Upon arriving at the opening day of the Estereo Picnic music festival, one may not have assumed that the torrential downpour which kicked off the festival would bode well for the turn out or atmosphere. But there was little that would stop thousands of young and hip locals and international travelers from lining up to see their favorite artists that evening. Trendy clothes and hair dyed every color of the rainbow were covered by ponchos and umbrellas during the typical afternoon rain as we waited in line, but as soon as we crossed the gate into the festival the all the worries of the storm floated away, and festival goers were more preoccupied by the adult ball-pit, amongst other wonderful art installations spread across the grounds.
And right as the clouds passed on, the music began to play at each of the stages. One of the most impressive aspects of this festival in particular was the organizers ability to make each stage suited for a particular kind of festival goer. At one stage, one could enjoy Odesa, A-trak, and Die Antwoord, while at another Of Monsters and Men, Tame Impala, and Mumford and Sons played in succession. Most everyone there was able to enjoy all of the acts they came to see without sacrificing a moment to run to another stage.
As a solo festival goer, I worked my way into the crowd until I found the perfect spot for the best vantage point, while still having room to dance and move. I was immediately introduced to everyone in my vicinity, and was amazed at how much a festival like this has the power to bring people together. Those standing around me came from Bogota as well as Medellin, Manizales, Caracas, Toronto, and Perth. Together we spanned various corners of the country as well as the globe. And yet there we were, pressed together in the same crowd, dancing to the music with the same lyrics on all of our lips. We were all completely unified by this experience, and every cultural difference, language barrier, or separation faded far into the distance.
The artists on stage took it upon themselves to address the crowd in what Spanish they knew; they too originated from Iceland, Australia, England and South Africa. Many of them noted that this was their first performance in Colombia, an exciting turn of events in international music as well as a symbolic one. By bringing their music to Bogota, these artists and this festival became a part of a larger narrative of revival and renewal in this amazing country that has been happening for years. The growth of the international music scene in Colombia is perfectly synchronized with it putting itself on the map in so many ways. With every passing year people around the world see more and more what Colombians have known for generations: all of the amazing things that this land has to offer. From pristine beaches, majestic mountains, lush jungles, lively cities, and an emerging international music scene for locals and travelers alike to enjoy.