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The fifth year of the Czech Republic’s Creepy Teepee Festival / by Taylor Miles

My doctor said to eat fruit and rest. His other advice: “No parties and no sun.”

I listen to him for three days. But on the fourth day, I hear about Creepy Teepee, an underground music festival that takes place in Kutná Hora. The town is about an hour outside of Prague, where I’ve been living and working this summer.

That Saturday, I decide to catch a train from Prague’s main station. I arrive in Kutná Hora by early afternoon, just in time for the second day of the festival. My head is underwater with pressure but I don’t care. As I start wandering toward Kutná Hora’s Centrum (the center of the city), I can’t tell if I am sweating from the sun, the decongestants, or if I’m hitting a fever. So much for my doctor’s advice.

Kutná Hora, surrounded by a lush green landscape, is known for its beauty and its churches. The Ossuary is a very distinct one, part of the Cemetery Church of All Saints that houses bones from at least 40,000 people, arranged into various decorations, such as giant skull formations, and a chandelier containing all the bones in the human body.

As I come up a hill near the center, I look to my right, and see dozens of people lying in the grass. Behind them, I see a hand-painted Creepy Teepee sign peaking out from a gate enclosing the festival’s location, an ex-brewery with a traditional red roof, pale exterior, and towering central brick chimney.

By then, it is a late sunny afternoon. In the former brewery’s courtyard, I catch a set by Dracula Lewis, the stage name of 31-year-old Italian electronic musician Simone Trabucchi. He immediately has my attention with his psychedelic sounds, which bring me to another place entirely.

Trabucchi disregards the stage, playing his entire set on the ground with the audience. A punk old-school suitcase encases pieces of his sound system. Some audience members watch from above on a secret roof cove. In all of its bizarre noise, I don’t want his set to end.


“I don’t like the stage,” Trabucchi says, sitting on a curb the next day, the sun still strong and high above the stage. “It’s too big. So I prefer to be playing on the floor. I think it was a good choice for everybody.”

Trabucchi started the music project Dracula Lewis about six years ago. Over the years, he’s released music with Souterrain Transmissions, No Fun Productions, and Hundebiss Records. He finds his own music difficult to define, but eventually arrives at the word "abstract,” and says he is influenced by his time growing up in rural Italy (not the romanticized parts, more like the depressing suburbs, he says) as well as by Milan squats, and time spent in L.A.

"I use very cheap instruments," Trabucchi says, wearing essentially what he had on during his performance, a jean vest and black jeans – all that was lacking was the hat atop his long, straggly hair. "I’m using a groovebox, basically. And then I add more synth. I do a lot of club stuff with echo, delays, stuff like that, and that’s it."

This is Trabucchi’s first time at Creepy Teepee, which is organized by A.M. 180, a collective that puts on many other shows in Prague, operating with DIY and punk ethics. He says he really supports the festival as a community and network building experience.

This year’s festival includes over 30 bands and DJs from all over Europe and beyond –some from the Czech Republic (Palermo, Dirty Picnic), several from Denmark (like Lust for Youth), and many from North American (like White Fence, Pictureplane, Bobb Conn and Ssion).

Throughout the weekend, I particularly get into Mueran Humanos, which translates to “Death to Humanity”. A Spanish-singing husband-and-wife duo from Argentina, their set, is like an electro punk short film of political and poetic repetition. Another noteworthy set is by Palermo, from the Czech Republic, a young duo made of two students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. They wear floral shirts and make me forget it was 2013, playing with a melancholic vibe that to me, recalls bands like The Smiths.

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At Creepy Teepee, I make a point to connect with the A.M. 180 collective. On Sunday afternoon, I meet two of the collective’s members in a makeshift storage room of the ex-brewery: Nik Timková, 27, a festival organizer and member of A.M. 180 collective, and her boyfriend, Jakub Hošek, a founding member of A.M. 180 and main coordinator of the festival line-up. They’re both artists.

“[Creepy Teepee is] trying to be the party of all the things that AM 180 is doing . . . for the people who are interested in it,” Hošek says in Czech, through Timková’s interpretation to English.

The festival started in 2009 under Gasko Central Bohemia Gallery, located in the town, as part of a festival that was essentially announcing the opening of the institution. The gallery asked A.M. 180 to do the line-up for the music as part of the festival, which originally included fine art, theatre, and other components. After some problems with the gallery, the main curator left in protest and since then the festival has been happening DIY-style, with the help of people from the original team working in the gallery, according to Timková and Hošek.

While the festival has lots of support in the Czech Republic, they rely on an international presence to keep it going as the DIY and independent music scenes aren’t really growing here, Timková and Hošek explains. They were especially excited because this was the first year that a band from Kutná Hora, Edoshův Kurník, played at the festival.

With a limited budget, it can be challenging to convince the bands’ booking agents that it would be good for them to come.

“Everything happening through music agencies is basically built on money so they talk in money language, and that’s not what this festival is about,” Timková says.

Each year, they learn more about organizing the festival, and the bands help more by bringing other bands, spreading the word, and getting themselves organized. The consistent yearly turn is about 1,000 attendees. While they hope to eventually see it double, they would not want the festival to grow much bigger than that.

“We saw this beautiful connection of people coming to the city, that is so beautiful, and all the bands meeting here … It has some kind of spirit,” Timková says.

No backstage, no headliners, and none of the unnecessary restrictions of larger festivals -- these are some of the core aspects of Creepy Teepee, as well as minimizing the distinction between the audience and the bands.

The festival wants the bands to be the audience, and vice versa, Hošek explains. Outside this makeshift storage room, some audience and band members, along with festival organizers jam close to the stage, others sit back on the cobblestone ground, while others make screen prints, espressos, and vegetable soup. The door opens and closes as electronic sounds creep into the space at fluctuating paces, and Timková continues, “We want for people to feel free here.”

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