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Sheer excitement: Vertical concerts entertain fans in Ukraine

Vertical concerts have been taking socially distanced crowds in Ukraine by storm in recent weeks, as bands perform to fans stacked on top of one another on hotel balconies.

Hotel Bratislava in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev has hosted an array of acts over the past two months, with rock band Green Grey first trialling the vertical concert concept on 7 June. The popularity of the initial sold-out show saw follow-ups from hip-hop group TNMK on 4 July and rock group O.Torvald on 18 July.

Further shows at the hotel, by Ukrainian acts Pianoboy and Scriabin, are set for August.

The Hotel Bratislava concerts turn a previously tested vertical concert format on its head, as fans, rather than performers are arranged, unlike a vertical show that took place last year in Samsung KX, London, which saw acts play from a 30ft, three-storey stage, designed to fit neatly into concertgoers’ smartphone screens.

In the Kiev concerts, artists perform from a rooftop facing hotel balconies, with a view of the concerts possible from roughly nine stories of rooms, with 14 separate balconies running the length of the building.

“It’s hard to put into words [what it’s like] when you’re performing in front of the hotel, and people from all balconies are singing your songs in unison”

Up to four guests can attend the concert together on each balcony. Instead of buying tickets, fans book rooms at the hotel and pick up keys from the front desk before shows begin.

“We were looking forward to this concert,” said O.Torvald frontman Zhenya Halych following the show. “You can finally look into the eyes of those you’re performing for. It’s hard to put into words [what it’s like] when you’re performing in front of the hotel, and people from all balconies are singing your songs in unison, shining lanterns and making ‘snow’ from napkins. Pure buzz.”

The Ukrainian government this week extended lockdown measures until 31 August, requiring people to wear masks and adhere to social distancing measures in public places.

Hotels have provided the setting for concerts around the world during lockdown, with the format allowing for socially distanced shows while giving a boost to both the tourism and music sectors.

Hotels Live, a hotel-based concert series in Calgary, Canada, also saw fans taking to their balconies to enjoy a live show, whereas Sleepover Experience in Spain allows music lovers to enjoy a weekend holiday package complete with intimate live shows and artist Q&As at the Unite Hostel in Barcelona.

This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Record attendance for Ukraine’s Atlas Weekend

The fifth edition of Kiev-based Atlas Weekend festival saw more visitors than ever before, with 538,000 festivalgoers from 75 different countries attending the six-day festival.

The festival, which took place from 9 to 14 July, featured performances from the Chainsmokers, Black Eyed Peas, the Vaccines, Liam Gallagher and Russian rock group Splean.

“We are really happy with how the 2019 edition went,” Atlas Weekend owner and chief executive Dmytro Sydorenko tells IQ. “It was our best festival yet.”

159,710 people attended the free-to-enter opening day of the festival, breaking the event’s daily attendance record.

“The point of the first day is to showcase Ukrainian music to the widest audience possible,” explains Sydorenko, stating that the number of attendees also marked a new daily attendance record for festival venue Ukrainian Expo Centre, “in all 61 years of its existence”.

“One of our main goals is to develop music tourism in Ukraine and also make the festival more prominent in markets outside of our country,” says Sydorenko. “We work closely with government departments to ease planning for foreign visitors – both artists and fans – and make sure they have the best time possible during their stay in Kiev.”

Over 250 acts from 20 different countries made up the festival’s most international line-up yet, with 30 acts performing in Ukraine for the first time.

“One of our main goals is to make the festival more prominent in markets outside of Ukraine”

Asap Rocky, who was billed to headline Atlas Weekend’s Saturday night, was detained in Sweden for suspected assault shortly before the event, leading to the cancellation of remaining tour dates.

The absence of the headliner was much talked about on social media and in the Ukrainian press, says the Atlas chief executive, admitting that “there was a lot of tension involved”.

“We have never had to deal with a headliner replacement before, especially not one that urgent,” Sydorenko tells IQ, “but we are happy that we managed to find a suitable replacement both for Asap Rocky’s fans and our festivalgoers.”

Fellow Asap Mob member Asap Ferg filled the headline slot, in a performance that “almost didn’t happen due to flight delays”.

A key goal for the 2019 festival was to be “as inclusive and accessible as possible.” Through its Mastercard Vibes initiative, festival sponsor Mastercard provided sign language interpretation at the main stage, as well as setting up a lounge area with visual and tactile installations.

“We believe in inclusivity and take pride in our efforts to make our festival a place for everyone to have a good time and enjoy music,” says Sydorenko.

The festival was held in partnership with Music Conference Ukraine, which was organised by the country’s music export office.


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