Basowiszcza fans: Explanations!

Although a festive spirit and friendly atmosphere ruled Basowiszcza 2008, the number of fans decreased considerably, security guards prevented them from raising high white-red-white flags and headliners were not allowed to do the encore.

About 5,000 fans turned out for the festival that took place in Grodek, Bialystok province, on July 18 and 19 and featured about 20, mostly young, bands.

Musician Alyaksandr Pamidorau shared his general impression of the festival with ERB, "Regretfully, as to the Belarusian-language format and approach, this is the only Belarusian festival that takes place abroad. This is a very important event, a tradition associated with the early period of Belarus' independence." 

But despite bands' excellent performance on stage, the festival is losing fans and its organization often irks performers.

Alyaksandr Rakavets, frontman of hip-hop band IQ48 who was the festival's headliner and second day presenter, says that the atmosphere remains the same, but notes organization problems. "It worked a little differently this summer. In terms of presentation and atmosphere it remains the same, but in terms of organization it has become worse, less professional. In addition, there were fewer fans because of visa problems." 

The organizers had promised free visas to all Belarusians who submit applications before the deadline, but only about half of the applicants were actually granted visas. This was one of the reasons for the low attendance.

Only six of nine contestants made it to the festival, others, including heavy metal band Znich, were not given visas. The organizers said that the musicians failed to table all required documents on time, while musicians thought their paperwork was in order.

Journalists and musicians are divided about the contest results. Some backed the jury's choice, while others do not understand how some of the contestants were selected.

Vital Shum, producer of Hliuki that grabbed the third prize, says, "It was an objective and fair decision.

The third place is something that Hliuki's performance deserved yesterday. But today, when I watched other prize winners perform it seemed that we deserved better. But we have come here not to take awards, but to play and show ourselves to the public."

Hrodna’s heavy metal band Tlusta Lusta won the first prize. Minsk’s Spita/\\ь F and Mahilyou’s Hliuki came second and third, respectively.

This year's Basowiszcza was marred incidents that angered both musicians and fans. Shortly before the live broadcast, security personnel started to seize rods to which fans fixed white-red-white flags, alleging that they obstructed Belsat cameramen's view. The scene was reminiscent of the dispersal of opposition protesters on Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk.  

The fans demanded explanations from Belsat director Agnieszka Romaszewska when she took the stage to present the awards.

In another development, the organizers cut short the performance of headliner IQ48 because the previous band had played 30-minutes longer than planned. It was a big disappointment for fans to see IQ48 leave the stage.