Note: The last few days saw many news about Björk cancelling gigs of her Biophilia world tour. It’s sadly confirmed that the Icelandic singer also has to cancel her Colours of Ostrava show too. After a medical study, Bjork’s specialist doctor advised her immediate rest of her voice due to an inflamed nodule. We all hope she will get better soon.
We have to go back to 2002 to see the origins of Ostrava’s alternative rock festival – a modest setting with 6 stages, 50 bands and 24 DJs that attracted around 8,000 visitors. Fast-forward ten years, and the Colours of Ostrava festival draws up to 30,000 festival goers from 40 different countries to enjoy the 16 stages, which include four big open-air music stages with plenty of non-musical activities for all ages.
Last year’s festival saw Iggy Pop & The Stooges, The Cranberries, Regina Spektor, Afro Celt Sound System, The Gypsy Queens and Kings, and many others blessing the various stages with quality performances. Colours of Ostrava has grown from strength to strength each year, booking a balance of established names with new up-and-coming artists.
This year is no different: a high-quality, well thought-out lineup awaits all those attending. The addition of American conductor and vocalist Bobby McFerrin is a perfect example of the Colours of Ostrava ethos. A ten-time Grammy Award-winner, Bobby has spent many years performing, writing, and conducting. His unique vocals are matched with super laid back R&B riffs. Bobby has enjoyed a very successful career and puts on a great show.
Quirky Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk will be providing one of the headline performance at this year’s fest. The super talented vocalist, producer, and DJ effortlessly fuses musical genres. Rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical, and folk all get thrown into Björk‘s musical pot. Add a dash of her constant creativity and unique vocals (often using howls or shrieks) and viola! You have yourself an award-winning musician who has the ability to create deeply personal songs.
The UK’s Antony and the Johnsons have also been added to this year’s line-up. 2005 saw the release of their second full-length album, I Am a Bird Now, which was met with very positive reviews and mainstream attention and radio play, they haven’t looked back since. Working with the likes of Lou Reed, Boy George, and fellow Colours of Ostrava performer Rufus Wainwright, they have been winning Mercury awards and receiving rave reviews from the New York Times for tirelessly producing high-quality music with their chosen collaborators. They’re a progressive and boundary-pushing band who have always stayed true to their unique sound, and yet progressed and grown artistically.
Oklahoma City natives The Flaming Lips will be bringing their multi-layered brand of alternative rock to Colours of Ostrava this year. The band has always been at the cutting edge of things, being the first to enhance their audience’s live experience by introducing the ‘Headphone Concert’. A low-powered FM transmitter allowed the band to play live while simultaneously broadcasting their performance to small Walkman-style receivers for the audience. The band seem to have a bottomless supply of material: in January 2011 they announced to their fans that they would be recording and releasing one track per month. The series of 12 tracks can now be found on YouTube ; I recommend playing all videos one after another to get the full intended effect.
The Canadian community will be well represented this year, with performances from both Rufus Wainwright and Alanis Morissette. No stranger to the stage, Morisette hit the scene back in 1995 with her infectious album Jagged Little Pill. Having your debut album sell more than 33 million copies globally is pretty amazing! These days, you’re more likely to find Morissette in the studio; she recently stated in an interview that she has recorded as many as thirty-one songs for her forthcoming album. Her 2012 European tour should see the star performing new songs along with some of the classics we all know and love.
Rufus Wainwright is another artist with no shortage of tracks to perform at this summer’s festival. With seven albums of quality, Wainwright has a vast amount of experience when it comes to songwriting and performance. In 2009, he worked with the Berliner Ensemble and director Robert Wilson to provide the music for a performance showcasing Shakespeare’s sonnets.
The musical firecracker that is Janelle Monáe is sure to bring her trademark combination of sixties jazz-pop with exquisite vocals. Perhaps Monáe will give those attending this year’s festival a peak into her law-breaking, quick-witted alter ego, Cindi Mayweather. The Metropolis born & bred alter ego puts on quite the futuristic funk show, dressed in her trademark freshly-pressed tuxedo. This is a rare opportunity to see a truly creative performer at work, an opportunity that, in my opinion, shouldn’t be missed at any cost.
I highly recommend keeping an eye on this year’s ever-growing lineup, which is posted on The Colours of Ostrava website. Exciting additions to the already-impressive lineup can be expected, plus practical information on the festival and news and developments. I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing this year’s festival get underway – July can’t come quickly enough! Colours of Ostrava sees a varied and eclectic collection of musicians performing over four days. Perfect!