Wave Hits Harder Than Anarchists

Baris Basaran from Charmenko said the success of Rockwave Festival and an unpredictable Greek market hit Fly Beeyond Festival harder than the anarchists who tried to crash it on the second day.

The trouble they caused could have been worse, as witnessed by last year’s Ejeckt Festival where security guards were stabbed and vehicles were torched.

This time, at Fly Beeyond, a group of about 300 young people wanted to see Sex Pistols without paying but they were dealt with at the festival gate and no serious injuries were reported.

What hit Fly Beeyond harder, according to Basaran, was clashing with Rockwave Festival – also staged near Athens and the country’s main outdoor – which happened a week earlier and did a record-breaking 70,000 across three days.

The July 7-10 bill included Judas Priest, The Offspring, Manu Chao, Opeth, Patti Smith, Siouxsie and Flogging Molly.

Fly Beeyond started last year when a three-day lineup headed by Avril Lavigne, James, Tori Amos, and Air attracted more than 30,000 to Athens’ OAKA Olympic Stadium.

But two of the bill-toppers – Pink and The Rasmus – had to pull out at short notice, which could have had a negative impact on this year’s event.

This year’s edition took place July 15-16 at Karaiskaki Stadium in Piraeus, which is a few kilometres outside of Athens and home of Olympiakos, the current national soccer champions.

A lineup that included Massive Attack, Gogol Bordello, Sex Pistols, New York Dolls, and The Courteneers did about half of the 10,000 per day organizers expected.

It was a setback for Basaran and Istanbul-based Charmenko, which has widened its strategy of helping to develop new outdoor events in what was the old Eastern Bloc.

The other, smaller mid-July festivals the company worked on in Hungary, Russia, and Latvia did much better.

It was the second time Charmenko was involved in Hungary’s 10-year-old but internationally unknown Tokaj Hegyalja Festival July 9-13, which is a four-hour drive northeast of Budapest to the heart of the vineyards that make one of the sweetest wines in Europe.

Having booked domestic acts for its first eight years and attracting crowds of up to 7,000 per day, the 2008 edition upped it to 10,000 with the booking of international bands including Finnish Goth-rockers 69 Eyes and U.S. punk-pop act Juliette & The Licks. It was a 30 percent increase on the 2007 crowd.

Developing festivals in old Eastern Bloc countries could hardly be described as a piece of cake, but it’s beginning to look that way at Moscow’s Afisha Picnic.

The company behind the event doesn’t publish figures on how many people attend, apparently a throwback to the days when everyone was let in free.

Since the event started in 2004, the attendance has grown from 5,000 to 50,000. This year’s festival was the first to charge a minimal fee, although not enough to deter 32,000 people.

It’s the first year Charmenko has been involved. Given that the figures held up and one of the bill-toppers was DeVotchKa – a multi-instrumental Slavic-style ensemble based in Denver, Colo. – Basaran thinks the event has tremendous potential.

He said he believes it’s already the biggest and the fastest-growing open-air festival in Russia. U.S. doo-wop specialists The Teenagers, Danish electro-rockers Dune, and Atlanta-based garage punksters Black Lips were also on the July 19 bill.

In its second year, Latvia’s Positivus became the biggest festival in The Baltics, although the outdoor festival market is still in an infancy; Positivus attracted 9,000 people per day.

The upsides are the attendance was double what it did first year and hundreds visited from Lithuania and Estonia, despite the festival not spending anything on marketing in either country.

The international bill-toppers July 18-19 included Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Fat Boy Slim, British Sea Power and Timo Maas.