Last weekend I went to a major music festival for this first time in... forever? It was the first edition of Lollapalooza in Mumbai and it was awesome. I didn't know most of the bands because I haven't really been following music since my teenage years. More proof that I've gotten too serious! It was great to let loose for the weekend, dressing up in glitter skirts, and not thinking about real life for two days.
The concert was on a giant racetrack in the middle of the city. There were four stages and it was easy to roam around and run into friends and colleagues at different performances. Besides an empty water bottle we weren't allowed to bring anything in. I managed to cram bug spray and my phone into my fanny pack but I might as well have left my phone home, because there was zero cell service on the festival grounds. We paid for our drinks and food with our pre-loaded wristbands.
The food was great, as it tends to be in Mumbai—at what festival can you get freshly rolled sushi for a couple of dollars? We were less lucky with the drinks; the lines were so long that some people lost their temper and started yelling, which is a rarity in Mumbai despite the fact that 22 million people live on top of each other.
The overall vibe of the festival was relaxed and felt international. Wherever I go in India, the vast majority of people outside are men. In this case probably half of the people there were women—and very scantily dressed. Women in Mumbai don't necessarily dress modestly, because even traditional clothes are bright and feminine, and most outfits involve crop tops. But it's very uncommon to see women in shorts or mini dresses, let alone with deep cleavages and backless tops. It made for good people watching and I felt very comfortable.
Although the music started around 1 pm, we went in around 5 pm on both days. That way we still had 10 bands to choose from, which seemed plenty. But time flies when you're having fun (and when you have to stand in line for a beer for 20 minutes each time you're thirsty) so in the end I probably saw only a couple of full performances.
On Saturday, we arrived at the tail end of Japanese Breakfast, then strolled passed Chelsea Cutler and techno band Kasablanca. It got interesting around 6:30, when Punjabi-Canadian rapper AP Dhillon took the stage. The crowd went wild as he spewed his rap songs, which I thought sounded pretty good. But I lost interest when all he said between songs were things like "what the fuck is going on" and "I expect more energy from the crowd." I left early, missing out on the best part of the performance where he apparently took his shirt off and played the ukelele. Next, we stood front row at Imanbek, the young Kazakhstani DJ who broke all records with his "Roses" remix and, when I felt like my eardrums were about to burst, wandered past rock band Greta Van Fleet (who we later ran into at a hotel bar—see picture below).
The night ended with a spectacular concert by Imagine Dragons. This was the whole reason I came, to be honest. It was too crowded and it was hard to see the stage, but they gave it all they had and it was hands-down the highlight of the day—and the weekend.
Sunday's highlights included a concert by the Wombats, who everyone in my group seemed to know except me. I thought they were fine but didn't recognize any of the songs. I danced a lot more at the performance of Divine, a Mumbai-based rapper who really seemed to know what he was doing. After that I kinda zoned out at the concert of Jackson Wang, who seemed to be pretty good, but by that point I'd probably reached my max of listening to bands I only vaguely knew. Which is probably why I didn't love The Strokes, who were the last concert of the night but failed to impress—particularly because they didn't play my favorite song "Last Nite" before I left at around 9:30.