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Pohoda on most “emotional and challenging” edition

The organiser behind Slovakia’s biggest festival has told IQ about “the most emotionally charged and the most logistically difficult year in the festival’s history”.

Pohoda (peace) returned to Trenčín airport last week (6–8 July) for the first time in three years, due to two pandemic-related cancellations.

According to CEO and booker Michal Kascak, more than 10,000 people held onto tickets they bought before the pandemic and ultimately, the 30,000-capacity event sold out.

The 25th-anniversary edition played host to artists from thirty countries including Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Confidence Man, Slowthai, Lianne La Havas, Metronomy, Sigrid and Wolf Alice, though it was acts from neighbouring Ukraine that stole the show.

Kascak says the most emotionally powerful concert came from the Philharmonic Orchestra of Luhansk, an area which has been a recent focal point during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The war in our neighbouring country, plus returning after three years of the pandemic, along with powerful performances brought a spectre of emotions, from total joy to gratitude, fellowship to sorrow,” says Kascak.

“I have never seen such enthusiasm and engagement like this year in the backstage of Pohoda”

“We know how lucky we are to hold a festival in a free democratic society – we could lose it in a second like our Ukrainian friends. I grew up under a communist regime, when a festival like this seemed like an unrealisable dream.

“We’ve been doing this for 25 years now and it is amazing to see people being together in all their diversity, enjoying art, life and creating a community of tolerance and peace. It shows that festivals have an important purpose.”

Throughout Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Pohoda has pitched in to support the citizens of Ukraine with a charity concert and an employment initiative.

As if supporting their neighbours wasn’t enough to occupy Pohoda, the festival also had to deal with the kind of post-Covid issues that are affecting festival across Europe.

“We had a lack of volunteers and temporary workers. There were many problems with flights. We also had some covid-related cancellations,” lists Kascak.

“[Despite that], I was positively surprised how were people dealing with that. All the team did incredible job, I have never seen such enthusiasm and engagement like this year in the backstage of Pohoda.”


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Ukraine’s Atlas raises 2m from ‘Goodbye Russia’ event

Ukraine’s biggest music festival has raised almost two million hryvnyas (€67,352) for the armed forces, from an online event titled Goodbye Russia.

Atlas festival would have taken place in Kiev last week (6–10 July) but due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of the country, the event wasn’t able to go ahead.

In lieu of the festival, the organisers held an online ‘festival show’ with the aim of raising UAH2m for 50 portable, solar-powered power plants capable of charging devices and equipment in the field.

According to an announcement, 40 power plants have already been collected by the military.

The organisers of Atlas festival have been increasingly active in raising money for relief in Ukraine

Artists including Fatboy Slim, Verka Serduchka, Dantes, Wellboy, Oleg Skrypka and KOLA were among the guests of the broadcast, which was streamed for over four and a half hours on YouTube, Megogo Live and Action TV on 10 July.

Alongside the event, cryptocurrency exchange Binance launched an NFT charity auction, in which the highest bidder wins a lifetime ticket to Atlas and proceeds go towards the power plants.

The organisers of Atlas festival have been increasingly active in raising money for relief in Ukraine, having organised two charity telethons and transformed its venue into a warehouse for supplies.

Donations can still be made here and the full stream of the Goodbye Russia online show can be watched below.


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Atlas Festival team plan second Ukraine telethon

The team behind Ukraine’s Atlas Festival is spearheading a second Save Ukraine – #StopWar global charity telethon this weekend.

The latest fundraiser is planned for 29 May – the Day of Kyiv – and is dedicated to the Ukrainian resistance. It will start simultaneously in Kyiv and the German capital, Berlin.

Artists including Okean Elzy, Tina Karol, The Hardkiss, Monatik, Beissoul & Einius, Antytila, Onuka and Alyona Alyona will perform live on a stage near the Brandenburg Gate. Kalush, who won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine earlier this month, will serve as special guests.

The event is aiming to raise funds for medical equipment for Ukrainian healthcare institutions, including the purchase of surgical C-arm X-ray machines. Fundraising will be conducted through the United24 global initiative, with all donations to be automatically transferred to the accounts of the National Bank of Ukraine, assigned to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

The two-hour broadcast will be screened by TV channels in around 20 countries

Political leaders, musicians, artists, public activists, actors, athletes and volunteers from all over the globe will communicate with the audience calling on to support Ukraine.

The two-hour broadcast will be screened by TV channels in around 20 countries, as well as on streaming platforms and social media. The broadcast will be available for viewers globally on the YouTube channels of 1+1 and Atlas Festival.

The key messages of the project are #Stoprussia, #StandWithUkraine, #StopWar, #SaveUkraine, #BeBraveLikeUkraine and #CapitalOfBravePeople.

The first telethon took place on 27 March in Warsaw, Poland, raising more than €1.2 million for the humanitarian effort.

Atlas Weekend, the largest festival in Eastern Europe, had been due to take place in July at Kyiv’s Expocenter with headliners Twenty One Pilots, Placebo and Alt-J, prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


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The O2 to stock Ukraine lager to support appeal

Budweiser Brewing Group (BBG) is bringing Ukraine beer brand Chernigivske to The O2 in London to support the humanitarian relief effort in Ukraine.

The O2 has been named as the first UK on-trade partner and venue stockist for the traditional Ukrainian lager through the venue’s long-term partnership with Budweiser, which is part of its official beer partner AB InBev.

The move forms part of a wider initiative from AB InBev, which has pledged to donate at least $5 million to designated non-governmental organisations, including Caritas International, to support humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine.

“We’re delighted to be supporting such a worthy initiative”

“We’re delighted to be supporting such a worthy initiative alongside our long-term partner AB InBev, as well as Levy UK, and bringing Chernigivske to fans visiting The O2 arena,” says Laura Palairet, senior partnerships director at The O2. “As a business, we’re continually looking for ways that we can make a difference and are proud to be working with partners who share this mission.”

In addition, The O2, in conjunction with the venue’s catering partner Levy UK and AB InBev, will be making a donation from every drink sold at the venue to go towards charitable causes with the aim of providing essential humanitarian relief.

“I’m proud that we can leverage our expertise, scale and ecosystem to support humanitarian relief efforts by introducing Chernigivske in the UK,” adds Anna Rudenko, marketing director of Chernigivske, Ukraine. “We are thrilled that Chernigivske will be available at The O2, offering our consumers the opportunity to directly contribute to this effort.”

Cans of Chernigivske feature the Ukrainian flag on their packaging and are available to purchase at The O2 until September.


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U2’s Bono and The Edge perform in Kyiv bomb shelter

U2 band members Bono and The Edge yesterday (8 May) delivered an acoustic concert in one of Kyiv’s subway stations that have been repurposed as a bomb shelter.

According to a post from the band’s official social media, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky invited the pair to play in his country, which has been fending off an invasion by Russia since 24 February.

According to the Irish Times, the musicians started the set with ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ as the sound of air-raid sirens went off in the distance.

Elsewhere in the setlist were ‘With Or Without You’, ‘Desire’ and ‘Angel Of Harlem’. Before the latter, Bono told the crowd that there was “nowhere in the whole world that we would rather be in today than in the great city of Kyiv”.

The pair also covered Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’, bringing up a Ukrainian soldier on stage to help them sing it, and changing the “me” in the lyrics to “Ukraine”. Musicians who have had to join the military in recent months also joined the band on stage throughout the set, including Taras Topolya, frontman of Ukrainian band Antytila.

During the performance, Bono also addressed the war that is ongoing in Ukraine and has taken the lives of 3,280 Ukrainian civilians as of Friday (6 May), according to the OHCHR. “The people in Ukraine are not just fighting for your own freedom, you are fighting for all of us who love freedom,” he said. “We pray that you will enjoy some of that peace soon.”

U2 aren’t the only musicians to perform in a bomb shelter as, in March, a string quintet performed to hundreds of residents taking shelter in an underground train station to mark what would have been the first day of Kharkiv Music Fest.


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ARTmania spearheads launch of job site for Ukrainians

European festivals ARTmania (Romania) and Pohoda (Slovakia) have teamed up with Music Export Ukraine to launch a pan-European job site that aims to help displaced Ukrainians from the live music industry find work in other countries.

The companies say that ARTery was launched as a reaction to the war in Ukraine but that the platform will also counter the effects of the staff shortage in Europe caused by Covid.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries and give them a sense of normality by helping them to do what they’re trained to do,” Codruța Vulcu, festival director at ARTMania in Romania, previously told IQ.

“We want to help [Ukrainians] resume their lives with dignity in other countries”

“The aim is that these people don’t end up washing dishes in Berlin, for example, but that they can continue the work they’ve studied and prepared for – and all that added value will not get lost,” she says.

The platform officially launched on Saturday (7 May) and is already advertising jobs for ARTmania festival, Music Export Ukraine and European Music Exporters Exchange in Belgium.

Companies can post a job, while Ukrainian music representatives can register and create a profile in order to browse job offers and apply directly. Visit the ARTery website here.


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Touring Russia ‘has to be banned for a long time’

The future of the concert business in Russia, Ukraine and neighbouring countries was brought under the microscope during a powerful ILMC panel.

Chaired by Charmenko’s Nick Hobbs, Ukraine: Conflict in Europe session brought together Mikolaj Ziółkowski of Poland’s Alter Art, Codruța Vulcu of Romania’s ARTmania and Semyon Galperin of Russian live music venue Tele-Club Ekaterinburg, with Sergii Maletskyi of Ukraine’s H2D and Helen Sildna of Estonia’s Tallinn Music Week joining the discussion via video link.

Maletskyi was based in Kyiv before heading west the day Russia launched its invasion. “On 21 February, I woke up 8km from Boryspil airport and I saw the first rockets with my own eyes,” he said.

The promoter provided an update on music in his homeland, saying that some shows were going ahead in bomb shelters.

“This is the reality of the Ukrainian music industry at the moment,” he said. “Everyone is doing what they can. I heard maybe two or three cases where people were saying, ‘We aren’t making new music because it’s hurt us too much.’ When you’re hiding in a bomb shelter, it’s really hard to be creative… So the creative part of this business is frozen as well.”

“I can’t imagine that, without real peace, any international act will play in Russia”

Maletskyi said an anti-war video released last month by Russian rock artist Zemfira, which was shown to delegates during yesterday’s session, had garnered a mixed response in Ukraine.

“Generally, we are really thankful to everyone who is supporting the Ukraine wherever they can,” he said. “Talking about the Zemfira video, I was personally thankful but Ukrainian society was divided because she posted it only a month after the war began.

“Some people in the industry, as well as the acts, are thinking that this video should have been posted the beginning or maybe five years ago, or eight years ago. The rest are thankful for her statement – she is a big act and she made a proper example for the rest of the industry.”

“We can’t come back to business as usual”

Hobbs said that many overseas acts would play Ukraine as soon as it was safe to do so, but questioned what the international touring sector’s future relationship with Russia looked like.

“I can’t imagine that… without real peace, any international act will play in Russia,” said Ziółkowski. “That would be absolutely impossible for me; it would be horrible and awful. I think that any moral person would never accept it… so I don’t see any way to come back to business as usual in years.

“I think that we all have to say very loud that there has to be changes. It can’t be that there is a stadium show in Moscow in three months and everything is fine, no, not any more. We can’t come back to business as usual. International touring has to be banned for a long time.”

Maletskyi said: “For me, as a Ukrainian, it’s obvious – no business with Russian acts at this stage. I understand that they will need to pay for this war for generations. I don’t know what they need to do, I don’t have this answer. But I feel pain about it. But we need to ban Russian touring at this moment, 100%.”

“It’s really hard to completely cut off oil and gas immediately – they will do it gradually, I think. But it’s really easy to stop international touring,” added Galperin, who encouraged festival organisers to include stages dedicated to Ukrainian artists.

“I think supporting the dissidents in Russia… is something we should consider doing in a smart way”

Sildna suggested that festivals should not currently carry Russian programming out of respect for Ukraine, but added: “I think it is necessary to carry out a dialogue with people who we trust in Russia. And I think it’s important to support the opposition in Russia.

“Coming from the Soviet Union… the western connection to us back in the ’80s motivated us quite a lot to make these steps closer to democracy and closer to the west. So I think supporting the dissidents in Russia and supporting the opposition in Russia, is something we should consider doing in a smart way.”

The subject turned to the war’s impact on touring in bordering countries. Vulcu said there were indications the Romanian market had been affected.

“There are a lot of shows on sale, but the audience waits because there is a bit of a fear that this will escalate,” she said. “Many people say it won’t escalate because we are in NATO, but two months ago everybody said Putin will never get into Ukraine, so what can we say? We are not so sure.

“There is no two sides of the story. There might be misinformation in public… but there is one fact – Russia is in Ukraine and that’s very simple. They are on the Ukrainian territory, so it’s clearly one aggressor and one victim.”

“We have to support rebuilding Ukraine”

Ziółkowski claimed Russia’s actions amounted to “genocide”. “It’s not a conflict in Ukraine,” he said. “It’s Russian aggression and genocide.” However, he said he had no fears about the situation spilling over into Poland.

“We are absolutely safe, we are not afraid at all,” he insisted. “There’s 25,000 American troops on the Polish border. If something happened it means fighting with America and fighting with NATO, so it won’t happen. So don’t be afraid of Putin and don’t be afraid this bullshit they are talking to us. We have to support rebuilding Ukraine in our duty for their bravery, for the fight for freedom, for the fight for democracy.”

Sildna concluded on a positive note by referencing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent pre-taped address at the Grammy Awards.

“If they find time to speak through music, then I think we need to acknowledge how powerful this medium is,” she said. “And I think it’s very touching and empowering to see that a sector that’s just coming out of two years of a pandemic crisis has been standing up all across Europe and the world and is making Ukraine visible. I think that’s something something we should embrace and take ourselves seriously as well.

“We have quite a lot of power in our voices if we combine them, so I think that’s something at least positive to take away from this.”

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ASM launches donation scheme for Ukraine

ASM Global is showing its support for Ukraine by launching a UK fundraising initiative to support those impacted by the war, having severed ties with its business interests in Russia.

As of 14 April, customers at all ASM-operated venues in the UK to donate to the British Red Cross, with an option to add 50p to their food and beverage order during shows, which will be used to help send aid to those in need.

ASM’s UK venues include AO Arena (Manchester), OVO Arena Wembley (London), first direct Arena (Leeds), Utilita Arena (Newcastle) and P&J Live (Aberdeen).

Chris Bray, EVP of Europe at ASM Global says: “ASM Global is proud to implement this new fundraising initiative, using ASM Global’s portfolio of UK venues as locations for donations to this important cause.

“We hope our customers will support us in these efforts, as the conflict in Ukraine continues.”

“ASM Global Acts, our corporate responsibility platform, works to make a meaningful difference to communities locally and all over the world, and we hope our customers will support us in these efforts, as the conflict in Ukraine continues. These funds will allow the British Red Cross to continue their vital work in providing urgent aid to those who need it the most.”

In addition, a spokesperson from the company today (21 April) told IQ that ASM is “not operating, managing, or providing any services at any venues in Russia”.

ASM had been an international partner in the MTS Live Arena (cap. 11,500) in Moscow, a £70million investment originally due to open in 2019, now scheduled to open doors in Q2 this year.

ASM joins Live Nation, Ticketmaster and Oak View Group in pledging not to do business with Russia.


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IQ 110 out now: ILMC, Phil Bowdery, Fullsteam & more

IQ 110, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite magazine, is available to read online and in print now.

The April issue sees IQ magazine return to physical print for the first time in two years. In what is possibly the biggest-ever issue, readers can view the full conference and events agenda for the in-person return of ILMC (International Live Music Conference).

Elsewhere, IQ celebrates Phil Bowdery’s half century career in live music, 20 years of Finland’s Fullsteam agency, and Hans Zimmer’s latest tour.

This issue also examines the world’s fastest-growing entertainment market, the Gulf States, and profiles ten new tech innovations.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Music Export Ukraine’s Alona Dmukhovska expresses her country’s passion for music and Semyon Galperin speaks of the Russian music sector’s support for their friends in Ukraine.

In addition, ASM Global’s Marie Lindqvist highlights the importance of supporting and bringing young people into the heat of the business as part of ILMC’s Bursary Scheme partnership.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next six weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £7.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:


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Grammy Awards ’22: Ukraine, Foo Fighters and more

In a Grammy Awards ceremony that featured a video plea from Ukraine’s president, as well as a tribute to Foo Fighters dummer Taylor Hawkins, artists including Olivia Rodrigo, Silk Sonic and Jon Batiste scooped the top prizes.

The 64th event was held last night (3 April) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas after a three-month delay due to the Covid-19 surge in the US.

Jazz musician Batiste won album of the year for We Are, while Rodrigo won best new artist and best pop album.

Silk Sonic, a joint project between Bruno Mars and rapper/drummer Anderson .Paak, took home both the record and song of the year prizes for Leave The Door Open.

This year’s Grammys presented one of the most open fields in years, with the “big four” categories expanded to include 10 nominees each.

The ceremony featured performances from Silk Sonic, Gaga, Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, J Balvin, BTS and more

Other winners included Lady Gaga, Doja Cat and Foo Fighters, who picked up three a little more than a week after their drummer Taylor Hawkins was found dead in his Colombia hotel room at the age of 50.

Presenter Jimmy Jam accepted the prizes in the band’s absence, “with prayers to their loved ones”.

Elsewhere, in a pre-taped message, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky urged musicians to “fill the silence” left by Russian bombs “with your music”.

“Tell our story,” he said. “Tell the truth about the war on your social networks and TV. But not silence.”

His speech was followed by a performance by John Legend, accompanied by Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton, and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk.

The ceremony also featured performances from award winners Silk Sonic, Gaga and Rodrigo, as well as Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish, Chris Stapleton, J Balvin and K-pop stars BTS.

A full list of award winners can be found here.


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