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Festival Review: Djakarta Warehouse Project

Great lineup, tight organization and dusk-to-dawn parties are just a few reasons why the Djakarta Warehouse Project should be a part of your festival plans

Ambika Muttoo Dec 22, 2015
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Skrillex played a modern-day Pied Piper at the festival. Photo: Rukes

Our Asian neighbours have ensured that it’s time to start making plans other than Goa this December. High on the lis­t of your prospective festival plans should be Jakarta, where we were last weekend at the eight edition of the Djakarta Warehouse Project. On paper, these were some of the names playing at the festival: Jack U, Major Lazer, Kaskade, Armin Van Buuren, DJ Snake, Tiesto, Claude Von Stroke, Jamie Jones, Porter Robinson, Claptone, Axwell and Ingrosso. In reality, it was so much more than a sum of its musical parts.

The two-day festival, owned by the conglomerate, Ismaya, was held at the massive JiExpo in Jakarta and as a nod to its name, two of the three stages were indoors, housed in what looked like a cavernous warehouse. Between the two stages, dotted with VIP areas and bars, was a food court that served as a sort of thoroughfare. Outside, the main stage held court: a wide leviathan crowned with the mythical Garuda that almost came to life with lighting and pyrotechnics at night. There certainly are similarities here with the motherland ”” multiple staging, VVIP and VIP areas, swarming crowds [approximately 70,000 we hear, this year] and a lineup that lends itself to big-room and euphoric trance. But that’s where the similarities end.

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Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren working the crowd. Photo: Rukes

Ultimately, what makes a festival memorable, other than the music, is the atmosphere. Jakarta is miles ahead in almost every aspect with that. The festival was on from 4pm to 4am and the after parties, till 10am. A couple of Indonesian friends weren’t too thrilled with the timings because they usually go on till noon! The security here is tight: three thorough checks to get into the arena and nary a liquid, unauthorised camera or paraphernalia made it through. No complaints, no arguments. And then there are the people themselves, smiling, happy, with not a hint of aggression in the air. Bleachers by the food court were well in use by the early morning for those who had made good use of the bar. Note: no fights, no funny business. Just people having a good time, minding their business and not getting in anyone’s way. We could learn a thing or two. Perhaps one of the reasons why everyone’s so happy and relaxed is because they aren’t held back in any way. Shaan, from India was playing the main stage between 7-8pm which, back home, is usually a peak slot because outdoor music festivals have to shut down at 10 PM. Here, in Jakarta, he had a solid crowd, but who were pacing themselves because the night was nowhere close to being done. Fortunately, nothing rained on their parade, even though the forecast suggested thunderstorms. Apparently, Ismaya had a “person” taking care of that; a sort of weather doctor-shaman hybrid. Believe what you want, but it certainly worked.

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Musically there were plenty of highlights — from Snake dropping a mix of “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim, to Diplo rolling over the audience in a zorbing ball during his Major Lazer set. Skrillex served as a sort of modern day Pied Piper, pulling the thousands everywhere he went: from his packed Jack U set with Diplo to even hyping the crowd during What So Not’s time on Mad Decent Stage on the first day. Trap was in full swing on both days, but The Darker Arena [the name of the third stage on day one] also had a major roll-call with Claptone [who threw in a bit of Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up], Jamie Jones, capped off with Dirtybird boss, Claude Von Stroke who ended the morning with grimy, slamming drum and bass. It was Porter Robinson’s live set on day two, that ended up being the real highlight [complete with the crowd chanting his name before he came on].

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The two-day event was held at JiExpo in Jakarta. Photo: Rukes

When Rolling Stone spoke to Robinson two years ago, he told us about how he was putting a show together and what struck us back then was his attention to detail. Everything he spoke about in the interview translated into what was going on, on that stage and it was a revelation: the visuals, the lighting, the text beamed onto the screens, and Porter himself: a lone figure on stage, singing, playing and being his own composer. Duke Dumont was supposed to close the stage after him, but he couldn’t make it due to personal reasons, so Headhunterz took over. The hard-style was a bit jarring post Robinson’s symphonic set, but it served its purpose. People want options at festivals; they want the opportunity to lose themselves in different sounds and different environments.

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There’s a big world out there, filled with festivals, and we would recommend keeping tabs on DWP next year as an option for December. Happy, shiny people, tight organisation and production and the best vibes we’ve imbibed in a very long time. Besides, Bali’s just a short plane ride away, so your recover program’s already taken care of.

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