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Magnetic Fields 2019: Notes from the Nonstop Desert Party

The music festival is one of the country’s must-attend events

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David Britto Dec 18, 2019

Attendees at the BUDX South Stage at Magnetic Fields 2019 in Alsisar, Rajasthan.

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Even though we attended Magnetic Fields last year and came away from it quite chuffed, this year’s edition went a notch higher and probably cemented the event as a must-attend for any music festival junkie. Here are some of the highlights from the three-day nonstop party extravaganza which took place between December 13th and 15th at the Alsisar Palace in Rajasthan. 

1. Spryk’s Dreamy Audio-Visual Set

Mumbai producer Tejas Nair aka Spryk had a treat for our eyes and ears on day one of the festival. The electronica artist presented a sublime audio-visual set at the BUDX South Stage by Budweiser Experiences. Spryk went from triggering samples to playing some sweet snare and kick drum patterns on an octopad while pensive visuals were projected on a thin sheet in front of the producer. Spryk also engaged the audience with jazzy electronica tunes which was a good fit at the festival. 

2. Lo Peninsula Showcase Shoegaze Psych Rock

Imphal shoegaze group Lo Peninsula amped things up with their psychedelic tunes on the first day at the BUDX South Stage. The group – comprising guitarist-vocalist Nitin Shamurailatpam, bassist Avinash Thokchom and drummer Jyotin Elangbam – were a refreshing dose away from all the electronic music at the festival. The band ran through songs off their 2018 debut EP AKA Lo Peninsula such as the gritty “Another Divine Joke,” the distorted bass offering “Sleight of Hand,” the wistful “Flashback Kid,” their 2017 melancholic single “Tidal Waves” and more.  

3. Natasha Diggs and BFR Sound System’s Morning Delight at the Ray-Ban Studios Desert Oasis Stage

New York City-based DJ Natasha Diggs and reggae dancehall artist Delhi Sultanate (BFR Sound System) both put on emphatic “good morning” sets over at the Ray-Ban Studios Desert Oasis Stage on day two and three of the festival respectively. Diggs delighted us with her funk remixes; which included English acid jazz band Jamiroquai‘s “Cosmic Girl.” Delhi Sultanate for his part spun vinyls which ranged from reggae, ska, drum and bass and more.

4. Pulpy Shilpy and JBABE’s Adoring Sun Downer Sets

JBABE performs at the JioSaavn Sundowner Stage. Photo: Mohit Mukhi

Over at the JioSaavn Stage, the likes of Pune producer Pulpy Shilpy (day two) and Chennai’s lo-fi artist JBABE (day three) treated attendees to wonderful sundowner sets atop the Alsisar Palace. Pulpy Shilpy’s poetic words accompanied with jazz and soul influences made for quite a moving set. JBABE – who also performed on day two with his band, alt-rockers The F16s – sported a sequined bedazzled jacket and performed tracks off his recently released debut album Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit. JBABE’s chilled out electronica juxtaposed with rock elements, synths and lush vocals created a fascinating sundowner atmosphere.

5. The Harp Meets Electronica with ‘ASRAR’ 

Magnetic Fields commission ‘ASRAR’ featuring Nush Lewis (left) and Riatsu on the BUDX South Stage. Photo: Wolfman

Day two saw the BUDX South Stage filled with attendees eager to check out the collaborative project ‘ASRAR’ comprising Mumbai harpist-vocalist Nush Lewis and producer Riatsu. The performance was specially curated for Magnetic Fields 2019 and it didn’t disappoint. Riatsu triggered bass lines and synths while Lewis strung together beautifully arranged harp parts and quaint vocals that sat together superbly. Overall, the set was well put together and we hope it makes its way to other cities soon.  

6. When The F16s Served Some Riffs

On day two of the festival Chennai band The F16s, like Lo Peninsula earlier, brought some rock to the party amid all the dancefloor vibes around us. The group was at their effervescent best churning out raucous riffs, guitar solos, pulsating drum parts, clever keyboard work, groovy bass lines as well as frontman Josh Fernandez’s dreamy vocals. The F16s’ set consisted of material from their 2016 album Triggerpunkte as well as from this year’s four-track EP WKND FRNDS.

7. Maribou State’s Eclectic Live Set 

Maribou State, made of up Chris Davids (right) and Liam Ivory, at Magnetic Fields 2019. Photo: Abhishek Shukla

U.K. duo Maribou State comprising Chris Davids and Liam Ivory took electronica music to a whole new level with a diverse live set. For their performance, the pair was accompanied by a drummer, an additional percussionist who doubled up as a bassist and two singers churning out honeyed vocals. The band displayed moody funk and R&B tunes with elements of jazz, soul and rock thrown into the mix at times. Definitely one of the highlights of the festival, Maribou State delivered quite a punch that was perhaps missing from last year’s lineup, when U.K. jazz/electronic artist Kamaal Williams pulled out of the lineup at the last minute.

8. Pacifist Turned the Peacock Club Upside Down

Mumbai post-hardcore band Pacifist’s performance at the Peacock Club stage, to put it mildly, was thumping. The group – comprising vocalist Sidharth Raveendran, guitarist-producer Apurv Agrawal, drummer Varun Sood, bassist Utkarsh Jaiswal and guitarist Ashish Dharkar – ran through material off this year’s debut EP Greyscale Dreams and created quite the headbanging atmosphere inside the Peacock Club, as part of a showcase put together by artist and event label REProduce Artists. It was intriguing to hear a band of Pacifist’s decibel level make their way to the Magnetic Fields lineup. Hopefully, the festival continues to program heavy acts like them for future editions.  

9. Palms Trax Kept the Party Going on the Last Day at the Ray-Ban Studios Desert Oasis Stage

If you are attending Magnetic Fields, you better be ready to party not just over the weekend but well into the final performance of the festival. Palms Trax, who hit the Ray-Ban Studios Desert Oasis Stage, went on to play a pumping last set. The Berlin-based electronic artist’s techno sounds were the perfect swan song for the festival as attendees filled the sand around the stage with their dance moves and grooved along like they had never before.

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