Nova Starts Up In Slovakia

Austrian promoter Nova Music is taking a step across the border and getting involved with the development of Slovakia’s 7-year-old Hodokvas Festival.

Company director Ewald Tatar and Hodokvas chief Michal Taliga set up a new business called Nova Music Slovakia at the beginning of the year. This summer’s festival at Pieštany Airport will be its first project.

Taliga has been involved with the event since it started in 1999 and, despite its somewhat checkered history, has seen it became one of the country’s biggest festivals behind Pohoda.

It’s been a bumpy ride involving a few site changes, but Taliga believes teaming with Nova will give Hodokvas a better platform to build upon.

For the first two years it was held at Brno in the Czech Republic and was no more than a small gathering for Slovak painters who exhibited their work while a few local bands played.

By 2002 it had moved to Slovakia and the grounds of an outdoor swimming pool at Modra, where it pulled 6,000 people over two days.

In 2003 it moved to Pezinok, roughly 15 miles northeast of Bratislava, the Slovak capital, and continued to grow until torrential rain before and during the 2005 gathering turned the site into a quagmire.

It moved last year to Pieštany, a health spa town in the Vah valley and less than an hour’s drive from Bratislava, where a three-day festival with a bill including Iggy & The Stooges, Presidents of The United States of America, Living Colour, The Addicts, The Exploited, and Anthony Papa attracted 20,000 fans per day for three days.

Tatar, whose new festival is less than two hours by road from Vienna, denied that his move into neighbouring Slovakia is part of a two-pronged strategy for Nova Music and Austrian sister company MusicNet to create a foothold in the central European markets that lie to the east and south.

In the middle of April, Harry Jenner’s MusicNet, which, like Nova, is part-owned by Folkert Koopmans’ Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio, announced the lineup for the new Radar Festival that it’s starting further south in Croatia.

"It’s not a question of breaking the east. Michal contacted us last year, I think we have the same attitude to work and so we decided to work together," Tatar told Pollstar. "If this is the first step to doing more in the east, then that’s fine. If not, that’s also no problem. Our main target is that Hodokvas will become one of the most popular and biggest festivals in the east during the next five years."

One immediate beneficiary is CTS Eventim, the co-owner of FKP Scorpio, which is Nova and MusicNet’s German partner. CTS Eventim will raise its central European profile and business by selling the tickets for both events.

In trying to establish Hodokvas, which will begin with a capacity of about 25,000, as one of the best festivals in the region over the next five years, Tatar and Taliga will have an eye on a pecking order of long-standing outdoors that’s undoubtedly topped by Hungary’s 70,000-capacity Sziget Festival.

The list also includes Serbia’s 50,000-capacity Exit Festival, Poland’s 40,000-capacity Heineken Open’Er and the local 10-year-old 30,000-capacity Pohoda.

Central Europe and The Balkans have become popular markets for new festivals.

Apart from Hodokvas and Radar, Guido Janssens of EMag!c Entertainment in Romania is starting the 30,000-capacity B’Estival in Bucharest.

Croatia’s two-day InMusic Festival in central Zagreb is in its second year. It started last July with Morrissey and Franz Ferdinand as headliners and will be looking to build on the 15,000-per day crowd they pulled.

Hodokvas Festival July 4-5 has already confirmed Placebo, Korn, Machine Head, New Model Army, No Means No, Marky Ramone, and Anthony B.

Croatia’s new Radar Festival (June 20th) has Kaiser Chiefs, Placebo, and Queens of The Stone Age.