Much has begun for much to end so much could pass. The Sherp reviews how music festivals have fared in the year of 2015.
The year of 2015 was one defiant year when it came to music festivals and change in trends. Sure, a lot of what existed and ruled the economy in the global music festival industry exists still, but some losses have begun to show that no big festival can be deemed invincible. The herd mentality, which for long, has pressured people to partake in music festival trends is also but slowly losing its sheen. A new idea of consciousness seems to be descending, and we’re all here to witness it. Music Festivals are not just reckless getaways any more; they’ve managed to sink their teeth into contemporary pop culture, fostering conversations about their artistic, social and cultural influence, thereby becoming a veritable portmanteau for the world of craft.
We look back at the much that has happened and how we’ll fare next –
Demands of creativity
Music festivals are hardly a modern phenomenon, as much as we’d like to believe they are. Not a millennial’s indulgence by any means, they’ve existed for quite some time and continue to for a lot more. But with several festivals gunning for attention, the demands to be creative; to provide something more than just music have been higher than ever.
From a music festival that takes you atop a cruise ship, to another that fuses aural and visual elements in otherworldly fashion, from a music festival that celebrates black culture in its rich traditional glory to one that lets you take in music underwater, organisers from around the world are pushing for unique ideas that would attract people in the choicest manner.
The big guns fared well
The Coachella-s, Glastonbury-s, Bonnaroo-s, Tomorrowland-s, Burning Man-s and Lollapolooza-s of the year, did perform well as always expected. But what was most impressive was each festival not just rooting for the best acts to headline, but also balancing them with underground acts that deserve a stage as big as they could provide. Comparably smaller acts like FKA Twigs, Mr. Twin Sister, Milky Chance, Twenty One Pilots, Sylvan Esso, Jungle, Glass Animals and TV On The Radio featured in several festival lineups even as erstwhile indie acts Alt – J, Alabama Shakes and Tame Impala made it to the big league.
Satisfaction of the music listener still most important
One might be foolish to think that some of our biggest music festivals have grown to become such brands, that they can escape criticism entirely. For this year, the audience did not find it strange to pick on festivals that were not delivering right. From outrage at Glastonbury for having picked Kanye West as headliner to the rampant hate that came TomrrowWorld’s way with their absolute lack of coordination, it’s clear that big festivals must be wary about everything they provide. The latter especially suffered incurable losses to its parent company SFX, not to mention lost all its credential as an electronic music festival of effort.
Let’s be conscious
The biggest trend witnessed this year was the steady rise in the number of transformational festival. Inspired by festivals such as Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle, several festivals, old and new are successfully attempting to combine with music traditional healing practices such as yoga and meditation, making music festivals a lot more profound an experience. While Wakarusa, Wanderlust, Envision Festival, Symbiosis Gathering and Shambhala are the well known transformational music experiences, lesser known festivals such as Mumbai’s Eden Art Fest, Iceland’s Saga Fest, and Sonic Bloom are all festivals that are adopting practices that would lend their experiences a more mindful facet. We approve!
All-encompassing art curations
Music Festival, this year, can be seen pushing boundaries, as they’re attempting to gain artistic cohesiveness to appeal to a larger audience. With festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo themselves seeking the participation of visual art, it stands as no surprise that smaller festivals are gunning for well-rounded schedules. Festivals such as Festival No. 6, which is a lush boutique festival, Nuits Sonors and Day For Night, which are festivals that explore the contribution that light shows and visual set ups make in tandem with the live music played, Johnnie Walker The Journey which showcases brilliant music along with theatre and cinema and Horst Arts & Music Festival, a gathering of radical art and independent music, each diverse and distinct in the sea of all-too-common festivals. We, especially, love the idea of a music festival pushing other spheres of the art world equivocally.
Society and music festivals
Legalisation of marijuana, racism and upholding black culture and pride, feminism and adequate female representation – these aren’t just basic social issues that need due attention. But these are all social issues that earned a fair bit of contribution from the world of music festivals. With several festivals dealing with accidents related to careless drug consumption, and several others managing smooth sailings with them embracing the organic marijuana, the counterculture drug movement has had music festivals back their claims with vigorous statistics. In addition to that, black artists and black music have found solid ground at festivals where they’ve headlined and several female artists such as Ellie Goulding, HAIM and Madonna have contributed, in their own way to the ongoing conversation about inadequate female artist representation. It’s a step in the right way.
India, coming of age
In Asia, music festivals have dominated countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore in the past. But in Asia, 2015 was truly the year of India. With acts like Kygo, Flying Lotus, Megadeth, Mogwai, Explosions in The Sky, Tycho, Hidden Orchestra, the techno project of Awakenings, Giorgio Moroder and Fatboy Slim visiting India, it truly was the year that the country shone bright putting up a show unlike any year before. As we fervently hope that other acts grace us soon, the prospect of a brilliant 2016 makes us as heady as the rest.
The bigger picture
From Kanye’s moment of declaring himself, ‘the greatest living rock star on the planet’, to Florence + The Machine covering a tear-rendering tribute to Foo Fighters, from Paul McCartney and Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard coming together in an earth-shaking stage collaboration to Bjork’s defining moment as a legendary songstress at Governor’s Ball, this year saw a slate of moments that will be remembered for years to come. From a rising social consciousness to a want of natural ease, here’s to a year that sent us back to the best parts of our roots!