Festival: Rock for People + Trutnoff vs. Sziget

Colour party Sziget

My very first summer music festival was

This year would be my 10th year since I came for the first time to a music festival. The very first one was Rock for People which is the biggest and most famous Czech festival.

At that time, it was taking place in Český Brod and it was an extraordinary experience, partly because it was something totally brand new, partly because I met with punk beggars, village people and Prague girlies.

All these differences of the first day were however washed away and mudded up by the heavy rain, which heavily impacted the festival and as I did not really have heavy boots at that time (and I did not have them until much later, btw). I was quite surprised how people around me turned into McGyvers in finding ways to avoid getting soaked ranging from putting plastic bags on their shoes (very slippery to walk in, many funny falls between the stages) to wearing dustbin bags by making appropriate holes for hands and head (they just looked pretty funny).

In order to get from one stage to another, you had to walk down a little hill, which became particularly adrenalin activity after the full rainy day. However, regardless of the odds, which were for sure not in our favour, I really enjoyed it and basically became a festival addict.

Rock for People

Rock for People has tremendously changed over the past decade, it is no longer a festival, where punks are welcome (not that they would not be, but the price is basically very preventive. Plus the security guards are not the most welcoming to squatting by the festival entrance) and where the audience has totally changed – now ranging from trendy girlies in phosphorous bikinis, to golden youth and groups of friends in same colour T-shirt (so called partičky), but not only those.

Rock for People festival 2011
Rock for People 2011

 

The music offer has also changed a lot, you can still find some classical Czech bands (and I am greatly regretting that this year I would miss Lucie concert), but the big stages are usually dedicated to big international bands and every year the festival manages try to bring in some names that are not yet famous, but would be pretty much soon.

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I also regret that I was sometimes too busy finishing off school and work and never found enough time to prelisten to music so that I could pick the unknown names and go to their concerts. This way, I managed to miss the Killers concert that was taking place in 2007.

The festival managed to move from a meadow to Festival Park near Hradec Králové, which I think was a positive change, especially when it rains, it does not get so fatal to the surface.

The disadvantage are big walking distances between the stages, however the Festival Park has undergone some improvements over the last years and some shortcuts were created. These are especially handy in the moments when there is a big storm coming and you gotta run away to hide, which was especially critical 2 years ago during a terrible thunderstorm.

Sometimes July weekends can be pretty harsh and at that time I realized how lucky I am to have a VIP pass and a car parked very close to the festival entrance.

The only drawback was that we could not really hear that Skrillex started playing in the tent and we missed his performance (for which I would make up for sure this year as he is coming to Sziget!)

Festival gear - good shoes
The importance of having good shoes

 

Trutnov Open Air Music Festival

Since my very first festival I was coming every year to at least one festival, soon one a summer was not enough, so I started attending also Trutnov Festival,which I renamed Trutnoff . Simply because I could totally switch off and enjoy the lovely setting of the mountains.

The red clay and crazy people that were representing really the whole society from families with children, to pensioners, to local teenagers or from nearby villages, to hippies, punks and homeless punks with high haircuts up to classy village boys coming to have some world fun.

I always liked that this was the place to meet the Czech President (not the current one, but Václav Havel), I also enjoyed the spirit, from which I must admit the festival lives to a great extent.

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I liked that there is an NGO zone, where various non-profit organizations with different areas of focus try to spread their cause. I got a dream that turned into reality in 2011, when I managed to gather people from Czech Debate Association and get us to the NGO zone to spread the awareness about debating.

As we did not have any petition to sign or did not have any educational movies nor pictures of hens in cages, I came up with an activity called “Come and argue with us” to be able to showcase the festival people what is debating and let them try it without any preparation.

In this activity, we would offer the visitor to pick a motion from our motion database and tell us arguments that are actually his opinion, one of us would be trying to rebut the arguments with the aim to show the person that although they are quite persuaded about something being right as they think, there is another point of view.

This activity is a huge success, it attracted some people to visit our stand several times during the festival and we successfully managed to also bring it to other presentations of debate, which we are doing throughout the year (such as NGO market or City days).

The first festival was a success, although we were far the least professional of all the NGOs, because we did not have a fancy stand and we had to draw the posters ourselves (later when it rained, all what you see in the picture got washed away).

All this created a nice tradition of teambuilding and new experience for our volunteers as some of them would most probably never go to a festival in their life as visitors.

However as NGO representatives, we have certain priviliges, such as sleeping inside of the festival and electricity, which makes Trutnoff a wonderful experience. I cannot imagine anymore that I would go to Trutnoff and I would not be in the NGO zone with my debate friends.

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Trutnov festival 2011
The very first Trutnoff was under a bit rough conditions

Czech festivals, their audience and the rest of the world

Both these festivals are in some sense very typical Czech, although both have a different focus, they still play some classical Czech bands (and I have the feeling that some bands just play on summer festivals and they have barely a single concert during the year).

Rock for People is on the way to become a bigger festival of Western standards, but is it really possible with the Czech audience that is insisting on their crapy Czech bands, which they heard several times in the past years? There is a nice article about it, unfortunatelly only in Czech.

Every year, I was dreaming about experiencing some bigger festival, I however never found resources and most importantly a group of friends that would be all into going abroad for one.

I was always checking the line up of Rock Werchter, Pohoda and Sziget, secretly dreaming about going to Glastonbury one day. And then I moved to Budapest…

Sziget Fesztival 2014

This year, I will be taking part in Sziget and I am very excited about it as the line up looks marvelous! The ticket was 200 Euro in presale, which makes it kinda an expensive experience, but from what the people around me say, it would totally be worth it.

I like how Budapest is living by Sziget, I am curious on how packed it would be as the biggest crowd I have been to at festival was 30,000 people.

And after that in September, I should be going to Croatia for a little festival for only 700 visitors.  That would be quite some contrast! But anyway, Sziget is here in 45 days, time to polish my boots!

 

 

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