India’s only ecologically crafted music festival is back for the third year, and for the first time in the city of Bangalore. Set in the 150-acre estate inside Embassy International Riding school, the festival featured over 40 International and Indian artists spread out over 4 stages.
The festival is known for its pro-environment values, with this year’s edition focusing on ocean and marine life conservation. This was reflected in the numerous art installations generously scattered through the beautiful venue. It is also important to mention that all of the art installations were made from recycled or up-cycled materials. This commitment to sustenance and preservation bled into every aspect of the festival – from the ban on plastic cups and containers, the eco-toilets and the flea market that sold some interesting curiosities like pencils with seeds in them and beautifully crafted cane sticks that people carried around. While all of this was inspiring and impressive, the most surprising thing was that there was absolutely zero litter anywhere around. This was the most important and visible measure of the festival’s success in their “leave no trace” policy.
DAY 1: Tennyson bring in the good vibes and Grouch in Dub energise the Soul
The festival was a 2-day audio-visual treat. As we made our way around the 4 uniquely designed stages, we began to feel a distinct vibe at each stage. A vibe that was meticulously tailored through the selection of music and aesthetic philosophy specific to each. We started off at the Mandala stage, with its selection of post-rock, jazz, and alternative R&B acts and psychedelic designs, it was a nice start to the festival. The band Fopchu, named after a specific Parsi slang, started us off with some synth-heavy jazz funk. The selection of modern synths and classic jazz guitar tones really set the mood for the evening. As the skies started to darken, Sid Sriram and band took the stage with his Carnatic infused R&B set offering a glimpse into his upcoming album, “Entropy”. Having had our fill of some chill music, we ventured to the Angler stage stopping by at the vodka panipuri stall for some rave fuel. The Angler stage was a stark contrast to our previous experience. Tucked away into a dark corner of the venue, the stage featured purely DJ oriented acts playing mostly underground music – Techno, Deephouse, Darkpsy, psytrance. It was a completely different experience with an almost rave type vibe. The energy was intense and the stage aesthetic was fitting. Featuring one of the creepiest looking marine creatures, the DJ was left playing inside an installation of an Anglerfish head. Dusky, an electronic duo from the UK was really holding the crowd hostage to the never-ending echo-soaked vocals and beats.
We headed back to the Mandala stage to cool off and discovered a lovely sibling duo from Canada called Tennyson. The brother did the sequencing, vocals, and keys while the sister was an absolute animal on the drums. Extremely tight grooves with candy-sunshine melodies and light-hearted chord structures made for extremely interesting, ultra modern and fresh music. We finally made it to the Lion-fish stage. The stage featuring some of the biggest acts and headliners was the largest and featured the huge installation of a lionfish beautifully accented by the light show projected onto it. Here, we made our largest discovery of the night – an act called Grouch in Dub. The act features Oscar (Grouch) accompanied by a variety of musicians each from different parts of the world. They had electronic foundations layered with flute, violin, trumpets, guitars, and vocals. Their music also featured some reggae-inspired rhythms with the vocalist doing an absolutely stellar job. Their energy and diversity was nothing short of spectacular and ended day 1 leaving extremely high expectations of the next day.
DAY 2: Foot tapping to When Chai Met Toast and Vibin’ out with ((( FKJ ))
We began day 2 with Aditi Ramesh and were treated to jazz-Carnatic sounds littered with some quality scat singing. We moved onto one of the more popular acts of the evening “When Chai met toast” who had the crowd responding spontaneously to the infectiously happy music. They played tracks from their recent EP “Believe” along with the other classics like “Firefly” and “Beautiful World” leaving a lasting smile and impression on the audience.
We Decided to stop by for a small bite at one of the food stalls in the impressively clean food court when our ears found their way to the music playing at the Lion Fish stage. Anomalie was yet another big discovery of the festival. “Anamolie”, a live electronic project and brainchild of Nicolas Dupuis, a classically trained and versatile keyboardist had the crowd hooked onto the spirit of modern funk music influenced by hip-hop and accessible electronic jazz. Producer and Dj Nolah treated the audience to emotional and progressive techno at the Angler Fish stage, an experience where hypnotic melodies, fat bass line, and heavy beats were primary. We took a break after this at the aptly named chill zones, with the relaxing hammocks and couches strewn about under some fantastic lighting. Adjacent to one of the chill zones was the Big tree stage which was literally a huge banyan tree, beautifully lit with lights accenting the roots of the tree. The stage itself was a very small, quiet and intimate stage and featured mainly acoustic and solo acts. The crowd had huddled closely to listen to the gentle music of probably the only hang drum artist in India – Aparamparagata.
What the Mandala stage had to offer next was something out of the ordinary. Brian Shimkovitz’s Awesome Tapes from Africa which started as a blog to shed light on obscure and wonderful sounds from across the continent, exposed the audience to the continent’s micro and macro-musics, including many styles and genres you might not have heard yet, through Brian’s vast cassette collection. The afro-rhythm influenced atmosphere had the audience exploring different the deep, regional sounds, the undiscovered music of the mother continent. We moved on to Dualist Inquiry killing it at the lionfish stage, with his signature DJ/guitarist style music offering the audience the right mix of Rock and Dubstep. Moving into the moment we’ve been all waiting for, a moment soaked with mellow and funky sounds with a combo of soul, jazz, funk, and smooth R’n’B. Paris-based, multi-instrumentalist, music producer FKJ, short for French Kiwi Juice performed songs from his 2017 self-titled debut album such as “Skyline,” “Lying Together,” “Vibin’ Out with ((( O )))” along with his collaborative study “Losing my Way” & “Tadow” which were absolute crowd favourites. One couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this 2-day festive treat. Echoes of the Earth was truly a festival like no other, an experience unforgettable, leaving us eagerly waiting for the next year’s edition.