Can a music festival clean up a river? The organizers of the Echo Project, a new environmentally minded music festival, think it can. Held on five stages about 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, Echo Project is the largest festival in the area since the demise of the popular Music Midtown festival in 2005. With acts including GZA, The Roots, Common, Bassnectar, Rabbit in the Moon and a slew of jam bands, the festival (which included day parking or camping) was located on a 1200 acre farm along the banks of the beautiful, yet polluted Chattahoochee River.
Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA and Slick Rick (who performed with live band, The Fyre Department) kicked things off on Friday afternoon. Gza rapped his classics, paid tribute to O.D.B., and was impressed himself with how well his band played the hits. “I can’t wait to do this in the studio,” he said. GZA appeared happy to be there and asked the crowd how many were staying all three days. Most were, and he applauded their dedication and love of music. (Stephen Marley, Cypress Hill and The Flaming Lips also performed on Friday).
Saturday offered some included MSTRKRFT, who drew one of the biggest crowds all weekend to the third stage, and some other acts which rarely make it down south, such as Thievery Corporation, Common and Rabbit in the Moon. All of these acts put on great performances for the cold but spirited crowd; however, the best performance came on Sunday by way of a side project within the Roots show, featuring guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas, along with ?uestlove and Tuba Gooding Junior (all members of the Roots) on you guessed it, the tuba, just killed a version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun.”
Aside from the dusty conditions caused by Georgia’s ongoing drought, the Echo Project seems to have increased awareness of this environmental problem. The site is capable of holding many more people, and there’s a good chance they’ll need it in the coming years if the promoters continue to offer a strong lineup for a good cause. Now we’ll have wait and see if this echo can continue to be heard.
words & images: Blake Styles