Pohoda takes on the army

EMBLEMATIC of this year's Pohoda was the visible presence of the military. As the festival was held for the first time at the military airport in Trenčín, the Slovak Army took advantage of the attention to show itself off. As Saturday heated up, revellers began to linger under the canopied fighter jets and armoured vehicles on display, relaxing under wings and disarmed bombs.


photo: Eric Smillie

EMBLEMATIC of this year's Pohoda was the visible presence of the military. As the festival was held for the first time at the military airport in Trenčín, the Slovak Army took advantage of the attention to show itself off. As Saturday heated up, revellers began to linger under the canopied fighter jets and armoured vehicles on display, relaxing under wings and disarmed bombs. At a time when war is in the back of many people's minds, the combination was fitting.

War was certainly on the minds of several of the festival's headliners, including Chumbawamba, a British band that has made a name for itself through openly political songs. One favourite is a song of love betrayed about Tony Blair.


photo: Eric Smillie

"We absolutely detest Tony Blair," said vocalist Alice Nutter, "The problem with people like Tony Blair is that they pretend to be liberal and all they are really [doing] is hanging on to power by doing whatever is necessary, and in this case it's following George Bush into a war that's killing thousands and thousands of people."

Just as political was the Spanish band Ska-P, which played for the first time on Slovak soil to a wild, bouncing crowd. Songs about the death penalty, police brutality, and the Iraq war saw Pipi, the band's showman, burst on stage in various roles, including an American Uncle Sam on stilts with a giant scythe.


photo: Eric Smillie

Roisin Murphy, the lead singer of the greatly anticipated Moloko, began the band's set with a salute and a shiny metal helmet, the first of a series of props she threw on as she sauntered through her songs. Whether this was a commentary on current events or merely one of the somewhat disjointed poses she took as the night went on is up for interpretation.

Even more mystery surrounded other bands. Tipe of Finland's Leningrad Cowboys, for example, refused to reveal how they do their extreme pompadour haircuts, or anything about their pointed elf shoes. "You can ask but we won't answer," he said.


photo: Eric Smillie

As the grounds for such a large festival, the airport was suitable. The stages were scattered along a runway, keeping the music of each from bleeding too much into the next, and there was more than enough room to walk freely. Perhaps the only downside of the distance was the time it took to walk from one end of the airfield to the other, a serious consideration once it got hot. All that open space, however, allowed for trucks full of water to drive about and hose everyone down.

Another bonus was a free, 24-hour bag check for those without a tent or with valuables to protect. This was very convenient up until about 1:00


photo: Eric Smillie

Sunday morning when people stopping by to pick up some extra clothes against the cold were told they could not check their bags back in. A final word to the wise from this tent-less correspondent - only those who get very drunk find comfort or much sleep staying out in the open.

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