Friday, May 22, 2009

Tbilisi Open Air Festival

Music Breaks Free at Tbilisi Open Air

Welcome to Tbilisi Open Air! Fusion of styles, spirit of freedom, fantastic atmosphere of Open Air event, bands from all over the world, thousands of visitors, amazing venues, crazy parties… All these make Tbilisi Open Air an outstanding European music event! Sites of Old Tbilisi blowing up with music, unique Festival City at Tbilisi Hippodrome and some of the best night venues of Tbilisi will welcome you to unforgettable performances and funky parties. Your time at Tbilisi Open Air will become a thrilling experience Tbilisi Open Air is a place where, in an atmosphere freed of all kinds of politics and social clichйs, artists and music fans from Georgia and abroad will meet, fuse, exchange, learn, enjoy some great music and very special ambiance. Proudly, Tbilisi Open Air will be the first event of this scale and sophistication to take place in our part of the world to serve this purpose. These three days we will spend together will turn our Festival into a formidable tradition and our acquaintance - into a friendship!

In Press:

Tbilisi Open Air-Alter/Vision will be the first event of this scale and sophistication to take place in Tbilisi . Freed from politics and social clichés, this festival will be carrying the European cultural spirit, thus perfectly opposing “Eurovision” which will be held in MOSCOW.

Vaho Babunashvili, Director General of “Step Records” which is the author and organizer of the festival thinks company can count on huge success, and not only this year but all the next ones as the festival will become an annually held tradition. Tbilisi Open Air is expected to be attended by more than fifty thousand people, while the entrance will be free.

“Tbilisi Open Air is the first ever event of this type, scale and sophistication to take place in Tbilisi . We believe that our capital has long lacked a festival that would bring the spirit of a large open air music event, so common and appreciated in Europe and the USA. This event will have a very special atmosphere with few elements contributing to that: a fascinating line-up of bands performing various genres of modern music, from funk and NuJazz to Indie Rock and electronic music. I am sure this is something music fans will appreciate and enjoy a great deal,” Irakli Matkava, Public Relations and Marketing Director of Tbilisi Open Air told The FINANCIAL.

At first the festival was planned to be held in the mid summer. However, some of the foreign bands which will be performing at the festival offered “Step Records” to shift the date to May so that the two events would concur.

Referring to the words of the organizers this has once again proved the negative feeling of the modern musical world towards “Eurovision”, which this year turned into a politically pressured and bureaucratic arrangement.

Eurovision was accused of carrying political influence a number of times. This year song “We Don't Wanna Put In” by Georgian pop band Stephane & 3G was rejected by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The EBU ruled that the song lyrics did not comply with Section 4 Rule 9 of the Rules of the 54th Eurovision Song Contest, and couldn’t take part in the competition as such, which would see Georgia having to rewrite the song or choose another entry. A spokesman for the EBU said, “No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted.”

On 11 March 2009, Georgia withdrew from the Eurovision Song Contest 2009, refusing to change the song lyrics and alleging that the decision to ask Georgia to revise its entry came about as a result of pressure from Russia. The song caused controversy as it was seen to contain political references to Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin in the lyrics.

Meanwhile the streets of Tbilisi and major avenues are blocked by protesters who are demanding President Saakashvili ’s resignation. However this won’t be an obstacle for Tbilisi Open Air Irakli Matkava says, “We do understand and acknowledge the current situation in our capital. But we also believe that as our festival will inevitably be an event that everyone will enjoy, it can and should go ahead. At the same time we do hope that before the festival begins the tense situation will dissolve and that the city’s life will be back to normal.”

This festival is a sponsors-financed event, a common practice for the first round. Yet the organizers do hope to commercialize the event and make it just as successful financially as conceptually. Apart from that organizers do believe that local businesses will also benefit from this festival in the following years as it will be attracting more and more visitors and coverage from abroad.

Tbilisi Open Air will be held on the same dates as “Eurovision”. Tbilisi Open Air will host twenty three bands from Denmark, Germany, France, Iceland, Italy, Poland, Russia, UK, Ukraine and Georgia will be performing at Tbilisi Open Air. Among them are Jazzanova feat. Paul Randolf, Transglobal Underground, Dohl Foundation, Huggis Horns and other very interesting groups and performers. Irakli Matkava states that another important achievement of this festival will be the introduction of new brilliant performers to Georgian music fans.

The first opening day of the festival, May 15, will be held in the Shardeni area with a smaller stage. That area can accommodate around 2,000-2,500 people. But for the next two days, on May 16 and 17 the festival will move to its main site, Festival City at the Hippodrome. That is a huge space equipped with all the needed amenities and can hold around thirty thousand people.

So over the three days the festival can host at least sixty two thousand people. But considering that some people will be coming and leaving at various times as the festival day starts at 17:00 and ends at around 1:00 a.m., the numbers might be even greater.

“Equally fascinating will be ‘Festival City’, a top-notch infrastructure we are installing at Tbilisi Hippodrome, with high-class stage lights, sound systems, tasteful decorations and merchandise as well as amenities offering food, beverages and all other comforts. And of course our visitors will be a very important part of this atmosphere,” Irakli Matkava says.

As the Public Relations and Marketing Director of Tbilisi Open Air clarifies the defining idea behind the festival is freedom. This is freedom from stress, clichés, social controls, freedom to create and express, freedom to experience what is valued by every single one of us as individuals.

“We are doing our best to manifest the spirit of freedom in every single activity, product or deed of ours. The visual symbols are also aligned with this concept. While “Tbilisi Open Air” is the brand name of our festival it will be presented against a changing set of symbols all associated with freedom and creativity. However they are designed so that they are recognizable and the integrity of our corporate style is preserved.

Fusion of styles, spirit of freedom, fantastic atmosphere of Open Air event, bands from all over the world, thousands of visitors, amazing venues, and crazy parties. All these will make Tbilisi Open Air an outstanding European music event. Artists and music fans from Georgia and abroad will meet, fuse, exchange, learn, enjoy some great music and a very special ambiance,” Archil Guledani, Art Director of “Step Records” told The FINANCIAL.

Public Relations and Marketing Director of Tbilisi Open Air says that there are two major reasons why it was decided to hold the festival in Tbilisi . The first is that they are planning to make it a traditional festival, held annually, and a part of the European festival schedule.

“As we progress along this path we plan to attract not only foreign artists to our festival, but also music fans who often follow their favourite bands. We think that this proposition will be attractive not only to people from neighbouring countries that do not have festivals like ours, but also tourists from Europe and the USA. In this sense Tbilisi has the best infrastructure to support the festival in the long term. Apart from that Tbilisi has the largest portion of the country’s population, so it is only natural that Tbilisi will allow us to attract a maximum number of visitors,” Archil Guledani adds.


May 15 – Old Tbilisi
Play Paranoid (Georgia)
Smile (Georgia)
Brooklyn (France)
The traveling band (UK)
Cheese People (Russia)
The Black and Reds (UK)
Transglobal Underground (UK)

May 16 – Hippodrome
Qeti Orjonikidze (Georgia)
ANDY (Poland)
Curry and Coco (France)
Laki Lan (Poland)
The Haggis Horns (UK)
Motel Connections (Italy)
Jazzanova live feat. Paul Randolph (Germany)
The Dhol Foundation (UK)

May 17 – Hippodrome

String (Georgia)
Rook and the ravens (UK)
Dubstepler (Ukraine)
Cynic Guru (Iceland)
The Blue Van (Denmark)
10 Bears (UK)
3G (Georgia)
Plump DJs (UK)



  1. What I like about this festival is that it doesn't stick in one single genre and gives a wide variety of styles for every one to enjoy. Great fest, great post man!

  2. One of the reasons why I like visiting your blog so much is because it has become a daily reference I can use in order to learn new nice stuff. It's like a curiosities box that surprises you over and over again.