Now in its twelfth year, OFF Festival in Katowice continues to cement its position as one of the best festivals in Europe for eclectic music lovers. Culture.pl presents some recommendations for a festival where the audience is spoilt for choice.
Since it was first founded by Artur Rojek in 2006, OFF Festival has been made up of an intriguing mix of genres, and even seems to become harder to pin down each year in terms of genre. Essentially, if you enjoy music, you will enjoy OFF, something hard to say for many festivals when looked at objectively, but not Katowice’s pride and joy.
The modestly-sized OFF is designed to reduce the amount of clashes and noise pollution, with only two stages at a time being active despite there being four available. That being said, decisions still have to be made – for example, on Saturday evening this year, festival-goers will have to choose between British icon PJ Harvey and 79-year-old American electronic music pioneer Silver Apples.
Other international highlights this year include Canadian pop powerhouse Feist, and the epic organ ballads of Swedish pianist Anna von Hausswolff. Geoff Barrow’s Beak> will be showcasing their bass-heavy instrumental music, while another super producer Steve Albini will be playing with his band Shellac. Not to be missed too are Bristolian art punks IDLES, the garage rock of Thee Oh Sees, and the booming Russian throat singing of Phurpa. Japanese noise legends Boris will be performing their 1995 album Pink in full, the influential This Heat will (almost) reform for This Is Not This Heat, while political activist rapper Talib Kweli will be bringing a touch of New York to Katowice. Meanwhile, attending house heads will be getting their four-to-the-floor fill this year from The Black Madonna and Oliver Coates. Finally, Michael Gira’s current incarnation of Swans is rounding off the festival by playing for a gargantuan 2 and a half hours.
But what about Polish acts this year?
The first few editions of OFF were for more indie-orientated, but Rojek started opening it up to more hip-hop artists as the years progressed. Taking pride of hip-hop place this year on Sunday evening are Pro8l3m. Notably, they are the only band this year that have no other act playing at the same time, so expect the crowd to be jumping.
Despite their rather inanimate name (it translates as ‘Corpse Corpse’), Trupa Trupa are known for their lively performances and waking the dead with their energy.
Representing Poland’s rich black metal scene, Batushka will be scaring everybody on Saturday evening with their ceremonial robes and grinding guitars.
Mitch & Mitch are renowned in Poland as master musicians who use their craft to play perfectly simplified songs that have audiences waving along. This year is likely to see them perform something in honour of legendary crooner Zbigniew Wodecki who passed away earlier this year – Mitch & Mitch made a whole album of crowd-pleasers with the singer that became a cult hit.
Fans of experimental jazz will be heading to see Mikołaj Trzaska's Łoskot, who were part of the little-known ‘yass’ scene of the early 1990s, a punk-like jazz style centred around the city of Bydgoszcz.
The extraordinary guitarist Raphael Rogiński will be playing a solo set as well as in an intriguing duo with Genowefa Lenarcik called Żywizna, in a style that can best be thought of as ‘borderland blues’. Coming from a family with legendary folk status in Poland, Lenarcik’s soaring voice combined with Rogiński's guitar is bound to be stripped-down and powerful.
Fans of Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Mogwai will be delighted by the perfectly-crafted post-rock of SPOIWO.
Finally, it’s worth seeing OFF’s founder Artur Rojek playing with his quartet Kwadrofonik. Ever modest and thankful, Rojek always prepares something special for the audiences who attend their annual OFF performance. Last year, the crowd was showered in silver confetti.
Compiled by AZ & DS, July 2017
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