SHINE Festival

When I first arrived in Romania, Claudiu surprised me with tickets to the SHINE festival. SHINE Festival is a two day rock/metal festival in the heart of Bucharest.  I hadn’t heard of it, but once I found out the lineup, I was very excited. He had heard me talking about how much I was ~loving~ Carla’s Dreams lately, and he looked up when they were playing next. And, not only were we going to see Carla’s Dreams, but Subcarpati was playing the second night. Omg, I was so stoked.We booked a hotel and we were ready to go.

We decided to pack only our backpacks and take the train to Bucharest. I had heard scary stories about the trains in Romania, so I was pretty apprehensive, but the train we took was actually really lovely. It wasn’t too expensive and it took about two and a half hours, comparable with driving time. The difference is you can drink beer on the train. I also discovered that if you get car sickness, you can also have train sickness! Ha.

Our train ride took about two and a half hours, and we arrived at the Bucharest station, Gara de Nord. From Gara de Nord, we hopped on the metro – another neat experience. Despite the heat outside, the metro was nice and cool. Every time the train left the station, you got a nice breeze. Another really neat thing about the metro trains was that they are basically one long room – that’s right, you get on a train “car” but inside there are no partitions. You can look down from one end of the train and see all the way to the front. The metro trains are also much wider than ones I’ve seen in other cities. And the seats face inward (unlike Atlanta’s MARTA where the seats face all different directions and make absolutely no sense). Some of the stations have pretty artwork.


We spent some time walking from the metro to the hotel (again, learning experience). I think mentally we were pretty convinced to take a taxi next. It was probably close to 95 degrees and humid as heck, so we were all sweaty and gross. Authentic backpacking. Anyway, we eventually found the hotel, took showers, and had a delicious dinner downstairs. Then, it was time for the first night of the festival!

We got some beers and settled into the seats around the Arenele. We had passes into the golden circle, which meant we could get right in front of the stage if we wanted, but we decided to chill out and enjoy the music first.


My first observation was that I hadn’t packed enough black. Almost everyone was head to toe in black – I had forgotten this was a metal festival! I loved watching the young people (I sound really old here) enjoying their beers and thrashing about in the mosh pit. Everyone was having fun and being respectful at the same time. It was quite unlike what I would see in the US (people way too drunk starting actual fights – cops arresting and dragging hooligans out…etc.). The atmosphere here was chill and fun. Just a bunch of people enjoying some rad metal music.


For Carla’s Dreams, we went to the front of the stage because I wanted to be as close as possible.


They did a great show – even though I think they had some problems with their guitarist. Apparently he kept messing up(? although I couldn’t tell) and Claudiu said that the lead singer ended up kicking the guitarist off the stage for being drunk. Eh, it happens. They made up for his absence with great enthusiasm, and we all had fun.


Most of the people singing in the crowd (around me, anyway) were younger women. Carla’s Dreams does a lot of pop songs, so I think they have a wider appeal to the population.

20160702_012426I sang along to the parts that I knew and I actually felt like I was a part of the group (which doesn’t happen often, I usually feel like the outsider in most groups).

We got back to the hotel, crashed, and slept until almost noon the next day. We had some time before the evening concert started, so we went to the Museum of the Romanian Peasant. They had a cool flea market going on outside and I ended up finding some very cool antiques – I can’t say specifically what I got because they’re going to be Christmas gifts for my family back home 🙂 We tried walking around some more, but we basically had heatstroke and nothing seemed worth the effort 😦

We decided to head back to the hotel to bask in the air conditioning after we did the flea market because it was already a zillion degrees and incredibly humid. Is this Romania or south Georgia?! Our air conditioner in our room was one of the most amazing things about our entire trip. The room was so deliciously cold. It really helped us to recharge.


Robin and the Backstabbers

The last night of the SHINE festival was great – we saw Mihai and Robin and the Backstabbers perform, and then it was time for Subcarpati.


I’ve written about them before, but honestly, there is so much more to this band that I could ever put into a post. I will say that what I admire most about this band is their commitment to integrating traditional old world Romanian music with new hip hop beats. 20160703_013822They make traditional Romanian music relevant for a new generation and it’s helping the younger generation connect with their culture. Subcarpati is doing what other artists should also be doing – helping to preserve Romania’s unique artistic culture not by changing it, but by adding to the “conversation”.


Mara singing in Aromanian with Subcarpati

Here is an example of old world meeting new world – music that young people mostly likely wouldn’t listen to on their own transformed into something that makes you want to dance:


I wish we had bands in America that would try to do this with some of our traditional folk music. I’m thinking Appalachian folk music (because that’s where I’m from), but imagine if they took old bluegrass or traditional New England hymns and made something really wonderful with it?

Here’s another one (my personal favorite) that’s been transformed:


But I digress 🙂

Getting back to the concert – Subcarpati got on stage at close to midnight and when we left after two they were still going. The show was high energy with tons of crowd participation. So much jumping up and down and dancing. My soul was happy and joyful, but omg my legs were so sore the next day! They were the perfect ending to the SHINE festival. I’m very glad I got to see them perform. Argatu (part of Subcarpati) will be at the Electric Castle festival this week, and I hope to hear more of his work.

Again, we crashed at the hotel and probably would have slept a lot longer, but they wanted us to leave by noon 🙂 The concerts were so awesome and I’m so lucky to have see some of my favorite bands all in one place!

We took a different train back to Brasov – still nice, just older. Because I took a motion sickness pill, I ended up sleeping most of the way, so I don’t think it mattered really what train we were on, lol. I’m beginning to think that’s how those pills work – they just make you sleep so you’re completely unaware of the motion 😛

Up next is Electric Castle – I hope it’s as awesome as SHINE. I’m sure it will be 🙂


Bucharest Wish List

I’m already thinking ahead to spring when I’ll have a chance to take my time when I visit Bucharest. So far, I’ve barely seen any of the city apart from a section of Old Town and Herastrau Park. Most of what I saw was lovely (apart from all the TRAFFIC – seriously what), and I can’t wait to go back.

  1. Primaverii Palace (Ceausescu’s mansion) – newly opened to the public. The website for this attraction makes me a little carsick. Why is it slanted? I’m glad there is information about having an tour in English, even if the information is only in Romanian. Primaverii is supposed to be huge – like 80 rooms. It’s rumored to beostentatiously decorated, stuff like gold toilet paper holders and filigree ceilings. Naturally, I am really looking forward to seeing these gaudy touches because (according to my mother) I am a crow. It’s not my fault I get distracted by glittery things. Bring on the gilded gewgaws!

    Photo from Google Streetview


  2. Palatul Parlamentului – The heaviest building in the world belongs now to the people of Romania. Last summer, we made plans to come here, but it was so gosh darn hot that we were drove around it and decided not to get out. We ended up heading to Vama Veche earlier than expected and this massive edifice stayed on my to-visit list. For lack of anything more intelligent to say, I just really love cool buildings, and I’m looking forward to exploring the world’s largest (well-constructed) pile of cold marble.


Here’s a very cool video of projection mapping on the building:

Here’s a less dramatic but more informative video on the building:

(featuring lots of Bogdans!)


3. Peasant Museum – I was able to visit the Village Museum last summer and I really want to visit the Peasant Museum next. I think both of these would be great to visit on the same day, just to get a better depth of Romanian history.

Speaking of museums, I’d really like to attend Noaptea Muzeelor (Museum Night). Every year there is a special night in Bucharest where the museums are open all night. There are loads of special performances and exhibits. I would really like to go to Museum Night to enjoy the festivities and the novelty of staying up all night with art(!) and history(!) – and then come back another day to actually spend quality time in the museum. Probably a Wednesday morning, when everyone is at work and the exhibits are mostly empty (at least, this is true for IKEA, so I’m hoping it will apply in this situation :P)

4. Romanian Atheneum – I would love to hear an orchestra performance here. People say this building is beautiful, and judging from this virtual tour, they’re totally right. Here is my dream: I want to get fancied up, attend an Enescu concert here, and then go out for a nice dinner wherein I drink too much wine and become a bohemian at the stroke of midnight.giphy.gif


I’ll probably have to wait until June to get some quality time in Bucharest, but that just means I have more time to research and add to my to-do list. I would really appreciate any suggestions for places to visit, especially if they have to do with art and history.