Stepping foot out of Tbilisi International Airport, its not long gone 5am and we are immediately greeted by an incoming surge of Jews trying to clamber their way in through the automatic doors. Unsuspecting of this overwhelming encore, you could already sense a feeling of excitement and passion running through the Georgian veins, a theme which remained pretty consistent throughout our four-day stay.
Even if you look back through the history of Georgia’s underground music scene, emotion and elation are things that come in abundance. Just look at the capital’s response to the barbaric raids of Bassiani and Cafe Gallery that were orchestrated by heavily armed Georgian special forces back in May… such disparaging actions sparked outrage and a protest rave outside parliament along with worldwide media attention.
A colourful adventure of beautiful scenery and cultured individuals, Georgia is offers much more than just a vibrant nightlife. The birthplace of wine, George is also home to many green valleys, breathtaking mountain scenery and charming architecture. Speaking with our designated tour guide, Amiran Chighoshvili, when exploring the legislative capital of the country, Kutaisi, he described Georgia as “a place of unrivalled hospitality where guests are counted as blessings.” Such an attitude was clearly reflected not only within our exemplary tour through the country, but also our assigned task for the weekend ahead, EchoWaves Festival.
Accompanied by uninterrupted views of the Greater Caucasus Mountains Range, this brand new beachside festival addition could be considered Georgia’s very saving grace in relation to electronic music. Situated over in the spectacular seaside resort of Anaklia, this distinct, rapturous experience was complimented further by the wonderful Black Sea which surrounded it.
Four days of electronic music ecstasy saw us start our festival activities over on the simply extraordinary Wave stage – a hair-raising, historic Roman amphitheatre. Such an occasion served up a techno-classical offering of the legendary Juan Atkins side by side with leading contemporary musician, Dzijan Emin, and the exquisite Alter Orchestra. Awe-inspired by their remarkable chemistry, the 40,000 strong in attendance were warmed up nicely for what was still to come.
Having dipped our toes in on the opening day, we dived straight in at the deep end on day two returning to the magical atmosphere supplied by that of the Wave stage. This time round though, those in attendance were given an ample taste of two of Berghain’s finest – Marcel Dettmann back-to-back with Ben Klock. Needing very little introduction, both German natives were raw and powerful throughout their two hour shindig on the main stage. Working in a number of heavy-hitting bangers, the duo remained timeless throughout. Our personal favourite came in the form of Dettmann’s newest experimental cut, ‘Test-File’.
Switching up our surroundings, we soon ventured into the striking bamboo Taiyo stage to indulge ourselves in the scene’s local talent with a taste of Endorphins. Individually comprised of George Kakhidze & George Lokhishvili, this melodic house duo were dreamy yet totally dance floor appropriate despite playing to a largely spacious floor. A strong testament to Georgia’s talented local underground community.
As we approached 6am, a large glowing sphere rose slowly into the dull morning sky and Blond:ish had just taken over the controls from Endorphins on the Taiyo stage. Sending positive vibrations out deep into the free spirits who danced before them, the Canadian pairing illustrated the cosmic bond that tied them both together through such ethereal inclusions as ‘Circus’.
Taking complete advantage of the daytime entertainment on offer on day three, we enjoyed a host of different outdoor activities including zip-lining, basketball, American football and yoga. We also took time out to appreciate the spectacular Black Sea coastline with spontaneous dips in and out throughout the day.
When it came to nighttime revelry though, all attentions were firmly focused upon one man – Solomun. Head of the highly respected Diynamic label, the Bosnian-German selector is an individual who rarely disappoints. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder high up in the rafters of the Roman amphitheatre, Solomun’s hugely anticipated arrival to the stage evoked a sea of phones from the crowd wanting to capture such a moment to satisfy their social media cravings.
Cool, calm and collected, the big man remained unfazed by all of the flashing lights which greeted the beginning of his set. His driving melodic inclusion of ‘Nebula’ by Alex Metric and Ten Ven brought proceedings right to a halt before resuming with an intoxicating riff. Armed with his trademark style of fluid, laidback grooving and a cunning smile to go with it, the 6 foot 3 former football fanatic induced onlookers into a state of trance as he worked in a host of house crowd-pleasers including his latest piece of studio work, ‘Dre’.
The final day of proceedings saw the Anaklia crowd welcome the iconic South African hip hop group, Die Antwoord. Fresh off the back of the release of their final studio album, the highly acclaimed duo sent the crowd into overdrive by unleashing their unique blend of Yolandi’s high-pitched rhymes and Ninja’s swagger.
Having experienced a controversial start to the summer, a country defined by a high-spirited culture and inimitable hospitality now has, EchoWaves, a festival with the potential to mirror these values through diversity, imagination and most importantly, through feeling.
Photo Credit By: EchoWaves Festival