Echoes of the Earth: Bengaluru’s festival of junk

The city’s music and art party this weekend promises over 35 international and Indian acts, a lot of walking and lessons on sustainability

Updated - December 05, 2019 06:42 pm IST

Published - December 04, 2019 10:49 am IST

The Owl installation at a previous edition, made of gunny bags, jute ropes, areca-nut plates and junk metal

The Owl installation at a previous edition, made of gunny bags, jute ropes, areca-nut plates and junk metal

Roshan Netalkar’s activity tracker has been clocking up about 30 kms daily over the past week. This is because the venue of Bengaluru’s Echoes of Earth (EOE) music festival sprawls across 150 acres, and the festival director of what is now known as the country’s greenest music festival has been busy supervising the design of 14 eco-conscious installations. Instagram-ready and created from recycled materials, these larger than life works of art are key to a festival that is beloved not just to the city’s music-loving partygoers, but to children into nature journaling.

Roshan Netalkar

Roshan Netalkar

Creatures of the wild

Installations from previous editions have included nature’s recyclers like the dung beetle and a 30 ft praying mantis. This year, with the theme being Sanctuary, expect representation from endangered creatures of the forest, like the Hoolock Gibbon, the Mandrill, the One-Horned Rhino and the Jeypore Gecko. The organisers are keeping details under wraps for now, but let’s just say the Humpback Mahseer installation, at 30 ft and fashioned from scrap, will be an eye-opener to budding ecologists.

Number crunching
  • EOE saw 6,000 festival-goers over two days in 2018, and Natelkar is expecting double that number this year
  • Last year, Hasaru Dala collected 425 kgs of dry waste and 124 kgs of wet waste with Swachha eco-solutions to be processed and recycled. Thanks to growing awareness, it was much lesser than the previous year
  • The venue, Embassy International Riding School, is spread across 150 acres, with a green cover of mango, jackfruit, tamarind and other local varieties of trees

Besides the installations, the team has been working on solutions to make the fourth edition of the festival “almost 100 % biodegradable”. To support the ‘zero plastic’ positioning, there will be free drinking water stations and, Netalkar says, “last year’s junk will be this year’s art”. With 20-odd years in events, he recalls seeing stages fabricated one day and destroyed the next. Until festivals, both small and large, began growing conscious of their ecological footprint. “When we started, there was no handbook available for a sustainable concert. Water was the biggest challenge, followed by power and waste generated. Today, people are well into the green [campaign] and after 10 pm each day, when we close the show, there is nothing left to clean up,” says Netalkar, 42, who runs Swordfish Events and Entertainment and is working with a budget of ₹4 crore this year.

Solar-powered sound

You might reference iconic American eco-conscious music festivals Lighting in a Bottle or Lollapalooza, but EOE too is a laboratory of innovations; backed by volunteer-driven communities, they make a conscious attempt to take sustainability mainstream. This weekend, U-Solar will help power the stages and charging stations with renewable energy; Hasiru Dala, the city’s leading NGO for waste pickers, will lead waste segregation, recycling and composting efforts; and Sandesh Kadur, founder of Felis, the local wildlife-centric visual art company, will provide the information on endangered animals.

A stage depicting the tigerfish at the 2018 edition

A stage depicting the tigerfish at the 2018 edition

As a precursor to the event, panel discussions and film screenings were conducted last month. And lest you overlook the music (impossible) and think this weekend affair is just about sustainability and converting the newly eco-curious, do factor the flea market, bake sale, workshops in association with Nat Geo Wild, ‘animal art on denim’ activity, and for those who want to take it up a few notches, Johnnie Walker highballs (the year’s big drinks trend).

Now for the music

First up is Martin Gretschmann’s club-oriented alias, Acid Pauli, followed by Fakear, a leader of France’s electronic new wave. Day Two will see another headliner, British producer Tom Jenkinson or Squarepusher who defined his sound in the early 90s with analogue synths and vintage effects units. Squarepusher has just announced his new album after five years, Be Up a Hello, to launch on January 31. Perhaps audiences will get a teaser?

Go prepared
  • Festival-goers are encouraged to bring along children and the elderly. Prams and pooches are a common sight
  • Revellers who get wardrobe inspiration from their favourite endangered animal stand to win goodies
  • Go armed with walking shoes, a jacket and your own reusable water bottle

But if cerebral IDM or live electronic is not your sound, remember there are four stages, and a lineup of over 35 artistes. “We have Indie fusion, percussion, techno and our festival regular, Thaalavattam,” reminds Netalkar, referring to the homegrown percussion project by former Swarathma bandman, Montry Manuel. About eight years ago, Manuel began producing music from junked materials and he hasn’t looked back since. His ‘instruments’ vary from paint cans, PVC pipes and PET bottles to shock absorbers from motorcycles. The lineup at EOE also includes handpan and violin artistes, Daniel Waples and Flavio Lopez; Sri Lankan blues-rock band, The Soul; India’s youngest electronic music producer, Chrms; and Tel Aviv trio, Garden City Movement. Meanwhile, people in the know say the selection of Indian underground heavyweights alone, from Prabh Deep to Lifafa, is worth the 27 km trek from the city.

Dec 7 & 8, 2019, 1 pm to 10 pm. Tickets at ₹1,770 onwards. Details:

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