If you hear the phrase ‘badass electro festival’ and Asia isn’t the first place that pops into your head, I’d forgive you. Really, I would. Up until a handful of years ago, live electro music was a hard thing to come by in this part of the world- and even if you did manage to score a sweet set somewhere, chances are it was in a divey underground bar rather than a full on festival set-up.
But things have been a’changin’ in the Asian music scene these past few years. Demand for live acts is higher than ever- along with people’s taste for dirty basslines- which has led the Asian festival scene to pick up at an unprecedented rate.
The summer festival season may be wrapping up in the western hemisphere, but over on the eastern side of the globe, summer means rain- and lots of it. Asia’s burgeoning festival season kicks off when the monsoon dies down around November and runs throughout the winter and spring (i.e. ‘dry season’).
So, with plenty of time still left to look into travel logistics, here’s 5 of the raddest electro music festivals in Asia that you should know about for the upcoming season:
Running since 2014, Wonderfruit’s self proclaimed mission to develop “creative solutions for sustainable living and bring together a global community to celebrate them” is a pretty good summation of what they’re all about- but in reality, that’s just the tip of a very big, very awesome iceberg.
The music and arts festival is held on the sprawling grounds of the Siam Country Club just outside of Pattaya, Thailand and features a hodgepodge of live music acts, art installations, sustainability talks, wellness and creative workshops, and ‘farm to feasts’ slow food banquets. With an eye for the long-view, Wonderfruit is keenly focused on sustainability and environmental conservation, which is a much-needed and very welcome breath of fresh air for festivals- not just in Asia- but around the globe.
Wonderfruit’s music curation ranges from techno and house to rock, indie, and hip-hop, with the past years’ most notable acts including Richie Hawtin, Jose Gonzalez, Little Dragon, Jon Hopkins, and Fat Freddy’s Drop.
Where: Pattaya, Thailand
Those familiar with the underground music scene in Vietnam will already know that the country’s most epic events have been curated by the likes of Cargo, Outcast, Loud Minority, and Observatory. With decades of combined experienced in the live music industry and damn good taste in funky tunes, this lot have teamed up to create Vietnam’s newest beachside festival, Coracle.
Coracle will be held on the sandy shores of Ho Tram in south central Vietnam and will feature 2 stages blasting out delicious DJ sets, live indie, folk, rock, reggae, and more. Already pegged for the line up is Quebec’s ethereal duo Blue Hawaii, Oddisee & The Good Company, The Vacations, Olivier St Louis, and Holmes.
Where: Bien Ho Campsite, Ho Tram, Vietnam
Easily the most established festival on this list, Malasimbo has been rocking socks and bringing new music to Asian audiences for 9 years now- and the festival organisers are showing no sign of slowing down. Now looking forward to their 10th it’s safe to say that Malasimbo has garnered something of a cult following.
Malasimbo is held in Puerto Galera, a drop-dead gorgeous beach area on the tropical island of Mindoro. This part of the Philippines is known for its insanely good diving and amazing kitesurfing spots, but in March of every year, it’s this magical celebration of music, culture, and art that steps into the spotlight.
The festival’s sounds cover tropical and tribal techno to funk, jazz, and reggae. The organisers have been commended by everyone from first time festival goers to big league journalists from the Guardian for their inspired curation of acts, and particularly for their ability to bring together so many incredibly talented- yet vastly unheard of- performers.
Tickets went on sale on September 1st, so if you’re keen to hit this one up, you better think about grabbing yours before they’re all gone.
Where: Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Bestival, the old Isle of Wight fave, debuted their Asian edition in September 2017 on the renowned funk-filled island adventure paradise of Bali. Launching with rip-roaring success, last year’s festival brought in big name acts to the tune of Alt-J, De La Soul, Rudimental, and Purity Ring.
The festival was held at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Culture Park in Badung, whose atmospheric grounds are filled with towering statues of Vishnu and his mythical bird sidekick, Garuda. With a backdrop like that and world-class performers to boot, it’s no surprise that Bestival’s Bali debut went down a treat.
So far, organiser Rob da Bank has been tight-lipped about what we can expect from the next edition, leaving us with little more than his instruction to “watch this space”. If one thing’s for sure, though, it’s that Bestival Bali has already settled comfortably into the line-up of best up-and-coming music festivals in Asia.
Where: GWK Cultural Park, Ungasan, Badung, Bali, Indonesia
Novelty doesn’t come in bigger, juicer scoops than going to a festival on the Great Wall of China, which is exactly what thousands of ravers did last year when they descended on Mutianyu for the party of a lifetime. It was tech legends Nina Kraviz and Dixon that headlined the event, with other well-known acts like Carl Craig and Chris Liebing in support.
The Great Wall Festival runs over two days, with camping options available in the forest area near the wall.
This style of festival is big news for China. The festival scene belongs to a sort of grey area in terms of its okay-ness with the Chinese government (public gatherings are almost always viewed with a suspicious eye in light of historical events like Tiananmen Square). Even so, The Great Wall Festival organisers have gone to serious lengths to get the support of the local authorities, as well as the culture and tourism departments. Good news for China’s festival-goers who, in no uncertain terms, have made it clear that they want to see The Great Wall Festival continued for many years to come.
Where: Great Wall of China
Feature image credit: WonderfruitLast updated on Oct 11, 2019