We felt just right in Żary - we had a gorgeous huge meadow at our disposal and a charming town to host us and our festival guests were free to roam around the historic town square and its quiet market place had never seen such crowds before. The festival lasted for two days, and the only foreign act to take the stage in Żary in 2001 was Shelter from the USA. That edition of the festival is memorable for one more reason than the pastoral setting...
The stage at Żary had been built by a completely new company that year. We kept seeing tonnes upon tonnes of scaffolding being delivered to the festival site - today I think we could have been able to build two or three stages out of them, but in 2001 no-one dared to argue with the designer's plans! It took the construction team ages to build the stage - we even had some serious doubts whether they would make it on time! And reallly, they had barely made it! Just two days before the festival they had covered the scaffolding with a roof made out of bloody thick yellow rubber. It all had gone surprisingly smoothly and we all had fallen into peaceful slumber on the night before the festival. We had woken up to a very strong wind - gale force winds might I say! The rubber roof resisted the forces of nature for a little while...but after some time the yellow rubber broke free!
We had been on a super tight schedule - there had been just 48 hours before the festival was due to start! We had a real crisis on our hands! The weather had been gradually improving, but no-one could have guaranteed that it is not going to take a sharp turn again and the rain won't ruin our plans - destroying the stage and all equipment on it in process.
It reminds me of Woodstock '69, when the makeshift roof served as a protection from the sun but not from the other elements. In the early 90s in Jarocin the rain filled the roof over the stage, which ended up handing over the stage like a huge balloon filled with hectolitres of water! Someone had the dumbest idea ever to tackle the problem with a... harpoon. The 'genius' assumed that the water would just slowly trickle down and the problem would be solved. Well... the water balloon had simply burst over the stage, flooding it and all of the expensive equipment with water. Complete and utter fail that was!
But we hadn't had any roof at all. That's when our festival philosophy had first crystalized - don't sweat, don't panic, just keep going, just keep looking for solutions. If I'm not mistaken, the construction team was from Szczecin and they had ordered a new roof to replace the one which choose to be free. We could not believe our eyes when we saw the new rubber roof arrive on the day of the concert, no less! The construction team kept working during the first concerts! With our stage fully 'dressed' we were ready to start the festival in earnest. That's when we decided to use a construction with hard, metal roof, which ensures that the stage is not going anywhere - regardless the weather!
That spirit of rock roll was really strong in Żary. We wanted to record the tunes, to preserve the memories of the festival from fading. It hit us - why not make a film about the festival? So many colours, so many shades of emotion, so many unique memories would make amazing material for a feature-length cinema production! We had already had experience with releasing music recorded live at the festival, but that was a completely new challenge in terms of technology and organization side of things. In the end we have released a VHS and a CD and DVD recording of the festival. We are very proud that we were the first to take up such a project in Poland and we wish more people would try to do the same.
Is there anything we regret about our film? Sometimes we do...but why? Let me tell you when we meet here agin!
Can you spot the yellow rubber from hell ove the festival stage? Still gives us shivers to think about it!
Stage in Żary in 2001
Prepare to explore the best Polish rock scene has to offer Sidney Polak is one of best loved Polish musicians, who blends infectious rhythms with relevant message. He will be taking the Second Stage at the Most Beautiful Festival in the World.