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‘India’s music scene is popping’: Fans flock to debut Lollapalooza India festival

Imagine Dragons perform at Lollapalooza India 2023  (Lollapalooza India)
Imagine Dragons perform at Lollapalooza India 2023 (Lollapalooza India)

The Indian edition of Lollapalooza took place over the weekend, with Imagine Dragons and The Strokes headlining the event.

The two-day music festival consisted of a lineup of many local and international acts, including AP Dhillon, Cigarettes After Sex, Divine, the F16s, Jackson Wang, Imanbek, Greta Van Fleet, The Wombats, and Diplo.

Held at the iconic Mahalaxmi Racecourse Lawns in Mumbai, the event is being praised for raising the bar for live entertainment in India.

Asides from being the first-ever large-scale international music festival in the country, Lollapalooza offered a multi-genre lineup that seemed to provide “the right vibes” for every kind of fan.

“These vibes are immaculate,” Shreyas Doshi, an interior design graduate who travelled all the way from Hyderabad to watch The Strokes perform live, told The Independent. “There’s literally everything for all kinds of fans here. I hope they keep hosting this festival in the country.”

Another Goa-based fan, Paridhi Goel, added: “It’s wild out here. India’s music scene is popping. I’m so glad we’re at Lollapalooza. I really appreciate that such legendary international artists are making their way to our country and we’re finally not missing out.”

The event was produced and promoted by the entertainment and ticketing platform BookMyShow, along with global producers Perry Farrell and C3 Presents.

The organisers arranged for a range of facilities such as sign language interpreters, disability services & support organisations, plus on-site response teams providing assistance for psychological safety and inclusivity for the LGBT+ community. There was also a distress helpline, free unlimited drinking water supply, and buses dedicated to the festival connecting all of Mumbai.

Lollapalooza India also unveiled a campaign titled #LollaForChange, which aims for minimal waste, managing food wastage, and increased sustainable measures.

“All the festival attendees were more than thrilled to comply and cheer on as they participated actively in measures to reduce waste,” organisers told The Independent.

 (Fleck Media)
(Fleck Media)

Bollywood stars such as actor Hrithik Roshan, Sussanne Khan, Kajol, Rajkummar Rao, Patralekha, and Huma Qureshi were spotted attending the music festival on 28 and 29 January.

Fans were delighted when Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds accepted an Indian flag from a fan and waved it from the stage, as the band performed hits including “Thunder” and “Believer”.

“My children are delighted,” one parent attending the event with her family said. “The moment we found out Imagine Dragons were coming to India, my husband and I had to book a family trip to Mumbai.

“The best part is, we had no idea that our homegrown artists were so talented. Not only did we watch our kids’ favourite band perform live, but we also saw the F16s, Divine, AP Dhillon and the Yellow Diary. All of them absolutely nailed it.”

AP Dhillon performs at Lollapalooza India 2023 (Lollapalooza India)
AP Dhillon performs at Lollapalooza India 2023 (Lollapalooza India)

Local artists such as Kayan, T.ill Apes, Kumail, Mali, Madboy/Mink, Sandunes, Tracy De Sá and Bloodywood gave the audience a chance to explore genres such as funk, soul, raggae, and rhythm and blues.

Rapper Divine brought out everyone from his Gully Gang music label during his performance on day two of the event, and thanked his fans for “being so wonderful”.

Although there were no crossovers between international and local artists, every performance had its unique vibe and fanbase.

Prior to the festival, many social media users had expressed their doubts about the Lollapalooza India lineup, with criticism aimed at what some felt was a poor offering of rap and hip-hop.

“I’ll be honest, I was one of the Lolla line-up haters,” music fan Sahil Panchal said. “I’m a huge rap and hip hop fan and I was expecting this line up to be like Lolla Chicago– filled with US rappers.

“However, I’m so impressed and I’m so glad I decided to come. Divine especially killed it. He is straight-up the best rapper in our country. His performance made my trip from Chandigarh so worth it.”

Speaking of Divine’s performance, another fan said: “Today’s performance at Lollapalooza showed that AP Dhillon may own Bollywood, but Mumbai belongs to Divine.”

Many felt Hong Kong rapper Jackson Wang “stole the show” on day two of Lolla India by performing hits such as “Why Why Why” and “Blue”.

“I can die in peace after watching Jackson Wang perform live,” Delhi-based fan Sakshi told The Independent. “I will remember this day for a long time to come.”

“I’m telling you, it’s only looking up for the Indian music industry,” she added. “I think we have to give ourselves some credit too. We’re a great fan base and I’m glad international artists are finally recognising that.”

Lollapalooza will return to India in 2024.