Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016 Review: Why Bali’s coolest music festival remains our pick of the summer

August 25, 2016 Thalia Yanuar

When the stellar line-up for Jakarta’s own We The Fest was announced earlier this year, Bali-siders waited anxiously for confirmation that the island version of this curated music festival would take place for its third year running. Then, two amazing announcements were made: 1) Sunny Side Up would also expand to two days, and 2) Mark Ronson and Disclosure would be headlining. Sharing poster space with the headliners were Ta-Ku, Breakbot, Blonde, George Maple, Sam Feldt, and Hermitude, officially cementing Sunny Side Up as the festival to head out to during the summer. Out-of-town vacationers and Jakartans (us included) looking for yet another excuse to make a weekend trip to Bali did not hesitate to book a flight out immediately.

Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Festival attendees were blessed with perfect skies over the next two days.

One of the main pulls of this beachside festival is Bali’s famous sunset backdrop, so we were a bit worried at first for the weekend’s festivities as it had been raining nonstop on the day before the festival. Fortunately, Potato Head Beach Club must’ve enlisted the help of an excellent pawang hujan, as the weather gods answered every festival-goers prayers and cleared the skies for both days.

Walking up Potato Head’s newly added boardwalk, veteran attendees would see some notable changes from last year, including the addition of PTT Family’s latest venture into hotels: the artisan-made Katamama boutique hotel. In front of the beach club’s iconic facade, a line-up of pop-up stalls served a feast of elevated BBQ dishes like wagyu burgers and tasty chorizo, so festival attendees could fuel up and grab a Heineken before the real partying began.

Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016

On Day 1, Ta-Ku (the number one act on our bucket list) did not disappoint with his sultry live set. The Australian beat smith brought on his lovely duet partner, Wafia, for the surprise guest appearance of the event. Hips swayed and grins were all abound when they performed their haunting rendition of “American Girl”. The set was short (too short even!) but Breakbot’s groovy, disco-inflected live set soon had the stage-front pool brimming with people splashing and dancing up close to the French duo.

The beauty of a music festival is discovering musical acts that turn out to be so much better live than you ever expected. This was definitely the case with Blonde, who turned out to be our surprise highlight of the weekend. When the British deep-house duo spun their hit “All Cried Out” it was obvious that the entire crowd was enthralled as everyone blissfully danced and sung along to the catchy break-up power anthem. On the flipside, this is also when one discovers some producers are better off staying in the studio as Mark Ronson, who makes great songs, and plays great songs, was somehow unable to connect with the crowd and play a coherent set.

Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016
Sunny Side Up Tropical Festival 2016

Our Sunday started with down-tempo R&B songstress George Maple, who eased us into the second and final day of the festival. Sam Feldt followed, opening with summer anthem “Show Me Love,” getting the party started with his crossover blend of deep-house and EDM. His melodically energetic dance beats were just what tired Day 2 attendees needed to get their second wind. The fourth Aussie act of the festival, Hermitude, was a fine opener for Disclosure, when it was Howard and Guy Lawrence’s time to perform, it was obvious who every single person at the festival came for.

Despite being the festival’s final act, the crowd’s energy tripled when the British brothers took to the stage. Playing a DJ set of their greatest hits so-far (although is there such a thing as a bad Disclosure song?) the electronic act kept happy fans shaking it non-stop for the last hour and a half. Right before “Latch,” Disclosure teased fans by saying it was their last song, but fortunately treated dancing bodies to more with “Omen” and Flume’s remix of “You and Me” before ending the night. Hopeful that the brothers would reappear to make yet another encore, most of the festival attendees lingered before sadly accepting defeat, and made their way home.

See you next year!

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