FROM the outset it’s clear this music festival is going to be different.
Everyone’s first impression of W Bali Seminyak is of its famed corridor of cobblestone driveway limned by a tall, green archway of bamboo. It’s picturesque enough to warrant a long trudge in on a hot afternoon just to get that profile picture-worthy shot.
Mirroring that unique promise and going against the grain of most music festivals is W’s encroaching Wake Up Call Bali – an industry-defying, three-day live music affair hosted entirely on hotel property. It’s a massive feat they’ve already staged in W Hollywood and W Barcelona earlier this year.
The way it was meant to be
Anyone who’s been to massive gigs will begin to see the appeal of what W is selling and will continue to sell; by throwing down on luxe hotel soil, the brand’s excising the ‘ordeal’ half of attending any music festival, while gaining immense levels of control over the quality of the event and its satellite amenities.
You know what I’m talking about. Kiss the particle-flecked porta potties (sorry for the imagery, but it’s to invoke the pungent memory) and the ridiculous asshole-filled queues goodbye. In their place, air-conditioned cubicles, marble sink counters and lightly-scented hand towels. No more long commutes with the barely sober to off-site, crummy accomodation that you were strong-armed into paying a premium for. Instead, imagine being able to duck out to your cavernous room at any point (and with anyone) during the 12-plus-hour fest.
Most of the festival food is crafted by the same adroit kitchens that serve up one of the island’s most legendary breakfast spreads (here’s a Google search on that), instead of suspect vendors with the best bid. The drinks are shaken by bartenders who can actually work their swizzle sticks, and who have had years of license to perfect their craft with interesting ingredients and quality spirits.
Oh, there’s also a pool, smack bang in the middle of the party. It seems, by default, lined with knockout babes and chiselled hunks in swimwear. At your back, the cool ocean breeze brushes over a pearly bed of soft, luxuriant sand that you’re welcome to jive in. If you already happen to be here for an artiste or group you dig, this is certifiably heaven on earth.
Only class acts
In this particular edition, guests were treated to the transporting beats and trippy soundwaves from acts like Australian brother-sister indie duo Angus & Julia Stone, the annoyingly young and talented Dutch DJ Sam Feldt, budding acts like FKJ (French Kiwi Juice), and grunge pop queen Tove Lo (who delivered so soulfully we joked about substance influence).
Amped up covers and wicked originals charge the liberating air of the immense property on all event days; an infectiously jovial mood permeates the grounds.
Part of the excitement, too, are the meet-and-greets extended to lucky members of the Starwood Preferred Guests – it’s entirely possible to tinkle your tipples with your favourite artistes if they have a session lined up, or catch them at the ludicrously fun afterparties that almost stretch into dawn.
The pedigree and potential of the invited acts have an incredible ceiling – giants like Cee Lo Green, Bebe Rexha, Phantogram, Chromeo and Mike Posner performed on the Western stages before. As the brand extends the phenomenon with a fourth instalment in Dubai, there’s hopes that it cascades eastward towards establishments in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia.
W’s long-standing connection with the music industry will only continue to deliver for years to come – more so now the brand has launched its own record label, W Records. Who does that? Yet if you were familiar with the brand’s history with travelling musicians (and the very neat fact that they’ve built dedicated, industry-grade recording studios just for them), it’s going to come as little surprise.
All eyes are now on the group’s announcements for its next instalments after Dubai. If the runaway success is anything to go by, we could be in for a new age of savouring live music and the festival lifestyle, without the inherent niggles of mass-scale events.
Stay tuned to W Hotels’ blog on updates from the world of music they are creating, as well as the next editions of Wake Up Call.