St Petersburg is now separated from Estonia by a border and customs and visa complications. But some young Petersburgers will take an evening train to Tallinn to see Simple Minds and other acts taking part in the 1995 Rock Summer festival this weekend. By early afternoon, they will come to the Tallinna Lauluvaljak which can seat up to 150,000 people. It drew this number of fans in 1988 when the now-annual festival was organized for the first time. Estonia was then struggling for its independence and the festival was more than a purely musical event. It was held against a backdrop of then not quite legal Estonian national flags and the political atmosphere could be felt at the open-air gathering.
The high-energy performance given by the star of the 1988 festival, John Lydon, who was formerly Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, was a truly liberating experience. Since then the Rock Summer Festival, which claims to be the biggest event of its kind in the whole of Eastern Europe, has welcomed the likes of Big Country, Steve Hackett, Robert Cray, The Jesus & Mary Chain, That Petrol Emotion, Jethro Tull, The Stranglers, Bob Geldof, Inspiral Carpets, New Model Army, Blur, Iggy Pop, The Pogues, Napalm Death, and many more. The first two festivals were phenomenal, with more than 150,000 people present on each day, because a music event like that was unprecedented in the former Soviet Union. In 1990 the festival was cancelled because of tensions between Estonia and the Kremlin. The festival headliners, including The Cure and Sinead O'Connor, declined to appear, fearing Soviet tanks. The following year the festival returned and from then on Rock Summer has been held annually.
In 1991 the festival became a three-day event, adding a fourth day the following year. In 1994, Rock Summer established a camp site as well as all-night dance parties. This year an estimated crowd of over 35,000 will be treated to performances by both well-known and up-and-coming acts from the UK, US, Finland, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland and New Zealand.
As to Russian performers, the festival organizers tend to choose the worst possible. Rock Summer traditionally attracts fans from the Baltics, Finland and St Petersburg.
What: Rock Summer Festival in Tallinn, Estonia
Where: Song Festival Grounds (just outside the city, on the road to Pirita). Evening trains leave daily for Tallinn from Varshavsky Vokzal (Metro Baltiyskaya), arriving early morning
When: Thursday, July 13 - Sunday, July 16
Cost: Four-day pass costs 550 Estonian kroons (about $50). No one-day passes available this year. The information on tickets can be obtained from the Ticket Center (Piletikeskus), tel: (+3722) 449-494. Information on camping areas and hotels is readily available there.
Thursday, July 13: Stiltskin (UK) Terminaator (Estonia) Propeller (Estonia) Friday, July 14 Simple Minds (UK) Biohazard (US) Mr Lawrence (Estonia) Tuberkuloited (Estonia) Hazmat (US) Elastic Family (Finland) Prata Vetra (Latvia) Eager Beaver (Sweden) Saturday, July 15 Mike & The Mechanics (UK) The Levellers (UK) Vladimir Kuzmin (Russia) Menswear (UK) 69 Eyes (Finland) Bullyrag (UK) Brain Duster (Estonia) Die Pohh (Estonia) Sunday, July 16 M People (UK) Candy Dulfer (Holland) The Mutton Birds (New Zealand) Sektor Gaza (Russia) Lovebugs (Switzerland) Singer Vinger (Estonia) Ummamuudu (Estonia)