Magnetic Fields has truly figured out how to get it right. Every. Single. Year.
The fifth edition of the festival was an unparalleled, holistic experience that included secret parties, scenic sunset and sunrise sessions in a palace with stellar artists like Sassy J and Jayda G making their Indian debuts, and a bunch of other awesome things.
Magnetic Fields is an experience that has quickly garnered plenty of international attention from the likes of Resident Advisor and The Hydra who hosted stages at the festival this year. Even the Boiler Room crew stayed back after BUDx in New Delhi to experience the festival. For the uninitiated, Magnetic Fields is India’s premier contemporary arts and music festival that takes place in Alsisar Mahal, which is a gorgeous palace in a remote Rajasthani village. The festival’s lineup consisted of some of the best electronic music artists around, including the likes of Four Tet, Jayda G, Special Request (Paul Woolford), and Ben UFO.
During the day, those at the festival could choose to explore the magnificent palace or attend one of the health and wellness sessions at the Magnetic Sanctuary. Magnetic Sanctuary included a number of amazing workshops like progressive muscle relaxation, tea whispering, yoga, massage, and even aromatherapy. All of this was included in the ticket price and people did not have to pay extra to take advantage of what was offered at Magnetic Sanctuary. There was also the option to grab a beanbag and listen to the interesting talks and stories at Magnetic Words which took place in the basement bar of the palace.
Even though Magnetic Fields had over 7 stages for the music, there were very few clashes in the set timings because of the festival’s intelligent and round-the-clock programming in which no more than two stages were simultaneously hosting performances. The Bira 91 South Stage which hosted mainly live acts and the Red Bull Music Academy Stage which mainly hosted DJ sets were the two largest stages at the festival. The Bira 91 South Stage hosted the likes of electronic music luminary Four Tet, Machinedrum, and Khruangbin and also some of India’s burgeoning talent like Komorebi and Sid Vashi. Dancing at the Red Bull Music Academy Stage was an exhilarating experience with mind-bending projection mapped visuals augmenting the appearance of the palace which towered over the console. It was at this stage where Jayda G spun her happy, infectious dance music records in India for the first time and veteran DJ, Ben UFO. The Resident Advisor stage saw an explosive performance by Arjun Vagale who was followed by Tijana T who did a perfect job playing music to accompany the sun rising over the palace.
The Saavn Sundowner Stage was on one of the palace’s many stunning terraces. The terraces provided stunning views of the color changing sky and the sleepy little town of Alsisar. Acts like Sandunes, Disco Puppet, and Your Chin brought the stage to life with their eclectic sounds.The Peacock Club was a unique velvet laden room in which musicians played slick jazz sounds. The Desert Oasis was a stage in the heart of the dusty Bedouin camping village and was the first stage to open every afternoon. London based promotion company, The Hydra, took over the Desert Oasis stage on the final night of the festival with acts like Dolan Bergin and Willow playing throughout the night. On the last morning of the festival Four Tet and Ben UFO joined forces to close out a stellar fifth edition of Magnetic Fields.
One of the highlights of the South Stage was an audio-visual performance called Different Trains 1947. The performance was a response to the intense events that took place in 1947 during India’s independence. Different Trains 1947 was a collaboration between Ninja Tune’s Actress, Jack Barnett from These New Puritans, Indian electronic music stalwart Sandunes, percussionist Jivraj Singh and Hindustani classical vocalist Priya Purushothaman, and filmmakers/artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard.
The food at the festival was amazing with caterers like Fat Lulu’s tossing up fresh pasta and Bhajan coming all the way from U.P. to serve delicious stuffed parathas and dal makhani. Those wanting to spend a little more could choose to eat at the palace’s restaurant, Badal Mahal, which served delectable locally sourced cuisine. For someone who fancies eating Maggi with cheese and eggs at 5 am after a full night of dancing, the narrow lane that connected the palace to the camping area provided yummy and inexpensive street food prepared by residents of the town.
Magnetic’s Bedouin styled campground was set up very well and provided a unique camping experience. With plenty of food and also interesting shops and installations, there was never a dull moment there. At night, people gathered around bonfires to bond with others attending the festival. While almost the entire experience at Magnetic Fields was seamless, there was one particular issue that those in the classic tent camping area were affected by and that was the shortage of water during the second and third day of the festival. However, it is important to remember that the area around the palace is one that is dry and arid and water is a scarce resource in many parts of Rajasthan.
On the whole, Magnetic Fields was a phenomenal experience. One would be hard-pressed to find a festival as complete, unique, and well-curated as Magnetic Fields. It’s a festival that continues to push the boundaries of what is expected from a festival. Additionally, it does a stellar job of putting India on the bucket-list even for international festival lovers. This year at the festival, it seemed like every third person at the festival was from a country other than India. It’s wonderful to see how so many talented artists, organizers, visionaries, and thousands of lovely souls come together to weave a magical experience together in a remote little town in Rajasthan.
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