Positivus truly is a festival like no other. Set a brief drive away from Latvia’s capital city of Riga, in Salacgriva, the festival is a beautiful combination of all of the elements we’ve come to love from frequenting both small indie festivals, and the more renowned festivals like Primavera and Glastonbury. Featuring a wonderfully diverse line-up including Sigur Ros, The XX, Jack Beats, Tom Odell, Michael Kiwanuka, Two Door Cinema Club, Imagine Dragons, C2C, Darwin Deez and John Grant – amongst many others. Continue reading to get a full rundown of Positivus Festival.
The city of Riga was exactly as you’d expect from its eastern European placement; full of ominous three piece suits with reflective sunglasses standing on street corners, sleeves of cigarettes that cost less than a discreet playground inhalation and fleets of women so beautiful that it was more intimidating than exciting. Though, there was something missing from the city… Latvian youth.
The reason for the absence being the abnormal attraction to grab a group of friends and head into a diverse landscape that’s only comparable to an utopian diorama created by someone with an overactive imagination. Entering the festival was like stepping into a slightly tamer version of Mario Galaxy, a brief walk in any direction and you could take your pick of a grassy, woodland, sandy or concrete depending on your choice of croc. Crocs, I must mention, were more popular than Nike over there. They even added roller skates onto the bottom of them; and I’m almost certain that they employed a guy who looked like the prodigal son to wander the festival in some kind of attempt to correlate the wearing of said shoes to the blessing of divine right.
However, I digress, and the main attraction beyond the briefcases of beer was the music. The highlight for me personally was Tom Odell, after seeing him perform before the second time was just as impressive, as somebody whose iTunes is entirely dominated by hip-hop – this guy is a happy exception. You’ll probably already know his track ‘Another Love’, and the rest of his album is equally as festival friendly. The piano coupled with his voice is so striking that it made for a mesmerising performance, though I wouldn’t run out and buy his album; he’s definitely worth catching if you see him performing near you any time soon. Here’s a Naughty Boy remix of ‘Another Love:’
Another notable performance was from the advertising powerhouse Imagine Dragons, again another performance which is perfectly suited to the festival environment. When ‘Radioactive’ came on the crowd went absolutely insane, though they may have been slightly hypnotised by frontman Dan Reynolds questionable mullet… There’s nothing quite like hearing a crowd whose English is limited to ‘beer’ and ‘cigarettes’, roar the chorus to a track made famous by a commercial.
As the $2 per pint beers flowed more plentifully and the sun began to set over the Latvian Gulf of Riga, Sigur Ros took to the stage with the confidence only emulated by an Icelandic trio with a full string section. Their ethereal sound echoed through the main stage, as the local Latvians opted for tantric intimacy over my dutch courage, Birgisson held his own just as you’d expect from a group who have played some of the biggest venues in the world. It was a fantastic crescendo to an already great weekend.
Following the main bands, the beach stage was the venue for the DJs. I struggled in traversing the dunes as obscure eastern DJs sets full of classic UK garage anthems, and tried my best not to fall into the sea for fear of being the victim of the classic concrete slippers routine. As the group and I made our way through the forest of hammocks, Jaegermeister ice sculptures, odd crocs and jellyfish trees, it truly was an unusual end to an unusual festival.
Positivus is a festival that hasn’t been tainted by the Western hipster arseholes yet, everyone is friendly and wanting to share the experience with as many people as possible. The alcohol and cigarettes are cheaper, the people are better looking and the atmosphere is superior. As much as it pains me to say it, you should definitely go should you get the chance. Postivus is just like the trampoline episode of Community, it’s a wonderful place just make sure you don’t ruin it by bringing along Piers’s to destroy what they’ve so beautifully crafted.
-Written by Jonathon Bartlett. Photography by James Ogilvie