Rock for People

Expats.cz

Czech Republic’s biggest outdoor music festival kicks off July 3

“The advantage here is that the common denominator for everyone is fun, joyfulness, laughter, and the possibility to forget about everyday life for a moment.”

Not a bad way to kick off your summer. That’s the opinion of Petr Fort, organizer of Rock for People, the largest outdoor music festival in the Czech Republic. Ahead of this year’s event (being held in Hradec Králové from July 3-6) Expats.cz went straight to the source to find out more about the history of Rock for People, as well as what visitors can look forward to this year.

The small town of Ceský Brod in central Bohemia is the birthplace of the festival. From a one day event 16 years ago which drew about 1,000 people, Fort says they saw 27,000 music lovers at last year’s incarnation. Due to popularity, they eventually outgrew the Ceský Brod space and relocated in 2007 to Hradec Králové. Their fourth edition of the festival was already a three day event and Fort recalls how they continued to grow and push the festival beyond what the country had seen before.

“We kept getting more and more daring in inviting ever more famous foreign guests, for example, I remember us getting Guano Apes to play in 1999, they were our first foreign band,” he said. “I guess you can say that we’ve been the pioneers when it comes to importing big foreign music stars, like Placebo, Arctic Monkeys, Manu Chao, Cypress Hill, Apocalyptica, Kaiser Chiefs, The Offspring, Massive Attack, and others.”

Fort admits that after the stellar line-up last year, which included bands like Arctic Monkeys and Placebo; 2010 was a tough program to assemble. Diligence and lots of negotiating however have paid off, and this year visitors can look forward to Muse, The Prodigy, Editors, Skunk Anansie, among about 170 other bands. The scope of the festival is quite amazing.

“During the course of the four days, 170 bands, musicians and other artists from 12 countries will have the chance to perform,” said Fort. There will be eight stages, plus chill out zones, spots for non-profit organizations, extreme sports, an Internet café, vendors, food and drink.

One reason the festival continues to grow in popularity after 16 years is the organizers’ taking into account feedback of past attendees as well as continuing to push the envelope when it comes to new and bigger bands.

“Last year’s festival showed that the fans really loved the British indie bands that played, so we wanted to bring in some interesting artists from the UK this year as well,” said Fort. “We were able to do that, and the negotiation results actually exceeded our expectations.” He believes Does it offend you, yeah? will be particularly popular. Who else is Fort looking forward to seeing?

“The most impatiently awaited event will definitely be the concert of MUSE from the UK,” he said. “I think that the reunited band Skunk Anansie will be worth taking a look at. Judging from the fans’ reactions to their concerts, they’re possibly even better now, than they were before they broke up! And naturally The Prodigy will provide a very lively concert.”

People who’ve been to Rock for People in the past will notice some differences.

“The capacity of the camping grounds, there’s more room in front of the stages. There are more stages, too – eight in all, there’s a theater in the program and a doll theater for the kids, as well as some non-musical events to even things out,” Fort said. “We’ve also developed some major improvements in the ecological program. Our new partner is Staropramen, and is responsible for the beer and food served at the festival.” He adds that the festival is lucky to have the kind of fans who offer new ideas and make suggestions for improvements.

Never attended? Fort describes the atmosphere.

“It’s something you have to see for yourself, because it’s hard to describe, but I’m going to give it a try. First of all, there’s a whole lot of great music – starting with jazz, then indie, hard rock, all the way to electronic,” he explained. “There are people from all over Czech Republic and plenty of foreigners, you can chill out, no one is in a hurry to get anywhere, and everyone is having fun, making new friends and enjoying the constant flow of the music. And naturally, it’s a Czech festival, so you can’t go without Czech beer.”

Complete details on how to attend can be found at Rock for People’s very comprehensive website. The program kicks off on July 3 at 2pm and the music barely stops until Tuesday at 11pm. Tickets are on sale now and cost 1,570 CZK, if pre-bought. There’s a large campsite right outside the festival grounds where you can pitch your tent for only 200 CZK for the whole weekend. Anything more you could ever want to know about Rock for People or Hradec Králové can be found in their useful guide.

“The festival is the best way to meet people from all over the Czech Republic and have lots of fun during those four days,” said Fort. “It’s an opportunity to experience a truly unique atmosphere, which is something you don’t get every day of the year.”