This post was posted by Fiona Moriarty on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on July 21, 2015
India’s southwestern state Goa has never lacked for tourists — its laid-back, hippie-friendly beaches and world heritage architecture, dating back to its time as a Portuguese colony, all attest to that. But there’s more to Goa than lazing on the beach or leisurely photographing its beautiful churches. For music lovers in particular, there has never been a better time to check out Goa. Goa’s music scene is worth exploring, and festivals and concerts through to the end of 2015 offer tempting reasons to book your tickets today.
The state of Goa acts as a muse for international acts as well. Indian-American rapper Heems recorded much of his recent acclaimed album Eat Pray Thug after time spent there, saying, “I was in Goa for two weeks, hanging out with writers, poets, and staying with friends In India who are all writers, poets and artists, so I kind of went into it after this period of thinking about language and thinking about art.”
Goa lends it name to a sub-genre of psychedelic music known as “Goan trance” and most popularly associated with Anjuna Beach and its storied raves. The music is said to have developed due to Anjuna’s party-happy population of European and American hippies, drawn in by India’s spiritual history, and bringing with them some of the emerging psychedelic records of the West.
Jam sessions on the beach ultimately led to DJs experimenting with industrial and electronic influences and created a sound unique to, and still beloved in, Goa. Today there is something for everyone, any time of the year! Energetic beats, steadily built under intricately layered synth, progress to create a hypnotic, pulsing melody in classic Goan trance tracks. Samples, often from old-school sci-fi movies, are popularly worked into Goan trance.
Those interested in exploring Anjuna should check out the nearby Hotel Fidalgo, affordable and centrally located in the capital of Goa, Panaji. Or, for a more 5-star experience, the Vivanta by Taj, also located in Panaji, offers luxurious comfort in a unique Art Deco-inspired setting.
Looking for an “only in India” experience? Definitely check out the Freedom Blast festival, held to commemorate India’s Independence, from August 14-16. The festival is held at Club Westend in Saligao, and its theme is “peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.” Live acts and DJs Keeping in touch with Goa’s hippie roots, attendees are encouraged to remember and respect Mother Earth.
Travelers interested in checking out the latest quirky local project should time their visit to coincide with the Liquid Sky Association’s Octopus Secret Society, a “pirate style” boat trip featuring guest DJs and copious partying. The inaugural journey was in May, but will resume in October after the monsoon season has ended. The trip is a 10 hour journey down the Chapora River, features drinks and dance parties, and prides itself on presenting a unique alternative to the same old club scene. Every is encouraged to attend, particularly those fans of the The 432hz Wave, a “sound healing” project using tuning forks, singing bowls, and vocal music to create positive vibrations.
Wishing to see some of Goa’s famed internationalism in action? The Genesis Vol. 3 Music Festival, also held at Club Westen right after Freedom Blast on August 17, boasts a “magical tribe” of artists committed to peace, dance and love! Musicians slated to appear hail from South Africa to Germany, and everywhere in between! Attendees on a budget should look into staying at the Sandalwood Hotel & Retreat, which offers hard-to-beat prices at a close to the beach location.
Finally, the crown jewel of Goa’s live music scene: the Sunburn Vagator Festival. Now in its 9th year, Sunburn boasts a reputation as Asia’s biggest music festival. This year, the four-day festival will be held in late December, so those looking to plan a NYE away from the cold can immerse themselves in electronic music. It’s the perfect way to end the year, especially for adrenaline-junkies who can take a break from the music to bungee jump and play volleyball.