Balkan Trafik: Killing stereotypes with a mixture of music vibes

Author: Elma Tahmaz 

Balkan Trafik, online music festival. Though I was pretty much following festivals in the region before the horror pandemic knocked on our doors, I have to admit I never before heard about this one. My bad. The idea is wonderful. Music connects people on a specific level. Especially now, when we are physically locked. As if it wasn’t enough that humans locked their emotions long time ago. A song can instantly bring up memories, or remind you on a whole life period. I’ve always been shocked and even a bit scared of people who would say: “I don’t really listen to anything”. This statement is like admitting you have no soul. 

Concerts of any kind were rare exceptions that I, as an introvert, made to be around a bunch of too loud and too excited people. One more reason why I thought this online streaming could be a good idea. 

To begin with, I really enjoy hearing the background stories members of the band have to share with the public. Unfortunately, I don’t speak French which I found was the most common language moderators spoke. This didn’t stop me from making quick background checks of bands I found interesting. 


Place where you can find your own box

One of those was a band from Serbia called Stereo Banana. Their short interview didn’t tell much so I had to do my research. Seems their work tells enough without their effort to promote it. It is one thing to record a good song, as they did with “Mnogo dobri ljudi”, and it is another to even start a new music direction that they call “kungfuzija”. You may not like it, but you definitely have to give them credit for trying to invent something new, in an age in which people are used to copy-pasting. This is when I realized why they were the perfect band to participate in Balkan Trafik festival whose main goal is to bring communities together. It is exactly this attitude of saying “No, I don’t belong to any of your boxes, I made my own” that crashes stereotypes. Their vibe is contagious and worth listening to. This band got my deep respect for being innovative, having the courage to experiment in music and promote something I would call common sense.

Speaking of common sense… I wasn’t sure whether I should dedicate a part of this story to Dubioza Kolektiv since they are from my country (BiH) and I would obviously be a little bit bias. Well, I decided I can live with that. Their songs are definitely reflection of their character. They do music because they love it. They bought me a long time ago with the gesture of coming personally to their fan in a small place called Rudo. This is not any fan, it was an autistic child who was forbidden to attend school. They played music at his home with the same love they play it at full stadiums. This is a band that sounds good absolutely anywhere, whether live, on the radio, or in this case of an online music festival. 

I was surprised not to find, my personal favorite Kultur Shock on the list of participants who definitely did their job with connecting people from all around the world with their mixture of music styles that still has some clear rhythm you can later recreate in your head. But who knows, maybe next time.

Online concert to escape reality 

When it comes to the other participants I have to admit, I realized music changed a lot, or I just grew too fast too old. Listening to bands such as Gipsy Groove or Mec Yek made me realize I am maybe not so “Balkan-ish” as I thought I was. And maybe that was exactly one of the conclusions you should make when listening to music, find your other “personalities”. On the other hand making jokes as “rasta Zeneca”, though with the best intention to make a statement that music cures people, may be found quite inappropriate if someone who logged in with the aim to relax has actually lost people close to him/her because of the pandemic. 

To conclude, desperate times call for desperate measures. I believe this is not the best way to connect people but it sure is the best second choice. Three days of escaping reality trough an online music festival is a blessing you should definitely participate in.