India has the world’s best eco-friendly music festival. This was the general consensus of festival-goers after last year’s stellar festival that left everyone starry eyes.
Echoes of Earth festival was back with a bang in 2017 with an almost delectable palate of the most multivarious artists you have encountered in one forest yet. With the same venue, Embassy riding school, Bangalore was strung with the oddest and quirkiest recycled decorations- handmade and towering, looming owls and larger than life insects.
Three stages- impressive as ever, solar powered and thrilling stretched over the fairy lit expanse, each entirely different. The opening acts were on the Channpatna stage, a gigantic toy heading over the Sthree Thaal Tharang- the talented band of ghatam musicians composed entirely of women. A start to remember, Boombay djembe folas elevated the entire scene with their unique foot tapping west African soundscape. The line up only got more intense as The Jass B’stards, a three piece psychedelic jazz punk band with the most funky dance sound took over the Dragonfly stage. Everyone swung their way through that session, straight into the spider stage, where Priyanjanaa set the tone against the dimming sun
The incredible “Big tree” stage held its own sway, with Ashwarya and Arpit keeping everyone struck under the otherworldly tree.
In the lap of nature, which is what the festival is all about, dogs and children traipsed as easily as the floating tunes passed time into the night- the Austrian composer Manu Delago keeping everyone listening hypnotised by his hang drum. Lilting notes and much giddy moving ensued as the Kutle khan project overtook the channpatna stage, a wholesome set that made it quite impossible to not dance, simultaneously as Sid Vashi held everyone in place, rooted and grooving with his popular electronic beats- quite the performance of the night.
Nightfall brought more lights and much fantasy as the crowds grew thicker and the spider stage had a private rave party going on with the much awaited electric twokid wicked just as Thaalavattam had the crowd hushing each other just to be able to hear their heavy Indian sound better.
Truly, what with the wide choice in the food stalls and the handicrafts there’s not a moment still. Moments blur at Echoes of Earth, and this year round the schedule was quite well adjusted, which meant it was easier to Not miss the mesmerising acts lined up in the rush from one stage to another.
The spider stage kept it consistent with its psy trance crowd, the beats and bodies moving to the likes of Praveen Achary and Arjun Vagale.
After a lull Emancipator took over the stunning Dragonfly stage, the duo enthralling even those who have never appreciated the Violin as much before.
The final acts-and the ones everyone was looking forward to most, were Youngr and Hilight Tribe- the finishing artists of this rather magical Saturday night.
Youngr hosted his own dance party yet again with his star presence and even better singing-drumming this year around. Sweaty and smiling, the crowd shifted to the last- and never disappointing act of the Hilight Tribe.
True to their name, they were indeed the highlight of the night, leaving everyone moving as though electrified, their inescapable energy seeping into every tired festival goer.
And that was it! The end of Day 1 of Echoes of Earth festival 2017.
Day 2 brought with it the sleepiness of Sunday, with far more families laying down their picnic blankets and enjoying a good eye-closed siesta to the frantically beautiful Rishabh Seen and Band Khoj. Hindustani classical taken to the next level on the Channapatna stage, the band was seen playing back and forth, much like a live jam, leaving everyone quite struck. As there’s no time to waste in Echoes, and breaths must mandatorily remain caught in rapture- as it seems, the two goddesses Mohini and Esani Dey brought fire with their skilful guitars.
Headbanging and worn, the crowd moved towards the Dragonfly stage for their dreamy dose of the talented and crooning Komorebi.
All this while, The Big Tree had its own spectators catching up on Mia, Thaalavattam and Boombay Djembe Folas f the previous day, making and reproducing tunes Indian and African all under the collective consciousness of the single star lit tree.
As hippie as it gets, the Echoes of Earth festival has its fair share of dazed dancers and ravers at the psy trance stage hidden in the foliage- aptly the Spider Stage after the fifteen foot high spider legs that served as a stage for the world famous DJ’s spinning their beats, and Day 2 saw some phenomenal national and international acts, from The Bandra Local to Dreamstates, BLOT! To Agents of Time, all bopping and sliding one into the other- truly the spider stage didn’t cease to break it for once second, time standing quite still in that pulsating corner.
Come evening, with two-day revellers tiring of their incessant dancing, Prateek Kuhad- our golden bilingual singer lad brought the audience to near-tears (some worse, we saw!) with his earnest singing and incredible guitar technique. A solo act tough to follow, the other stage saw Andrew Ashong- a man who collected records all his life, win the hearts of many with his covers of age-old favourites and his sunflower-spun singles.
Well as everyone enjoyed their food and drinks over the mellow state the evening seemed to have reached, FUNC from Mumbai brought with it the same energy, if not beaten, as the Fanculos- also a Mumbai based ska band, showing us just exactly how to jazz-hands, funk, and yes, swing! Deliciously foot-tapping and literally impossible to ignore, these bands had the festival goers napping in hammocks wake up desperate to shake a leg. Jostling and joyful, throngs seemed electric as they jumped and swung to the unique music from the stages that these bands offered- a troubadour vibe and much to celebrate.
The last act of the night on the Channpatna stage was Nathan Flutebox Lee, a legend that can only be understood once seen- making sounds from his mouth that are unbelievable. Such bass from one human? Astonishing!
As the bars closed at 10 pm and the dogs were seen finally settling down, the Gentleman’s Dub Club from London took centre stage for the last act- thankfully for everyone else, because they were quite impossible to follow! The entire crowd, once dwindling, collected to appreciate, feel and thoroughly enjoy as the dub club offered in their suits camaraderie, enthusiasm and infectious well, music.
As the lead singer and frontman of Gentleman’s Dub Club Jonathan Scratchley had to say between his smiling and beautiful performance, it’s incredible how this platform was raised- and how beautifully- by the event organisers to create a space for them to perform, and us to listen, sharing something that all of us from around the globe had in common, a likeness.
It’s the music, the sound healing and toy making workshops, the impressive array of food and – the music. Echoes of Earth Festival remains an experience that to say the least, is worth it.
With all of its eco-friendly, dog-friendly, pretty lights and just about the most fantastically diverse line up, Echoes of Earth will stir your senses, elevate your mood, change your playlists and sate every artistic taste bud you have. As far as festivals go, this is one that is sure to enthral. There is no better way to describe this event, and truly- kudos to the sponsors and organizers of Echoes of Earth festival, for anyone who attends will have this to say – it was surreal.
Who can wait for 2018?