It probably shouldn't have even happened. In the weeks leading up to the festival, something unexpected happened — the world started falling apart. Amid spooks of a looming pandemic coming from all directions and the mass cancellations that ensued, Kolour In The Park not only survived but kept Bangkok dancing for what unfolded as the best year yet. That statement can be subjective, but it really was. Unfurling amid a blaze of chaos in the world around, and considering the run up the event was a "fingers crossed" kind of situation, Kolour was somehow spared any headlining cancellations and went in guns ablaze. So did 4,000 festivalgoers! There was no trace of calamity inside the Kolour bubble as music and vibes peaked at optimum levels, making for one rapturous last dance before lockdown.
From the get-go, Kolour In The Park found its groove. Since the brands inception in 2011, Kolour has cultivated a solid reputation for immaculate event programming by booking headsy line-ups with a taste for live and eclectic performances. They also keep the momentum strong throughout the year with satellite events. And because of its waterfront location at the Thai Wake Park, where water sports attract a day time crowd, it lends the festival an additional element of surprise in how well it works together. The Water Stage soundtracks daytime activities at Kolour and this year was pumping disco. A takeover by Bangkok’s Disco Diaries saw local loves like Panna, Rabbit Disco and Dark White inject some sparkle into the festival until just after sunset when legendary disco diamond Mousse T turned the dance floor into a peak moment of pleasure-pushing unadulterated exuberance.
Things got underway on the Shelter Stage mid-afternoon when Thailand’s shining star Bonita Everett roared the house and techno stage to life with her low-key tech-house grooves. Miss Foster took over followed by a thunderous performance by Black Coffee, who threw down a goosebump-inducing late afternoon set of tribal infused rhythms and vocal-laced beats for a performance that will evoke eidetic memories for a long time to come. After the sun went down, Russia’s man of the moment Eskuche brought his growling basslines to the stage, and it was thrilling to watch how the crowd responded. Kolour has always managed the bridge the gap between the mainstream and the underground, and attracts a crowd that comes less for the music but more for a good old-fashioned time, yet spend the day being techno’s number one fan whether they know it or not. Ask them next week, and not everyone there would tell you they are fans of house and techno (or even know what it is), but when Ukrainian duo Artbat took to the stage with their Afterlife-inspired emotive techno, a few thousand festivalgoers joined together for one raucous crescendo.
The Park Stage hosted trending DJs like GO GRRRLS co-founder Mae Happyair and electronic-pop queen Pyra, as well as live music acts like much-anticipated Australian electronic band Running Touch. Then it was onto Tontrakul who delivered a dose of delectable sounds straight from Isaan, Thailand but with a modern twist, followed by Sudanese-American rapper Oddisee with an easy-breezy hip hop showcase. Finally, ATMA took the reins for the last show of the night full of house stompers and party pleasers, closing the festival out with a rapturous ending.
With a few extra touches like a tantalising array of pop-up eateries, a silent disco and several workshops, the one-day event gives off a heavy festival vibe (but with an easier recovery due to its early curtain call). Kolour’s three towering stages, all powered by weighty sound systems, add to this impression. Most impressive was the Shelter Stage with its clean, central tower design, which instead of isolating the DJ, immersed festivalgoers into its interactive design by letting them dance on scaffolded balconies overlooking the DJ. The Park Stage, with all its screens and light mapping, managed to find the right fit between a stage the could showcase both live and DJ sets yet still felt like it was designed specifically for whoever was performing.
The diversity and unity amongst the Kolour crowd were in equal parts impressive and refreshing — kindness ran strong across the site. Since implementing a new core value of inclusion this year alongside several other pillars, the output of its 2020 iteration made it clear that Kolour isn’t just about the music anymore but more about widening its scope to deliver a well-rounded event — but still soundtracked by really good feel-good music for everyone. This year, their commitment to community, dedication to developing the brand and supreme organisation was top shelf, because against all the odds, its delivery was perfectly uncomplicated and if just for a moment, there was nothing wrong anywhere in the world — especially at Kolour In The Park.