Oleksandr Lytvyn, a Kyivan, has covered hundreds of kilometers to come for the festival. He came with his 3-year-old son Rostik. Rostik has attended the festivals all his life. His father has attended Ukrainian music festivals for 15 years. He says that Banderstatt is hieratic because it exists so much time. He believes it is unique for national-patriotic events. Unfortunately.
The Banderstatt Festival lasted from 3 to 5 August in the village of Rovantsi – outskirts of the town of Lutsk. This year, it gathered a record amount of participants and guests. Organizers (the festival masterminds are Ihor Huz, an MP, with his team and Serhii Martyniuk, a Fiolet frontman, an art director of the festival) reported about 12 000 people. Since the beginning (2007), it has been an alcohol-free festival.
One more record of this year festival is the number of bands – there were 60 (!) of them. There are three stages: the main, the quiet stage and the hard one. People like this differentiation a lot because every person likes different music.
You can collect incredible stories at Banderstatt. This year, there were 2 000 tents at the festival. Here are people from different Ukrainian cities and towns… and even from Belarus. As usual, there were a Ukrainian traditional cuisine and souvenirs, for example, a T-Shirt “We are Volyn girls, we don’t give a damn” (Lutsk is situated in the Volyn region).
For Russian media, Banderstatt is a “fascist sabbath”. But for Ukrainians, it is the festival of Ukrainian spirit and music. A 17-years-old Igar Stsehnii has put two flags above his tent: a native Belarusian and a Ukrainian one. He is a hitchhiker and a member of “The Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic” organization. He believes that Stepan Bandera is a Ukrainian national hero.
The heart of Banderstatt is not music but discussion sessions. Here, people talk in Ukrainian about Ukrainian issues with absolutely different people who are leaders in different segments of the society.
Zurab Alasaniia, a journalist, the head of the Public Broadcasting Service, takes part in the Bunderstatt discussions for the third time. He says that it was this festival where he had a serious speech in Ukrainian for the first time. He thought that people would kill him, but he passed the exam.
Serhii Zhadan, a writer, feels here like at home. He admits it in public. People here are ready to listen not only to his band Zhadan i sobaky (Zhadan and dogs). There are his books about the festival. He is read and known here. His participation in the discussions breaks the mold and gathers many people. He read poems from his new book “Antenna”, which will be brought out only in September. People were standing when he was leaving the session!
It was the first time for Yurko Zhuravel at the festival. He is an artist, activist and the leader of the Ot Vinta band. Andrii Sadovy, a mayor of Lviv, was late for his session, so his wife Kateryna Kit-Sadovaia had to take the floor instead of him. And she coped with it. Yevhen Halych, a frontman of the O.Torvald band, was a speaker at the sessions about Ukrainian music. Later, his performance on the stage was a huge success. People were excited. Many other activists, artists, and famous people took part in the sessions – Yevhen Karas, the leader of the C14 movement, Andrii Biletskyi, an MP and ex-commander of the Azov regiment, Volodymyr Parasiuk, an MP, Oleksandr Shevchenko, an owner of the Bukovel resort, Olha Yurkova and Serhii Ivanov, journalists, Ukraїner project team and others.
In the evening, people were enjoying the music of Arsen Mirzoian, Sashko Polozhynskyi, Tartak KARNA, Motanka, Hutsul Kalipso, Druha Rika, Bez Obmezhen bands.
At the same time, the quiet stage hosted beautiful voices of Katia Chili, Khrystyna Solovii, the Mary band… and Odyn v Kanoe at parting. Bands AHHA, Dj Tapolsky, ethnic-band Joryj Kłoc played for hard music lovers.
Three days of the Banderstatt festival are three days of incredible music. Taras Chubai and the Plach Yeremii band performed there for the first time. People enjoyed a hieratic song Vona (She) without any wine. Having called for an encore Taras Chubai, people were amazed by his performing a famous traditional rebel song.
It is the best song for this place.
By Olena Livitska
Photo by Pavlo Bereziuk