Every year art enthusiasts and music lovers alike look forward to the Wanderland Music Festival. This premier event puts international and local indie talents in the spotlight. With its fifth show fast approaching, let’s take some time to look back at how Wanderland has become Manila’s coolest fest.  

Start it Strong!

It all started on May 18, 2013, at the Circuit in Makati. The 12-hour fest kicked off strongly with local band – Taken by Cars. Frontwoman Sarah Marco got the audience on their feet dancing along to their song “This is Our City”. Some of the highlights from the event were from New Zealand folk musician, Avalanche City, and from local alt rock band, Up Dharma Down. Avalanche City wowed the crowd by playing a staggering 12 songs using a wide array of musical instruments. Up Dharma Down pulled at everyone’s heartstrings with crowd fave “Tadhana”. Audience members grabbed their loved ones’ hands and swayed to the music. To cap off the first Wanderland, The Temper Trap, the Australian headliners, sang “Sweet Disposition”. However this was just the first year, so a few bumps were to be expected.

The More, the Merrier  

In their second year, 2014’s Wanderland promised to be bigger and better, and indeed it was! While the price of the tickets went up, so did the amount of stuff going on. Wanderers were treated to live art, an air-conditioned lounge, and even a carousel.

Another feature they added to 2014’s event was Wanderband. It’s a battle of the bands that took place earlier that year, with its winner receiving the honor of playing on the Wanderland stage. This year’s Wanderband winner was The Ransom Collective. After their exposure in Wanderland, they have been one of the most sought after artists in the Filipino band scene.

Headliners for this year’s fest, New York indie pop band – The Drums. They played a total of 6 songs, including two encore songs, “Down by the Water” and “The Future”. The band expressed a want to come back someday. The Manila crowd never fails to make an already great show even greater!

The Royal Concept, a Swedish pop-rock band, closed the show with a bang. They played hits from their debut album, Goldrushed. At the end of their last song of the set, “On Our Way”, David Larson, the band’s vocalist, took off his shirt to the sound of screaming fangirls.

With the mission to bring a bigger and better show comes a couple of difficulties with some aspects such as in sound technicians and setting up. Brian Sombrero, a local musician, complained that international acts had customized tags and IDs, while local bands’ IDs  just had “local band” on them. This is rather disappointing, since it implies that people care more about international talent, than our local artists which should not be the case. Nonetheless, the event was a success.

Not your regular summer camp

Wanderland 2015 was all about the summer camp vibe. Like any camp, the fest offered cute camp activities like wood painting and archery. There were also a plethora of food and knick-knack stalls. The Wanderband winner that got to play alongside the year’s lineup was The Strange Creatures. Their alternative pop sound got the crowd grooving. One of the highlights of the event was when local alternative rock group, Hale, reunited for the first time in years.

Headlining this year’s event was Kid Cudi, an actor and rapper. He offered words of inspiration in between his performances, which left the audience’s heart full with love and hope.

One noticeable difference between the 2014 and 2015 shows is their tech staff. They really knew what they were doing. The setups were done more quickly, and the sound could be heard more clearly. Props for taking down notes from previous years!

Out of this world, and into our hearts

The latest Wanderland was out of this world, literally! The fest’s theme for 2016 was space. At this point, it’s evident that Wanderland has cemented itself as the country’s most anticipated annual festival. The anticipation was intensified when they announced Bon Iver as their festival headliner. The internet went crazy, I tell you.

There were multiple booths, games, and art installations that invited event-goers to play around on the grounds. Oh, Flamingo!, a local indie and alternative rock, and winner of Wanderband 2016, kicked off the stellar event. Their song “June” had a nice smooth sound, and was a perfect fit for the Wanderland vibe. For the headliners — yes, there were more than one this time around! — Karpos Multimedia snagged alt-rock group Death Cab for Cutie, and the previously mentioned Bon Iver. As we’ve guessed, this sparked the biggest turnout for the festival yet.

Justin Vernon, Bon Iver’s singer, said “We are so very far from home, but feel so very much at home.”

Bon Iver Performance

Bon Iver performed an emotionally-charged “Skinny Love”. Wanderers went through an emotional roller coaster with just this one song. Their set, which many say was one of the best they’ve heard, ended with “Wolves”, which the audience sang along to with all their hearts. Death Cab for Cutie was the last musicians to perform, but they were very much worth the wait. They played some of their big hits like “I Will Follow You” and “You are a Tourist”, but they also played “President of What?”, which was part of their very first record from the 90’s. They ended the night with “Transatlanticism”, a beautiful and somber piece that’s perfect for slow-dancing to the stars.

While there were hardly any big sound tech issues this year, some audience members were acting poorly. It was reported that a couple of them were trying to squeeze and bribe their way to the front row. A new RFID system was introduced that year, but the organizers might have not figured out all the kinks of it yet. There was also a bit of a debacle with the drink stands. Those who wanted beer and those wanted water were forced into the same line. And in order to buy anything, event-goers had to load up their RFID bracelets. It was a grating experience for some Wanderers. Nonetheless, it’s commendable that Karpos tried to level up the technological aspects of the festival.

Better and Brighter

Karpos Multimedia has been through a lot with bringing a world-class music and arts festival to Manila. They started with a few bumps in the road, but have proved year after year that they learn from their missteps. While 2016 had more than its share of mistakes, it’s understandable since they’re striving to make Wanderland bigger and better.

Who knows what this year’s fest would bring? With an amazing lineup, led by The Temper Trap, who played at the very first Wanderland, and The Ting Tings, Wanderland 2017 is shaping up to be a real wild ride.
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