Traditionally, we explain our methods of perception using our five senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing. The third installment of Wonderfruit Festival aimed to redefine our sensory experience and went above and beyond stimulating each one with what felt like magic. The festival succeeded in shocking us, engaging our inner child, and reimagining what a festival could be all while delivering its promise of sustainability, spectacular and immersive art and unforgettable musical acts.
Despite setbacks that resulted in a new schedule date, Thailand’s first and only sustainability-focused lifestyle and music festival pulled out all the stops and its thousands of attendees, colourfully adorned in sequins, feathers, and patterns, quickly let go of any sense of reality once they found themselves in their several hundred-acre creative playground. Once through the gates, both children and adults shared an open and carefree mindset, happy to lose themselves in their own moments.
Treats for the senses took place both night and day, giving Wonderfruit two personalities; It’s daytime persona made a transformation once the sun set, giving the festival a whole new lease of life. “Forbidden Fruit”, making a reappearance this year, and “Rocketfruit” provided opportunities for slumber and shade from the relentless heat during the day and reawakened as night fell, bathing dancers and the dance floor in the red, green and blue hues of the coloured lighting. The “Whale” installation came alive during nightfall, with hundreds of delicately woven bamboo fish lit up and covering the roof of the carcass-like structure. Attendees found peace and serenity in “Wonderlily Island”, a breathtakingly beautiful installation that perfectly gelled giant wind chimes structures among woven vines and foliage; adopting an extraterrestrial glow when night descended.
Yet it was the “Solar Stage” that stole the transformative show. Gregg Fleishman and his team put a phenomenal spin on his Otic structure from Burning Man, and left us in awe. This geometric feat took centre stage and was flocked to during sunrise and sunset, housing a DJ booth and morphing into a living structure of panelled pods as video projections made it appear as it was moving at night. Bodies were seen weaving through the enormous structure and scrambling up to claim the highest pod to watch the sea of Wonderfruiters dancing to the rhythmically hypnotising beats below.
There were some glorious highlights among the musical acts: widely varied in genre and boasted artists from around the world. All astounding in their own right, they were able to both boost the crowd’s energy or serenade with their dulcet tones. The Molam bus celebrated traditional Thai folk music and instruments across the whole weekend while Young Fathers, who brought their energy all the way from Scotland, kicked off the Living Stage’s main session on Friday with their explosive hip hop and pop. Norman Jay eased the crowd into Saturday’s sunset perfectly and Junun featuring Shye Ben Tzur & the Rajasthan Express kept the energy high, combining the sounds of Israel with India. Rudimental combined elements of drum & bass with live brass and vocals, keeping the crowd jumping to their superhits on Saturday, a contrast to Lianne La Havas who soothed the remaining Wonderfruiters on the Sunday night with just her vocals, her guitar and her charm. Her phenomenally distinctive voice is one often described as well beyond her years and gorgeously marries youthful lightness with power. This year, the Quarry brought the big hitters of techno to Thailand and saw crowds march and stomp to their beats.
Foodies were treated to some of the finest gourmet delicacies, all in the name of sustainability. Cocotte joined from Bangkok to treat Wonderfruiters to its mouthwatering rotisserie chicken. Marcel brought French cuisine to the field, Gaggan and Daniel Chavez joined forced to make an explosive feast and Mother Trucker sorted out hangovers with their delicious burgers. The huge array of choices certainly delighted a crowd of food-orientated attendees.
Wonderfruit Festival 2017 did a fantastic job living up to its promise of sustainability and its talks and workshops helped promote this, without feeling too preachy. Their Wonderkar project, a gigantic, decorative moving mobile made of reused waste, was spectacular and demonstrated how resourceful we can all be, should we all choose to live a sustainable life.
It’s difficult to see how Wonderfruit will be able to top their fantastic display in less than a year’s time. However, with the crowd it attracts, the energy it produces, the passion it promises and the creativity it constructs, it’s an exciting time to watch this wonderful festival grow and leave us living, loving and wondering.
All images courtesy Benjamin Suomela