The 10th edition of SulaFest 2017, went down with a bang! The festival promised to be many things and in many ways it lived up to the attention it truly deserved.
From an eclectic mix of genres, artists, instruments and styles to three diverse stages, the music at the festival offered music lovers a whole range of exciting talent to discover! But what would a festival be without an enthusiastic crowd? Well, SulaFest 2017 definitely had the best crowd a festival could hope for! Thanks to the festival’s diverse mix of genres, fans were all but over the moon when their favourite artists took the stage. Be it Nucleya’s desi beats, Bloc Party’s epic vibes or the percussion combos of the Tropical stage; each stage gave the crowd a truly magical experience! There were plenty of celebrities who graced the festival. And none of this would have been possible without the sheer dedication of the Sula team.
As if the music wasn’t enough reason to attend this exciting event, the festival also featured a dynamic range of food stalls and trucks with some scrumptious meals! Even the shopaholics had something to look forward to as the festival’s shopping alley had everything from jewellery and tattoos to spas and novelty items.
Since the festival has so much to offer, let’s break it down to give you insight into the world of SulaFest 2017. Take a look..
Location and layout
Sula Vineyards, the ‘motherland of wine’, played host to its very own wine-themed festival this weekend, giving visitors a chance to engage in some cool grape and wine activities. The layout of the festival was so skillfully done that the pathway between stages were filled with everything from shopping to activities, ensuring that the crowd were thoroughly entertained throughout. And with a venue like Sula Vineyards, the sweet aroma of wine took over all corners of the festival!
What was so unique about each stage at SulaFest 2017 was that they were each designed to match a specific theme. The Amphi stage was rightly named due to the Amphi theatre set-up, the Atmasphere stage featured sprinklers to set the vibe and the atmosphere of the area, while the Tropical stage featured tree branches and tropical decor, transporting the audience into a musical jungle like no other!
What really stood out about the set-up of the stages, at the festival, is that in spite of them being rather close, the sound never clashed! In fact, each stage still provided a powerful and loud sound to its audience.
The main stage of the event was located just a few steps away from the entrance and featured a multitude of genres and a dynamic range of artists. Thus, creating a dynamic musical vibe that set a vibrant tone. What made the vibe around the Amphi stage truly special? With comfy grassy land for seats, the audience could enjoy lolling or even relaxing their tired feet! Those clever enough to find a nice shady spot under the tree, enjoyed royal comfort while they took in the music of their favourite artists. What’s even more cool was that it’s just like sitting in the park and chilling, only while you’re at it, you’re treated to a musical extravaganza too!
Although, they deserved a more headline slot, Reggae Rajahs featured in 10 minute sets, giving special performances in between acts. The group persevered through three days of the festival ever ready to perform while other acts set up their equipment. Being a group of such high caliber, one would think the artists would say no to anything that wasn’t a headline slot but they brought their game to each and every performance with conviction, class and flair; setting a groovy reggae vibe that got the crowd swinging to the beat. The crowd enjoyed the chilled, talented and smooth rhythms of the artists.
Opening the festival was ‘Zoya’ who set the acoustic tone of the festival, at 2:00 pm on day one, with her soft vocals. Accompanied by some soulful violin, Zoya performed songs that the audience could truly connect with, including an original about the ‘Walk of Shame’, an acoustic version of her electronic song ‘The Shaman and the singer’ and a beautiful cover of Lane Del Ray’s ‘Blue Jeans’. Throughout the performance, Zoya gave the audience a little back-story to her songs; adding a personal touch to her performance.
Winners of the Rise and Shine online competition, ‘The Tripp’ brought the alternative rock and bluesy vibes to the festival on the first day. With the sultry tone of the lead singer combined with the insane guitar skills of all three guitarists and powerful drum beats, they got the party started and how! They even threw in staccato breakdowns, cool originals and occasional subtle harmonies too! They definitely brought the rock vibes, in epic fashion, showcasing local talent at its highest level!
Oh and the night ended with an even bigger bang thanks to Indian Ocean’s local vibes taking over the Amphi Stage!
The day couldn’t have had a better first half than with ‘Ska Vengers’, heavily themed with political tones – mentioning Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution; the group swooned the crowd by bringing some smooth and jazzy vibes to the afternoon with sexy singing, horn playing and more.
Just before the final performance of the day, The Amphi stage threw out a jazzy, rock spectacle with ‘Dubioza Kolektiv’, who completely rocked the stage and drove the audience into beast mode with their powerful, rhythmic sound!
There were a number of exciting acts on day two, but no one better that ‘Bloc Party’. The group were making their debut in the country and what a debut it was! Bringing the crowd to their feet, the performance sent the crowd into epic dance party mode that one would only have to be there to witness.
What really struck us is that among the male dominated group featured a young female drummer who stole the show!
‘Afro Celt Sound System’ blew everybody away with their mind-blowing combo of Punjabi, African, Norwegian and European influences, creating a sound that transformed the festive vibe and uplifted it to new heights that only a group of such a caliber can do.
Ending the show is what we can only call a mind-blowing finish to what had been an action-packed three days was ‘Infected Mushroom’, showcasing powerful psy, trance and rock vibes all the way from the middle east.
Bringing the electric vibes to the festival, the Atmasphere stage, also termed as the ‘Techno Stage’, gave artists a huge platform to showcase their DJ-ing skills. After all, what else can one expect when the likes of Nucleya were set to take the stage on day one? Being a major attraction on the first day, Nucleya set the venue on fire and how!
Breaking out some epic Punjabi moves, the crowd went absolutely berserk as soon as the star DJ took the stage, sending not just local audiences into a frenzy but also saw international visitors attempting some signature desi moves! As one of the true highlights of day one and of the Atmasphere Stage as a whole, we couldn’t have witnessed a better show than this! As if that wasn’t enough, he even invited Reggae Rajahs on stage, driving fans into a frenzy!
What was so impressive on day two was Shaun Moses’s perseverance while he delivered an electrifying set. Although, there were only a few people present during his performance, the artist didn’t let that stop him from bringing the energy of his performance to the fullest. Not to mention, the UK’s Loco & Jam bringing the heat towards the end of the night.
Tejas Belkond represented Indian Techno talent on the big stage on day three, starting off the third day with some local vibes.
Surrounded with graffiti artwork on all sides, the stage featured the most cozy ambiance we could find! Although, a smaller stage that the other two, the Tropical stage gave the audience a more intimate set-up, even featuring a unique sitting structure of pipe seats and giant ashtray buckets in the centre.
Tropical stage featured a number of diverse performers on day one including ‘Likwid’, combining Indian instruments with electronic music that brought the dance vibes. ‘Chhabb’ and ‘Spacejams’ also set the tone of the first day, each showcasing their individual styles and artistry in their own special way!
What’s so special was that this stage featured a unique combination of artists that flawlessly blended Indian percussion with international electronic music influences in ways only they can.
The act under ‘Whatever Witch Is’ took the crowd into another world with their intriguing and mind-blowing tabla playing combined with electronic skills. What’s so impressive about this act was not just the magnificent way in which they combined two very different styles, like Indian percussion with electronic music, but the difference in both the ages and gender of the two artists who came from different background and put this seductively captivating sound together.
Lalit Rawat’s act combined his skillful percussion with an international DJ’s sick EDM skills, creating a breathtaking sound that was truly mesmerizing in every sense! Taking over the audience, we couldn’t take our ears away from this scintillating performance.
Instruments took centre-stage at the festival! It wasn’t just the powerful vocals or electronic beats that captured the audience but the detailed attention paid to every kind of instrument. From Indian to western, the crowd were treated to top-notch instrumental performances. Be it the tabla, saxophone, horn, guitar, violin, flute, drums or keyboard; each musical instrument received major focus and attention at the festival.
Catering to all kinds of music lovers, the festival showcased a multitude of genres and sounds that ranged from reggae, ska, pychedelic rock and trance to Norwegian sounds, African influences, alternative rock, blues rock, EDM, and Pop. What’s great is that festival goers got a chance to explore all types of rhythms, sounds, melodies, compositions and genres simultaneously! With the range of festivals focusing on mainstream genres, SulaFest stood out when it came to giving each music art its space.
Overall, the festival started off with a relaxed vibe in the mornings and afternoons leading into an infectious vibe by the end of the night. With the weather cooling off towards the early evening, the vibe got more pleasant as the day went by.
Along with the musical acts, the event also featured some exciting magicians in multiple locations. Decked up in jazzy costumes, the magicians had all eyes on them, adding to the vibe of the evening. Not to mention, a special procession all decked up in traditional costumes, surprised the crowd on the first day with a sudden entry; much to the amusement of everyone present.
While we walked down the shopping avenue, we saw a young artist sitting and painting a live scene of the Sula Vineyard with the big #SulaFest Installation in the centre. Such a scene definitely set the right kind of vibes for the evening.
If you like a giant cartoon drawing of your face, then the caricature stall, just a few minutes away from the entrance, would definitely appeal to you.
With stunning art installation across the venue, including Sula cones and a giant bird’s nest, the artistic decor of the festival was definitely at the top of its game.
Food And Drinks
Featuring a range of delicious snacks, meals, deserts and treats; the festival organizers ensured that every kind of foodie’s needs would be taken care of. From Mexican tacos to continental meals, Little Italy’s pizza’s to Bombay Food Truck’s epic fries, Burgerton’s yummy burgers to Maroosh’s shawarma; the range and variety of foodstuffs, cuisines and preparations wasn’t short of mouth-watering! And Brookside’s premium chocolates, ranging from raspberry, blueberry to pomegranate, made a perfect accompaniment to Sula’s exclusive selections. Not to forget the delicious coconut drinks to cool off!
Every kind of shopper had something to look forward to at the festival as the shops included jewellery, chocolates, artwork, feather-themed pieces, posters, wood decor and designs, adult stores, decor lights and much more! What’s great was that the shopping alley made for a pleasant walk between the Tropical stage and the other two stages, showing that the organizers really thought of everything when it came to making sure the crowd always had something to do.
What really got our attention was the creative seating styles that we came across at SulaFest. From tyre seats to cylinders and pipes; the festival was innovative to a t!
From Jagermeister to Jack Daniels, Aperol to Skyy Vodka; premium alcohol brands ensured the audience had plenty of ways to liqour up in the heat. As one could expect, that definitely pumped up the crowd. Since the first day was a dry day, the alcohol was made available only at 5:00 pm.
Wine Tours and Tasting
What really got our attention was the special wine tours that the festival had to offer. Taking visitors on a journey through the temperature room where around 2000 Americano and French wood barrels containing wine were kept, to the large storage room with huge steel cylinders of fermented wine; the tour gave visitors insight into the wine industry. The tour guide even answered multiple questions throughout the 30 minute tour and tasting.
After the tour, visitors were led into a tasting room where they were treated to a special tasting of five of Sula’s top wines. Ranging from white to red, the ‘tasting’ professional showed visitors the proper manner and steps to truly appreciate wine, even providing fun facts along the way. Brookside chocolates as well as crackers were provided as a little snack in between the tastings.
After the tasting was over, visitors were quick to head to the Bottle shop, to purchase bottles of Sula’s finest.
For Rs 300, people could try their feet at grape stomping. Although this unique wine-themed activity gave the festival a nice touch, we do feel that the activity was a little pricey for just a few minutes. After all, one would have to get their feet dirty!
We’ve all played drunk football, haven’t we? Well, the festival ensured that it wasn’t just the alcohol that made people tipsy.
Made famous on the hit show ‘Friends’, fooseball brought out the fun competitive side of the young and old alike.
The crowd was enthusiastic throughout the festival, making them the perfect audience for the artists on stage. Be it dancing, raising their hands, grooving, singing along and what not; the crowd was pumped and raring to go on each day. However, we did notice that due to the lack of seating at the Atmasphere stage, the crowd seemed to flock to the Tropical and Amphi stage more.
The crowd that was made up of young and old, local and international and covered all types of people, set the vibe with some fresh energy and vibrancy. Although, they did get a bit out of control on the last day; the mood of the festival remained uplifting throughout.
Health, Cleanliness and Consideration
The festival featured medical tents, ambulances, Syrons for emergencies and first-aid at every corner, showcasing the effort the organizers took to make sure health came first. Clean to a T! Throughout the three days of the festival, the cleanliness team were seen picking up garbage, foodstuff, plastic glass pieces and junk from every corner. SulaFest even had lockers to rent at Rs 350 for plug and Rs 250 for normal. After all, you wouldn’t want to carry your bags everywhere you go right? When the water was over, the Sula Bartenders even gave out free water to those who were in need. There were even carts of Bisleri water going around for people’s convenience.
In conclusion, SulaFest 2017 was a one-of-a-kind festival had had its ups and downs but was worth it all the way. Creating a unique atmosphere that never died down throughout the event, the festival is a must-visit for all music, art, wine and food lovers everywhere!
All images courtesy: SulaFest