Two very different churches and a trip into the woods

Árstíðir – Broumov Monastery, Broumov and Strooikunst festival, Vernerovice; April 28th, 2014

Day four of the Árstíðir spring tour brought two concerts in one day, three hours and eleven kilometers apart. Other than the date they had two more things in common: Both took place in churches and both where (almost) acoustic gigs, i.e. the guys had one amp for the instruments, but no microphones. Both locations had their own beauty and both concerts were quite lovely, yet they could not have different more in atmosphere and audience.

The distance between Prague and Broumov is less than 200 km so by my guess it should be possible to make it there in two, maybe two and a half hours. Yet, public transport in Czech is slower than what I am used to and apparently the roads aren’t the best either – the guys made it there just in time for the concert. It took place at a monastery and the first thing I learned was that a warm jacket might be a good idea. Luckily my hotel was nearby. Even with a jacket on it was still rather cold, especially compare to the warmth outside.

Without monitors and only one amp there was not much of a soundcheck needed. While the guys got ready and people filed in, I took some pictures of the church’s beautiful interior. It was an amazing backdrop for a concert. There was no stage, just a carpet on the floor in front of the pews. Everything was so big with a high ceiling and much space between the pews and the walls that I felt small in comparison. About half of the pews were filled and they seemed a little lost in the huge room. Still, as long as they liked what they heard I’m sure they will bring more people next time.

The concert as such was nice and I liked the acoustics in the church, but at times the instruments were a tad too loud so the voices could not always be heard clearly. Still, people concentrated on listening and seemed to enjoy it. The concert was shorter than the other ones I had seen during the week, but they had selected a good mixture of old and new songs. Ró was amazing, the sound rising all the way to the ceiling as it seemed and the a cappella encore the guys played in the center of the church worked really well too. They told a few stories explaining the songs with Alice working as the translator for those in the room didn’t speak English.

All in all this was a bit hectic and I felt the church was too big to be played without amplifiers, but the guys did well and the audience seemed to like it. I personally enjoyed the beautifully surroundings as much as the music. When we left the monastery all of us were happy to get out in the sun. The cold stayed with us until we reached the next destination.

pictures of the Broumov concert

The Strooikunst festival takes place in a small church in Vernerovice that is a bit hard to reach if you don’t know the area. A Dutch guy had bought it a few year back and made his home there. He has been holding this little festival for a while too. Apparently mostly Dutch people living in Czech Republic go there and the area offered places to stay in tents as well. The guys were immediately taken with the place and I liked it as well. Before the concert there was dinner and a nice stove to get warm. 🙂

The church was small and simple with white walls and not much decoration, but very lovely. It had two floors with the bar and a café downstairs and the stage on the upper floor. Before going there, everyone had to leave their shoes by the stairs. Upstairs, in front of the stage, benches, chairs, a sofa and pillows on the floor waited for the audience. Quite a few people were already sitting there waiting and many had brought their kids. The atmosphere was really cozy and it was nicely warm too. The guys were tuning their instruments and getting ready. Again there was only one amp, but this time a microphone to pick up the singing as well. Seeing them all in their socks made me smile. 🙂

This second concert had a special kind of beauty to it. The room was rather dark, mostly lit with candles – together with the audience sitting on the floor it made me feel like being at a living room concert. It wasn’t ideal for taking pictures, but that didn’t matter, because it was such a wonderful concert. At first I stayed in the back and on the sides, walking around a bit, but by the end I was sitting on the floor at the band’s feet and loved it. Watching the people sitting comfortably and seeing some of the children fall asleep made it all the better. Everyone was listening intently, but very relaxed doing it. It felt just right and during this hour I would not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world. The mood was perfect for closing your eyes and letting the music carry you. <3

Traveling all day had made me a bit tired so I was tempted to lie down on one of the pillows on the floor like others did. Instead I settled for sitting down, leaning against the speaker side stage and watching from there. Since I cannot bring myself to not sing along, I made sure I did so quietly. It was palpable how the music took hold of everyone in the room and I believe it didn’t happen despite the missing amplification, but because of it. The songs rose to the ceiling and spread across the room like magic. Even though not everyone stayed in their place and people move around occasionally, I hardly noticed any of that and noticed that many were just as enthralled as I was. Sometimes it takes effort to concentrate on the music, because I have to be on the lookout for good pictures, but this night was one where I effortlessly managed to listen to every note. Even after so many concerts, the guys still manage to capture my full attention and the music still unfolds all its powers. <3

When the concert ended I felt a little like waking from trance and did not want to move. Tiredness seemed to suddenly drop down on me and I was ready to fall asleep on one of the sofas. Yet I knew it was going to take a bit before I got back to my hotel, because the guys were not ready to leave yet and had kindly offered to give me a lift. Thus, I watched people telling them how much they enjoyed the concert, chatted with Masha and ended up sharing green tea and stories with her, Karl and Guillaume at the café. The good company (and the tea) instantly made me feel less tired and I much enjoyed just being there. It was the perfect evening activity for the mood I was in – calm and a little bit thoughtful. About two hours later, we all drove back to Broumov and I had to say goodbye as the next day was an off day.

I made the mistake of not writing down the setlists right away and now I cannot remember which songs where played where. The concert in Broumov was shorter than the one in Vernerovice, around 45 minutes compared to one hour.

pictures of the Venerovice concert

Here is a list of songs I remember being played (neither complete nor in the right order):

You just have to know of me
Days and nights
The Cannon
Nú gleymist ég
Kill us

Árstíðir spring tour: 5 concerts down, 3 to go. Next stop: Wolomin

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