(Note from Dethecrator). The annual metal, folk and ancient crafts ZOBENS UN LEMESS festival got postponed to the next year because of conflicting epidemiologic measures which made the fest impossible in either of the ways currently prescribed by laws of Latvia.
The festival, whose title means Sword and Plough, summarizing its focus on metal music and traditional folk, has been steadily growing since its first edition in 2014, moving from Sēlija countryside to Bauska town over the last years. The festival happened in August 2020, even before the vaccination against the Covid-19 was available: careful planning and smooth organization ensured that the festival was successful, headlined by BATUSHKA and SKYFORGER, featuring VERMILIA, THOU SHELL OF DEATH and BESTIA among others, even if bands like KHORS, DOWNCROSS and HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY were postponed to the next fest.
This year it is different, though: the festival was planned for August 20/21, but it was postponed to 2022 because the government's rules against the coronavirus contained contradictory measures. During the summer, the latest edition of the rules for public events outdoors mandated to split the audience in two parts: vaccinated people over 12 years of age, including those who have been infected with Covid but recovered, on one side of the venue, meanwhile unvaccinated people over 12 years of age, having recently tested negative, separated from the previous group, and both crowds must not mingle.
The problem is that children under 12 could not attend any concerts at all. They were banned to join either group of concertgoers.
The contradiction in rules was acknowledged by Nauris Puntulis, opera tenor and the current Latvia's minister of culture, also former singer of the progressive rock band PĒRKONS: “We have to admit that we haven't solved it. I get reports from all over country about families arriving to cultural events, any kind of them, but kids are not allowed to enter the venues.” Predictably, the rest of the cabinet of ministers refused to listen and did not change that particular regulation.
Since the beginning of the punk/metal/alternative scene in Latvia, all events have been family-friendly, especially festivals where entire families with 3 generations are arriving in vans and staying for the weekend. Now a simple glitch in the complex anti-covid rules issued — and frequently changed — by the government made impossible entire families to attend the outdoor festival, resulting in postponement of the festival to the next year rather than trying to exclude families with kids.
“The situation does not allow us to organize the festival in such format. […] That is why we have decided to move the festival to next summer. All tickets are valid for the next year, but you can also get refund anytime, too,” promoters of the Zobens un Lemess festival are reporting. However, most of ticket holders are not taking refunds, opting instead to attend the next 2022 festival with the same ticket, supporting the festival by not taking their money back.
Meanwhile DAGAMBA band, while promoting another huge outdoor event involving SKYFORGER, placed the stage on a lakeshore, with fully vaccinated people watching bands from the coast and everybody else watching from boats, kayaks and even motor yachts floating on the lake. (Vaccinated ticket holders could also join those in boats, but not vice versa — that way the regulations were met, but again: no kids under 12 were allowed to join either of the groups.)
This format of an outdoor concert on a lake, born out of desperation during the coronavirus times, proved itself so successful that people are encouraging the promoters to keep organizing the event on the lake after the Covid problems will be over: even foreign press acknowledges the originality and freshness of the idea.
Photo and video report from the surface of the lake: https://today.rtl.lu/culture/music/a/1770832.html
Zobens un Lemess festival: http://www.zobensunlemess.lv/home/