I spent the last few days in the Czech Republic and attended this festival. Fluff Fest is a 3 day hardcore festival in the small town of Rokycany. I hadn't heard of a lot of the bands on the line up and disliked quite a few that I did know. I basically just attended as it would be my last chance to hang out with some my friends for the next couple of years. The fact that it was damn cheap (AU$40 for a 3 day ticket & camping) also made it a bit more appealing.
A few of us arrived in Prague on the morning of the 21st, we spent the day wandering around and doing general tourist stuff. I was in Prague a couple of years ago and had a great time, it was good to be there again. The next day we met up with another friend who had just come in from Romania. The four of us caught a train to Rokycany.
Rokycany is just over an hour outside of Prague and has a population of about 4000 people. Once a year, the town is invaded by HC kids from all over Europe. We arrived and followed the trail of people through the town, woods and up the mountain to a field just behind the Staropramen brewery.
By the time we erected the tent another friend had just arrived from London and we all went to get out tickets. Strangely enough this festival doesn't have pre-sale tickets, it was weird going all this way and not having tickets. Apparently it never sells out. I think they generally expect 2000-4000 people to show up and the venue probably has capacity for 5000.
Fluff Fest is also completely DIY. There are no security guards, no officials, no employees, everything is run by a group of Czech punks/HC kids. All the food is vegan and everything is sold cheaply. Alcohol is sold, but if you wish to bring your own that is cool too. What little profit is made is donated to charity.
As we were lining up for tickets we could hear some terrible HC band playing. It was an Australian band, Hopeless. They were aptly named and I was quite glad that they had finished by the time we got in.
Unfortunately 50 Lions were up next. They were terrible. Horrible knuckle dragging hardcore. I started to regret coming to the festival. I like hardcore, but only in small doses. What the hell was I thinking! I decided to skip the next few bands, a bunch of American bands with terrible names like ‘Man Overboard’. I met the last two of our friends who just arrived from Budapest.
A drink or two later and we decided to check out Polar Bear Club. Melodic pop punk stuff with slightly heavier bits at time. Not really my type of thing, but the crowd liked them and they were tolerable. No security guards or barriers meant kids were constantly stage diving, but the band didn’t seem to mind.
Touche Amore played next. I only watched them for a minute before opting for beers. They were okay, but I just felt like hanging out.
After dinner we checked out The Carrier. The Carrier are a melodic HC band from Boston. They’re on Deathwish Records and fit the label’s sound perfectly. A few years back I probably would’ve liked these guys, but that sound has been done to death (wish). They played once song which I really liked, but other than that they didn’t do much for me.
La Dispute played next. Emo/HC type stuff. I didn’t like them, but I was glad that it wasn’t another tough guy meat head band. We hit the beer tent afterwards, which had been turned into a dance floor. It was pretty funny watching all these Euro HC kids singing and dancing to 80s disco. We got fairly drunk and then retired to the tent to smoke a spliff.
Walked into town in the morning and had breakfast at a local restaurant, the whole town was over flowing with people from the festival. We walked back up the hill just in time for Lemuria. They sounded a lot like early 90s emo, which isn’t a bad thing. I probably won’t listen to them again, but they were a welcome change of pace.
I didn’t catch any other bands until Dangers played at 4pm. My friend saw these guys in London a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t stop raving about them. They played really pissed off HC and the crowd went absolutely crazy. I probably wouldn’t listen to their records, but I’d definitely go see them live. The singer had really good stage presence and they managed to convey a sense of urgency and anger that felt genuine, when most other bands just look like they’re going through the motions.
Year of no Light from France played next. They played an extremely derivative style of post rock that has been done far too many times. The world doesn’t need any more post rock bands.
Punch from California played next. They have a chick singer, who happened to be very cute. They played short fast HC. They were great, the singer had really good stage presence and the crowd loved them.
After Punch I walked over to see Cheap Girls. I hadn’t heard of these guys, but they were great. They sounded late 80s college rock. They were obviously heavily influenced by later era Husker Du. They weren’t doing anything ground breaking, but I quite enjoyed them and was willing to forgive them.
Joe Lally from Fugazi played next. Fugazi are one of my favourite bands, but I never got into his solo stuff. He is living in Rome now and plays in Europe constantly, this was the first time I’ve seen him though. He was pretty boring and I wound up sitting down and zoning out.
Victims from Sweden played next. HC/Crust sort of stuff. I saw these guys support Municipal Waste a couple of years ago and didn’t think too much of them at the time. Not much has changed since then.
Ensign from New Jersey played next. I saw these guys when they toured Australia almost 10 years ago. At the time I was under 18 and now I’m 26. It was cool to see them on the other side of the world after all these years. I quite liked these guys when I was younger and nostalgia took over during their set.
Blue Note (aka Swing Kids) headlined the main stage tonight. Swing Kids were an early 90s San Francisco HC band. The guitarist went on to Unbroken and then committed suicide a while back. So the band got back together for this tour, but decided to play under another name instead. I’ve seen the singer, Justin Pearson (Locust, Struggle, Some Girls) play in various bands and he is definitely a good front man. The band played great tonight and I enjoyed it, but it did feel like a ‘reunion show’. Pearson seems to have a disdain for HC and it seemed odd that he would want to look backwards. The crowd didn’t notice though and everyone had a good time.
We got really drunk after Swing Kids. I watched a couple of Czech bands playing the smaller stages, but I don’t really remember too much about them. We went back to the tent and passed out. At some point during the early hours of the morning someone came into our tent and stole some stuff from my friend’s bag. There were six of us asleep in the tent at the time, but none of us woke up. Over the course of the next day it became clear that many, many people had items stolen from their tents. Thankfully the thieves left everyone’s passports alone. I had noticed a couple of gypsy kids lurking around the campsite earlier. I suspect a group of them came in at night time.
A couple of us walked into town to get supplies and decided to have lunch in town, so I didn’t make it back to see any bands until well into the afternoon. I watched some Czech doom band, they were okay, but very unoriginal.
I then caught a few minutes of an American band called Unrestrained. They were rubbish.
Afterwards I caught an Italian band called Reain. The crowd loved them, but I didn’t think too much of them. They had three guitarists, but clearly didn’t need three guitarists.
Afterwards I caught a couple of songs of Rosetta. Metal/post rock/prog rock type stuff. They weren’t too bad, but we went and chilled out instead.
I went back just in time to catch a few songs from Black Breath. They’re a metal band on Southern Lord. I was keen to see them as I’ve liked a few Southern Lord bands in the past, these guys were pretty dull though. However there was an interesting/awkward moment in their set. The guitarist decided to propose to his girlfriend who was at the side of the stage. She was clearly not expecting a proposal and nor was she impressed. She eventually said yes, but not before ‘umming and erring’ for a few moments and saying ‘can we talk about this later’.
Next up was CEREMONY! I remember listening to Ceremony when their second LP came out and thinking they were okay, but that was it. Then last year they released their third LP, Rohnert Park. Rohnert Park was easily my favourite album of last year. An incredibly pissed off and bored album about the suburbs/life. It felt like a modern band had finally released something that could stand up to the classics of the 80s, while not sounding like a clone. It was one of the best punk albums in many years and I listened to it daily for months.
I went to see them when they toured London last year, but the line to get in was terribly long and the gig sold out before I got in. As such I had been looking forward to seeing them all weekend and they didn’t disappoint. Right from the intro it was great. The crowd went crazy too and the show ended with everyone storming the stage. I can’t wait to see them again. Aside from Fucked Up they’re probably the most interesting band in Punk at the moment. They just ditched HC label Bridge Nine and signed with Matador. It will be interesting to see where they go with their next LP.
The next day we packed up our shit and went to Prague. Overall it was a fun trip. I saw a lot of shitty bands, but it was cool hanging out with people. I was meant to spend a few more days in Prague and then head to Germany for a while, but unfortunately I’m having visa problems with the Indian consulate. I had to hand in my passport today, so I had to bail back to London early. So it goes.