Annual outdoor festival offers free sonic refreshment
Posted: June 22, 2011
London's Archie Bronson Outfit bring their moody, psychedelic garage rock to Střelecký Island Friday, June 24.
Imagine a summer weekend festival on several islands in Prague with some of the most innovative bands from around the world as well as the best local acts. Now imagine that festival is free. Impossible? Not for United Islands.
The United Islands festival returns to Prague June 24 for its eighth incarnation and the largest ever, with 100 bands on seven stages taking over islands on the Vltava for two days and nights of musical refreshment. Best of all, there is no entrance fee for any performance.
Festival Dramaturge Barbora Šubrtová tells The Prague Post that keeping United Islands innovative and popular - last year, the festival attracted more than 30,000 guests - while keeping it free has been a significant challenge that has been met in several ways, including the 100 Kč "Partner Pass," which includes a festival program, a CD and other goodies.
"The historic center of Prague and such a unique multigenre festival should not be closed to people, and they should not be asked to pay for the tickets," she says. "We also started a concert series, United Islands Reloaded. Headlining bands from the festival come back during the year, and we sell regular tickets to these shows."
When: June 24-25
Where: Various venues in Prague
Tickets: Free entry
More info: Unitedislands.cz
Besides the lineup of bands, there is a rich nonmusical program at United Islands, including a "gastro zone" located at Janáčkovo nábřeží, serving international delicacies, as well as a "fashion zone" and "chemistry zone" presenting young artists in association with the Chemistry Gallery in Malá Strana.
The following are highlights from the festival. Readers are encouraged to see the festival website for the full program.
Archie Bronson Outfit An English psychedelic garage-rock trio with a swaggering groove and pulsing hooks. If The John Spencer Blues Explosion tussled with the Talking Heads in a zinc bar, it would sound like this. Střelecký Island, 7:15-8:30
Canja Rave A fun rock duo from Brazil playing classic three-chord, blues progression-based rock with tender harmonies. The White Stripes from a warmer climate. Střelecký Island, 8:30-9:15
Intima An electro trio based in Argentina, Intima has been busy deconstructing their genre for more than a decade and reconstructing it with layered chords, harmonies and vocals. Danceable and ambient by turns. Kampa, 7:45-8:45
Ben Jordan An American folk and blues singer based in Colorado, Ben Jordan comes from the wayfarer tradition of singers and songwriters. At times spare and at times orchestrated and revelatory, Jordan might just have you crying into your beer. Kampa, 1-1:45
Logie Meachum & the Second Greater Recreationalist Congregation This is the best of blues-infused R'n'B, and Logie can moan with the best of them. The band reaches heights of emotional groove intensity on even the most familiar standards. Kampa, 8-10:15
Yoko Noge Perhaps the most eclectic group at the festival, Yoko Noge is a jazz band with a Japanese twist brought primarily from Yoko Noge herself, an Osaka-born pianist with a true passion for blues. A unique combination of traditional American and Japanese music and instruments. Jazz Dock, 11:30-1 a.m.
Porno Para Ricardo A Cuban punk band that has been banned from playing in their native country, Porno Para Ricardo initially received a warm reception in Cuba, but the government, whom the band is outspokenly critical about, soon changed its mind. While it's worthwhile to see them just for their biography, the band plays surprisingly convincing punk rock sung in Spanish. Střelecký Island, 7:30-8:30
Audio Bullys See Picks. Střelecký Island, 9-11
Axmusique An electro-rock trio based in Poland, Axmusique plays a head-banging brand of hardrocking electro dance music. Eschewing guitars, the group thinks like DJs and composes like rock stars. Kampa, 8:15-9:30
La Troba Kung Fu A hot-blooded mestizo group from Catalonia, La Troba Kung Fu blend ska with flamenco, meringue and mariachi among other styles. Reminiscent of a more richly textured Manu Chao, this band knows how to a work a crowd. Střelecký Island, 7-8
Balkatalan Experience What do you get when you mix Balkan and Catalonian music? Balkatalan Experience. A collective of DJs and dancers, this group is undeniably danceable. Střelecký Island, 8:30-9:30
Ping Ping An electro-pop duo from Austria, Ping Ping is sweet and melancholy at once. Working with minimal arrangements, the band gets a great deal of mileage from the appealing voice of singer Loretta Who. This is enchanting music. Kampa, 6:45-7:45
Stephan Delbos can be reached at
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