for Day 1, that included the likes of Dub Inc, Balkan Beat Box, Madboy/Mink and Made In Barcelona on the main stage, complemented by Luna City Express, O-BE, WA-TEC and Rik Watts over at Atmasphere. Raimund Imo and Tribal Flora set the tempo running on a hot start to day 1, after which Rodney Branigan took over the stage during the changeover. Then Madboy/Mink took over, playing an extremely funky set. Their visuals are worth mentioning here, as it featured a Nazi-style swastika superimposed over some Indian symbols, and Hitler’s face kept alternating with Modi’s. Although it was hilarious to watch, there were a few raised eyebrows and some murmurs too.
Dub Inc., who unleashed all their dub/dancehall-inspired tunes to a very responsive crowd prepped them for the annual Vero Moda showcase, with Anushka Manchanda spearheading this one. It was already dark when The Cat Empire took over the ampitheatre stage, introducing people to their wonderfully alternative sound. Though, it took some time before the best act of Day 1 took control of the main stage. Balkan Beat Box had a plethora of sounds going on; they had a synthesizer and a vocoder along with the usual live setup and used it to the fullest. Their dancehall tracks were blindingly fast-paced and extremely peppy, and the exuberant crowd eagerly kept up with the pace. The vast crowds began dispersing slowly after the final performance, tired but happy and in anticipation for Day 2. Rodney Branigan stuck to his spot towards the left of the stage, playing all sorts of accoustic guitar solos between performances, in what has become a SulaFest ritual now. The guitar maestro clearly had several tricks under his sleeve, and the audience didn’t fail to cheer for the American.
At the brand-new Atmasphere stage, O-BE started his two-hour set to kick things off, followed by Indian duo WA-TEC. The tempo picked up when Rik Watts took the deck, playing a dark set to a sizeable number of people. Luna City Express was all set to close the stage, albeit with a DJ set and with only one half of the duo. Nevertheless, the set was a banger, and not a single person stood still.
Akshay Rajpurohit‘s electronica alias Aqua Dominatrix opened Day 2 with a stripped-down version of his usual setup, treating everyone who entered early to a synth-infused performance that was as hot as the sun at 2pm. Reggae Rajahs were up next, making people sway to the tunes of Indian reggae. Like every other Reggae Rajahs performance, the crowd danced to choreographed steps and did the occasional “palancing”, while the trio rapped about everything under the sun, most notably about weed legalization.
The first international act of Day 2 on the main stage was Made In Barcelona, who enthralled the crowd with their flamenco-inspired tunes, signalling couples to come to the front of the stage and exhibit a few moves of their own. What followed was sheer madness as Success took over the stage. Sulafest was the first stop on the French rock band’s India tour, and they started it off with a bang. The lead singer was in his element, removing his shirt as he sang, doing his best Jack Black impression as he crowdsurfed halfway across the ampitheatre, making it his own School Of Rock. The crowd slowly swelled in size as it turned dark, as nobody wanted to miss the biggest Indian headliner at Sulafest. Kailash Kher with his Kailasa band was as you’d expect it to be: emotional, mellow and beautiful. The highlight of their performance were the hilarious ‘No Selfie, Only Kulfi’ like rants which their front man was up to. They could make you cry with one song and make you jump with the other. The final act of the festival, Delhi 2 Dublin, closed the stage and the festival in wonderful fashion.They couldn’t have said a better goodbye without actually saying it.
Rodney Branigan had company this time, with Randolph Correia and Rais Khan supporting him. Back at the Atmasphere stage, Shy-O got things off to a late start, before SOMA Project mainstay Sashanti took some time off his role as MC and played a wonderful set on his stage. Bono Goldbaum was up next, and played a really long set, which served as a good precursor to the final Atmasphere act. When Edu Imbernon took over, all hell broke loose. Playing most of his tracks on Suara among a few others, Edu Imbernon‘s set was the perfect end to an extremely good techno stage.Victoria Bourke kept appearing on both days, with her trusty djembe around her neck, as she layered her percussion sounds over most of the techno sets.
It’s important we speak about the security of the festival before we get to the feel good vibe of the festival. You have to thank the organizers for the swift security who helped everyone even at the drop of a pin, especially when it came to making women feel safe. With the security doing their job perfectly fine, people could get on with their plans smoothly, which involved from chilling at Ice cream stalls to dancing freely in the midst of the crowd at mainstage. Sulafest was an elegant affair and it sure did make you feel good about you being there.
We would like to thank the organizers for greeting us with immense pleasure over a fine weekend and all the best to top it next year in their 10th edition.