NGOM festival kicked off in Kosovo with a 3-day concert consisting of a range of genres from different countries, coming together to play in the beautiful town of Prizren. The festival had three stages by the river that ran throughout the centre.
Local artists such as Gypsy Groove, OM Quarter, Nesim Maxhuni’s Quartet, The Freelancers and Zig Zag Orchestra made a heart pumping performance, using a genre of blues and jazz influenced with traditional Balkan rhythm. Other Eastern European artists that made an appearance included ZAA (Serbia), Golem (Croatia), Bon Bon Band, The Abroad Suspects, The Bloody Foreigners, Fingers Clear, Soul Train (Albania), Parrusion and Blla Blla Blla (Macedonia). With more artists around the world pouring in, Calibro 35 (Italy), Public Service Broadcasting, Momento (UK) and many more flew in to join the weekend party. From Reggae to Soul, Rock to Rap Metal, Ska to Dance, Swing, Blues and Jazz, Kosovo was enlighten by the amount of people that came to witness a 3 day, afternoon to morning, summer event.
A band that was a personal favorite was Momento. Formed in Hull, UK, the trio consists of Lex Kosti (Vocals, Classic Guitar, Djembe), Phil Wharton (Electric Guitar, Vocals) and Joe Briggs-Ritchie (Harp, Vocals). The rare blends of instruments go hand in hand to create alternative melody and cultural sounds, captured by the authentic harmony of the music. The band is very serious about their approach to discovering original composition; influenced by the blues and soul from their favorite artists.
“We are a mix of various instruments, a mix of rock, ambience, hip hop, brit pop, folk, electronic, classical blues”, Joe Briggs-Ritchie says sacristy, hinting that there is no particular label you can put on them. “Instruments like harp and djembe are ethnic instruments, so they tend to blend together quite well.”
I asked how it felt to play in a place like Kosovo; Lex Kosti had this to say,
“It’s a nice atmosphere, having it promote underground music is quite nice as well. When someone is invited to play in ones country, it’s a nice festival.”
Joe Briggs-Ritchie added, “Its different, as an event and a place, I think for all of us it’s a very unique experience”. Phil Wharton simply put it,“ I found it pleasant.”
We talked about the difference in atmosphere from the UK and Kosovo. Kosti speaks of his new experience playing at NGOM fest.
“If we play a really good gig, it does reflect the audiences’ reaction after it, where if it is a really mediocre night, it just passes over”. With Wharton to once again simplify it, “Less drunk.”
Momento are recording their new album and performing upcoming festivals around Europe, starting with Tirana, Albania in the fall.
The spotlight was shared with other artists, such as The Bloody Foreigners, who performed interesting covers like “Hey Joe,” in an unusual version. Other bands like Zig Zag Orchestra and Freelancers gave groundbreaking performances, creating a dancing impact to the audience and an encore celebration from a far distance.
The overall festival was a brilliant experience to be apart of. As the stages were in the centre of town, people would sit outside in the cafes to enjoy the live music with their coffee and lunch, and when evening fell, they would form more of a crowd up to the stage and enjoy the free music, clean air and price friendly beverages.
Kosovo is not the most obvious location you would think of going to a music festival, but despite its discretion, it holds a hidden reputation of open-minded music in a beautiful mountain range, populated with proud culture. The music scene acts as a welcoming host to bring people together, enjoying the mutual love for it. Many backpackers traveling through the Balkans and Eastern Europe pass by Prizren in June in order to catch the NGOM fest weekend. As a small town, it’s easy to walk around which allows easy access to catch many acts. If you are ever traveling through Eastern Europe in June time, or simply just want to visit a completely different place, I recommend catching NGOM fest in Kosovo.
For more information on NGOM fest, visit http://www.facebook.com/ngomfestival
– George Podaras