The 264 Cru

a Dubai based music, arts, and culture collective

Magnetic Fields 2015 | Festival Review

In December 2015, The 264 Cru were invited to play at Magnetic Fields Festival in India and we were thrilled to be the opening act on Day 1 at the Heineken Desert Disco stage. The festival promised to be 3 days of music, art, food and magical connections in a 17th century palace in Shekhawati, Rajasthan.

We had a sick 3 days there, and needless to say this was an adventure and a shit load of fun! With some of us having attended the previous Magnetic Fields editions and some of us being newbies, we hope to give you different perspectives to make it easier for you to make a decision about Magnetic Fields 2016. Keep reading for some of our top tips, favourite moments and overall experience.

Transport/time from airport

We flew into Delhi so our transport perspective in this article will be from there. But for details around getting to the festival that is covered in depth HERE. From our experience, the drive will take a little longer than you might think, so allow plenty of time to get to the festival from the airport or major city you leave from. Indian roads are a little crazy, so definitely don’t base your timing on assumptions. The distance might not be that far on google maps, but Google can’t see all the cars, tuk tuk’s, trucks, taxi’s, wandering cows and random transport devices (think horse and cart) that are sharing the roads.

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TIP: Grab a sim card from one of the local telco providers Vodafone or Airtel and load up on a bunch of data. 3G is pretty good even out at the festival. You know you want to be connected. It’s super cheap and pretty straightforward to get setup, you can do this right in the arrivals lounge at the Airport. Don’t leave the arrivals lounge till you are totally sorted (including a bathroom stop before you hit the road) as you will not be able to go back inside the airport, no exceptions.

LOCATION & ACCOMMODATION

The first thing that hits you when you arrive at the Alsisar Mahal (the 17th Century Palace) is that the festival site is right in the heart of the local village, like we mean it’s right in the middle! Unlike most festivals you may have been to that are out in the middle of nowhere, on a beach or in a field, far from the public, at Magnetic Fields you are smack bang in the middle of a small village and its people. This makes for a special and unique experience as you get to interact with the locals, eat great food and get a taste for small town India. We can only imagine what they think of 2,000 party people descending on their usually quiet village and partying at all hours for 3 days!

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The festival accommodation is broken into 2 main zones. The main area is the Mahal itself where the stages are set up and also some of the accommodation (for the ballers). If your budget permits, getting a room in the Mahal is definitely a good move and makes for a comfy stay, but you are closer to the big stages (think morning/afternoon sound checks - they can make for quite a rude awakening). 

For the more budget festival goer, the other accommodation options are in the Bedouin tent village which has the pre set up ‘luxury’ tents, with electricity, running water and even a bathroom attached! Other than that, there is also an area where you can bring your own tent and make your own space. Prices vary for each accommodation option, see HERE for more details.

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Food and beverages

The tent village was separated from the main festival site by a small street/alley that lead through the back part of the village. This area was a public space so a lot was going on there. The festival had worked with locals to have them set up small stalls selling everything from epic egg omelettes, curries, water bottles, chai and cigarettes. So this was a super cheap way to get some decent supplies and food and also directly benefit the local people. Aside from this, the festival had a good offering of food and beverages within the palace; wood fire pizza, waffles, tasty curries, wraps, roti etc. They even had an authentic ‘chai wala’ near the entrance of the palace and fresh coconut water and ice cream vendors at the desert stage! All these were all priced reasonably well (especially for non-Indian incomes) and were a good option for those hungover 4pm lunches.

As far as alcoholic beverages go, the prices in the festival were definitely higher than if you bought booze outside. So perhaps bring a few of your own supplies and “top up” back at your tent or room, but don’t tell anyone we told you that ;) Also as far as other party favors go, we advise extreme discretion in public spaces with any of your synthetic or herbal remedies, as there was a strong presence of local law enforcement.

TIP: All items within the festival site (apart from merchandise/clothing) had to be bought via ‘festival money’. This is non-refundable, so we suggest you buy them on a day-to-day basis to avoid being stuck with unnecessary monopoly money at the end of the festival!

TIP: Go exploring around the village and meet the locals. Aside from the street full of treats, some of the local houses had opened themselves up to buy goods and food! We stopped into a small family place and had the most amazing lunch right in their shared space (for super cheap) - tasty homemade Rajasthani food right from mum’s kitchen, YUM!
TIP: make sure to bring a good supply of rupees in smaller denominations, don’t be trying to drop 1000 rupee notes on the locals, they won’t have change and will give you the death stare!

Festival Experience

The festival was broken into 3 main performance areas: The Heineken Desert Disco stage (located in the Bedouin Village), The South Stage and the Red Bull Music Academy North Stage, both of which were located in the palace.

The programming was simple, yet effective: 2-6pm acts would be at the Desert Disco stage for people to enjoy the sunshine tunes in the desert, followed by the bands and majority of the live acts on the largest South Stage, followed by the more dance oriented acts at the RBMA North Stage.

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One really cool aspect of the programming was that they only ran one stage at a time. For some, this might seem weird and not offer more options if you are not feeling the current act, but we thought this was a great way to program the festival for several reasons; firstly, it meant that you didn’t feel like you were missing out on any acts. Secondly, it also meant that you avoided that schizophrenic running about the festival trying to see everything, and lastly, it guaranteed that each act had an audience to play to! This also kept the crowd together, giving you the opportunity to get to know each other, reinforcing the intimate feeling of the festival.  

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There must have been around 2,000 people max, which made for an intimate experience with some of the best people on earth. You had a sense that if you were there, you knew what was up! Smiles all around, good vibes, good people. This also made the event special, because at no point did you feel it was over packed or crazy busy, but you still had a big crowd getting into the music and keeping up the vibes HARD till wee hours of the morning.

TIP: Each night, there is a secret pop up after party at undisclosed locations in the palace. So once the last main stage finishes up around 3-4am, hold tight, cause shit is about to pop off somewhere else in the palace!
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As far as production goes, we were super impressed with the level and quality of production they had at all zones. From the DJ gear to the sound, lighting and visuals, you could have been at any festival in Europe or North America, which is pretty impressive based on the location and constraints of the site! Check the photos HERE to get a vibe for the set up. We were totally stoked on the epic scale of projection video mapping of the palace above the North Stage and the massive LED visuals screens at the South stage - the content, as well as the size, left us with that otherworldly feeling at the end of every set. Well done mixtape team! (http://www.mixtapelive.in)

Apart from being joyfully overwhelmed by sound and visuals, you had freedom to roam around the palace and explore its history and architecture, involve yourself in activities like the treasure hunt, yoga sessions and star gazing, or peruse the different vendor stalls that were set up in the ‘bazaar’ - from merchandise, to tattooing & henna, to organic immune boosting juices!

Favorite international acts

We thought the music programming this year was A-grade (big up MF team), and so in no particular order, we wanted to list our favorite international acts. Although all the bookings were great, these are the ones that left a lasting impression on us:

Hunee & Antal

The headliners on the first night at the RBMA stage, Hunee & Antal came packed with an arsenal of disco & house bangers. From the moment they came on to the time they dropped their last tune, you could just see people moving non-stop, with massive grins all around. A great mix of disco, latin, house edits and feel good music to close out the North Stage on first night of the festival in a spectacular fashion.

Shigeto

A favorite of many at The 264 Cru, Shigeto was a highlight of the festival and we’re pretty sure most festival goers would agree with us. Sitting on stage between his drumkit and live equipment, strategically nestled in the center of the massive LED visuals, Shigeto transported us to other realms with his meticulous jazz-like drumming flawlessly mixed in with his use of live electronics. It left us in awe of his astounding ability to create such a rich sonic and percussive landscape, right in front of us.

Mumdance

Mumdance stepped up, smashed the dance floor and left us all reeling - straight bass bin machine gunna style. This grime veteran, who is infamous for incorporating beatless grime atmospheres into his mixes and productions, served up a deadly dose of hard-hitting UK grime, dutty dance floor riddims and signature Mumdance edits and soundscapes to make the crowd move so hard, one would have thought it was the last dance of Zion.

Objekt

No one can construct a set like Objekt, and we witnessed that first hand. Seamlessly mixing everything from electro, to different forms of techno and even IDM, his set was like a journey through the galaxies of electronica. If that wasn’t enough, the visual projection mapping on the palace walls above were exceptionally psychedelic during his set - it felt like you were flying through space. Private space agencies, take note - this man should be in your control room providing the soundtrack for your private space voyages.

Garden City Movement

Upbeat, energetic and melodic, the Tel Aviv based Garden City Movement were one of the most exciting bands we witnessed at the festival. The 4 man live band played a repertoire of indie soaked electronica, with dreamy harmonies layered with driving yet subtle 2-step electronic beats. As they gain more and more recognition worldwide, this is a band to watch in 2016. We also enjoyed breaking bread with them and dominating them at table tennis in the artist lounge :p

Hope to see you guys soon -  respect!

Kutmah

Last but in no sense the least, the homie Justin aka KUTMAH is one you can trust to get people stomping even after they have raged non-stop for 2 straight days. Any other DJ may have had a hard time in playing the closing set of the festival, but KUTMAH’s selection of banging hip-hop and uptempo beat music sprinkled with other leftfield tunes from his digital crates, took us from groggy head nodding to full on rage mode within minutes. The perfect 90 minutes you could have asked for to catapult you into the rest of the night.

TIP: Bring warm clothes! Shit gets super cold at night, like 5°C! It’s nice and toasty warm during the day but temperature drops really quick once the sun goes down. Don’t get caught out cause this could really ruin your whole party. This also extends to sleeping, bring an extra blanket or sweaters if you can. Stay fresh, but at the same time, stay cozy!

Favorite Moments

DJ MoCity

Not sleeping, not spending time alone, being with my India family and my extended international family from Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur representing with The 264 Cru! Making new friends, having the freedom not to look at my work emails and ultimately just a few good days of pure ratchetness with amazing music!! Each and every after party had a special unique experience and feeling that it generated. The music was also diverse at every party, trap to footwork on the opening night by the Rudoh and _RHL, to Resident Advisor's Dungeon Party with Soul Clap’s Bamboozle and finally ending it with New Delhi’s audio visual collective BLOT with their amazing visual installations in the garden.

C.O.B

Stumbling out of my tent on Sunday afternoon, wrecked as balls, to be greeted by the sweet sounds of roots and dub thanks to India’s very own reggae kingpin, Delhi Sultanate. I personally cannot go more than a few days without my dose of roots reggae, so this is EXACTLY what I needed. A strictly 45s set of classics and deep cuts, Delhi Sultanate was the perfect antidote to my poison ridden body. Moreover, he was promoting his Bass Foundation Roots Sound System initiative, which was extremely inspiring and stays true to the ethos of Jamaican soundsystem culture; no sponsors, no venues, no corporate BS - all you need is a soundsystem and selectas, and the skankers and vibes will follow.

Shortly after his sundowner set, I went to contribute to the cause and returned with a DOPE Bass Foundation Roots hoodie - I sported that for the rest of the day/night.

Much love and respect. Jah!

Kev Fresh

Kev has been missing since the festival - we think he’s still in Alsisar looking for that post-party. Not sure he got the memo, but we know he had many memorable moments that are safely locked up deep in his subconscious.

Closing Statement

Overall, we want to thank Magnetic Fields for inviting us to come and play - we had a great time, the hospitality was on point and the festival offerings were right up our alley. With some of us having attended previous MF editions, we think the management has done a great job of managing the growth of the festival from 700 people to 2000 people in just 3 years, while keeping up the vibe and continuously adding to and improving the festival in all aspects.

Only thing we’d request the team to incorporate for next year is a third wave coffee vendor - we’re big on our coffee, so that would be icing on the cake!

Much love to the Magnetic Fields team and well done! Hope to see you again in 2016 with the Dubai massive.

Peace,

The 264 Cru

Written by: Kevin Mckernon (Kev Fresh), Rishabh Chadha (C.O.B) & Mohammed Abood (DJ MoCity)

Photography by: artfoto studiosNeville Sukhiav, & Kevin Mckernon