In England, all we really ask of a festival is that it gives us somewhere to get fucked, dance like twats with our mates and enjoy a few days escape from confronting the essential futility of all human endeavour.
In the countries of the former Yugoslavia, however, festivals can mean something rather more revolutionary. Here in the Balkans nobody has forgotten that just 16 years ago NATO planes were dropping bombs over Belgrade. Saturday July 11 this year marked the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the most horrific act of genocide in Europe since the end of World War II. At the memorial this year, Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic, who once claimed that for every Serb that was killed in the war they would kill 100 Muslims, was pelted with stones by an angry crowd. Deep wounds don’t heal easy.
Which is what makes it so remarkable that the following weekend, on a beach in Montenegro, the Bosnian band Dubioza Kolektiv could stand on stage and ask: ‘Who’s Serb?’, ‘Who’s Croat?’ and ‘Who’s Bosnian?’ and get nothing but cheers from an audience drawn from all over the region who wanted nothing more from each other than to drink, dance and maybe have a cheeky snog sometime late during Gramatik’s set.