Pohoda Moves On

A year after Pohoda Festival was stopped when violent winds caused a tent to cave in, killing one person and injuring 93 others, this year’s gathering tried to commemorate what happened and move on at the same time.

It began by remembering last year’s tragedy as the State Philharmony of Kosice and St. Cecils Choir performed Mozart’s “Requiem” to a main stage area packed with 15,000 visitors.

Stories saying the 22,000-capacity event sold out in advance may have deterred some people from turning up, but festival chief Michal Kascak wasn’t too bothered as he was left with only a handful of tickets.

He says the crowd seemed very pleased that Pohoda decided to continue, which was in some doubt after last year’s accident. Acts including Scissor Sisters, Leftfield, Juliette Lewis, Klaxons and ETEP winners The xx also helped make the July 8-9 gathering something of a celebration.

“If there is a heaven for me and indeed all musicians, it would be to wander in and around an eternal Pohoda Festival,” Fergus O’Farrel from Irish band Interference told the crowd.

This year Pohoda also decided to talk with the fans about the sometimes unseen difficulties of festival safety, such as the freak weather that led to last year’s accident. The fest also set up a well-attended open forum on one of the smaller stages. It was co-chaired by Henrik Nielsen, who overhauled Roskilde Festival in Denmark’s safety after nine fans were killed in a crowd crush in 2000, and Pohoda medical team chief Jaroslav Vidan.

The other moment for remembrance came at 3 p.m. Saturday, exactly when the storm started last year, as all the stages except the main one were shut down. The national Slovak Chamber Orchestra performed Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and all the other stages restarted at 4.

There was also a flag field at the place where the tent collapsed last year, which was surrounded by a sand circle and thousands of candles.

The lasting memorial will be a 40-metre circle that’s been seeded with sunflowers. It has paths to a central area that has a square and some commemorative park benches.

Other acts at Pohoda included Ian Brown, Crystal Castles, Max Romeo, Friendly Fires, New Young Pony Club, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.