Festival Review: Budweiser presents EDC India

This piece originally appeared on The Bangin Beats in 2016

While the buzz was clearly in the air ever since Budweiser presents EDC India announced its arrival in the subcontinent back in August, the anticipation was real as we held on to our seats to experience one of the most incredible dance music festivals in the world in a special way which Budweiser had in store for us!

With Budweiser’s unparalleled knack to deliver, our journey to the debut edition of Budweiser presents EDC India kicked off a day earlier on 11th November as we made our way to ground zero, i.e. the mighty Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida.

As we neared our destination, we could witness strobe lights coming out of the venue which further amped up our excitement to exponential levels. As a Hollywood Sign themed Budweiser Brew District installation greeted us, we couldn’t help but anticipate the action which awaited us! While the entire check-in process was seamlessly carried out, we were taken to our allotted tents which would double up as our residence for the next 2 days. Once settled in, we wandered the Brew District grounds which made us further admire Budweiser’s top-class hospitality which has often left the audience extremely satisfied with the wholesome experience.

As we headed to the Brew Club, we caught up with several other residents of the Brew District! After a scrumptious dinner, and a Bud in our hands, the pre-party night was hosted by Progressive Brothers who weaved a sick performance only to get us in the right state of mind for the EDC experience which was only a few hours away.

An early morning start on Day 1, we got ready for the mayhem after a fulfilling breakfast at the Brew Club! As a special brunch ‘Buds and Burgers’ which awaited us, curated by Chef Kelvin Cheung, we feasted in grand fashion before the Day One action began!

A 10-minute walk from the Budweiser Brew District, we made our way towards the festival grounds well before the show’s 3 pm kick-off. As we joined the headliners under the Electric Sky, one of the first attractions which caught our attention was an array of light installations that were yet to shine bright in glory. Once inside the venue, the first stage to begin our Budweiser presents EDC India's journey was the industrial-influenced circuitGROUNDS which placed itself aptly on the tarmac. As Insomniac’s dedicated property for trance maniacs, Dreamstate finally made its way to India with an exclusive experience lined up for fans at the circuitGROUNDS on Day 1.

With local act AU/D10/Gramme on the opening duties, we continued on our journey to explore the festival grounds! A salute to the millennial generation, a message to all the rebels out there, as they approached their stage of choice, we were greeted by a huge art installation titled #ThisBudsForYou, a massive hashtag typography reminiscent of the ‘Love Mumbai’ installment on Bandra Promenade.

Next up on our path fell the mysterious and other-worldly Budweiser’s neonGARDEN stage which was set to be a haven for underground music enthusiasts and ooze out some of the best house and techno music on offer. With Indian maestro Sequ3l on the opening duties, we hung out for a while before making our way to the festival mainstage, or as we called it the kineticFIELD. As Sartek had clearly set the ball rolling with an insane future house and electro house heavy set, young gun Zaeden took over the decks to take the energy level surrounding the mighty stage to further heights.

The energy steadily grew as time progressed towards sunset as we witnessed Sanya Sardeshir aka Sandunes weave a groovy and a magical performance at the neonGARDEN and picking up from where Wind Horse Records bossman Hamza left off. As the action on Day 1 continued to reach its peak, Lost Stories delivered a crowd-pleasing performance and consequently made way for Aussie heavyweight Tommy Trash to deliver an exceptional performance which got the crowd moving right from the start. As the mighty kineticFIELD slowly came to life as the Church-themed setup truly lit up with strobe lights and lasers firing towards the crowd on all cylinders, it was a sight for the Indian audience to behold!

As all roads led to circuitGROUNDS as the clock struck 6, Israel-based heavyweight Vini Vici took over the stage following equally worthy performances by native acts Starlab and Spinal Fusion. As Matan Kadosh from the illustrious duo represented their signature progressive take on psytrance, we were blown away by the production at the circuitGROUNDS which was finally unleashed in all its glory which had truly grabbed the spotlight as the insane amounts of lighting, sound, CO2 cannons, lasers and pyrotechnics on display could easily have outgunned some of today’s biggest festivals in India. And as much as it is tough to put the visual and sonic adventure which we were a part of in enough words, Dreamstate surely crafted trance history in the Indian sub-continent.

Moreover, with one brilliant surprise up their sleeves, Budweiser presents EDC India had introduced a moving stage on a bus, which was more popularly known as the Boombox Stage at the festival! A funky art car which boasted of sick lighting and DJ decks on the inside, the genius concept roamed about the festival grounds and hosted several performances by the likes of Killwish, Zaeden, Sickflip, DJ MoCity, Nucleya, Mojojojo! and more over the two-day weekend!

Rushing back to the kineticFIELD, Yellow Claw had already begun to wreak havoc! As we finally made our way to The Budweiser Brewhouse overlooking the Kinetic Fields stage — the mainstage flanked by the glittering feathered bodies of two gargantuan owls, a symbol of the nocturnal mania of the festival — the place delivered a stunning panoramic view of the magic.

The view from the prime real estate at the festival stretched from the Skydeck to the Neon Garden stage where domestic India’s denizens were blowing their tracks home. With a massive amount of pyrotechnics and CO2 streams unloaded during multiple climax points of their colossal set, the legendary Dutch trio made sure to rub their energy off the audience in presence at the Buddh International Circuit. As they ultimately blew the crowd out of the water with a bass-heavy set which saw them churn out some of the meanest bass music tunes on offer, the entire crowd was left high and dry as they craved for more.

Moreover, if there are three words to describe the Budweiser presents EDC India live experience, it would be attention to detail. Every Budweiser themed stage was kitted with troupes of costumed performers, and line-ups of pyrotechnics and strobe lights that took the night away. From the circus-Esque touch of a Ferris wheel to the trippy sound system, the technology that embellished all the headliners’ performances immersed us completely in the electric carnival vibe.

As Dutch titan R3hab took over the decks on the mainstage, a loud roar from the crowd provided him with a whole-hearted welcome before he blew the roof off the building with a high-energy set full of pumping electro house and thunderous big room records.

On the other end of the sprawled festival space, illustrious Indian techno duo Audio Units took the listeners at the neonGARDEN on a journey before fan favourite Praveen Achary took over the decks for one hell of a sonic ride. As the night continued to grow more beautiful under the Electric Sky, unicorn slayer and trance champion Markus Schulz sent the audience into a frenzy of nostalgia and dancefloor-goodness at the circuitGROUNDS with a remarkable performance which will be remembered for days to come.

As we neared the final hour of Day 1 of Budweiser presents EDC India, BLOT! had taken over the closing duties at the perfectly settled neonGARDEN for an explorative sonic journey which knew no bounds. Accompanied by a pack audience that danced the night away, we headed back to catch one of trance’s most celebrated artists, Ferry Corsten as he assisted the audience to conclude their debut Dreamstate Experience in a way which made us savour every last second of pure, unadulterated trance.

We ultimately headed back to the kineticFIELD to catch Alesso at last, the Swedish heavyweight had officially landed on ground zero making his highly awaited return to the Indian subcontinent and how! Dishing out some of his biggest classics, both new and old, he closed the door on Day 1 with a surreal performance as he bid goodbye to the crowd with his timeless remix of One Republic’s “If I Lose Myself”. And following the blueprint of the flagship property of Insomniac, the closing set was concluded by a stellar display of fireworks that captured the true essence of gathering under the Electric Sky for an experience like no other!

After a glorious Day 1 which gave the audience a fair idea of what to expect on the grand finale Day 2 of Budweiser presents EDC India, we headed back to the Budweiser Brew District. But hold up! The party wasn’t over just yet. DJ MoCity was heating up the decks to get the after-party started. As the sprawled space was filling up with several guests and artists including the likes of Nucleya, Lost Stories, and more, Sahej Bakshi hopped onto the decks for a rare b2b performance before Anish Sood took over for a rare techno and house-heavy set which kept the night rolling!

All said and done, we woke up to a fine Sunday morning which would pull down the curtain on the inaugural edition of Budweiser presents EDC India. After a special Sunday ‘Brews and Brunch’ organized by Budweiser where we feasted on some mother watering dishes, we rushed to the festival grounds as Day 2 kicked off in fine fashion with Shaan on the opening duties at the kineticFIELD! The massive carnival space which had already started to fill up rapidly, we rushed to the circuitGROUNDS which was ground zero for bass music as Insomniac’s Bassrush Experience had made its way to treat the Indian audience.

Featuring native Sickflip who churned out a brutal yet exceptional opening set, I had to rush down to the neonGARDEN to catch Qwiver who warmed up the small crowd for the havoc which was yet to be wrecked upon the audience as dusk would hit the skies. Sound Avatar and B.R.E.E.D respectively dished out two brutal performances as they complemented the incredible setup placed on the tarmac which was properly warmed up for the heavy-duty acts to follow.

As the kineticFIELD steadily packed up, the likes of Dualist Inquiry and Anish Sood weaved exciting performances as they gave everything they had got and received exponentially more from an enthusiastic crowd which was a sight to behold.

Once The Upbeats took over the decks at the circuitGROUNDS, there was no stopping them as the legendary drum n’ bass duo threw down one of the hardest sets I have ever witnessed in my life. While the lasers were a sight to behold on Day 1, the visual extravaganza shined yet again as it seriously outdid some festival visuals I’ve seen, providing the perfect accompaniment to the filthy music being played. A sensational experience which blended in trap, bass house, drum n’ bass and dubstep and everything in between satisfying nearly all spectrums of bass-heads in attendance, circuitGROUNDS shined once again to leave a well-deserved imprint in the heads of the Indian audience.

On the other hand, as the audience entered darker territories at the neonGARDEN courtesy of impressive performances by SHFT, Oozeundat, and Kohra, playing on his home ground of sorts, Nucleya made sure to make a seismic entry as he drew a massive crowd, which consequently showed as the attendance at the kineticFIELD increased drastically during the Bass Raja’s set. A powerful set complete with lasers, pyro, and exhaustive fireworks, the Indian dance music veteran showed who’s king once again!

The magic flowed even beyond the stage where Budweiser did not disappoint at what it was expert at — five bars spread across the grounds serving a concoction of cocktails or the good old American Lager that the brand is known across the world over for. Special mention to the Belgian Beer Garden tucked behind the Circuit Grounds which was a connoisseur’s paradise. Cheers to Budweiser for ushering in Electric Daisy Carnival’s debut in India, and here’s to more properties to come!

As the clock neared 8’o clock, dance music heavyweight Steve Aoki made a grandesque entry which surely set a precedent for the action yet to unfold. While the Indian fans finally got heavily “caked” by the Dim Mak bossman, it was truly quite a sight to see which has already been witnessed all throughout the world. Moreover, on the darker side of things, female Indian dance music pioneer Pearl made sure to let us know that we were in for the journey of a lifetime. While words may run short, the audience present would know the euphoria she brought about within us.

One of America’s latest bass music prodigies, Crizzly lit up the circuitGROUNDS as he doubled up his explosive performance with an MC in tow to maintain the hype within the crowd! As he succeeded in doing so, the area seemed to be packed by a crowd that became fond of the action on display. As our Budweiser presents EDC India journey neared its completion, the beautiful night called upon three incredible acts on the respective stages to close down the debut edition of the globally celebrated festival in their own signature fashion. As Twonk Nation leader and bass music veteran Brillz threw down a colossal performance at the circuitGROUNDS, he maintained stealth mode throughout his lengthy set to get the audience rowdy and incredibly hyped.

As we rushed to catch the Indian techno kingpin Arjun Vagale at neonGARDEN, we couldn’t help but praise his evergreen knack of crafting unbelievable performances that never fail to impress! A legend in his own right, we bid farewell before heading back to kineticFIELD for the final leg of Day 2. Led by Dutch house titan Afrojack, he threw down a party to end it off with a bang! Assisted by MC Ambush, the kineticFIELD looked brighter and livelier than ever as there was no shortage of visual stimuli provided to every single festival attendee! Coupled with some of his biggest hits, the final performance was one for the books as the debut edition of Budweiser presents EDC India ultimately came to a close with a surreal closing ceremony led by fireworks and infinite amounts of confetti which surrounded the air!

What I can vouch for is that a dance music utopia, indeed took birth at Buddh International Circuit which should hopefully grow to become a world of its own which only promotes positivity, growth, good vibes, and celebrates dance music culture in a way the true headliners can imagine! And while music at the carnival was certainly above top-notch, the EDC experience lived up to its name and fans certainly aren’t ought to be disappointed. Moreover, Budweiser presents EDC India also made sure to put their focus on every single detail in order to provide their headliners with an experience unparalleled to anything else.

Until next time, Budweiser presents EDC India has left us with more than a few fond memories to keep coming back to! And no wonder, we will be sorely waiting for 2017 in order to celebrate once again under the Electric Sky. Massive thanks to the Budweiser team for pulling off such a colossal event and giving us the chance to experience the festival the way it’s truly meant to be. See you next year, headliners!