I have returned from my first ever music festival :D
Colours of Ostrava!!!
What was interesting about this festival was that it wasn't taking place in the middle of nowhere, but in the complex of an abandoned set of steel manufacturing plants. Well, not just steel, but steel is the main trade of Vitkovice, so...
But anyway, yes, the point. This venue was in the city, so it was easy to get to. Very easy for me, as it is 10 minutes away by tram and all I have to do is use the same tram I use every day to get to work. It lasted 4 days, although I didn't take any days off work. I finished at 4:30pm this week, so could then pop along when I could/felt like it. Also good was that extra trams were provided along that route during the night. You see, the particular tram route that services the venue doesn't have any night trams serving it, so to make sure those locals could get home at night, the local transport authority organised some of the day trams to run once per hour in the wee hours. As you would expect though...they were packed. Except I was told by some friends that the later trams weren't packed, so I think what must have happened was that I took the very first tram provided for night transport, and said tram was filled with people who had ideally wanted to go home an hour ago, but couldn't. Nevermind...
So, Colours. That is a very suitable name for this festival as the idea is: there is something for everyone, for all tastes. It's not just that there are various stages for various bands to perform, there are also other activities available: arts & crafts, a 'Dance Dance Revolution' -like arcade setup (I took part with 7 other people and I won), a musical workshop area, a cinema (yes, really), a play area for children, and a nightclub. The official name for this venue was the 'Helax and Playa Stage', Helax being the name of the dance music radio station and Playa the group of DJs that played the music. (People, go to playa.cz and give these people work, their DJing was awesome.) Also, this kind of setup made me think that an old industrial complex was infinitely superior to a field for such festivals since there were indoor spaces suitable for this kind of thing. It also guaranteed toilets with toilet paper and soap, unlike those bloody port-a-loos. Seriously, they were terrible port-a-loos, even more of a shameful example considering I've been in port-a-loos with a flush.
Last note before I go on to the music: the predominant weather was cloudy, windy, rainy and rather cool. A bit British, and a nice respite from the 2 months of heat we've had. You'd think the weather would dampen the mood of the festival but, honestly, thinking back to the open-air services under the relentless sun at Dresden last year, such weather is preferable at a festival, as it means no one has to worry about sunburn.
Music-wise, I want to start off with the music I was dancing to at Helax. 2 tracks stood out for me: 1 was Copa Cobana, for the simple reason that this was the first time I was actually listening to the lyrics and realised that the song is just describing a series of tragedies. (Why does it sound so happy?) The other one is actually a song fusion mix. You know those fusions that were the rage back in the early 00s? The vocals of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't get you out of my head' to New Order's 'Blue Monday', or the vocals from Q Tip's 'Breathe and Stop' to the track of Michael Jackson's 'Don't stop 'til you get enough'? Well this DJ (who happened to be a woman, I've never danced to a female DJ before) came up with the backing music from 'Show Me Love' by Robin S to the vocals of Madonna's 'Into The Groove'. It was so perfect I was gob-smacked (I've never used that term before).
Right, performances. I was pleasantly surprised by the music of Finnish band Rubik; they were not metal-heads and it was a pleasant rock sound you could dance to. There was also Euneza from Denmark, who were pleasant enough to listen to and watch, but didn't really stand out as they looked and sounded like every dark progressive rock band out there right now. The big act on Friday night was Flaming Lips; which was an act I had heard the name of but knew nothing about. The opening was stunning, with psychedelic imagery on the screen, the singer rolling around on top of the audience in a ball, giant balloons blasted out, the predominant colour on stage was white and there were groups of...groupies? There were a bunch of girls in proto-school uniforms just dancing to the music, no clue what they were for. Decoration I suppose. But after the dramatic and dazzling opening heavy rock track, the rest was just so disappointing. The music started annoying me so much I went home! lol
Earlier on the Friday we had Anthony & The Johnsons. If you want a big orchestral band, playing big-piece ballads headed by a crooner, you already know you'll like it. I found it good enough but I have to admit, it wasn't for everyone. There was also a French jazz-singer, whose music was imbued with Mediterranean funk, called Zaz. I enjoyed the music greatly and found it refreshing that I never heard a single word of English in any of her songs. She is a bit mad though, at one point she slid across the stage like a metal singer and even slapped her drummer (that was uncalled for).
And then we have the big headline act: Alanis Morissette. Yes, really. The fact that she was the big name used to promote this festival was the proof I needed that this festival was serious business and truly big. Now, you need to understand how I see her: I have never been a big fan of hers, but like anyone in the 90s I was so used to hearing her songs on the radio. So from that time I have this image in my head of a long-haired Canadian who has a big voice but is rather humble and plays acoustic a lot. Made me wonder if she was any good at performing live. (No, I have never seen a live performance from her.) The other thing is that...she was always so far away. An awful lot of mainstream popstars have massive amounts of marketing to prove that they are 'reachable' and 'just like you', sometimes only needing to appear on the right show to prove that to you. Alanis never did that, she just always seemed to be this mammoth with critics loving her work and never doing anything mainstream. So I was standing a decent distance away from the stage and found it so surreal to see her just strolling onto the stage and seemingly happy to be there. Very surreal. Don't think my 9-year-old self would have ever believed I would one day be watching her perform in the Czech Republic.
And how is she as a live performer? She turned into full-on Rock Star. Wore leather and all :D