Well, today is the day we head up to Ostrava. Libor and the gang are ready to go and the heat is unbridled and relentless. Into the massively tiny Volkswagen we climb and head east, heads held high. But alas, as I am the rainbringer, it starts to rain. Again with the rain…it seems to follow me into every corner of every state and every country where I travel. I think it is time to head to the Sahara or some drought stricken province. Maybe even Arizona and Texas could use my help – though, god knows, it would be the first time they would ever ask for the help of a yankee.
Ostrava is right on the border of Poland so I expect to see a pretty varied crowd. Known for its coal mines and steel plants, Ostrava stopped doing most of that in 1994 though it’s still pretty sooty looking. It’s like a kind of Pittsburgh/Allentown amalgamation – they even have a perpetually burning underground disaster site called the Emma dump just like us (see Centralia)! Pittsburgh and Dresden are actually Ostrava’s sister cities. They also have something I didn’t see – a unique drinking street unlike anything in the Czech Republique, I’m told. I assume this consists of bars on Stodolní Street where you can drink which makes it… well… not unique in my mind, but I didn’t see it, so what do I know?
The lineup is pretty interesting though most of the bands I know – mono, pil, grinderman, joan as police woman – are all english speaking, which is pretty lame on my part. The Plastic People of the Universe is playing which is pretty great. I just learned about this group but my quick summation: they formed in 1968 right after the Soviets returned to Czechoslavakia following the Prague Spring and began their undoubtedly pleasant “Normalization” process. The band was essentially outlawed and I am told that often they would call their shows “weddings” and everyone would just pretend they were going to a big wedding. Pretty brilliant idea, really. Many of the members were arrested in 1976 which led to the writing of the Charter 77 by among others, Vaclev Havel. So, that’s a pretty darn historical group.
We were pretty much first up on the festival lineup, starting at 7:30 so as not to conflict with another better known band. We were a little afraid no one would show up but we were nicely surprised at all the sizable crowd. It was a great show for us, the Colours of Ostrava festival did an amazing job at setting up the great looking stage and space and making everything run smoothly. We even got to see Public Image, LTD. who I’ve never seen – they were in fine form even though it started to rain in the middle of their set. Nice job, Ostrava folks!