Historic rock festival comes back for its 25th anniversary

  • 2013-05-29
  • By TBT Staff

ROCK MEMORIES: Stars including Bryan Adams (pictured) celebrate 25 years of rock and roll in the Baltics.

TALLINN - The Rock Summer Festival, first held in Tallinn in 1988, will hold a one-off event in mid-June to celebrate a quarter of a century since its birth.
Bryan Adams, Ivo Linna, Zucchero and former Sex Pistol John Lydon are set to perform at the Rock Summer Festival. However, the head organizer Juri Makarov said that they may sign more artists, as some negotiations are still taking place.

The organizers took heat after announcing the event at the beginning of February without revealing any headliners, while still asking 50 euros for tickets. The price of a ticket to the two-day festival now costs 60 euros, but in June the price will be 90 euros.

The original three-day festival was subtitled “Glastnost Rock - Rock for Peace!” and was held during a time of increasing defiance against Soviet rule. The free event attracted 190,000 people.
Rock Summer was then repeated nearly every year for the following decade, attracting names like Iggy Pop and Shaggy to what was otherwise a backwater of the international music circuit. The last time it was held was in 1997, after which the organizers went bankrupt.

“When younger people buy a tablet computer, they do not think that you can visit 10 to 20 concerts for the same price. In respect to the older generation, the sort of festival we are organizing has not been seen in Estonia for a while,” Makarov said.

Rock Summer, which became the biggest rock festival in Eastern Europe, was held nine times altogether. Only once, in 1990, was it cancelled due to political instability. The last one was held in 1997. The time for big festivals in Estonia is over.

The bash that brought many popular foreign artists of the time to Tallinn gave the youth behind the “Iron Curtain” for the first time the chance to feel as part of the world. For musicians it offered face-to-face contact with an audience thirsty for rock, who – to the artists’ biggest surprise – not only knew their songs by heart, but sang along with them!

“Although it is impossible to restore all that now, a quarter of a century later, and that is not our aim, we would still wish to create that indescribable feeling as much as possible. For former fans to live it through again, and younger ones who have only heard about it from stories told by their parents, to have an opportunity to feel it for themselves for the first time in their lives,” Makarov said, explaining the idea of Rock Summer 25. “The best way to describe this succession of generations is probably the fact that the master of ceremonies of this year’s festival, Ivo Linna, will share this position with his son Robert, who at the time of the first festival was just a five-year old kid, but now is with his band “Elephants From Neptune” on his way to the premier league of Estonian rock.

Makarov also added that this year’s Rock Summer is a one-off event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its birth and organizers do not intend to revive the festival and start organizing it every year.
The two-day festival will be held, as is traditional, at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds on June 15 - 16. There will be three stages, with music varying from guitar to heavy rock, from blues to electronic dance music, from metal to hip hop, with more than 30 artists. So there will be something to cater to the needs of music lovers of all tastes and ages and there will also be a nostalgic nod to the times 25 years back.

For more information about the festival and tickets please visit: www.rocksummer.ee