Ratnikov Calls For Krilya Re-Jig

Moscow promoter Ed Ratnikov believes the city’s Krilya Festival needs to move to another venue if it doesn’t want to see its crowd dwindle away to nothing.

"I don’t think it can work on Tushino Airfield any longer because the security is so tight that the people don’t even feel they’re at a festival," he told Pollstar after this year’s July 21-22 gathering had pulled around 8,000 per day.

The 8-year-old festival has had a troubled time at Tushino, beginning when two female suicide bombers killed 15 people and injured 60 others when they blew themselves up at the gates of the 2003 event.

The incident drew a defiant response from Moscow mayor Youri Luzhkov, who said, "Those terrorists will never put us down on our knees. We will not close our festival. We will increase security."

And that’s what he’s done ever since. This year’s Krilya – it means "wings" – would have been monitored by at least 3,000 police and special security services, despite the fact the 40,000 or so crowds of four or five years ago have dwindled to less than a quarter of that size.

In 2004, the year after the terrorists’ bombing, the authorities moved the festival to the Luzhniki Olympic complex because they thought it’d be easier to police.

Since it’s been back at Tushino, the security costs have cut the entertainment budget to the point that Natalie Imbruglia was the only international act that Ratnikov could place on this year’s event. The rest of the bill is now Russian acts that the Moscow music fans can see several times over the course of a year.

Ratnikov plans to meet with Krilya promoter Mikhail Kapnik of Silencepro and reps from Efes Pilsner, the brewer that sponsors the event, to discuss how the festival’s fortunes could be turned around.

Mayor Luzhkov seems to want the festival to go ahead, if only to show he won’t be cowed by terrorists, even to the extent that – due to the strange intricacies of Moscow bureaucracy – it’s one of the few 5,000-plus capacity live music shows in the city where alcohol is allowed to be sold.

That privilege wasn’t even granted to the July 18 Metallica show that Live Nation’s Budapest office and the Moscow-based SAV Entertainment co-promoted at Luzhniki, despite the fact it was sponsored by Tuborg, the giant Scandinavian brewer.

It may be that Luzhkov’s fear of a drunken Russian mob is greater than his fear of terrorists.

A year before the terrorist attack at Krilya, he stopped a Rammstein concert at Tushino after thousands of drunken soccer fans had rioted after watching Russia’s 1-0 World Cup soccer defeat against Japan, a match that was shown on giant TV screens spread around the city.

An estimated 8,000 people went on a spree of vandalism and violence that led to two confirmed deaths, more than 100 injuries, cars being set on fire, extensive damage to windows and the destruction of most of the TV screens.