Pop Messe brings international alternative names to Brno

The second edition of the alternative music festival Pop Messe gets underway in Brno on Friday. The two-day event features international names such as Skepta, Ride and Kae Tempest, as well as a host of acts from this part of the world. I discussed the concept behind Pop Messe with founder Tomáš Kelar.

“The idea was to put together a festival in the centre of Brno, to find a site that might suit and put on international music that is slightly challenging, let’s say, the genre of pop, without actually breaking that concept – just bending the rules of it and trying to move it forward a bit.

“And then to combine that with local and regional music in central Europe and to create a platform that way.

Tomino Kelar,  photo: Ian Willoughby

“And also to bring in the club scene and try and get local businesses involved, so that a proper international festival begins to take place.

“That’s the initial concept.

“And also to try attention to carbon footprint and things like that – and to try and do this festival a little bit more ethically.”

You have nearly 60 acts taking part. Which are you most excited about having booked?

“I’m really looking forward to Ride, because I grew up on that sort of music. It’s loud shoegaze, melodic shoegaze – so guitar music.

“I’ve not seen them for about 25 years; I saw them play when I was 16, so that’ll be great, seeing them.

“Kae Tempest will be closing the festival on Saturday and that’ll be a great show – I’m really looking forward to that.

“And also Paranoid London – they’re an acid house, techno duo. That’s a real club experience, so that should be great.”

And you have two venues, a sports stadium [Za Lužánkami] and some indoor venue, is that correct?

“Yes, that’s correct. We have a stadium, kind of like a disintegrating stadium, which we use, and we have two stages indoors, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel – Bobycentrum.

Pop Messe | Photo: archive of  Pop Messe

“There there’s a 2,500 capacity room and two other stages – and we’re going to use just one for this festival.

“So there’ll be a 2,500 capacity indoor space, and the 800 capacity Café de Paris, which is a club type stage – and two outdoor stages at the stadium.”

You’re also playing at Pop Messe, as the drummer with Midi Lidi. How are you going to manage being both a performer and the organiser?

“Well, I’ve done that before, because I used to run Kabinet Múz, which is a 300 capacity venue in Brno.

“I’ve had to do that a couple of times, although it’s quite uncomfortable doing that, because obviously you don’t feel completely involved in the band thing because there’s many things running through your head.

“I didn’t really want to play at the festival, but the entire band wanted to see the line-up so in the end we just decided that we’d go for it [laughs].

“But I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it and try and focus on that gig.”