Recounting the Highs and Lows From YouTube Fan Fest 2019 in Mumbai
From Jordindian’s rapping to the multiple unboxings, here’s a breakdown of what went down
The YouTube FanFest (YTFF) 2019 concert opens with a countdown and cuts to a video of Vineeth Kumar and Naser Al Azzeh of Jordindian, who are backstage and chilling in their bathrobes, affirming to themselves and the 10,000 people outside, “We don’t know what this is, but we got this.” The pair proceed to rap and introduce the festival which they ably host. The sixth edition of YTFF at Mumbai’s Jio Garden on March 30th, was a night replete with contagious energy, spirited fans and stellar performances from 18 YouTube creators. Here are the best moments from the event:
1. MJ5’s celestial footwork
Celebrity dance group MJ5 delivered an enigmatic performance, morphing from a lotus to an actual pantheon, and manifesting props such as rulers, a glass pane and sunglasses, as their act captivated the live audience. The group comprising of Karthik Ramaiah (who goes by his first name), Himanshu Gola, Vishnu Kumar, Rohit Singh and Dennis Anthony were like puppets brought to life, adeptly fluid in both motion and pauses. Known as the moonwalk magicians of India, MJ5 presented one of the many variations of the move that their idol and inspiration Michael Jackson is famous for — the moonwalk. Karthik’s feet moved swiftly on the palms of the rest of the MJ5 as they maneuvered across the stage in a feat of dance that left spectators awestruck. The grace of the move translates in an understated manner on camera, but those who were lucky enough to view one of India’s top dance groups at YTFF know that the dancers cut the rug with the magic of their movement.
2.Â Naezy’s Bumbai (Mumbai) connect
When the 25-year-old trailblazing rapper Naezy stepped on to the stage and called out to the crowd, “Bantai bachi bamai! Apun fir se aagayele, kya?” (Brother, I’m back) there was an instant linking of the people with the words everybody in Mumbai, no matter where they came from, had heard at least once if not more in their lifetimes. That’s the remarkable aspect of Naezy’s beat and lyrics that reflect the cultural fabric of the city — people, particularly Mumbaikars, recognize parts of their lives; whether it’s the vada pav they grab after work, the struggle and hustle that shapes and drives them or the morning show they view at the cinema because of the affordable tickets. Even those who seemed to have never heard his music before were driven to chant “aane de” and “jaane de” as Naezy pointed the microphone towards the audience during his flow. It’s impossible for Mumbaikars to distance themselves from the city that is an integral background and subject of their lives, and Naezy captured exactly that sentiment as he belted tracks such as Â “Aane De” and his new single “Aafat Waapas.”
3.Â MostlySane’s Marathi flair and Uber drone delivery
It’s 2019 and getting food delivered to your house by a ground-bound vehicle is too mainstream. So, YouTuber, blogger and musician Prajakta Koli (MostlySane) had Uber Eats dispatch a vada pav to her via a drone. Although it would help to curb the excitement — Uber has no plans for arranging airborne transport to enable speedy food deliveries (yet). Koli’s performance, the finale of the night’s comedy club segment, was a powerful and synergetic celebration of her trademark humor, cultural identity and addressal of issues such as bullying, patriarchal hypocrisy and body shaming. Joined by a band of women and men donning orange and white kurtas, salwars and vests, and bearing tall flags, the Forbes India 30 under 30 alum sang her songs “No Offence” and “Shameless,” swapping the melody of the electric guitar and electronic beats of the original tunes for the trumpet sound of the tutari and the beat of the traditional dhols, while dancing and wearing a lugada. Also present with the creator on stage were her alter egos Motu, Mummy and Papa.
4.Â Titu Talks with Karan Johar
YouTube sensation Bhuvan Bam, who starred in the short film Plus Minus which recently won the Filmfare Award (Popular Choice), opened his act with “Bas Mein” and in character as Titu Mama — a recurring character in Bam’s YouTube videos. The segment was like one of his signature sketches but live, and this time around, Bam wasn’t playing the rest of the characters. Bollywood director Karan Johar joined him on stage for Titu Talks where they discussed (and skirted around) the casting couch, nepotism and elitism. The cheeky and entertaining exchange, accentuated by Bam’s impeccable comedic timing, also featured a cameo by Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan who answered Johar’s phone call saying, “Namaste, Titu Mama. It’s me.”
5.Â Lilly Singh’s nostalgic rewind
Lilly Singh (YouTuber, Actress, Author, Comedian, the mother of unicorns and the first ever woman – of color – to host an NBC late night show A Little Late with Lilly Singh) was accompanied by friend, rapper and author Humble The Poet as she returned to the YTFF Mumbai stage, after three years, to celebrate life and gratitude with an empowering performance that included songs which spanned her nine year rise to world domination. Together, they paid homage to Singh’s incredible journey and Team Super India who have been “the realest fans I could ever ask for,” she said as they sang the “300 T-Shirt Rap,” “LEH,” “IVIVI,” “Drop Splash Banana,” the remix “Choli” and more. Addressing mental health, gender, sexuality and hustle in the lyrics. Scarbro too made a special appearance on the stage screen. Singh noted during her performance, “When I came here three years ago, there were not that many creators. And I am so happy to see all the wonderful creators coming out of India today. It makes me so happy to see you all winning, us winning — we are in this together.” Actors Amanda Cerny and Varun Dhawan too featured in the performance.
Melvin Louis and team joined by Sana Khan, Team Naach and Amanda Cerny delivered breathtaking dance performances while Ashish Chanchlani was a fan favorite as he bellowed, “Likum, commentum, shareum, subscribum. Swahaa!”. SANAM and Ritu Agarwal took to the stage with powerful vocals and instrumentals. Technical Guruji had a couple of interesting unboxings while Amit Bhadana, MO VLOGS, Angry Prash, Be YouNick, Mumbiker Nikhil, Girliyapa and The Screen Patti did what they’re best at and regaled the live audience and viewers at home.
To be fair, there were a lot more highs than lows at YTFF. Here’s what you were better off missing anyway:
1. Witnessing Big Daddy B’s failed rap career
Jordindian can keep a house entertained, except when they rap. While their comedic timing and seamless humor make their YouTube channel a definite hit, the required skill did not translate to their music as they hosted the YTFF. Who doesn’t love “Smoke Shisha, Play Fifa?” but Big Daddy B’s hilarious flow and the snippet of their new song about elephants, well those acts were average, musically speaking — with the exception of their opening rap which was on fire. They were most definitely not terrible but given that Naezy did perform at YTFF, the comparison is unjust and inevitable.
2.Â Backstage with Rimorav Vlogs
When Rishi Dev, Mohena Kumari and Gaurav Wadhwa of Rimorav Vlogs appear on screen, you know that the next few minutes are going to be a whole lot of fun. However, this wasn’t the case at YTFF. The backstage interludes were not funny or engaging. The employed comedic tropes such as the foreign beauty and demeaning another (in this case, the humble steward) lost all legitimate guffaws as they ignore the person’s achievements and their dignity of labor. The backstage loops could have been a lot more interesting had Rimorav used the natural wit and banter that make watching their vlogs a joyful experience.
3. All the selfies
Nobody hates a good selfie. It’s quick, you’re in control of the shot and it feels a lot more personalized. But how many is too many selfies? Well, fans at the YouTube FanFest found that out. Jordindian took a selfie (or two), Naezy took a selfie, Angry Prash took a selfie, Bhuvan Bam and Karan Johar took a selfie, and of course, there was the finale selfie. You get it — there were a lot of selfies; which felt like overkill given that there were both drones and video cameras filming the stage. These short breaks do help the backstage crew and creators set up the next act and ready themselves — which makes for one fantastic show. So hey, to each their own memory.
All in all, the YouTube FanFest Mumbai 2019 was a concert worthy of an encore albeit with a few minor retakes and edits. The significance of the event was evident in the booming roar, energy and adulation of the fans, and the sheer joy and sweat on the creators’ faces. The concert was one of those lucky moments in time when a virtual connection translates magically into a real one and for around 10,000 people over this past weekend, it did. To close, I invoke Lilly Singh’s own words, “One love (Superwoman). That is a wrap and zoop!”