COLOURS OF OSTRAVA 2010 – Fear and Loathing in North Moravia. Eyewitness account.

Although it all started innocently enough, it soon became apparent that this was to be no ordinary gig in the park.  The air smelled of strange madness and undisciplined drinking, the natives had long since left restlessness behind and entered a trance-like state of anticipation.
We joined the throng queuing at the gates of the concrete and steel temple to all that is holy in this Year of Our Lord 2010.  We proffered our tickets to the Temple Guard and followed the procession of consumer faithful through the underground car park and up into the belly of the beast.  Above us, the spirit of His Benevolence Arcelor Mittal, Indian god of steel and sponsor of Colours, gazed down as the worshippers, by now elevated to a state bordering on lust, began the ritual sacrifice of their hard-earned cash on the altar of Hedonism.
It was too late to run.  We had bought the ticket, now we had to take the ride.


Through the car park and into the belly of the beast… a belly filled with the young and the old, the rich and the poor,  the drunk and the stoned, the happy… but not the unhappy.  The ticket-holders but not the non-ticket-holders.  Now we are among enlightened company, for here it is possible to commit outrageous acts of revelry without undue fear of prosecution.  Here one can plumb new nadirs of inebriation without achieving total social rejection and here one can do it all in the name of freedom, love, culture and beer which is sold cheaper outside the fence than inside, perhaps in some insane nod to equality on the part of a charitable member of the City Hall…’those with enough to pay for a ticket might be getting to see a performance which would blow the bollocks off of YOUR weekend but they pay more for their beer, so piss off, you  loser!’
 One never knows.
Some loonies.
This is why there is a fence.

My favourite way to confront a festival is with blind indifference until it reveals itself and you can relax in its company.  Let it impress you.  Wander round aimlessly as you try to read the programme, orientate yourself, drink a beer, keep track of your mates and wonder why the hell beer costs more in here than out there.  Allow it to present its wares and make its pitch and think it’s suckered you in then go for it between the eyes and don’t let go!

I remember the names ‘Gypsy Kings and Queens‘ and ‘Sunflower Caravan‘ but I was on a desperate mission to find Valravn, who I had it on good authority were from the Falkland Islands.  They appeared to be on at the Park Stage.  Here was a problem, though.  Despite years of training with shadowy, laser-eyed, paramilitary fanatics such as the PE teachers who took us orienteering at school, I was unable to overcome the side effects of the beer and orientate the map sufficiently to find either the Park Stage or indeed the stage we were standing at.
Somehow, the simple task of finding a bunch of Falkland Islanders in a crowd of several thousand boozed-up Czechs had become a nightmare.  No matter how I stared into those bright pools of lamplight or the the darkness between them which lurked in anticipation of its next meal, I could not escape the whirling helplessness of the situation.  I had no compass and without a compass I was lost.  Lost in a sea of joyous drunks who moved with a common purpose into the biggest patch of darkness of them all and from which none came forth…
In the sure certainty which comes with truly threatening situations, I knew that I didn’t want to be going in the same direction as whatever praeternatural ritual awaited them.  Fighting against the tide, Our Lass and I finally made it to a fence.  Where you have a fence, you very often find a gate and if you’re going in the right direction, a gate means escape!
We found our gate, and with it our escape into the deeper madness of Ostrava at some ungodly hour of what was, in effect, the second day of the festival.
Later that second day, after we had slunk home, we slunk back.  Rested, refreshed, relatively sober, we had had a chance to read the program, study the map, plan the attack, have a drink to celebrate and lose track of the whole thing again.  It didn’t matter; this was no professional anthropology expedition, this was Colours and if we were to find the Silesian Dream, we would have to be prepared to hack our way deep into this twisted monster.  I had also had a chance to look up Valravn in the program and discovered that my geographically-challenged informant had confused the Falkland Islands with the Faroe Islands.
Our next encounter with the Beast took the form of one of those bands which you just have to go and see based on the name alone… delivering a steady stream of Jewish folk-music with punk-like energy, this was the Israeli phenomenon known as Oy Division.  Classic.
After we had recovered from this Yiddish Delight and had a couple of beers to calm the nerves, we heard the unmistakable sound of a two-tone band tuning up.  Nothing beats a good bit of ska to wash down Jewish punk so we grabbed another beer and went to investigate.

Radegast, the best a man can get.
The banner at the back of the stage read ‘The Chancers’ and the band seemed to be a tribute to all that made England jump around and spill beer during the late 70s and early 80s.  In fact the singer was wearing a body which was clearly a tribute to Buster Bloodvessel.
Every North Moravian festival needs a short fat Englishman belting out ska. This was what we had come to see; pure, unrestrained and cheeky hooliganism! The Buster body-double has been a resident of Prague for a number of years and spoke Czech with a joyous abandon and lack of respect for grammar and pronunciation which only endeared him to the crowd even more.
I love you, yes I do, gonna spend all my money on you…SPECIAL BREW!
‘This one’s for all the young thieves!’ He exclaimed in the thickest London accent ever to grace the Czech language, before launching into something that had once been ‘Police and Thieves’.   Holding aloft a plastic beaker of Radegast, he pledged his love to Special Brew and the beer flowed.  It flowed out of plastic festival beakers, down arms, off of elbows and was pounded into the rich soil by pogo-ing feet.

In the glorious sunshine he led us through rousing choruses of Judge Dread’s ‘Up with the cock’ and it was obvious by the reaction of the crowd that this historically industrial region is not only extremely familiar with agricultural practices but also the finer points of the English language.

Lip up, Fatty!

After a couple more beers to wash the dust out of our throats, we decided to stick around the Barvy Arcellor Mittal stage because there was a Finnish band on after the Chancers and we wanted to hear how a Czech announcer would pronounce their name.  Also it was near 3 beer tents which meant that the queues were shorter.

Finally the announcer announced the coming of Alamaailen Vasarat, or at least gave it his best shot.  Billed as ‘Ethnic Brass Punk or Piano from the Underworld or How Frank Zappa would sound combined with Mike Patton if they had been born in Serbia’, we felt that the writer of the program was trying to fill space. Actually, he wasn’t far off and I was thoroughly enjoying myself when I was dragged away at 2115 at the insistence of Our Lass and a mate who we had met at the Chancers BellyFest earlier.

Alamaailman Vasarat, looking how I felt.
Our Lass resting.

On the way, we stopped to look at hammocks.  I don’t know why, but at festivals where one is always on one’s feet, on the move and wasted, purchasing a bed which only works if you can find 2 trees the right distance apart always seems like a fantastic idea.   The vendor had indeed found 2 trees the right distance apart and seemed to be doing good business with people who either had 2 particular trees in mind or who had overlooked this detail.

Once Our Lass had rested, we continued our cross-country hike in pursuit of what I was assured was the best band we would see all day.  I must admit to being a little dubious as I still had ethnic Finnish/Serbian Zappa on the brain and I wasn’t reassured by the fact that we were clearly heading for the theatre tent.

Inside, however, the place was packed and we were lucky to get a spot near the front. The audience were all ages, from twenties to fifties by the look of them.  Soon, to rapturous applause, the objects of this adulation appeared with their instruments and I tried to guess what kind of show would be put on with a banjo, bass, drums, flute, accordion and acoustic 6 string guitar.  Well, it was my introduction to Úspěch (Success) and although I was full of beer and none too steady, I loved it.

They took their seats and treated us to what some of the more pretentious promoters might term ‘an audience with …’, we were obviously in the theatre tent because we were going to be treated to a show.  Rather than the usual International Music Festival fare, which must have the word ‘ethnic’ in it somewhere, this was pure hillbilly bluegrass.  Delivered at a furious pace, it was craftsmanship rather than mere music. Our Mate Dalibor knew all the words and, along with most of the audience, was belting them out in an attempt to drown out the band themselves.
This is the sort of experience which motivates me to learn languages.  This night I could only catch a few words and it was obvious from the reaction of the crowd that I was missing out on most of the show.  Here was a pure piece of Czech culture and I couldn’t  understand it! Worse, I couldn’t even ask Our Lass or Dalibor what was going on because they were enjoying it so much I couldn’t bear to distract them.

Between the songs, there were jokes. One was about a phone call from Vladimir Putin to Barack Obama and I must have been wearing the only pair of dry trousers in the tent by the end of it.  Dalibor was laughing so hard that although he tried to explain it, he had to give up.

There followed a song in Russian, which again, people seemed to know all the words to.  It was a male voice choir, Cossack dancing type of rhythm with everyone clapping their hands faster and faster until the whole place exploded in a frenzy and some of the drunker ones fell over.  More jokes were sprinkled in after everyone had calmed down a bit, one of which was a series of letters between lovers and by the end of that, everyone was rolling around on the floor again. Except me, that is.

As the evening progressed, I couldn’t help laughing, even though I had only the vaguest idea of what was so funny.  It was the mood of the audience which caught me up and carried me along with it.  The band’s music ranged all over the place, from Indian and Islamic harmonies to Beatles covers with Czech lyrics.  Then they just upped and walked off the stage leaving the audience baying for more.
With the empty stage resounding to the stamping of feet and wailing of unsated fans, I attempted to get some sense out of Our Lass and Dalibor but they had been swept up in the same rapture that had gripped the rest of the audience and I was left alone, bereft of understanding, cursing the time that it is taking me to learn this language well enough to not miss out on things like this. Arse!
As I looked around, I saw the faces of the real people who make up this country. Nothing here had been internationalised for tourists, nothing here was presented in pictograms or leaflets in 20 different languages.  Here was the face which is forever hidden to the casual tourist but which always has a welcome smile for anyone who wants to see beyond the plastic facade presented to the passengers of the open-top sightseeing bus.  And if you do make it here, you will find many people who speak very good English so don’t feel that it’s reserved for those who can get their head around the language!

Just when it seemed there would be an uprising if the band didn’t come back, they came back.  Somehow the noise increased as they took up their instruments and then suddenly died off to an expectant hush.  Without any preamble and without any jokes or stories we were treated to the Hari Krishna song and ‘The times they are a-changing’, after which they thanked us and walked off for the last time.  If I thought the noise was deafening before, it was positively terrifying this time.  With the fervour of a religious cult it went on in waves for a good 5 minutes without let-up until we realised that it was finally over.

Whether by comparison with the noise before or through a sense of awe, the crowd seemed subdued and introspective on the way out.  Certainly Our Lass and Dalibor seemed at a loss for words.

By this time we were all the worse for wear and rational thought was beyond us.  We stopped at another stage but had no idea what was going on any more and had begun to fear for our sanity.  We had stumbled across The Proclaimers who were singing ‘500 Miles‘.  I’ve never heard any other song by them played on the radio and therefore have never heard any of their other songs and here I stood, watching them live and they were singing 500 bloody Miles.  Was irony to feature in my downfall? Had it come to this, so close to escape?  But there was no time to dwell on this, we still had the long journey home to contend with and we knew from past experience that the night can become predatory when it senses weakness.  Finding a way out and a way home took on a sudden, desperate urgency.  We had to get out                                                                               before it smelled our fear!

So you walked 500 miles?  Well done.  Your mother must be so proud.

Many others had had the same idea.  We retraced our earlier steps through the crowd, over the river and back through the car-park.  Everywhere lay the detritus of a battle fought and maybe won.  It was too early to tell.  Behind security fences stood an arsenal of beer-barrels, stockpiled for the coming carnage.  For this was merely the end of the beginning, tomorrow would come the main acts, the main focus, the main debauchery and madness. The beginning of the end was nowhere in sight and the weather forecast was horrible.

The heat, the beer, the lack of sleep, the paranoia.  All of them took a toll on us as we crept through the jungle that is the city outside a festival. In every dark corner our eyes perceived a suggestion of movement, the dull flash of a blade, the dead eye of a predator.  Menace oozed from every pore of the city as we stumbled and staggered in our flight to the tram stop, light and safety.  Every other drunk who lurched to and fro in their exaggerated attempts to appear sober appeared to us as a fell beast of destruction, hell-bent on extracting retribution for some heinous sin our deranged and gibbering minds could only guess  at  in between bouts of shrieking terror.
No shipwrecked mariner ever perceived the boat which rescued him with the exultation with which we beheld our tram home.  Like the last helicopter approaching the besieged embassy it emerged from the darkness, lights blazing out safety, civilisation and salvation.  And with the desperation of embassy staff who no longer enjoy immunity, we surged to meet it.  We swarmed through the doors and overwhelmed the seats, the corners and the standing room.  We dropped our guard against the beast, for now we were safe.  Now we were on our way home.
Of course, the chances of getting robbed on the tram were roughly the same as outside.  Possibly even more due to the way we were packed in, but the psychological difference it made to our booze-addled minds was unbelievable.  I’ve never felt truly vulnerable in Ostrava, or anywhere else in the Czech Republic for that matter but when I worked in London, I was threatened with physical violence on a more or less daily basis. I’ve seen more flying beer glasses, shattered shop windows, flashing blue lights and blood on a single Friday night in Brighton than I have in 2 and a half years of getting rat-arsed with Czechs.  It must be genetic.
On the Saturday, vaguely hung-over and feeling slightly sheepish about last night’s paranoia,  Our Lass and I once again took the tram to oblivion.  Had we not already learned our lesson?  Was this fight going to the final bell?  It was impossible to tell but we were going to go down fighting, whatever happened.
The menu.

Looking back, this day was defined by the rain.  When I compare Colours to certain other festivals which I have attended in moist conditions, I can see the sense in choosing a largely paved site which has immense drainage possibilities vis-a-vis the river running down the middle as opposed to say, a largely soil-based dairy farm in a valley in Somerset whose main stage regularly forms an island in the river running down the middle.

There was no definite goal in mind today.  Not early on, anyway.  Acts like Afro-Celt Soundsystem and The Cranberries were promised for later and tomorrow’s headliner was no less than Iggy Pop but the experience of Úspěch last night was the final straw which broke the back of my interest in famous bands.  Not that I didn’t want to see them; far from it.  I just wasn’t bothered if I missed them.  The big names are there to get the crowds in and maybe that’s great if you’re a local.  As for me, I believe you can see these guys at many a EuroFestival during the summer and I want to see more of the culture which has adopted me. 

Having said that, I still reckon Asian Dub Foundation (2009) are the mutt’s nuts live but I cried with emotion along with everyone else at Jarek Nohavice’s show the same year and I hadn’t got a bloody clue what he was on about.  I only knew that it was the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and  it was very emotional.

How to unimpress the girls.
KIDS! Alcohol and extreme sports don’t mix!

                                                                                                                                                                Our peregrinations took us to the castle and there we stayed.  There were the usual array of festival stalls selling exotic food, souvenirs and T-shirts at equally exotic prices.  The brewery of Radegast had set up an extreme sports area with a rock-climbing wall and a bungee attraction. Fortunately they had also had the foresight to make both of them from inflatable materials and the bungee attraction was horizontal rather than vertical.

We ran into Dalibor and a friend from the Old Skool Days in ’91, when freedom was fresh in the air, possibilities were endless and immortality was a distinct possibility. We greeted each other with the understatement which we grey-bearded veterans are wont to display in front of young pretenders and perused the day’s program.  In stark contrast with yesterday’s wild native exuberance, today’s early offerings were so internationally pan-cultural as to be a stereotype of themselves:  African-Gypsy-Folk-Punk-Avante-Garde-Jewish-Traditional Balkan Electro-Accoustic funk with Celtic-influenced didgery-doo.
A hard rain’s a gonna fall…

We therefore hung around the Česká Spořitelná stage waiting for Čechomor but the onset of rain drove us into a tent with a bar and there we stayed until the end of their set, which was a shame but by that time the crowd was so dense that we couldn’t get out anyway.

After Čechomor we ventured out in search of nourishment and between rain squalls, broke our fast on noodles and coffee served up b y a firm of industrious Vietnamese who must have paid a fortune for a pitch right next to the headlining act stage but were probably already well into their profit margin thanks to the drop in temperature and the sudden need of extra calories everyone had.
As we stood there, the skies darkened, the beer-tents put their side-flaps down and the P.A. warned everyone to get off the metal stadium seating and stay away from the stage scaffolding.  First cold, then rain and now lightning, it seemed.  
The end of dryness

Having nowhere else to go, we clipped a couple of ponchos together and crawled under them.  The storm was better than any sound and light show we’d seen for ages; through the poncho the lightning strobed and the thunder boomed.  Some ran for shelters already packed to overflowing while others gave in to the inevitable and danced in the rain, soaked but happy. At this point we discovered that the ponchos weren’t waterproof and while others danced and were soaked, we sat and were soaked.  

By now lightning was forking from one horizon to the other to the wild delight of the crowd, who had decided to ignore the warnings to stay away from large metal structures and were playing hide-and-seek with stewards and lightning bolts.  Every increase in the intensity of the rain brought fresh cheers as though that was the act we had assembled to see; a mass pagan worship of natural forces.   Iggy’s going to have to work bloody hard to top this lot, I thought.  Now that we were well and truly soaked, we decided to stick around for the Cranberries.  I’ve never been a fan of theirs and somehow I didn’t change my mind during their set.  Mind you, they have  a pretty solid fan-base here and plenty of saturated loonies were dancing around singing all the words to every song.
When the Cranberries had finished, we decided on hot scoff and drinks.  Even in July, it’s no fun being wet and cold and even another beer didn’t seem at all inviting.  A nice shot of rum, perhaps but there was no rum to be had so we settled for coffee.  Due to being a native of England, I do not share the Czechs’ boundless optimism when it comes to summer weather.  When the wind starts to pick up it’s usually a sign that there’s a change on the way so I suggested a move to the beer tent which was empty now because no-one except me thought it would rain again.
Sure enough, just after we got a seat (in the middle, away from the entrance), the heavens opened again and all those who had gone out for Afro Celt Soundsystem were washed back in again.  By this time we had food and beer and the mass of people around us soon warmed the air and we could finally stop shivering and dry out a bit.
Over the PA we heard that Afro Celt Soundsystem had been delayed by 30 minutes until the water level dropped a bit so we stayed in our warm shelter. It takes no skill at all to be cold and wet when the weather is cold and wet, but to be warm and dry when the weather is cold and wet is the art of civilisation.
The last 45 minutes of the set however, demanded our personal and undivided attention.  The band had upped the ante on the weather and the two were beginning to jam together.  A light drizzle was falling, reflecting the lights from the stage into a diffuse orange glow at times and then as the pace of the music began to lift, a fearsome bolt of lightning lit the place up like the Second Coming of Christ and revealed a sky laden with clouds and a sea of waving arms.  With this searing endorsement, the whole experience turned trance-like and we were swept up in the confusion of drums, lightning, soaking dancing loons, and the ever-present menace of missing the last tram and having to walk 10km through this dark, slithering night.
I have no idea what time we were spat out into the tender embrace of the real world but it was certainly in time for the last tram, for which we gave our demented thanks looking back at the Beast as the clock struck the final, inevitable morning of Festival Time.  Whatever happened, sometime in the next 24 hours, we would see this awful monster revealed for what it truly was…
The last day dawned weak and feeble. It was still raining but in the half-arsed fashion of an act which knows it has peaked and is trying to recapture lost glory.  Perusing the program, I decided that I wanted to see a man called Lord Bishop Rocks because I’ve never seen a man called Lord Bishop Rocks before.  As it turned out, I may never see the likes of Lord Bishop Rocks again! The programme described him as as a 2 metre tall, black, New York purveyor of Sex Rock.   Describing himself in Rolling Stone, he said he ‘sounds like he opens up with Jimi Hendrix with the sexual appetite of James Brown in partnership with Curt Cobain nagging Madonna.’  Whatever it was he was purveying, it stood there on stage, naked and unashamed, waving its bollocks at the crowd and laughing in the face of normal standards of behaviour and honest, hard-working decency.
There was certainly Hendrix in there… not rendered perfectly after listening to the original a thousand times, but the ‘Hendrix’ of a shit-hot electric blues player caught up in his own personal rapture and dragging us all with him like some dread Piper of Hamelyn, ridding the Parish of unwanted pests; a Bicklesque ‘Real Wave’, coming to wash the scum from the streets. Without missing a beat, his own material merged into and out of that of Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Motorhead, more Hendrix… it was at the same time captivating and addictive and if I had to name a band from the whole festival I’d like to see again in an enclosed space, that huge bloody Yank who looked like he was clutching a child’s toy guitar in his massive paws would be the one!
Because this was an enclosed space featuring such crowd-pleasing, rabble-rousing entertainment, the organisers had come up with a cunning and subtle way of avoiding a surging crowd of boozed up stage-invaders; they ensured huge queues at the bar and compounded this with an unadvertised ticketing system stolen directly from a customer complaints office and encrypted with a pre-pay concept seen only at the local Drive-Thru McDonalds.  Put simply, the empty-handed drunk, sensing the unbearable lightness of beer-glass, approaches the bar with the wretched appearance of a junkie watching the spoon approach the candle and just as the terrible anticipation nears climax, the sweet, pretty barmaid, who would do anything  to please you, informs you that you have to join an entirely different queue, order and pay for your drink there, receive a receipt for this as though you were some lowly serf accepting a luncheon voucher with abject supplication from your Lord and Master, then return to the far end of the queue you are currently at the front of and receive the benefaction of the barmaid, whose sympathetic expression is marred by the dead eyes of one who has been saying this for nearly 4 days now and wishes her boss would get off the booze long enough to nail a sign up above the bloody bar.
Having gone through this particular purgatory, the further discovery that the only toilets are outside brings the drunk to apoplectic levels of rage but being a considerate fellow, he asks the door staff how to get back in afterwards.  When the door staff point to the far end of yet another queue, the one you were at the front of when you got into the sodding place, the desperate drunk now understands the unusually high number of ‘abandoned beer glasses’ and pities any hapless barman or minesweeper who tries to dispose of them!
Ostravice and Lučina rivers confluencing.
Forlorn and abandoned….lost dread with Zippo for scale.

When Lord Bishop had stopped Rocking, we abandoned the attempt at staying out of the weather and went off in search of Mig 21.  Along the route we found evidence of systematic hedonism which had continued unchecked for days and was now looking around slyly, wondering if it could stay longer.  Dazed but happy faces smiled out from in front of minds desperately trying to maintain focus. Bodies saturated with alcohol and other dread substances staggered with herd-like instinct towards half-defined goals.  A single dreadlock lay in the dirt, abandoned by its owner, unable to tell the pitiful tale of its end.

Mig 21, like most of the Czech bands from the late 80s and early 90s aimed at young people, believed in lyrics which meant something.  As with Úspěch, it was beyond my powers to understand most of what they were singing about but by this time it hardly mattered.  The rigours of the last few days had taken their toll and by now I was following the crowd.  The crowd was happy so I was happy.  The crowd pissed themselves laughing so I went along for the ride.
That international festival look.

As this is a thoroughly international festival, the singer used the international language of English to communicate some of the deeper meaning of the band’s message.  ‘I LOVE YOU!’  He shouted at us.  Then, having exhausted his English, continued in Czech with something like ‘Hey, I should better say I FUCK YOU but I LOVE YOU sounds nicer!’ (The words in capital letters were in English)

Give ’em the Horn, boy!!!

This turned into a running feature of the show, with him shouting ‘I LOVE YOU!’ at the crowd and the crowd shouting back ‘I FUCK YOU!’.  How we laughed!  It reminded me of a guy I met in some dingy basement club (Klub Nora in Kopřívnice, sometime in 1992) who greeted me with, ‘English?  Hey! Manchester United, Beatles, John Lennon, Fuck you!’ Before falling down the stairs.

Our hosts were pounding out the hits, all of which missed me, when they came to a fantastic cover of Frank Zappa’s Bobby Brown.  I looked around the crowd and wondered just how many people had the slightest clue what this song is all about.  It certainly gets played regularly on prime-time radio, which it doesn’t in England!  With well-practiced precision they worked the crowd up into a frenzy and then left the stage, had a fag-break and came back for an encore. The singer announced that in true rock-n-roll tradition, they had played their entire set without underwear and wished the crowd one final ‘I FUCK YOU!’ To which we dutifully replied, “I LOVE YOU!’
‘I love you too!’ He said.  ‘Have a great festival!’ And that was the end of MiG 21.
Lost? Aren’t we all?

Now it only remained to see Iggy Pop and we would have run this beast as far as it would take us.  A lot of other people also seemed to want to see Iggy, so we figured we had better make a move now or we would never even get a place on the same side of the river as him. On the way we passed the Goodfellas looking bored shitless.  I felt sorry for them, standing on a well-lit stage, leaning on their instruments, ready to go, in front of an empty field 5 cm deep in mud watching thousands of people trudge past them on the way to see someone else.  I wanted to go over and be thier audience but it turned out they were having a break after tuning up so I didn’t bother.

Over the bridge we went like a flock of sheep and up to the castle.  We found shelter under the eves of the noodle bar where the same 3 Vietnamese entrepreneurs had been banging out food since Thursday evening.  God knows how much they had paid for the pitch but they must have made a fortune.  Everyone who dived for the shelter of the van got sold something!
Here I got interviewed by a TV crew.  They were from Polar TV, a local production company one of my mates works for and sponsor of Colours. They wanted a foreigner’s pespective of the festival but any sense of perspective I might have possessed had long since evaporated and I must have talked a load of crap

because the version which they released had been over-dubbed in Czech, saying something totally different, but infinitely more sensible.  The crew were on their way to film Iggy; they had been told that he had a tendancy to stage dive and get the crowd all rowdy so they wanted to be there for the action!

So here we were at last, the climactic moment of it all.  We who had steadfastly drunk and debauched our way through the last 4 days stood before Iggy.  Were there to be any answers after all of this? Would we receive some flash of enlightenment and go away better people than we were when we arrived or would there only be the glistening darkness of a wet city full of drunks?

A dog is indeed for life.

I for one felt no rising flood of understanding. Iggy was a product of the generation before me and although undoubtedly a legend, there was something incongruous about it all.  I didn’t feel any connection to the music in the way that I did with Úspěch or Afro Celt Soundsystem, who in my mind beautifully captured the mood of the proceedings with the natural sound and light show of the thunderstorm.  When he started getting the audience on stage and winding up the security guards, it seemed rehearsed rather than spontaneous and the dive off the stage into the crowd had an inevitability about it that comes from 30 odd years of repetition.

As I turned my back on this dirty, wet downhill slide into Monday morning, I was left with a haunting image on the stage screens… the terrible aspect of a semi-naked pensioner on his hands and knees, barking and shouting ‘I wanna be your dog!’  If the Silesian Dream had ever been here, it’s tracks had long since been covered.
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