A few weeks back, a friend in Riga posted on his Facebook “anyone want to come to Positivus Festival?” I immediately replied yes. I didn’t know what it was, where it was, how much it cost or even what kinda of music was playing but I knew that I wanted to go. One of my favorite things about summer are music festivals.
Besides, how many chances does one get to go to a summer music festival in Latvia? (Well, I guess if you’re Latvian, probably lots.)
I was lucky enough to get a ride with Jorgen to Salacgrīva but our first stop was the local Rimi supermarket to stock up on food for the two days. I got myself a bag of preserved mini-sausages, dark rye bread and some fruit. Latvians seem to go crazy over this “black bread” so I wanted to do things the local way. And since I loath drinking warm beer, I picked up the cheapest bottle of rum I could find. The nice thing about this music festival was the tent area being just outside. So we were allowed to bring our own alcohol into the tent area and “pre-drink” before going in. Awesome.
We arrived at Positivus on Friday afternoon and easily passed through registration and were soon setting up our tents. (I imagine that “Positivus” has something to do with the word “positive”. Apparently there is also a “Negativus” festival at a similar time for more emo people.) This was a world of difference to Burning Man and Shambhala Music Festival last year, where we had to wait for hours. I can understand with Burning Man. We did turn up during the middle of a storm in the desert, after all. But with Shambhala Music Festival, we had to wait for 17 hours while every car was thoroughly and excruciatingly inspected and all alcohol was seized, as if there were on a witch-hunt for weapons of mass inebriation.
Anyway, we finished setting up a small “tent city” and began with the festivities. Most people had lukewarm beer while I enjoyed a lukewarm cup of rum & coke. It tasted a bit like kerosene but in a good way. The tent area was actually very well equipped, with free coffee and food and drink for sale.
After a bit, we left to go into the festival grounds. It was massive, with 5 stages (including a beach stage) and more than enough place for all the 20,000 attendees. There were all sorts of free facilities as well, like a free mobile phone charging station, a free soup stand, bags filled with sawdust to sit on and a “hammock-city” to chill out in. And there was an impressive array of food and drinks available for purchase, from dumplings to raw smoothies to kebabs and pizza. And of course, alcohol. I suspect that Cēsu beer must have been one of the sponsors though, because even when I was drunk it still tasted like chilled recycled urine. At least it was chilled.
There was also a Couchsurfing meet-up organized by one of the stages, so we gathered together to say hi. That was the last time I saw most of them at the festival. (The first thing you need to remember about music festivals is that you will probably lose everyone within 5 minutes, so it’s probably a good idea to break into pairs.)
The line-up for Positivus was an interesting mix of Latvian and international acts. The music was great and I danced until my feet started hurting. At 4 am, I limped back to my tent. It rained that night and seeing that I’m fairly inept at erecting tents, my tent started leaking. I recalled how I hate sleeping in tents because of this exact reason. On a camping trip once when I was a kid, my tent collapsed on me during the rain but I was too cold to do anything about it. So I just slept in my wet, collapsed tent until the morning. That incident has haunted me ever since.
info: Positivus Music Festival is held annually in mid July in Latvia.