From groundbreaking rock to extravagant synth-pop

  • 2014-07-03
  • By Antra Bertule

SUN AND SAND: Another don’t-miss affair at this year’s Positivus festival.

RIGA - So, here it comes! Yet another three-day summer party next to the Baltic sea! Positivus Festival is, no doubt, a must-see-and-hear event for every music fan in Latvia and the Baltics. Music is still the main deal for Positivus Festival. Speaking of this, the lineup artists are great this year. Old-school electronic giants Kraftwerk, nostalgic a la sailormen Elbow from the UK who recently issued their newest album, the charming singer Anna Calvi, the soulful band Junip (singer songwriter Jose Gonzales is among the band members, and we know him from his previous gig here in Riga, which was really something), the upbeat hiphoppers Phantogram, and many, many more. However, the main focus stays the same from year to year – to provide the best new musical essence for all those who want more than just what one hears at a European hit party. Still, though there are loads of bands at this year’s festival, let’s highlight some musicians who you don’t want to miss.

Elbow, Elbow, Elbow. This is among those big names who are included in this year’s European music festival line-ups together with such rock music giants as Interpol, Arcade Fire and Black Keys. Unfortunately, for those bands Positivus Festival is not big enough, but the night is still young. Elbow have played more than 10 years delivering great, melodic shows with lots of British traditional music references and the unique feeling of sadness that only a man living on an island can understand. They will play on the main Lattelecom stage. If you care for some Icelandic electro-pop tunes and your Spotify list is full of albums from The Knife, Royksopp or Fever Ray, welcome to FM Belfast world! They will also play on the Lattelecom stage. Ireland punkish band And So I Watch You From Afar will freshen up all those who listen to punk and metal music. They have played at Positivus Festival in 2010, and it was a brilliant experience.

Surely we can expect at least that and a bit more this year. Let’s also look to the New Yorkbased hiphop Phantogram, who in their songs fulfill the dreams of shoegaze, adding an energetic vibe of hiphop and dubstep. They, similarly to Elbow, released an album this year and have gained great success in Europe and the USA. Anna Calvi is another headliner at Lattelecom. She might be the youngest sister of PJ Harvey playing soulful songs and doing her magic on stage with a femme fatale look – red lipstick, elegant clothing and honest lyrics. Kraftwerk have been electronic music pioneers since the 1970s, and this is a serious argument for watching their live show at Lattelecom. However, their time in the spotlight passed years ago, so to see them would mean to appreciate music history rather than gaining some new musical impressions. But this is good enough for dedicated fans.

Then comes “Daughter,” a tender mix of Cat Power blues energy and cinematic mood, all of the soundtrack pieces we can hear on “Grey’s Anatomy,” especially in the final episode where someone dies or says goodbye to their lover. For those who like Lily Allen but don’t get the chance to see her shows, here comes AlunaGeorge, offering a bit of dance music, a bit of r’n’b. Very refreshing. Nordea Stage has always been a little box of treasures. Even if you don’t know most of the bands playing at Positivus, you seldom get the blues after seeing what Nordea brings to the table. This year, it’s fresh electronics from the talented Australian Chet Faker.

He has been a member of the prominent Boiler Room; as well, it’s a live-stream electronic music event which is broadcast via the Web and has gained lots of attention. Apart from that, there is Temples who are going to bring out neo-psychedelic tunes in The Beatles style, and Of Montreal, an avantgard indie pop band who offers eclectic dance music for every taste. And yes, a triphop pioneer – Tricky – is also going to be at Positivus. And it’s good news for those who are fans of Massive Attack and all the dark Bristol urban scene with graffiti art and massive influences of street style. Future Islands, for their part, will offer great synthpop music showing the lead singer’s unique, rusty voice tembre. He is charismatic on stage with his crazy dance moves and an attitude of a religous cult leader, or something. For those who are real Latvian music lovers, there is plenty for you as well.

K.Remonts, the legendary new wave band with lead singer Ieva Akuratere will be there. In fact, they have already played their one and only show this winter at the Palladium in Riga, but here, you never know, right? This will be their second gig this year. Don’t miss Carnival Youth either. Four new guys from Riga, two of them sons of the lead singer from Prata Vetra, Renars Kaupers. But that’s not so much of an issue, that Carnival Youth managed to play some serious shows at European festivals and showcases, even though all four have only just finished secondary school. They are talented and attractive, and the girls like them. Maybe you will, too. Also, Laika Suns will play powerful rock music and Rigas Modes will offer some old school dance music. Don’t miss the whole Red Bull Music Academy Stage stuff, as there are going to be musicians from Dirty Deal Audio community. They have gained lots of attention with their passionate hiphop/beatmaker’s society and hard-working attitude in the music business. Also, check out the list at the small stages I Love You and Palladium if you fancy fresh Baltic blood rushing through your veins.