READING ROOM: Rock in Rila
READING ROOM: Rock in RilaREADING ROOM: Rock in Rila If you think that going to a rock concert means a ritual of being filleted on entrance by beefy security types, a pervasive sense of aggro, no place for the kids, and having a bovver boot kicked into your monthly budget, think again. If you have not made it to any of the previous Rock in Rila annual concerts, note down the weekend of August 24 and 25. Make your way to the southern Rila mountain village of Beli Iskar, not far from Samokov and Borovets, about an hour’s drive from Sofia. Beforehand, arrange accommodation either in one of the village’s guest houses or at an hotel in Borovets. As evening falls on the Friday, stroll with jacket or jersey in hand – even in late August, it can get chilly in the mountains after nightfall – to the playing field on the edge of the village. Take cash to buy snacks and drinks from one of the many temporary stalls surrounding the field, but as to a covert charge or being frisked, don’t worry. Once you have picked a place on the field, or taken a seat beneath the tall moonlit trees at its circumference, you’re in. Under the starlit sky, the natural acoustics of the place are incredible. There is security, by the way, in the form of the local constabulary, who usually make themselves reasonably comfortable on the bonnets of their Ladas and discreetly enjoy the show, between swopping pleasantries with the locals, who in turn seem only too happy with the annual cash injection and the chance to sell their wares. The mainstays of the two-day festival include some of Bulgaria’s rock and pop veterans. While this year’s acts have not yet been confirmed, names like BTR, PIF and Signal have customarily been on stage in recent years. The older rockers may be a wee bit balding, paunchy and grey, but like their vastly more famous Western cousins, they still know what to do with a plectrum and drumsticks. However, the event is not just a showcase for the wrinklies of Bulgarian rock. Much, sometimes very much, younger acts have appeared at Rock in Rila, Gravity Co made their debut there, and last year’s event featured Strings, this country’s answer to all-girl pop violinists Bond. Usually, the organisers manage to bring in a foreign act each year, though the foreigners usually look slightly bemused at finding themselves facing an all-ages, generally benevolent beer-clutching crowd in a tiny village. Swive from Birmingham had an outing to Beli Iskar in 2004, and Norwegian band Swim the following year. In the past three years, the number of bands performing over the two days has averaged about 35. %LIMG1%RIMG2
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