By staying consistent in their messaging and curation that looks beyond overbooked, overplayed artists, the Bengaluru festival’s latest edition remained a hit
From free lessons in wildlife conservation to figuring out how to clap for some pretty complex time signatures, Echoes of Earth can claim to provide an experience like few other music festivals.
The two-day annual event held deep within the woods of Embassy Riding School in Bengaluru returned after a two-year break due to the pandemic and it’s safe to say it was back to business as usual. Beyond the trippy art installations (a caracal whose eyes and head moved, for one), Echoes of Earth also featured a formidable lineup that looked beyond the usual lot to keep its commitment to fresh music programming. Here’s what else we picked up through the course of the festival:
Trashing all plastic from attendees at the entrance is a show of commitment from the festival, with reusable steel cups and bottles on offer. The idea of a pet- and child-friendly festival is one thing to say on paper and wholly different to execute. Plenty of room on the festival grounds made this easier for the organizers, who also provided free water by the tank-full. An unavoidable comparison to Burning Man festival in the U.S. could be made, considering the dusty vibe, the visual mapping on trees, the creation of a “bioluminescent forest” and plenty of face-paint and glitter on attendees.
Walking the line
Echoes of Earth, over a few editions now, has slowly found its groove when it comes to appealing to sponsors but also champion ecological causes that – even if it’s chiefly about raising awareness – do not come across as preachy or superficial. They perhaps wouldn’t dare ask people to stop smoking, though – even though that outdoor habit can certainly be responsible for damaging human and environmental health.
Groove and soul are pretty much at the center of every artist requirement to play at Echoes of Earth, it would seem. From the diverse, genre-hopping sexy jams of The Lojal Experience (joined by the likes of rapper Tintin and singer-songwriter Huyana), Ranj x Clifr and The Many Roots Ensemble to the driving electronica of Mannequin Disorder and beat-tape experiments by Jimmy It, the festival was all about getting people moving.
Artists like Hanumankind, however, had different plans, curating new material for his set and ultimately having a heart-to-heart with his audience. From “Genghis” to dissing law enforcement and digging into groovier unreleased material like “Disco Tokyo,” Hanumankind arguably did it all and then came back the next day with neo hip-hop act T.ill APES for even more grooves and love.
The likes of Lojal, Hyderabad singer-songwriter Peekay and Bengaluru act Two Eyed Wizard had a chance to play to wholly different crowds at Echoes of Earth with two sets. It would’ve had mixed results given how the Big Tree stage wasn’t the easiest draw for people, but it remained a testing ground for artists like Sanoli Chowdhury, who was joined by New York/Bengaluru artist Anisha Vora aka Nimbu for a short but wavy set.
Belgium act Tukan were among our favorite artists on day one, performing at the Ibex stage and bringing a journeying electronic/post-rock intent but performing it as an EDM DJ would, except with a live band. They had dreamily constructed sojourns which jumped from cinematic jazz to math-rock.
Bankable artists like Dorian Concept, synth-heavy purveyors Atmoem, U.K. act The Turbans and Germany’s Klangphonics were ever the heavy-hitters with soaring sets that drew their crowds.
Day two saw Malian guitar wizard and singer Vieux Farka Toure and last-minute additions Monoswezi (comprising musicians from Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe) bring in a perfectly solid dose of African rhythms and stomping blues-rock goodness in the case of Toure.
The jam vibe of bands like Many Roots Ensemble, the delicateness of Easy Wanderlings and jazz-informed pop by Tara Lily also added to the diversity, which was a healthy response to the all-out electronic music being dished out at the festival’s most crowded and popular stage, the Scorpion stage, which had trees all around, almost making it a forest getaway. DJ-producers like Baalti and Dreamstates going B2B with Zokhuma remained a highlight, with Henry Saiz Band’s presentation of the Moonlight Wolves closing off the festival on a high.
Speaking of that level of intensity, it felt like Yussef Dayes Experience were almost given too early a festival slot, but technical difficulties led them to get on half an hour late and put on a fully memorable show that went from drum solos to jazz-soaked jams and a guest in sitarist Rishab Sharma. The perfect blend of soul and dexterity, no one could keep their eyes (or their phone cameras) off Dayes during his hour-long set.
It was followed by a slightly delayed but transformative live set by Sandunes, who was joined by Joshua Fernandez aka JBabe on vocal and guitar duties, bassist-producer Krishan Jhaveri, drummer Aditya Ashok aka OX7GEN and guest vocalist Ranjani Ramadoss aka Ranj. Seeing Sandunes hammer away at her pads with glee showed us that the Mumbai producer truly remains one of the most shape-shifting, creative artists of our times.
Last but not least – the problems
As it turns out, no festival is devoid of issues even if it has been consistently running at the same venue and around the same time of the year for quite some time now. The Big Tree stage was likely a changeover stage, but somehow, it went on just as the main stages – Amur Falcon and Ibex – started up, which meant that the sound would bleed into each other and cause cacophony. While some artists were stuck at entry gates, there were still issues raised by the police that led to minor disruptions. Nothing that can stall the show, but it goes to indicate that running a festival in India is as dynamic and challenging as it ever has been and we hope Echoes of Earth moves forward with more issues addressed for the thousands who are now faithfully following the festival.
Photos: Courtesy of Echoes of Earth