We all know the summertime when the weather is hot, when you can stretch right up and touch the sky. Dee-dee-dee, daa-daa-daa. Ray Dorset from Mungo Jerry must have been very well aware of how a festival season goes on, due to the fact that they even stole the limelight from the biggest headliners back in the sexy seventies. But what about the Eastern European rockandrollers and pop pioneers nowadays? How do they deal with the gigs in the middle of sizzling heat waves and what stories can they tell about summer tours? We reached out to some of them to gather this very significant information.
“In Budapest our bassist got lost half an hour before we had to leave to the airport from Sziget Festival, his cellphone died, no message left. That was a bit stressing but we found him eventually. We always find each other” – says Michal Janík, drummer of the Czech psychedelic indie band Ghost of You. He also delivers an important lesson to all the newbies out there: prime times are often hard to reach for a small band and by all means more suitable, but when you do a great show in the afternoon with the sun still up on the sky, it means your band is not limited by the conditions.
As for the conditions, Christie of Moonlight Breakfast shared an astonishing story about hard times turning into the best times: “a hailstorm started right after our 4th song, when chunks of ice the size of a ping-pong ball started falling from the sky. It only lasted for a few minutes but everything on stage was soaked. Because the power was out we just grabbed the guitar, drums, clarinet and megaphone and had an amazing time performing an acoustic set in the dark. The atmosphere was electric!”
But there are places in the Eastern Block where snow and ice are frequent guests. “Russians can’t get enough of these warm days after a long winter. Every sunny day is like holiday. And live music just multiplies this feeling” – says Gayana, one of the many voices of Moscow who’s known for reflecting sophisticatedly to 80’s pop music.
Her words resonate to those of Argo Vals, the Estonian artist who mixes post-rock structures with a nordic feel. When visiting the city of Kirov in Russia this summer, he found out that although he had never visited that town before, many people showed up and some of them “did some homework and knew my songs, humming along. They were very glad that a neighbouring nation’s piece of a culture visited their town.”
Not everything can work out perfectly though. Summertime is always the most easy-going period of the year for the most of us but not for a musician: tour buses broken down, fans that want to marry you, musicians get lost and found in weird places, we all heard about things like this. And we definitely don’t want to live through the odd sensation of what Edvards from The Pink Elephant told us about: “It happened this year on our Cassette Concert spring tour. As half of our members are now studying in the Netherlands we wanted to rehearse for the upcoming tour there. The Latvian side of the band went by car from Riga to Amsterdam and of course the car broke down in the Hague where I currently live in. And so we had to fix it there and be ready to go back to Latvia in a crazy 24-hour drive through all Europe just to be on time for the tour. We succeeded even with a broken a tyre, which we changed on a muddy Latvian country road during a very rainy day.”
Heavy rain didn’t work out well for Hungarian electronic one-woman-show Rumex either: in Cluj-Napoca she had to cross through a knee deep slimy ocean of mud in a pair of snow white Air Maxes only to realize that her show was cancelled. However, karma is always around the corner to help: although the other day at another Romanian festival she found out that all her controllers were still wet and unable to squeeze out a single signal, their elderly host lady brought out a hair dryer to save the night.
So what’s up with all these trials and tribulations? It’s simple as that: at the end of the day, love is all around, and the Eastern Block Kids are still rocking just as hard on the top of their game as their Western counterparts.
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