Before you think we’re suggesting plagiarism, allow The Sherp to explain the many exemplary methods of the west that Indian music festivals can seek inspiration from.
Indian parents might suggest that music festivals are a western phenomenon, given their incessant rise to prominence in the last couple of years, but there is no denying that music and its celebration has been a fairly Indian concept for several years now. And so have music festivals. Although classical music festivals and rock fests have existed for a long time now, the last decade witnessed an insurgence in the number of festivals in the country, and with good reason. After all, India is a hotbed to culturally-sincere homegrown musical talent.
While Indian music festivals have matured to compete with global standards in more ways than one, we still do believe that much can be done in the endeavour of providing a more cohesive experience to the Indian audience. We’ve realised that there are a few many things which we can indeed adopt from the international music festivals and their surrounding culture, to further the Indian music festival scene.
Environment sustenance methods
From stages made of bamboo sticks to recharge points that require you to cycle for to produce energy, music festivals abroad are going the extra mile to be as environmentally conscious as possible. An idea, music festivals in India would do well latching onto. While several Indian festivals such as Where Have All The Flowers Gone, and several psytrance festivals are already employing bamboo stages, it would be great if the bigger festivals accept and adopt these practices.
Last year saw several big festivals such as Supersonic and Bacardi NH7 Weekender adopting free water stations around the festival venue, and the more the merrier, we say. Frequently appearing water stations would not just reduce the number of casualties caused due to dehydration, but also reduce the amount of plastic waste generated by consumption of water bottles. Moreover, free water is a right step in the direction of non-commodifying necessities.
A carpooler network
Coachella and Glastonbury for instance have a highly publicised carpooling network, with Coachella going as far as awarding Carpoolers with VIP tickets and status. While the concept is slowly but steadily catching up in India, we’d love for it to be a more managed and well-networked occurrence so it not only results in being environment friendly but also fosters a more immersive community experience.
More diverse lineups
This upcoming Coachella lineup, for instance, features acts such as LCD Soundsystem, Guns N’ Roses, Ellie Goulding, Sufjan Stevens, Disclosure, Calvin Harris, Edward Sharpe, Of Monsters and Men and Run The Jewels, along with a host of other underground multi-genre acts. While Indian music festivals have been pushing the boundaries with headliners, there is a need for more diverse lineups, so festivals don’t only mix the popular acts with some underground talent, but also across genres, so there is a healthy mix for all. Last year’s Bacardi NH7 Weekender did achieve that with Mogwai, A R Rahman, Mark Ronson and Flying Lotus as headliners, and we wholly recommend the same for all.
Make no lofty promises
Festivals often land in hot soup by making far-fetched promises that are, unfortunately, not always delivered to the same said standards. Given TomorrowWorld’s dismal 2015 performance, it would do indian music festivals good by delivering justly on the promises made, without resorting to hyperbole as a gimmick. Also, camping festivals in India should aim and deliver better cleanliness and hygiene.
Let festivals be more aesthetically pleasing
Festivals like Green Man, Shambhala and even Tomorrowland often push boundaries when it comes to their overall aesthetic with giant art installations and handiwork, and adopting the same in the Indian landscape would prove visually fruitful for several music festivals in our own country. While the production of stages has mostly always been competent, it would be great if festivals aimed for fresh graphic art production.
Go beyond the music
Sweetlife Festival is a musical gourmet festival; Hard Day of Dead employs Halloween gusto in full blow; and Day for Night pulls out visual and aural confluence to another degree, so it would be pretty awesome if Indian music festivals tried to integrate concepts that would extend activities beyond the festival, thereby making for a more wholesome getaway for music festival attendees. In USA and UK, music festivals have been aiming for more individuality, and their Indian counterparts could do well doing the same.
More transformational festivals for we are the land of yoga
In America, transformational festivals are at an all time high, what with their promised experiences of yoga, mindful activities and meditative healing practices. But, hold on, aren’t we the land of yoga? Isn’t yoga much an Indian property loved and adopted the world over? Then why don’t we have enough transformational festivals? Apart from the few small-time yoga festivals like Zambhala, India can very well fish out a Lightning in a Bottle, Wakarusa and Symbiosis Gathering experience with our wealth of healing practices. When combined with music, we could produce a festival that blends the both with ease.
Indian festival organisers, think about it!