With over 10,000 festival attendees at its 12th edition, Sula Fest shows that the perfect recipe for success is about a pristine location, great music, and good vibes all around!
As far as longevity in the music festival scene in India goes, Sula Fest is among few music festivals that have sustained and grown to its enormous scale each year. Situated at the Sula Vineyards property in Nashik, the Sula Fest is a popular yearly attraction that not just draws in people from all over India, but is a hit among the locals and foreigners visiting India as well.
Straight out of its 12th mammoth edition, Sula Fest must be lauded for having pulled off yet another successful edition while hosting some of the grandest musical acts from across the planet, who thoroughly entertained the 10,000+ attendees that flocked to the festival over the weekend, on February 2 & 3.
The Sherp in attendance departed from Mumbai on the morn of Feb 2nd with our itineraries set and a Sula bucket-list in mind. A check-in at the Grand Rio hotel and after collecting stock of the extremely thoughtful goodies provided (sunglasses by Opium, water bottle by Bumble, Sleepy Owl cold brew coffee, and a GoKruze branded t-shirt), the Sherp was on to experience the exciting Day 1 of Sula Fest.
Day 1 – Day 2 Overview:
Heading in to Sula Fest on Day 1, the Sherp made its way through the Box Office that had a bit of hold up and delay in processing and allowing attendees through the security check. However, once in, an LED tunnel by LF lifestyle was quite the visual experience as you walked through, and emerged on the other side to the colourful storm of the venue decor and the heady mix of techno & live music in the air.
While at Sula, it would be a sin not to educate oneself about the nuances of wine making and to experience the various kinds of wine that Sula Vineyards brews each year. The Sherp engaged in a wine tasting session led by Karan Vasani – Vice President, Wine-making at Sula Vineyards, where we also got to sample the first batch of the The Source Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, Brut Chardonnay and Sparkling Shiraz, which was launched at the festival itself.
On the roster for Day 1 were acts like Lucille Crew, Hallouminati, Jungle, Sashanti, Nikhil Chinapa, and Juliet Fox, among others. who rocked the audiences at the Amphitheater and Atmasphere stages at the festival. Day 1 saw a moderate amount of people, who were mainly techno enthusiasts, at the Atmasphere stage, but the Amphitheater Stage looked nothing short of a jam-packed Roman Colosseum!
Day 2 featured some of the most sensational acts in the country at the moment, while also bringing down legendary artists that India has only dreamed of having such as the prog-house wizard, Sasha, Oona Dahl, Paraphoniks, Mother’s Cake, Ankytrixx, Shankar Mahadevan, and the current sensation, Divine (Gully Gang).
Unlike Day 1, the second day had a steady audience flocking to the Atmasphere stage as well to witness Oona Dahl, Sasha, and the closing set of Mumbai’s own, Ankytrixx.
The Amphitheater stage was hard to step away from and had people attracted to it like bees to a hive. The colourful decor, open-air setup, and casual atmosphere, made the it a great place to chill with a glass of wine in hand, and listen to some of the finest live music acts from around the world.
Like its previous edition, Sula Fest 2019 hosted 2 stages catering to specific genres – the Amphitheater stage played host to a number of live acts, while the Atmasphere stage hosted some of the greatest underground music performers from India & across the world.
The eclectic music lineup at SulaFest consisted of 23 acts. The Atmasphere stage hosted techno and house DJs and featured the likes of progressive house pioneer Sasha, All Day I Dream’s Oona Dahl, Drumcode signee Juliet Fox, and Ankytrixx.
The first day on this stage featured Diatonik who has established himself as one of India’s top techno artists and Nikhil Chinapa who has been one of the key players in cultivating and growing the electronic music movement in India. Juliet Fox went all out and delivered a bangin’ set to end day 1 at the Atmasphere stage.
While the Atmasphere stage was locked to four-to-the-floor house and techno, the massive Amphitheater stage seemed to break all genre barriers. Day 1 featured Jungle’s impeccable closing performance, Israeli Hip-Hop/Funk collective, Lucille Crew, and UK based gypsy and ska band, Hallouminati, whose music was thoroughly energetic and engaging. While System of a Down plays music that is wildly different from Hallouminati, the gypsy band vocalist’s flow was eerily similar to that of Serj Tankian who is System of a Down’s frontman.
Day 2 at the Atmasphere stage saw the addition of much needed sprinklers in the shaded tent, which ensured revelers could stay cool through the afternoon heat even during the early sets.
The highlight of the Atmasphere stage had to be its last 5 hours on Day 2, where Oona Dahl took over and played dreamy tunes as the sun set over the hills, followed by Sasha, whose track selections were spot on, and proved why he is an electronic music legend. India’s beloved Ankytrixx closed out the stage with a bang with his short but explosive hour long set.
The Amphitheater stage had bands and performances across genres such as hip hop, rock, blues, funk, live electronica, R&B, soul, reggae, folk, Bollywood, and more, which ensured fans with any musical taste had something great in store for them.
Paraphoniks nailed the early set they played at the Amphitheatre stage. It’s impossible to ignore the hype around the homegrown Hip Hop sensation, Divine, who drew in a record crowd who had especially come to see him perform. Seeing his following at the fest, many would agree that his hook should be changed from “Apna Time Aayega” to “Apna Time Aa Gaya”! Bollywood music supremo, Shankar Mahadevan did a commendable job of closing out the festival as the crowd frantically cheered him on during songs like ‘Breathless’ and ‘Hindustani’.
The Perfect Wine & Dine Experience
Great experiences require their fair share of energy and what better way to fuel up than with the delicious nibbles and beverages served at the Sula Festival. Right from Pasta, Rolls, Burgers, Biryanis, & more, catered by food partners, Sleepy Owl Cold Brew Coffee (who also launched their ready to drink bottles at the fest), Wok Express, Mainland China, Bombay Food Truck, Maroosh, Café Bliss, Raw Pressery, 99 Pancakes, and more.
On the boozy side of things, attendees could avail wine from the vineyards of Sula in addition to their imports, Sula Selections. Apart from Sula Wines, alcohol partners – Monkey Shoulder, Budweiser, Asahi Beer and Beluga Noble Russian Vodka, served up some interesting concoctions as well.
Sula Vineyards in itself, is a place that everyone must pay a visit to, especially if you are a wine aficionado. However, pairing a grand location like the Sula Vineyards, with the grandeur & experience of the Sula Fest, it is something that people with any sense of adventure, taste of music, love for wine or not, will definitely relate to while having a great time.
On the whole, the 12th edition of Sula Fest ensured it met its standards of seamless execution, adherence to tasteful experiences, and a curation of music that not many festivals can match up to.
The acts performing at Sula Fest delivered almost perfect performances all round while keeping the crowds entertained. The wide selection of food & beverage options ensured that no one had pangs of thirst or hunger. The Paytm transaction cards that had to be filled with monetary balance, proved a very convenient way to make payments, as all F&B caterers accepted them.
There were no issues of hygience or inadequate garbage disposal systems, as there were a number of cleaners circling the grounds to maintain a clean venue. Sufficient security staff were also present to keep drunken behaviour at a minimum, although there were few instances of rowdy behaviour that was noticed at the Atmasphere Stage and while exiting the festival on Day 1.
A common complaint among attendees seemed to be the time it took to get from the box office, through security, and into the venue, with the Sherp also having taken 30-45 mins to get in.
On the upside of the festival experience, a number of people could be found huddled around some cool Instagrammable attractions around the festival like the vintage hand-painted Mercedes, the giant Sula bottles, colorful wine barrels, the upper deck overlooking the vineyards, the LF anti-gravity booth & LED tunnel, and just about any spot under the colorfully draped food zones at the fest.
The Bumble Hive Lounge & the Bumble Grape-Stomping Zone, also attracted a set of enthusiasts and were also good spots to catch some shade and rest during the afternoons. The Panzani Pasta Carts and Brookside by Hershey’s stalls served delicious samples to attendees and were a hit on both days.
For those that don’t like leaving places without a souvenir in hand, were spoilt for choice at the Sula flea market, and the Sula Wine shop.
Speaking about the festival, Rajeev Samant, Founder & CEO, Sula Vineyards says, “What an incredible vibe! More than 10,000 fest-goers had the time of their life, showing why SulaFest is the country’s most eagerly awaited festival weekend. We curate each edition with a lot of excitement every year and we cannot wait for the 13th edition already.”
Overall, Sula Fest 2019 held its promise of being one of India’s eclectic and much-awaited festivals, and to quote Mr. Rajeev Samant, “we cannot wait for its 13th edition either!”
The Sherp’s rating: 8/10