Review: Korenti Festival Adds Magic to Ethiopia’s Music Scene

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Korenti – Ethiopia’s first and only electronic music festival – is giving us music lovers some hope.

With a turnout of over 3,000 dancing souls, socialites, and a who’s who of Ethiopian nightlife, Korenti turned Kuriftu Resort into a weekend adult playground – a much-needed change of scenery for those weary of the chaotic, overstuffed, phone-theft-prone concerts at venues such as Ghion Hotel or Laphto Mall.

The two-day music fest held just outside of the capital in Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), featured an impressive roster of global and local DJ talent, including: DJ Bab kim (The Vault), Rophnan, DJ Abler, Armaghedion (Nomad), Paulo, duo Jordan and Bek Ge’ez, Mic Tekle, Kefra, and the festival’s only female DJ, Drommer. To add icing to the cake, Ethiopian stars Sami Dan and Jano Band also made their guest appearances Saturday night. Event sponsor Coca-Cola was heavily visible with their promotional Coke Studio Africa stage. (Jano Band is one of Coke Studio Africa’s collaborators). Lush greenery complimented hues of green, red, and blue laser lights, all under a spectacular full moon.

While DJ’s spun everything from electronic, reggaeton, house, hip-hop and even Afrobeat, festival goers danced, explored, (and stumbled) their way throughout the resort. With major event sponsors including Heineken, Johnnie Walker, and Winter Palace, it was nearly impossible to resist purchasing a drink – or bottle service. Unlike other outdoor concerts in Addis, the food menu was more bearable, with food items such as burgers, deliciously seasoned beef kabobs, and other munchies to keep folks from tipping over.

In addition to making sure folks didn’t starve, event organizers partnered with taxi-hailing startup Ethiopia Taxi (ETTA), in an effort to discourage drunk driving (something with which Ethiopia continues to struggle). As a bonus, free shuttles were available to and from Addis, though there were a couple of hiccups for those wanting to return to Addis Saturday night (confusion on departure times, and a stalled bus that was hit by a vehicle).

The festival was an overall hit, and shows no signs of slowing down (tickets to May’s Korenti festival were around the 350 ETB mark, while early bird tickets rose to 700 ETB for this event). Korenti demonstrated the great economical potential for fun, properly organized large-scale music festivals, providing an alternative to the usual club scene in Addis.

We can’t wait to see what’s next.

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