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Festival Review: Bacardi Enchanted Valley Carnival 2015

Fatboy Slim’s show-stealing set, a smooth cashless system and never-ending parties were the highlights of the third edition of the Lonavala festival 

Rolling Stone India
Rolling Stone India Dec 24, 2015
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Music festivals can be tricky business. While the headlining artists remain the biggest pull, it is the on-ground infrastructure that makes or breaks its cred. Enchanted Valley Carnival, which started out in 2013, has come a long way from being just another weekend camping festival. The increased investment this year from large players such as Bacardi and Universal Music showed at the festival which is held in the scenic locales of Aamby Valley, Lonavala.

Smooth Cashless Transactions
Cashless transactions at festivals is increasingly becoming the norm, but while most other events hand out a swipe card/token to attendees, BEVC gave fans a wrist band with a chip attached to it. So all you had to do when you wanted to grab a bite or buy a drink was give a fist pump [or at least it felt like that] to the person on the other side of the counter with a detector in his hand. Good job, BEVC! The food court or ‘The Culinarium’, as BEVC liked to call it, was massive this time, with plenty of seating and a mind-boggling number of stalls – from the usual burger and roll-serving brands to a fresh juice counters and one even specialising in all kinds of egg bhurji!


Fatboy Slim working the crowd with his unrelentingly energetic set

Fatboy Slim’s Slamming Set
Dutch EDM superstar  Tiesto might have wooed the crowd on the closing night with his remixes of Adele’s “Hello” and even Linkin Park’s timeless rant “Numb”, but it was Fatboy Slim who worked the crowd on the second day of the festival. The 52-year-old British DJ-producer ensured [in an almost machine-like fashion] that there was no dull moment in his two-hour-long set as he blasted his big beat with tracks like “Eat Sleep Rave Repeat” and “Right Here, Right Now”, among others at Cosmos, the main stage. The catchy visuals, dominated by jumping yellow smilies and yellow-pink skulls, screamed out as loud as his music, all the while carrying Fatboy’s trademark cheekiness and quirk. Everyone from the EDM fascists that are quick to diss a mistimed ”˜drop’ or a jagged transition, to the unperturbed selfie-clicking brigade had the time of their lives at his set.  Oliver Heldens, who played the previous slot, held his own quite well too, although there were a couple of unexciting moments here and there in the bass-heavy big room house he whipped up.


Dutch DJ Tiesto played remixes of Adele’s comeback single “Hello” and Linkin Park’s hit “Numb”.

Dubfire, who played at the Pyro stage, managed to pull quite a crowd with his pure techno fare. One surprise act that saw a packed house was the relatively unknown I-Zen [the electro-live act spearheaded by Akshay Hariharan] at the Terra stage who brought on board popular playback and ghazal singer [and his father] Hariharan to perform some of his hit Bollywood numbers. The ”˜fusion’ treatment to a ballad like “Tu Hi Re” [Criminal; 195] might have been a disappointment ”“ sacrilege even? — but Hariharan held the crowd captive for the whole duration of his set. Another fusion artist, Prem Joshua & Band, attracted a bevy of early-evening revelers enjoying the music while lazing on the ubiquitous inflated beanbags.

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The Other Parties
The Silent Party took a while to begin on all three days due to logistical glitches but soon grew into a dense little bash with headphone-wearing bobbing heads doing their thing. Day two was the most exciting of all, with two Mumbai artists going for the kill – techno DJ/producer Technoetic took on DJ Cod3d. Now that the novelty of no-noise parties is wearing off ”“ earlier you’d find wide-eyed compulsive picture-clicking eyesores at such gigs ”“ it was nice to see revelers making a point to check out every channel on their headphone and even congratulate the ”˜winning’ DJ who managed to ensure that his channel color flashed on every headphone. However, we’d have liked the Silent Party stage to have been located at a more conspicuous place; many attendees missed seeing it because it was out of the main thoroughfare.

At BEVC, afterparties are no small affair. The shuttle transfers to the afterparty venue inside Aamby Valley were smooth and constantly kept feeding the party with fans every few minutes.  The parties themselves went on till the wee hours of the morning. They only got really buzzing by the second day when Mumbai DJ Aditya Wanwari [who is known for his commercial house and Bollywood fare] and Joshi took stage. Day three, which featured India’s techno posterboy Arjun Vagale playing the closing set, saw the biggest turnout.

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The Frills
While BEVC ensured that the transactions at food/beverage remained cashless, it made it a point that attendees never ran out of cash. Yes Bank ATMS were scattered around the festival area and the two times we visited them, we didn’t have to stand in a queue. Well done. We didn’t have to fear running out of phone battery either since the Activity Zone at the Enchanted Village had several charging points to be availed of. For DSLR-owners, the hot air balloon ride which took one about 50 feet off the ground was a mini-thrill. The balloon which lit up every few minutes when it ascended also lent the festival a sweet charm.

In a span of three years, Bacardi Enchanted Valley Festival has definitely made its name as the one of the biggest electronic music gatherings in India. The rough edges are smoother but there’s room for improvement in programming and production.

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