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Wonderfruit: If you’re only interested in big names, you’re not thinking big enough

Usually we focus on the DJs, this time we’re telling you not to

  • Olivia Wycech
  • 8 August 2017

By now, most music and festival fans in Asia, if not the world, have heard about Wonderfruit. The stunning and inimitable pictures and videos shared with the world from its first three iterations paint a picture of idyllic festival spirited by a hedonistic yet eco-friendly ethos. Ask anybody who has been and it will be up there in the top three festivals they have ever been to. But then there are those that haven’t been and every year since when the line-up is released, conversations kick up about how the line-up is weak and not worthy of the effort. Full disclosure: I was one of them.

Wonderfruit debuted 3 years ago with a line-up unlike anything Asia had ever seen before. It rolled out the red carpet for names like Fat Freddy’s Drop, Little Dragon, Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, Damian Lazarus, Soul Clap, Nick Monaco, José González, The Gaslamp Killer, Woodkid, De La Soul and more, making the festival feel like something straight out of the UK or North America. The problem was Wonderfruit is in Thailand and the spirit and soul of the line-up didn’t reflect this.

In its second year, Wonderfruit’s line-up was scaled down significantly. It saw Yasiin Bey (who cancelled at the last minute), Jon Hopkins x Chris Levine who presented the IY_Project, Rhye, Com Truise, HVOB and No Regular Play top billed. People were hardly smitten with the bill and even I had planned to sit it out but at the last minute had a change of heart. By the time I arrived the second day was in full swing and I had barely made it past the parking lot when regret overcame me. The entry lights dovetailing into a vibrant vista of The Fields instantly enamored me and I knew right then I had made a mistake not coming for the full festival.

Wonderfruit is readied, aimed and fired for bon vivants with a permissive taste in music as it offers a unique alternative to a world oversaturated with festivals. It provides festival goers with an immersive and exploratory experience in music, art, food, health, wellness, talks, workshops and adventures. And in the same way that Wonderfruit encourages you to explore all of its pillars, it asks you to put your faith and trust in them and explore all the unexplored sonic soundscapes that it has spent months carefully curating. In doing that, Wonderfruit will easily become your experience of the year, if you give it a chance.

Without dropping a single name from Wonderfruit’s third line-up, instead entertain a review of the top musical experiences from the event. Bonafide by Zieght was a small mid-field stage that came to life a few times a night and reflected the elements of fire and wind through a series of geometric light installations and blazing animations built around a Funktion One sound system. Wonderers danced amid the installation, the sound was house and techno and the vibe bar none. Built out of 2,137 modular parts, the Solar Stage was the focal point of Wonderfruit’s legendary sunrises and sunsets and embodied a Burning Man feeling in the way that costumed Wonderers who climbed the structure were able to chill, cuddle and dance on the stage’s many platforms.

The otherworldly Wonder Lily Island is best described as a place to make your own music on a hidden island gelled of giant walkthrough wind chimes woven into the area’s natural foliage. Elsewhere, a converted Molam Bus oozed with culture in its sound and design and Wonderers who climbed the ladder were treated to a bird’s eye view of The Fields and postcard perfect photos from above and below. A roving 5-meter tall crowdfunded Wonder Kar was like opulence on wheels and for a small donation Wonderers were carted around The Fields in a private and portable viewing area that took on the style and swagger of the stage they were parked at. The daytime dance parties at Rocketfruit were both serendipitous and spontaneous while the Rainforest Pavilion blended the sights and sounds of the Sumatran Rainforest.

Surely this shortlist of experiences sounds more attractive and enticing than a long list of names and takes less time to read than an overwritten artist bio too. That's because the organizers of Wonderfruit are better described as experience designers than festival promoters. They are more interested in providing Wonderers with a socially engaging and sustainable experience that is more complemented by a DJ or musician instead of being entirely focused on. They also encourage you to discover the line-up in the same blind way that you would explore a new country or culture. That’s exactly what happened to me and while ­I still don’t love festivals, I absolutely adore Wonderfruit.

See a gallery of experiences from Wonderfruit above.

Wonderfruit return to The Fields at Siam Country Club, just 150 kilometers or a two hours drive southeast of Bangkok, from 14th to 17th December. Tickets are on sale here for US$147 (THB5,000 or £115).

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