Sunburn festival wrapped up their 10th major edition on the 31st of December in Pune. The 4 day event has been touted as one of the biggest festivals in the continent and it’s definitely developed a cult following over the years. 10 years is a long time to establish a brand and apart from a few bumps in the road, Sunburn has been a force to reckon with in the music industry. It’s difficult to manage such a large scale festival, especially since they set up a new base (Pune instead of Goa) in just a few short months. There were some organisational glitches this year, due to which festival attendees, fans, artists, and management alike, had some issues and complaints. What started as one of the most beautiful and grand festivals in the country has come down a few notches in terms of experience delivery this year.
Starting with the announcement of their dates and putting up their pre sale tickets which a lot of people purchased immediately. Everyone presumed, that as per usual their event will be held in Goa and a lot of people even booked their flights and accommodation centred around Sunburn and Goa, being a yearly ritual for many. After 9 years, you can’t blame an audience for imagining that Sunburn Goa, will in fact be held in Goa. We understand that the situation was not in control of the organisers and they had no choice but to shift base but not releasing pre-sale tickets till they were sure of the venue or arranging a way to refund would have been a better way to go. Many, many people who had purchased tickets showed a lot of angst as they then had to cancel either Sunburn or Goa plans then.
Another controversy ensued when Sunburn released their star studded lineup. We, along with everyone else, got pretty excited to see such major and super talented international and homegrown artists. The issue was however, that a lot of the artists weren’t actually confirmed and it put the whole lineup in suspicion about validity. The lineup was repeatedly changed and updated on their social media, but sadly still didn’t entirely match with what happened during the festival. As a music enthusiast, it can be quite disappointing if you go to a festival for specific artists that don’t end up performing, or you end up missing their sets as they were rearranged without notice.
In Pune, most attendees chose to book accommodation around the festival location, which was touted as one of the most beautiful venues in the country. People faced a massive traffic and transport issue whether they put up 2 hours or 20 minutes away from the venue. The box office was a hot mess as well. Attendees had to stand in long lines to actually get to the counter to pick up a band that they had already purchased. VIP bands ran out, so even people who had already purchased VIP passes were at a loss if they hadn’t been the first few to collect. Artists, managers, and media alike had a tough time getting their bands as well, so regular attendees weren’t the only ones that faced an issue. The box office was in no way the last hurdle. If you successfully managed to get your pass, there was the traffic jammed ride, or a taxing trek uphill. People ditched their cabs and starting trekking up in hopes of salvaging some time and actually attending a bit of the festival.
There was barely any time wise lineup announced for the performances. Most stages apart from the mail stage barely managed to pull a crowd and the schedule was seemingly being decided on the spot based on which stage was empty and which artist was available. It wasn’t something as simple as a half an hour delay or pre-ponement, some artists played twice, and some didn’t play at all.
The F&B stalls and on site help was another issue. People purchased many coupons the first day without being informed that there isn’t any alcohol for sale on the grounds as they didn’t have a liquor licence on day one. Trekking back down to your cars or to a find a cab was no easy task either. Networks were expectedly low and cabs were hard to come by. Infrastructure was weak in areas as parts of VIP sections actually broke.
Needless to state, there were a lot of things going wrong, and not all of them were in control of the organisers. Some attendees did also give great reviews if they were lucky to enough to make it on time and had a good experience. Negative aspects aside, it seemed like they tried hard. We saw some fantastic sets by international and homegrown artists alike. The stage was a never-before-seen size monstrosity in the country with more LED and tech than you can imagine. The set up, the visuals and decorations, a lot was on point as well. Their lineup, though a bit faulty this year, is still one of the grandest that we’ve ever experienced in India. We’ve loved Sunburn and their many events around the country for many years now and we really hope that they rally from this and get back to being one of the ultimate festivals again. They have a lot of great events already planned for 2017 and hopefully, Sunburn10 will just be a learning experience to make the next one bigger and better!