No Escape (from Balkan)

Hot. Sweaty. Damp. Dehydrated.

Moist.

This was how I felt coming back to Greece after a week back in England. The temperature took some getting used to, especially as I arrived back in the height of the summer season. I didn’t do that much for the first few weeks, but I realised I would need to do something to occupy myself. After a couple of emails, I found a hostel that would tolerate my presence and they let me help out a little.

My first task was to take guests to an annual festival in Thessaloniki; Street Mode. It’s an event that hosts live music, graffiti artists, free runners, breakdancing and a few other urban activities.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the side shows as I arrived late and a band I wanted to see were just about to start, it was a band I’ve seen previously in the city; Bad Movies. Once again, I had a fantastic time at their show before a UK act performed on the main stage; The Skints. They brought a strange reggae, ska blend that both confused and amazed me, and it was nice to hear a British accent again. Back on the second stage was the Greek band; Vodka Juniors and they were really good too. I wasn’t so impressed with Nightstalker, their brand of Stoner Rock didn’t grab me as much as the previous bands did and so I headed inside the FIX building to listen to some hip hop from Keepers of the Hustle. Now my grasp of the native language is minimal to say the least so I didn’t understand anything the MC’s were saying but it doesn’t take a genius to appreciate the music and vocal styles. The headliners; Villagers of Ionannina City brought a mix of stoner and psychadelic rock with a fusion of traditional Greek folk music and that was an interesting end to the night. I left shortly after their set as I got pretty tired and walked the 45 minutes back to my accomodation.

Saturday followed and I headed back to the hostel to promote the second day of the festival, however nobody was particularly interested and so I decided to take people out for a little evening sightseeing. A large group of the hostel wanted to experience a local folk music event happening in the upper part of town, so I joined them for that before some guests approached me and we vacated the area for some quiet chatter. We went to small bar near the centre and had a couple of beers before I introduced the group to Retsina and the poison that is Raki.

The next day, the Sunday, was the day I had been looking forward to. I had never heard of any of the bands playing but one of the guests had advertised Dubioza Kolektiv so much, that I had to see them for myself. Before they played however, I got to enjoy some fantastic Ska Punk from 63 High, some captivating Hardcore Punk from Despite Everything, and a peculiar mix of Dub and Electronica from UK act; Dub Pistols. I was so excited to see Dubioza that I made my way to the front of their stage a full 30 minutes before they were due to play, just so I got a good view…

…And they were spectacular. Originating from Bosnia, they played a awe-inspiring meld of hip hop, rock, electronic and even their native folk. Watching them close the festival really made my weekend.

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