From hi-so Thais dabbling in cultural appropriation and sporting Native-American headdresses to foreign backpackers visiting the festival as part of their hippie travels through Southeast Asia, thousands hit Wonderfruit last week for a dose of music, arts, and nature.
Held in a large field in Pattaya’s Siam Country, Wonderfruit, which billed itself as “Asia’s first lifestyle festival,” returned for the second year on Thursday, increasing from three to four days this year. Most visitors camped out on site with activities and shows lined up all day and night
The Living Stage
While Wonderfruit did a good job in delivering something new to the festival scene in Asia last year, most who returned this year could not help but feel it was simply a repetition of last year’s concept. Some noted the festival site was expanded, but the layout was pretty much the same. Although the three music stages were decorated differently this year, they were given the same names — Living Stage, Soi Stage, and Solar Stage — but maybe it was the organizer’s intention to build the Wonderfruit brand and get visitors familiar with the site over the upcoming years.
Some of the highlights that drew a large gathering of festival goers included DJ Jon Hopkins, who collaborated with light artist Chris Levine, splashing the largest Living Stage with laser effects and giving visitors an engaging visual and aural experience. The Lucent Dossier Experience, a cirque style music and dance performance also brought extravaganza to the Living Stage.
Meanwhile, crowds were disappointed when famous American hip-hop artist Mos Def failed to show without making any announcement, with fans waiting by the stage in confusion for several minutes before the star was unceremoniously replaced with another act.
Win from the Sqweez Animal
The festival also offered visitors the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of Thai music, with Polycat and Win from the Sqweez Animal in the lineups. The authentic Morlum (traditional Isan music) was also brought back this year by Jim Thompson who hosted a live show at its own Morlum truck.
Inside the Morlum truck
The most improved area was the activities around the camp site. Most of the workshops ranging from DIY, drawing, weaving to Latin percussion were free this year, increasing more opportunities for people to meet and kill time during the day. Camp Wonder, the kids’ area, was no longer just a babysitting service as this year it gained in popularity due to Team Farang, the famous free-running crew based in Thailand, who taught kids how to leap through obstacles. The zone also had the new Kids’ Disco, which played mainstream music with family-friendly lyrics.
Anan Anwar fromTeam Farang
Overall, Wonderfruit is heading in the right direction in pioneering a lifestyle event in Asia, despite suffering a few glitches this year. Many complaints revolved around not knowing the schedules of the festival, which was constantly delayed or changing. The ridiculous high prices for festival food didn’t seem to be a problem for the 70 percent of visitors who were foreigners, who are probably used to paying three to four times more for food and drinks back home.
Hopefully there will be even more to see, do and explore next year as the festival follows its plan to become an annual event. Its eco-friendly efforts and creation of a playground around the beautiful nature of Thailand have definitely been a breath of fresh air in a country where strolling in shopping malls is a national pastime.
With awesome art installations, good food and decent music picks, Wonderfruit was a hit this year as many visitors said they looked forward to returning next time.
Photos: Achitpol Jaruthammakorn, Praewphan Tansanga