Vh1 Supersonic 2017 set it’s transformational theme into action and gained tons of brownie points.
This year, Vh1 Supersonic shifted base to the city of Pune and hosted a three-day musical extravaganza at the lush Laxmi Lawns of the Magarpatta township. It featured a diverse line-up from across a wide spectrum of genres, with the headliners being the wizard of house, Eric Prydz, the subliminally lyrical king of hip-hop, Macklemore, and the prince of EDM, Zedd. These are some of the biggest artists in the world and definitely few of the finest to have graced the stage in this country. Having defined the sounds of their genres, they’re sure to go down in history books as artists that shaped the direction of music around the world.
Supersonic did something rather unique and interesting as well this year, as opposed to the conventional genre-dedicated stage allocation. The theme of the festival signified the transformation of the event into something truly massive with each passing edition. Having moved away from it’s Goa home, Vh1 Supersonic aimed at making Pune their new hunting ground and boy did they succeed.
There were three rotating stages, with a different genre dedicated to each stage, every day. On day one, the Sonic Realm stage was dedicated to progressive house and tech house; the Spectrum stage to electro house and electronica while the Laboratoire stage was dedicated to bass music. Whereas, on day two, the Sonic Realm stage was dedicated to hip-hop, with the Spectrum stage playing techno and the Laboratoire stage playing trance. And finally, on day three, the Sonic Realm stage was dedicated to EDM, with the Spectrum stage playing techno and the Laboratoire stage playing drum & bass. Programming it in this manner allowed for a diverse array of artists, with different sounds, to showcase their craft. Even audiences, of different musical tastes, experienced something new. We hope to see more experimentation with this format.
The was an excellent balance of Indian talent as well as international artists who have been conducting some phenomenal performances over the past few years. The headliners were – the one and only Eric Prydz, new age hip-hop legend in the making Macklemore and the inimitable Zedd.
With over 15 artists playing each day, it was a festive spectacle for the ears of all those present. On the first day, the phenomenal Midland Sparks’ set, textured with intricate melodies, showed a creative fire which bodes well for this fine artist. EZ Rider’s set after him, on the Laboratoire stage, was a journey into bass frequencies and the rhythms that left us wanting more. The mystical Boris Brejcha, played a set highlighting his expansive soundscape and had the ability to get everyone in the crowd dancing to the same groove. Pearl, dubbed by her followers now as Khaleesi – the queen of dragons, layered the opening energies perfectly for the spectacular Eric Prydz set that shall be remembered for ages.
Day 2 began quite unlike the first day, yet our favourites were S3QU3L B2B Diatonik, bringing the heat to the groove early in the day. Vachan Chinnappa’s set was a journey into the history of music through vinyl and, following him in shoes that are almost impossible to fill by any DJ in the scene today, was the awe-inspiring DJ Uri, whose set was a testament to the traditions and roots of hip-hop. DJ Sa completely smashed those who were present with his track selections of high energy tunes and smooth transitions. BOGL had phenomenal mash-ups up his sleeve next, notably that of Shimmy Shimmy Ya by Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan. On the Spectrum stage, Henrik Schwarz’s set was peppered with rhythmic riffs, while Ash Roy and Arjun Vagale had the crowd’s emotion in constant motion. Aly & Fila, on the Laboratoire stage, provided a glimpse into the past with glorious 90’s feel good trance music. Macklemore, however, had the crowd’s energy on tenterhooks and absolutely smashed his performance with genuine crowd interactions, splendid visuals and an indomitable aura of positive energy about him.
Jitter B2B Vinayak, on day 3, started things on the Spectrum stage with a detailed set, while Sickflip, on the Laboratoire stage, dropped the bass harder that we’d thought the sound system could take. His set was the perfect precursor for Nerm’s set, which moved through Indian harmonies and the iconic UK drums and grooves. Blot! B2B Kohra, on the Spectrum stage, as well as &ME and Joris Voorn, one after another, showcased a journey into techno, progressive and electro house that was as smooth as it was exhilarating. To finish the festival off were the explosive performances by ZEDD and DJ Marky. ZEDD’s hard-hitting set left us almost out of wind at times, while the mind-boggling technical skills of DJ Marky left us with some of the hardest drum and bass records we’d heard in awhile.
The three stages were the Sonic Realm stage, the Awakenings stage and the Laboratoire stage. Of the three, the largest was the Sonic Realm, which also had the bigger arena sound system with the booming bass, while the Awakening stage, true to its dutch techno origins, had a plethora of techno artists smashing out bangers on some of the most balanced sound systems we’ve seen in a while. The Laboratoire stage had an exceptional sound system as well as a swanky green top to dish out some groovy dance moves.
From the aspect of visuals, Eric Prydz, at the Sonic Realm stage, had some of the most elegant, minimalistic visuals which greatly complimented his performance. Macklemore’s visuals team at the same stage, on day 2, put forth visions that transported the listener into a dimension created by his ability to paint pictures with words. Zedd had fantastically vivid visuals along with his set and the Sonic Realm had three large screens for the visuals. An exceptionally innovative step forward, was the incorporation of 3D visuals in the design of the stage itself, with everyone being provided 3D glasses along with their RFID bands. The Awakenings stage, on the other hand, had a screen with minimal visuals being played, accompanied with smoke machines and laser systems that added an intriguing dynamic to the performances. The screen at the Laboratoire stage was the brightest and had bright fluorescent strobe lights.
In between the Laboratoire stage and Awakenings stage was the Budweiser Beer Garden, and a reggae pop-up featuring the 10,000 Lions setup that played chill reggae music to refresh those moving between the stages. Accompanying this was the blueFROG stall along with funky food trucks, serving a fine miscellany of dishes. A little further off were a few entertaining games for those attending as well a few swings, trampolines and see-saws to get the adrenaline pumping.
Past the Awakenings stage and towards the Sonic Realm stage lay the flea market, which had an explosion of activities ranging from the relaxing to the exciting for all those on their way between the stages. One could get a foot massage while eating a waffle, or pizza, or absolutely anything from one of the 20+ food stalls. Not to mention, shop from a variety of pop-ups that were selling funky festival accessories, all within a few steps of one another.
One of the coolest infiltrations of technology, which greatly improved our experience at the festival, were the RFID tags. These allowed us quick entry and gave us the freedom to purchase food and beverages with the tap of a wrist. We could also load money onto them with complete ease. We do hope that such innovations carry on to the next event.
One thing we were not a fan of, were the barricades blocking our view from the bar areas. On day one especially, it was particularly distressing to find barricades blocking the stage view in a way that we couldn’t even watch the artists while having a drink. Fortunately, by the second day, the barricades were removed.
The excellent first-aid facilities, in big tents, were a huge plus point. The toilet areas could have been a little neater. There was also good management of logistics with regards to the Uber pick-up points as well. The various activities were well spread out, and provided much to do when moving between stages or taking a break between performances, with a multitude of shopping, refreshment and leisure activities.
The venue itself was spacious, well-lit and well-organized, with clear entrance and exit points, as well as ample parking close by. There were clear signs and maps provided as well, so that everyone could navigate smoothly at all times. We are definitely looking forward to the drone footage of the entire venue in its expansive open air setting!
On all three days of the festival there were official afterparties in blueFROG and Mix@36, with artists from the festival performing. It was great to experience these artists performing in a club setting after a festival environment, also giving them and the crowd the opportunity to have a more symbiotic interaction. The biggest afterparty had the legendary alter-ego of Eric Prydz, Cirez D, performing on day one, leaving the crowd exhilarated when he finished a legendary set at three in the morning!
All In All
The festival was an absolutely delightful weekend for us, and we are sure it was the same for everyone else who made it. The festival truly lived up to it’s expectations, and with Eric Prydz and Macklemore gracing it, we knew there was no doubt about it’s success. The level of enthusiasm around the venue was something we’ve very rarely witnessed and we can safely say that Vh1 Supersonic drew trumps in 2017. It was very well-organised and curated and had a plethora of activities for both music and non-music lovers to indulge in. The facilities and the venue were top notch, and from what we saw, it looked as though everyone present would definitely remember this edition of the festival as one that had the amazing ability to unite us all!
(Review Courtesy: Sharan Punjabi)
(All Sherpa Pictures: Anand Mohapatra Photography)