Festival Review: Katy Perry, Dua Lipa Woo Fans with Saccharine Pop at OnePlus Music Festival in Mumbai
The debut edition of the event witnessed large scale production, a pumped up crowd, Indian talent and more
On Saturday, November 16th, a hot and humid evening in Mumbai, the first-ever OnePlus Music Festival took place at the D.Y. Patil Stadium. The lineup featured our November 2019 cover star, American pop artist Katy Perry, British singer Dua Lipa as well as Indian acts such as composer Amit Trivedi, New Delhi rockers The Local Train, Pune electronica artist Ritviz and post-rock outfit Aswekeepsearching.
Everyone from pre-teen fans accompanied by their parents to mid-twenty-somethings to middle-aged folks filled up the venue’s three zones: Gold, Silver and Bronze. There was also a Super Fan Pit right in front of the stage and a VIP Zone in the bleachers of the stadium. Luckily for the folks at the back, the organizers had installed large screens so that everyone could catch every moment of the day-long festival from any part of the stadium.
The OnePlus Music Festival matched up to current outdoor event starts by having a good range of food and beverages (non-alcoholic), plus RFID wristbands, which meant quick payments. Additionally, there was artist merch, first aid and an ambulance.
We arrived at the event just as Trivedi was winding up his set with his impeccable band which featured Mumbai blues-rockers Blackstratblues’ Warren Mendonsa on guitar and drummer Jai Row Kavi. According to the festival’s schedule, Dua Lipa was supposed to hit the stage at 6:30 pm but instead, American rapper BlackLight from Austin, Texas came out and made his India debut. BlackLight’s short set included songs such as the pumpy “Beast” and the melodramatic “Back to the Grind” off his 2019 EP King as well as the hard-hitting “Skyline” off last year’s Greatest EP.
It was now time for Lipa – who was making her India debut – to hit the stage. Fresh from her performance in Dubai the previous night, the British pop star kicked things off with a bang as her band played an extended intro to her 2016 hit “Blow Your Mind (Mwah).” Lipa came out to a big cheer and owned the stage. The singer got the audience bouncing and clapping as she danced, ran across the stage and jumped around.
Lipa moved on by clubbing the dance track “Dreams” and her Sean Paul collaboration “No Lie.” When the songstress hit the first notes to her 2015 banger “Be The One” her Indian audience sang along which caught Lipa off guard, as she shared a nod with the crowd. Next, she performed her recently released groovy track “Don’t Start Now.” Lipa pulled out another club hit when she sang her Calvin Harris collaboration “One Kiss” – sending the folks in the stadium into a tizzy.
The singer jumped into songs such as the exciting “Electricity,” the aptly titled “Hotter Than Hell” for Mumbai’s weather conditions, plus her emotional Martin Garrix collaboration “Scared To Be Lonely” and the silky “Begging.”
Lipa then went backstage and came out for an encore leaving her best for last. She got the crowd singing to the angsty “IDGAF” and her smash hit “New Rules.” Throughout her set, Lipa showcased her strong vocal prowess and range infused with pop melodies.
Next up was Ritviz who opened his set with the uptempo dance track “Ved,” followed by the positive and nostalgic “Jeet” before he went into a mashup of “Barso” and his hit party anthem “Udd Gaye.” The visuals during his set were immersive, featuring some of the funky artwork designed by Mumbai-based contemporary artist Santanu Hazarika and visuals by Dipraj Jadhav. Ritviz also brought out New Delhi hip-hop duo Seedhe Maut to perform their single “Chalo Chalein” much to the audience’s surprise. His set was dazzling and had the crowd roaring and moving, but the performance felt diminished as he set up on the left stage instead of the main platform where the stage was being prepped for headliner Katy Perry’s performance.
By now, the stage production had gone up tenfold. There was a giant Katy Perry mannequin figure on the left and a ginormous hand with the index finger pointing upwards on the right. After a short video clip to tease fans, Perry’s band performed an opening jam before the pop star herself appeared dressed in a bright green jumpsuit to rapturous applause, kicking off her set with the funky “Chained To The Rhythm.” Next, she sang shortened versions of the bouncy “Dark Horse” and the spacey “E.T.” At this point, Perry’s backup dancers were all over the main stage busting out moves while her band showcased immense talent from wailing guitar solos and thumping drum parts.
Perry announced that since it’s been seven years since she was last in India, the crowd deserved to hear songs from all her albums. She powered through with the trap leaning “Bon Appétit” off 2017’s Witness juxtaposed with Janet Jackson’s funky 1986 track “What Have You Done For Me Lately.” Perry kept the funk going with a cover of Montell Jordan’s 1995 track “This Is How We Do It.”
Next, the vocalist took us back to our teen years when she dropped the sugary “Teenage Dream.” In between, Perry joked about how she was told it was winter in these parts, proceeding to wipe the sweat off her face.
The singer then went old school with 2008’s “Hot N Cold” off One Of The Boys and quickly switched into her party anthem “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” The musician kept the party going with a funky version of “California Gurls” which included rapper Snoop Dogg’s pre-recorded verse. Things amped up when the headliner belted out her rock-leaning “I Kissed A Girl” that featured a mesmerizing guitar solo. Perry then toned it down with “Wide Awake” which, while glaringly similar to Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away,” had the crowd moving nonetheless.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, the singer performed the emotional “The One That Got Away” which led to some fans breaking into tears. Having only just released her latest single “Harleys In Hawaii,” Perry played it live for the first time ever with fans grooving along.
The singer then went backstage as fans were treated to some trippy Eighties video game style visuals. Perry’s band and dancers returned and began performing the energetic “Part Of Me” – halfway through the song Perry had still not returned to the stage and her performance halted. She announced from backstage, “Do you want to know the truth?” She went on to explain that due to the heat and sweat she wasn’t able to change her costume in time and instead decided to stay in what she was already wearing. Perry asked her band to restart the song and said, “You all deserve to hear it with me.”
Perry moved on with her Nicki Minaj collab “Swish Swish,” the tongue-twisting “Never Really Over” and the euphoric “Roar.” Perry’s final song for the evening was the inspiring “Firework” where she opened with a melancholic intro and showed off her vocal talent and then switching to the pop version of the song. At this point, the D.Y. Patil Stadium let out streamers and their own pyrotechnics to create a picturesque atmosphere.
For a first edition, the OnePlus Music Festival gave attendees some superb local talent and candy pop music to chew on from both Lipa and Perry. Attendees who came in thousands went home quite happy with what they witnessed. Hopefully, the festival continues to grow in the years to come and keep bringing sought after international talent to India.
Additional inputs by Jessica Xalxo.
All photos Courtesy of OnePlus Music Festival.