Pohoda Goes Potty Over Harry

Nobody was going to use the July 20 midnight launch of the new Harry Potter book as a reason for missing Pohoda Festival because the organisers shipped in a few hundred copies and sold them in the site’s Artoforum Café.

Event organiser Michal Kascak doesn’t think the availability of JK Rowling’s new and apparently last book about Hogwarts School for young wizards and witches (or the fact his own band didn’t play this year) was the reason it broke its crowd record by pulling an average of 27,000 per day.

Last year, the festival’s tenth anniversary, Kascak and his former bandmates from Bez Ladu A Skladu ("politically-fired alternate rock") – who’ve had a cult following among the youth of the old Czechoslovakia since the late 80’s – reformed to bid a final farewell to their Slovak fans.

Kascak says this year’s success is partly down to the festival’s steady growth, the crowd gradually getting used to the new site at Trencin Airport (where it’s been since 2004) and the public turning up to a heat wave that led to the festival giving away 600,000 litres of drinking water.

In terms of 2007 attendances, the 27,000 per day crowd puts Pohoda alongside the neighbouring Czech Republic’s Rock For People Festival and Romania’s new B’Estival in a poll of central European and Balkan summer outdoor shows.

Along with Serbia’s Exit Festival (50,000 per day), the Tuborg-sponsored one-day Greenfest headlined by Red Hot Chili Peppers (80,000), which Exit organisers co-produced with Live Nation’s Budapest office, and Poland’s Heineken Open’er (40,000), Pohoda’s record crowd shows the original emerging markets – the ones that formed the first ILMC panels under that umbrella – are at least developing a healthy outdoor circuit.

Hungary’s week-long Sziget Festival, the oldest and most prestigious in the old Eastern bloc, will probably pull at least 60,000 per day to its Danube island site in Budapest (August 8-14).

Although Pohoda continues to make plenty of room for local Slovakian, Czech and often Russian talent, all it had when it started in ’97, this year’s gathering saw its strongest international line up. It included Basement Jaxx, The Hives, Wu-Tang Clan and Mando Diao.

Other acts helping the emerging Slovakian market to emerge even further (July 20-21) included Junkie XL, Datarock, Plan B, Ugly Duckling, DJ Shadow, The Pipettes, Lou Rhodes, Client and DJ Marky.