This Is How My Positivus Was!
In the week after the Positivus Festival, nearly all my friends and acquaintances in Riga asked me, “How was your Positivus?” It’s sort of like asking someone how their Christmas or their summer vacation or their South By Southwest was!
This year I had a great time at Positivus! The weather was fab, I had a great swim, and I slept straight through the worst downpour of the festival!
At the festival this year, I spent a lot of time running between the stages, taking pictures of the bands, and asking questions during the festival’s official press conferences. I managed to meet a fab band from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and I missed what I hear was a fab band from Belarus. One can’t be everywhere, even at a festival.
If you aren’t from Latvia, you may not be familiar with the phenomena that is King Charles in Latvia. King Charles is a British performer who is HUGE in Latvia. HUGE!
(I have heard at least one theory that the extreme popularity of King Charles in Latvia has to do not only with his performances at Positivus, but from his visiting the cool club Piens—and his hanging out with the Latvian hipsters– back when he first started coming to Latvia. But I don’t know if that is true or not!)
This year I had a chance to chat with King Charles at his press conference. (Many reporters in the Baltic states are shy. I’m from Texas and I’m not shy about asking questions in public.)
On the Saturday of Positivus—the day of King Charles’ Positivus performance and press conference—it was extremely hot for Latvia. So I went for a swim in the Gulf of Riga – which has very few waves and is perfect for lazy floating. I spent so long in the water—and I was having such a nice swim—that when I got back it was 5:30 and the press conference was at 6:00!
I ran through the I Love You backstage area where I was staying, took off my dripping swimsuit and put my clothing back on, then sprinted to the press conference. Luckily I was just in time to ask a few questions of King Charles!
So if you watch Latvian television and see an American woman with seaweed in her hair asking King Charles questions about his man-bun and mustache and about if he is an avid bicycle rider or if bicycling is just something that he just experiments with “when the right bicycle comes along” that’s me!
I also noticed that after the King Charles show, there were once again broken benches at the park. Let me repeat, the Latvians at Positivus love King Charles!
Pictured below is one of the Tuborg coasters for the event, featuring King Charles!
I also had the experience of asking questions of the band Temples at their press conference. Being that Temples is one of my current favorite bands—and I’ve seen them several times this year– I walked as fast as I could when I got the text message that they would be doing a press conference. (Using my American cell phone, my messages from the press office were delayed compared to people using Latvian cell phones. One of my Estonian media colleagues reported having the same text-message delay at the festival this year.)
So I got to the Temples press conference moments after it had started, but I still got to ask them questions about how how their career had blown up in the past year, what their favorite bit of art that someone had created around their band was. I even got to ask them if the light show I saw behind them at Austin Psych Fest was their thing, or a one off for Austin Psych Fest. (Turns out it was a one-off light show for Austin Psych Fest!)
After the press conference, Temples told me that their silver eye makeup is only a stage thing, and their drummer told me how much he loved Austin, and reminded me that they are playing the Austin City Limits Music Festival this year! Squee!
One of the bands that I really enjoyed at Positivus was Cherub, whom I hadn’t heard about before, but who turned out to be from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. (I only know this because one Latvian interviewer pal asked me if I knew anything about them, and we looked them up on Wikipedia together.)
Cherub was a huge hit with the Latvian crowd, and they were totally blown away when I went up to them after the show and exclaimed, “Y’all are the best thing to ever come out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee!” I was wearing a Torchy’s Tacos shirt when I was taking pictures of their show, so they told me that they had already figured out that I had some sort of American connection, but they were totally blown away by my being able to tell them about Murfreesboro—and talk to them about the school they went to (MTSU) and the East Nashville scene!
Cherub: I’m so planning on seeing you next time you are in Austin! Maybe for ACL! And here’s the article on the dude from the East Nashville scene in Spin that I was trying to tell you about!!
Bands of note:
Having been a longtime fan of Kraftwerk, I was pleased to be able to see the band. I encountered Ne‘s keyboard player Leonards sitting backstage at the I Love You Stage, reading a book about Kraftwerk in German. Apparently Kraftwerk had been Leonards favorite band since he was a child. He told me all sorts of things about Kraftwerk before the show, while we were standing between the soundboard and the stage, waiting for things to start witho our special 3D glasses in hand.
It was crazy seeing the 3-D projections aiming right toward me!
While I only caught a few moments from Birth of Joy from the Netherlands, I really enjoyed them!
Of course I enjoyed Laura Mvula, Future Islands, Of Montreal (which I had to run out of to get to the Temples press conference mentioned above)
At Positivus this year I was staying behind the I Love You Stage, so I caught bits and pieces of several of the acts on the stage.
I was lucky enough to see much talked about Latvian teen band Carnival Youth, and the crowd reaction to them!
Taking a much needed food-and-sitting-down break on Saturday night, I ended up dragging the nice Swedish tourists I had met to see the Latvian band Carnival Youth on the I Love You Stage. I had been hearing about the band for a while, but this was my first time seeing them.
It was so crowded that I lost my new Swedish tourist friends in the Carnival Youth crowd! I even had to turn around and leave the tent to avoid having a crowd-induced panic attack!
Trying to get backstage so that I could watch the show without my crowd/lack of personal space phobia kicking in, I thought I was going to have to wave at the venue’s manager/driver and get him to pull me through the crowd! Luckily I managed to fight my way through the capacity-plus crowd and get into the backstage entrance. I later heard that the crowd had extended all the way out of the tent, and that the crowd may have been up to 5 times as many people who could actually fit into the tent.
Watching the show from side stage, I heard the (mostly female) fans screaming for the band. I later heard that several of girls in the Carnival Youth had to be lifted out of the tent after fainting!
After the show there were even a goodly number of girls trying to get into the I Love You backstage area.
Seeing Carnival Youth was like seeing full-blast Latvian Beatlemania! Cute boys with good songs who have an estatic following! With actual screaming fans.
I also really liked Latvian band The Citizens that I saw on the I Love You stage. Peppy and fresh (I hear they are just out of school) The Citizens were adorable and musicialy so cute. They were one of the bands broadcast by the festival on the festival’s pop up channel, so you may have caught them even if you weren’t spending the weekend at the Positivus festvial.
As a longtime mostly vegetarian, I couldn’t help noticing that the vegetarian and vegan food offerings at the festival have greatly improved since I started going to Positivus! This year it seemed like nearly every food stall had a vegetarian food offering! In the first years of the festival I was lucky if I could find fries and some always lovely Latvian pink soup!
This year I even had a good vegan burger at a stand close to the I Love You stage. I was so happy to find something that didn’t make me feel awful with my dairy allergy that I had two of them, on different days of the festival. That same stand even had a nice non-dairy fruit pudding!
This Texas gal even gave in and got a plastic cup of pickles in the middle of the festival from one of the foodstalls. They were lovely, even if eating pickles at an event reminded me of being at a small-town Texas football game!
As I mentioned earlier, as good a time as I had this year, my biggest regret might be missing the band Super Besse, from Belarus, which all my Lativan friends were talking about after the festival. I think they sound a bit like Aquarium, but that might just be because that’s the only band I really know that sings in Russian.
But if your only real regret is missing the sleeper act of a festival, well, that’s a pretty decent set of regrets to have!