July 1, 2022
I remember the first performance at the Fusion Festival well, in 2008 at four o’clock in the morning. We were thrilled to be able to perform there, but as it turned out we were unprepared – for example, we didn’t know that there was hardly any signal on the premises. Arrived late in the evening with several cars, we then searched for each other for hours at night – almost like in “Stranger Things”, only instead of monsters, dancing freaks appeared out of the darkness, there were stages like mushrooms after rain … It was a trip to a parallel world, a fun adventure on a former soviet military airfield.
We returned in 2014, this time we were allowed to play on the main stage, a shuttle took us there. Everything was well organized and there was even internet occasionally – while we were waiting for our performance, my phone suddenly buzzed. It was an e-mail – an invitation to do three concerts in Ukraine in the fall. I read the email to my colleagues. They were cautiously excited because it sounded great, but everyone knew that war had broken out in Donbass.
Nevertheless, we flew there in October and played three unforgettable concerts in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipro with Serhij Zhadan and his band. A beauty danced to our music in Kyiv. After the performance she told me that a few weeks ago she had heard our albums in the Donbass trenches. Then she blushed, smiled and said she grew up listening to my songs. In Kharkiv we stayed in a fancy hotel right on Freedom Square, next to the university I went to in the 90’s. The Lenin monument here was only toppled two months before our guest performance. On the way to Dnipro we saw military vehicles on the highway. The mood was worried.
In the years that followed, I often traveled to Ukraine. I had old and new friends there, I was interested in Ukrainian literature and music, which experienced a renaissance after the Revolution of Dignity. In 2022 I also planned to go to the book fair in Kyiv and then to perform in Kharkiv and Mariupol. I hope I can catch up. What will definitely disappear from my calendar for the next few years is fusion.
The May festival newsletter recently reached me with a delay – and it’s a disappointment, which may not be the first in recent months and probably won’t be the last, but still feels bitter. Already with the sentence “For two years now a pandemic has spoiled the festival and much more for us and now that we assume that we will celebrate again this summer without corona restrictions, Putin is attacking Ukraine” made me sick (shit, just now we wanted to start the party and then Putin makes war). But it got worse.
“Each delivery of arms fuels a conflict in which, apart from the arms industry, there will be no winners. What is the alternative to perhaps years of destructive war? Negotiations and diplomacy! Only at the negotiating table can an end to this war be achieved and the complete destruction of parts of Ukraine averted,” write the organizers, who want to explain the world to festival-goers. In the end, the merger is celebrated despite everything, hooray! Ukraine, down with your arms and to the negotiating table! We’re dancing, write to us when you’ve finished the war! Now lights out, let the party begin!
Hey, you, empathetic fusion with your political expertise at kindergarten level: the Ukrainians say goodbye. It’s hard for us to dance to the Russian bands in your program while Russian missiles destroy our cities. At one point it was nice with you, but reality has changed and you seem to have lost touch with it. Goodbye Fusion!