Quest Music Festival - Vietnam’s Woodstock

Quest Music Festival, a sensory overload. Photo by Theo Lowenstein

Quest Music Festival at the end of 2016 was the destination for Inseasia’s Jake Hornberger who experienced all on offer then wrote this excellent piece about his weekend there.  The festival is fast becoming a major event. It has been mentioned in several international publications, including England’s The Guardian, and is beginning to get more international recognition; deservedly so. 

Quest Music Festival arrived in Vietnam. A proper music festival in Vietnam you say? YES. When you hear a word like ‘Quest’ you think of a special kind of exploration. For some, this implies an inward journey of sorts, while for others it can represent a physical destination of an incorporeal nature. I was curious to find out if this festival experience would evoke similar characteristics, or perhaps something completely different. Either way, before my departure there was only one thing I could think of; this was going to be a damn good time.

I had been trying to picture what a festival in Vietnam would be like. Would it be anything like they are back home? Will this be organized or will it be a dysfunctional disaster? What if they run out of water or ice? Or even worse, beer. God forbid. And let’s not forget about music festival bathrooms; but in Vietnam? Fuck this could get messy. Literally. However, my doubts were quickly put to rest upon arrival to the grounds. We were greeted with free beers at the gate around 9:00 am. These are good signs of what is to come. The bar was filling up. Drinks were going down. Eager-minded people were already flailing around the dance floor like Gumby or one of those blowout sale-arm-flappy-thingies.
Quest Music Festival - Perfect Location

Location, location location. This can make or break a festival. Nature reigns supreme. We shudder at its elegance and lose ourselves in its majesty. We are humbled and diminished when in its midst, and there was plenty to take in, to soothe the mind. Forest, mountains, lake, sunsets, sunrises- peaking around and over and between, mixing colors to create a shifting, time-lapse postcard. This location was better than any other music festival I have laid eyes on. It was opulent and chirping with life. This was going to be something special. You could feel it. The notion was permeating. This was the first of its kind, and we all knew it. We were ready and primed. We were going to bask in the novelty and take the weekend by storm.

Amazing night view of the Main Stage. Photo by Theo Lowenstein

Considering this was a new venture at the time and still quite unknown by most expats in Vietnam, (especially those not located in Hanoi), the attendance was maybe less than the organizers expected. The prices were cheap; the full weekend pass was 400k, while beers and cocktails ranged from 30-80k. In regards to the food, there were plenty of options for both foreign and local plates alike, with many local restaurants around Hanoi taking advantage of the opportunity to host and market their food to this young, international demographic. We were fed well and for a fair price.

Quest Music Festival - Art

There was no shortage of art here, and it was clear this was a high priority, one equal to the music as it rightfully should be. The musical acts were locals and expats alike. Hip hop groups, nu-disco, deep house and techno all added their own flavor to the musical pot. There were graffiti artists, poi fire dancers, musicians, painters, sculptors, and all sorts of collective projects open for public collaboration. Saran Wrap had been weaved around several trees to make a giant ‘canvas’ for all willing participants to pick up a brush and leave their mark. It was collective improvisation, and it was refreshing to be a part of such a unique body of like-minded people. Expats felt at home and reminiscent of our youth. Locals were brimming with wonder at something completely new happening in their country. Artists felt galvanized and rejuvenated.
By the end of the weekend, I was dazed and inspirited. We had all been embraced. This was done the right way, at the right time, with the right people, and in just the right place. I thought of the community and all the happy guests. I thought of how much joy and laughter I saw that weekend. Those are simple words, but the most accurate. It was an irreplaceable feeling- goose bump worthy at that time, and still to this day.

A Turning Point for Vietnam’s Music Scene

We all knew that we were experiencing a pivotal turning point for Vietnam’s music scene. There was a birth. The gates had been ripped from their hinges. The baby was alive and well, and begging for more. Given enough time, it’s clear that the international music industry will detonate in Vietnam and with a resonance of its own. There will be shrapnel of glitter and dried paint everywhere, while the devil takes over dance floors across the country.
September 2016 marked the 5th successful festival for Quest Music Festival and its organizers. Since its inception nearly 4 years ago, each one has evolved, and given its festival-goers a continually enhanced personal experience. Let’s face it, this geyser has sprung out of the earth and it’s boiling hot. Whether a traveler, expat or local, this event is an international rarity. It has the capability to be transformative. It breeds creativity and a positive environment for all. It’s a masterpiece; another addition to Vietnam’s ever changing, dynamic social landscape. It’s exemplary of the multi-faceted trickle of culture seeping its way into the minds of the young, intelligent youth of this enchanting country. Whether you think that is a good thing or not, I can only say that this event is radiant; it’s soul food. It’s good for your health. Surely, there is no harm in that. Get ready for the next one in 2017, as Quest Music Festival is coming back, and in a mad frenzy! For more information check out the Quest Music Festival

Whether you think that is a good thing or not, I can only say that this event is radiant; it’s soul food. It’s good for your health. Surely, there is no harm in that. Get ready for the next one in 2017, as Quest Music Festival is coming back, and in a mad frenzy! For more information check out the Quest Music Festival website.

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Inseasia is proud to welcome Jake to the team. First published at age 17, Jake Hornberger has been meticulously crafting his writing through an extensive range of professional projects. He has written advertorials for real estate, healthcare, shopping, food and fashion. He has managed online content for multiple websites, been a journalist for a monthly gazette, written food reviews and blogs, interviews and monthly news recaps. He has also had extensive research-based tasks, served as a copywriter for clients across Vietnam, the United States and South America. Currently, he is writing freelance and continues to produce effective, SEO-friendly material in a wide range of industries. From creative to informative, his writing can take shape for any kind of content.
  • Phan Thị Phấn

    I must be there this year, thanks mate so much!