The chronicles of Empty Hills
The chronicles of the festival go back to the year 2003, when the pioneer event was organized on the private land near the natural lake. The territory kindly provided by the owner was occupied by 300 open-air&good-music fans located around one wooden stage which performed 25 teams. The visitors didn’t have to leave the sacred meadow to buy beer, but they had to bring all the food with them since public catering was missing. This is not a big deal for the Russian open-air — especially if the party is marked by the excellent music and the impressive ceremony of burning a wooden float in the middle of the lake! The stars of the premier event were: V.P.R. & festival vsego na svete, Glupyi Belyi, Stantsiya Mir.
The event proved out to be successful and took place again the next year near the village Lopatino in Kaluga region. The octagonal iron stage presenting about 20 performers including V.P.R., Nagual, Drobinska, Zula, Volgin, etc. became the main attraction for 1500 visitors who nevertheless paid enough respect to another wooden half-constructed platform which was constantly occupied by bards and spontaneous manifestations. Although no public catering was organized again still it was possible to buy beer and snacks — but many of the guests preferred to enjoy the tea ceremony in the rainbow-family-styled tipi.
Generally the year 2004 first brought the decoration which became the distinctive emblem for the next-following EH celebrations: a small wooden bridge connected the two jolly banks and hand-made lights (eventually stolen) placed along the first character and everywhere on the trees around the river. Huge bonfires became an alternative entertainment during the night — as well as somebody’s car carelessly placed dangerously close to the open fire and therefore totally destroyed!
The third execution of EH which was held not far from the previous location proved out that the activity tended to become annual — and significant enough for twice as more people to come to the cherished place with traditional arche bridge and lanterns around the river as well as the wooden and the iron stages (this time equally equipped). The growing popularity of EH showed the reverse of the coin — the security ensured by the military garrison was not efficient — and the enormous amount drunk villagers posed a serious threat to the harmony of the festival. Still the event gained momentum and broadened its performing area — bikers and poi-dancers provided much animation (the latter exposed gorgeous fire-shows at night!). The basic facilities also gained variety — the Happy Wambler Tavern offered wine, beer and delicious food including vegetarian dishes. The music filling of EH 2005 was presented by Va-Ta-Ga, Green Point, Kimbata, Rada, Sergey Kalugin, Fl¸ur, Nagual, Umka, Troitsa, etc. and this demonstrated the excellent taste which has become the constant feature of this event.
The year 2006 was in all ways triumphal: the astonishing diversity of live music styles and performing activities, free parking, 3 constantly occupied stages, marvelous food… and of course — first and foremost — 7,000 friendly, creative people enjoying the nature, the music and non-formal communication. No other place could demonstrate that variety of non-format music and that quality of fulfillment. Everybody could participate in free workshops on drumming, dynamic meditation, belly dance and many other as well as watch movies on the open screens. That was the time to say that EH exposed a new level and obtained a complex, manysided status. It was quite expectative to see Umka, Green Point, V.P.R., Kaftan Smekha, Va-Ta-Ga playing but the presence of Gurzuf, Simba Vibration, Yoki, ArGo, Sergey Letov, Psoy Korolenko, Nayekhovichi, Life-n-Joy was not surprising considering the scale of the festival platform.
There is no need to comment the double amount of guests in 2007 — and there is no way to describe the details of this enormous celebration in one paragraph. 4 stages including the open one, non-stop music and high-quality sound, the endless list of workshops and activities, the fascinating night view of the magic bridge and the shining sculptures on the trees, all kinds of self-expression in clothes and make-up, nice food — and no needless people among all these 15,000. More than 100 bands (many of them coming from overseas) presented music from all over the world. Folk, blues, jazz, reggae, rock of all kinds, psychedelics and electronic players all performed for no reward except the public admiration and the opportunity to spend a few days inside another world — the world of freedom, art, friendship and invention.