Festival Report: DGTL Flies Off to a Promising Start in Bengaluru
The two-day electronic music festival featured nonstop techno, house and more
Even as Bengaluru is still trying to find its bearings for a regular live music circuit outside of a handful of venues, a global festival setting up in their city is a good omen. Amsterdam-origin electronic music festival DGTL — which has traveled to Chile, Brazil, Israel, Spain and more — hosted its Bengaluru edition on January 11th and 12th, making the Lalit Ashok hotel its playground for cutting edge house, techno and dance music.
Across two days, we saw tropical shirts and plenty of quirky shades, reusable cup in hand, dancing away two days and 24 hours of music at DGTL. The festival started at 1 pm by the Modular open-air stage on the lawns. This included everyone from Mumbai DJ-producer Sandunes and a high-energy mood-changing set from drummer, guitarist, vocalist and producer Youngr to Norwegian producer Skatebård, who even dropped a version of goth band HIM.’s “Join Me In Death” and air piano-ed along to it.
Day two on the Modular stage saw homegrown talent such as Praveen Achary start off the day, while Eelke Kleijn brought serious grooves to keep feet moving from 3 pm. The stage’s rectangular LED panels and well-structured lighting made for a coordinated audio-visual treat, plus there was the photogenic potential of it all. One of the more highly-anticipated sets of DGTL, courtesy of Austrian duo HVOB, ensured a good turnout at the Modular stage, their sundowner performance being perfectly wavy. Sticking to a mostly DJ set, Israeli duo Red Axes threw in everything from the breaks of Phil Kieran to their remix of electro-pop act Polo and Pan’s song “Gengis.”
While there weren’t many maps placed around the venue, the Frequency stage — we eventually found — was set up at the hotel’s rooftop club venue KittyKo. The visuals were mostly missing in action on day one for sets by Oshana and Roza Terenzi, but day two looked like a fuller setting that lived up to DGTL’s emphasis on production, for pumping sets by Murthovic, Molly, Job Jobse and a buoyant, acid techno-laced closing set from Tijana T.
While the open-air stages saw plenty of foot traffic and some lounging about the Budweiser Brew District area, the indoor stages was clearly where things got hard and heavy. For seasoned techno fans and hardcore electronic music festival goers, the Generator and Gain stages were set up in ballrooms/banquet halls opposite to each other and ran on until 1 am.
On day one of DGTL Bengaluru, DJ-producer SEQU3L picked up the energy levels straight off, spinning cuts from the likes Brazil-bred, Berlin-based producer Terr (“Tale of Devotion”) and stepper beats-infused tunes. One half of Munich duo Innellea was more than enough to bring in seismic activity to the Generator stage, which only went a level higher thanks to the headline set by German veteran DJ Sven Vath, who dug his crates and sent out one banger after another. Meanwhile, the Gain stage kicked into gear with Singaporean DJ Cats on Crack dived right into buzzing, indefatigable techno, followed by Indian DJ-producer Likwid’s hypnotic house turn and veteran DJ Arjun Vagale’s full-volume takeover, heavy strobe light action and all.
Day two at the Generator stage also followed a super dose of house and techno, courtesy of Adam Rahman, Kevin De Vries, plus French DJ Anetha’s imposing beats at a tempo that nearly turned the whole festival upside down, while Pan-Pot and Dax J ensured that things stayed hectic, peaking with many breaks and drops before withdrawing momentarily to build it back up again. Over at the Gain stage, India’s veteran DJ-producers Kohra and BLOT! closed out DGTL on a frenetic high as well, invoking mayhem on the dancefloor.
DGTL Bengaluru was a decent way for the electronic music festival to open its account in India. The music was certainly top notch for any fan of electronic music, but there were other, smaller operational issues that need addressing. The reusable cups meant to promote sustainable practice were available for a separate cash-only price of ₹50, which meant topping up your food and beverage card didn’t really count for much in terms of going cashless or to even make your initial purchase.
The confusion continued when the card was sold at ₹100 with the promise of ₹50 being refunded and by day two, the card was suddenly no longer yielding any refund amount. As far as generating unwanted plastic goes, we’re pretty sure that’s a no-go for DGTL. These may sound like pet peeves to anyone who’s braved much worse management systems at Indian music festivals, but we trust DGTL to clear these hurdles the next time around.