We did our first show and we’re pretty pumped up from the experience! Mount of Artan 2016 was amazing. Let me tell you about that. It is this DIY festival in Serbia that started our as Puljp and after that changed it’s name to Stonerizer and is now called Mount of Artan. It’s been going strong for 14 years (yeah, you read that right, 14 fucking years of organizing a DIY music festival, how cool is that!) and still it looks like it’s pretty honest to it’s punk roots.
Some months ago (in March) I pretty much shot in the dark dropping a message to their Facebook page and the guys decided to give us the chance and book us for the festival. We’ve just written two or three songs at the time, but were already looking around to try and plan our first show. For me it was some kind of a big thing that needs to be special. A festival spot in a near country seemed cool enough, so this is what we did – we made our debut outside of Sofia, which is pretty exciting. Starting this band I had that little thought in my mind – this time I want to make it better and tour/play abroad more. This is something that we weren’t very good at with my previous bands. So it was quite exciting to start exactly this way. We still have to pass the Rubicon of our first home show, but this is to be taken care of as well… soon.
We had a pretty laid-back and easy communication with Goran, who is one of the people organizing this. I have already heard some cool stories from our pals from Trysth, who played the festival, and I knew local doom heroes Obsidian Sea also made it to the bill some years ago, so I was happy to continue the legacy of cool Bulgarian bands playing at Rtanj.
Our trusty old Renault wagon made it just in time out of the repair shop, where it stayed for at least two months prior to the festival. I can only say we got lucky with that. It was one thing that really made me nervous – this, and passing the borders. Turned out both of my biggest fears were actually not a problem.
Friday: July 1st, 2016
Woke up early and felt like shit. I didn’t slept much the night before and I felt like it. We planned to take off early and pass the border before noon, however we had to update our plan and have a proper dose of caffeine first. A tight unit – me, my precious partner Kristina and Koko (also known as the guy who build my brown amp) – packed our stuff and went on to take Desi and her drums.
I was a nervous wreck from the lack of sleep and my paranoid thoughts about being stopped at the border and sent back because of… reasons. Shit turned out easier than I thought, partially because we didn’t exactly looked like a touring band, but more like some friends that go to Serbia to grab some Jelen and pleskavica for the weekend. I guess I was having this worries because of the horror stories I heard from bands leaving the EU, getting cops/customs on their toes for their gear. We didn’t carry much, so we had it easy… which might be different if we were in a van with full backline.
We got on some lousy bumpy road and then got on the Beograd – Niš highway. I caught some sleep on the back seat wile Koko got on the wheel for the rest of the trip. We almost got lost entering the village of Rtanj, only to meet a couple of Serbian guys in a beat up red Kadett… which happened to be Goran and the guys from the fest.
We arrived at the place, which basically is an old rest home – Pionirski dom – that looks like it used to be a great place for vacation, but now is left out and decayed. There were already some guys setting up a stage under the building’s penthouse, and other guys and gals setting up a bar. We grabbed a bite and looked around and then headed for soundcheck.
Our soundguy was a nice crust-punk type who I think did a proper job setting up our sound. It’s always relieving to meet a soundguy who doesn’t feel too intimidated by the glorious ammount of fuzz over a bass. Desi, on the other hand, had to bang the snare for a good 20 minutes before we had it set. I felt great during the soundcheck, which usually isn’t the case. I guess that I worried all I could worry about before leaving Bulgaria…
We were first on the bill for the night, which was cool, because… you know, we’re this new band that noone knows about and we don’t have a hour-and-a-half set. Goran gave us a sign, we set up our stuff fast and we just went on. There’s not much I can say about what happened in the following hour, but luckily there is some gritty action-cam footage (only first three songs, though) for you to drool over. A small crowd gathered and applauded and it was really cool.
See more videos here.
See more photos from our set here.
A band from Romania called vvvlv came on stage after the Feedbacker set was over. They are one of my discoveries on this fest – self-labeled DIY anarchist sludge – but I found some really exciting blackened crust moments that got me all hyped. Their split with Void Forger is cvlt, btw. I hope we catch this guys again soon and I’d really love to make a show with them. They have drums and guitar and no bass, but raised hell like there’s no tomorrow. One more good example that you can have a good sound beyond the rock band standards. Anyway, you could see and decide for yourself.
Next there was Torn From Earth, they are a really heavy sludge-something band from Budapest, and boy do these guys rock! They sure sound huge and I immediately thought we should have them in Sofia at some point somewhere in the future. Good riffs. Good screaming. Good times.
The first night was closed by my mate Răzvan aka TAUUSK. He bathed us in some damn fine guitar drones and weird ambient sounds, accompanied by a drummer, which was interesting. I managed to take some fancy cellphone footage before my battery died.
After that we went to sleep. Having a wagon is kinda like having a small bedroom on wheels… just sayin’.
Saturday: July 2nd, 2016
I woke at the back of the car, under the frying rays of the Rtanj sun, my back all stiff and that. Got up and made some coffee with cold water and we pretty much spent the whole day on the grass, OM gloriously blasting on repeat through the PA, hanging around and stuff. Some folks went on a hike to the peak, but we weren’t that folks. Instead we did this:
In the early afternoon we set up a long line of merch tables and brought out some goodies. We had the Feedbacker t-shirts and I brought some of my Kontingent Records releases and a bunch of other stuff.
We didn’t sell shit, but I managed to get a TAUUSK tape (which I traded with Răzvan for my latest krāllār tape), the Fields of Locust/Mass Culture 12″split and the Autumn Acid CD, as well as some more vinyls and tapes from Goran (who had great stuff that should’ve made me flat broke if it wasn’t for my world-renowned self-control). I still kinda pity I didn’t get this Sete Star Sept LP, though… Kristina got an awesome Autumn Acid t-shirt with something that looks like a cat skull on it.
There was a huge pot (or cooker, boiler, caldron, whatever… it was a really huge one) with hot bean soup, that I have heard legends about, cooking for hours and I have to say this was one of the best things ever.
First acts for the day gathered on stage while we were eating and hanging around. There was two daylight sets by Teeth of Divine and Topographer starting around 5 PM, and then there was a small screen-printing workshop where you could get your own shirt with a Mount of Artan 2016 design. I brought a brand new shirt for this and it turned out fantastic.
The second night we witnessed sets from four more bands – mostly Greek acts and one Slovenian band (that I managed to miss, for the second time actually…). Autumn Acid went onstage and they are one really nice band, kinda post-metal meets sludge, with some weird signatures thrown in for a taste. So, they were really good, but the sound was a bit muddy and harsh at the same time. There was definitely some problems with the PA or something, I could really see our crust punk soundguy having a hard time this night.
Dead Elephant were good, but at this point the sound really sucked, so I didn’t enjoy much of their set. I was waiting for Fields of Locust, which I listened and liked a lot beforehand, but it was getting late and I was getting really tired and did I say that there were some weird problems with the PA? Anyway, I managed to see their set, but I was already feeling a bit dizzy, so I just sat still trying to listen to the music.
This is probably one of the biggest drawbacks of being deliberately sober – your body is just being too honest with you, and when you’re tired – you’re tired and you can’t do anything about it (i.e. cheat with some liquor and squeeze some extra energy out of thin air). However, this has it’s undisputable benefits, like remembering all the bands you’ve seen and stuff! Yay!
I went to sleep right before Snøgg went onstage, so I missed them for the second time (they had a gig in Sofia before Mount of Artan and I stupidly missed it thinking I will catch them on the fest). Bummer, I have to say, but at least I got a patch from them, which is cool and has a snowflake/inverted cross design or something. I like patches.
We packed our stuff on Sunday and got on the road, as we all needed a shower and a proper bed. Easy ride back home, and the old Renault didn’t fuck us up. Well, it’s battery was dead in the morning, but a cool Serbian dude helped us jump-start, so we were all good.
In the end…
We made it! We did our first show and it was a great experience! Now we are hungry for more and we are making our set better and writing new songs and stuff. Mount of Artan was one of the best experiences I’ve had playing in bands for the last 15 years, honestly. I am impressed by what these guys are doing, a small, independent, self-organized DIY underground music festival. A free festival with great bands and tight organisation. A meaningful experience for all involved, and a fun one! Also, I am way impressed by the quality of most of the bands I saw. No “bigger” names this year, but I came back home with more than one new discoveries, and I sure hope that we play with some of the bands together again!
Thanks to all who helped make this happen and especially to Goran Loncarevic and the whole Stonerizer crew! We would love to come back to Mount of Artan next year!
Shentov | Feedbacker