OFF Festival is a unique event that has grown with each edition since starting in 2006. The festival started in Mysłowice, the home town of its instigator Artur Rojek (also known from the legendary Polish band Lenny Valentino and as the vocalist of Myslovitz). In 2010, it moved to Three Ponds Valley in Katowice.
This year, OFF Festival has given a special place to Polish artists, with 12 outstanding artists from all genres of independent music set to perform. Beginning with the brightest star of this season... Brodka!
Brodka | 21:55 City of Music Stage
Brodka can’t stand monotony. Having achieved early success as a teenager, she reinvented herself in 2010 with her catchy and mature album Granda, only to return two years later with the dance music EP LAX. She could have just coasted from there, but instead she decided to change everything, turn it all upside down, and take risks. Her latest album, which she wrote in Los Angeles, is completely different from her earlier work. We’re impressed with her uncompromising attitude and we’re happy that Brodka’s coming to the OFF Festival this summer to show off her new songs.
Zimpel/Ziołek | 17:00 Experimental Stage
Wacław Zimpel is renowned clarinettist and a brilliant improviser, who combines his classical education with free jazz and an inquisitive approach to roots music. He’s best known for his contributions to such bands as Hera, The Light, and Wacław Zimpel Quartet, as well as his excellent solo album, Lines, released in February. The eternal explorer Kuba Ziołek is a familiar face at the OFF Festival. The list of bands he’s collaborated with is just as impressive as Zimpel’s, and we would be remiss not to mention a few: Stara Rzeka, Ed Wood, and T’ien Lai. Put together, Zimpel and Ziołek are equal parts potential and mystery.
Masecki vs Sienkiewicz | 18:45 T-Mobile Electronic Beats Stage
One of Poland’s most outstanding and versatile pianists and a pillar of the Polish electronic music scene performing together at the OFF Festival! The unpredictable Marcin Masecki and the master of self-reinvention, Jacek Sienkiewicz. Will they cooperate or will they attempt to dominate one another? Should we expect contemporary music, or is this going to be the future sound of Poland? We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out. What we do know is that their performance at the OFF Festival will mark the announcement of the duo’s upcoming collaborative release.
Mgła | 1:40 Experimental Stage
They espouse a DIY work ethic, they don’t show their faces, they rarely appear even in underground media, and they play shows once in a blue moon – and yet they need no introduction. The Kraków-based act has recently emerged as one of the biggest sensations on Poland’s already strong metal scene. Exercises in Futility – a skilful combination of black metal rage and dense, catchy melodies that drill their way into your brain – catapulted them into the ranks of the world’s greatest representatives of their genre, as acknowledged by the metal media and Pitchfork.
JAAA! | 16:10 Trójka Stage
Previously associated with Contemporary Noise Quartet, Napszykłat, and Daktari, the musicians in JAAA! have come together to explore their own artistic idiom, departing from electronic music and arriving – if only temporarily – at progressive rock. Last year they self-published an excellent debut record titled Remik. Their engrossing concerts feature jaw-dropping visualizations.
The Feral Trees | 16:10 City of Music Stage
They’re a group of musicians from the Puławy hardcore punk scene, members of the band Hidden World. She’s a Colorado singer-songwriter who plays the banjo and acoustic guitar and is in love with old-time American folk music. Together they formed a group that was rightfully hailed as one of the top discoveries of the Polish music scene last year, thanks to their eponymous debut release, which blends subtle melodies with the power of post metal, as well as their hypnotic live shows.
Rysy | 17:00 T-Mobile Electronic Beat Stage
A musical project by Wojtek Urbański (V/O) and Łukasz Stachurko (Sonar) that took the Polish electronic music scene by storm last year. Their debut album Traveler scored enthusiastic reviews, their song Przyjmij brak (sung by Justyna Święs of The Dumplings and Piotr Zioło) became a hit, they played sold-out shows, and they landed a handful of industry awards. It’s about time they appeared at the OFF Festival.
Janusz Prusinowski Kompania |18:45 Experimental Stage
The band describes itself as the disciples and successors of village musicians, but they’re also an avant-garde act with an original sound and their own improvisational language. Led by Janusz Prusinowski, the group creates original and compelling reinterpretations of folk music from central Poland: hence the enthusiastic reviews, as well as warm receptions from audiences all over the world. If you’re the kind of person who wouldn’t be caught dead dancing the mazurka, we hope to see you front and centre, and we’re willing to bet you’ll give it a shot.
Lotto | 16:10 City of Music Stage
Made up of bassist Mike Majkowski (a leading figure on the improvised music scenes in Sydney and Berlin, as well as here in Poland, and a collaborator of Mikołaj Trzaska), guitarist Łukasz Rychlicki (Kristen), and drummer Paweł Szpura (Cukunft, Hera, Wovoka), this eclectic trio eagerly and effortlessly combines seemingly incompatible elements: free jazz, noise rock, country, and ambient. Their two albums, Ask the Dust and Elite Feline are as hypnotic as they are adventurous. Their live shows are even more so.
67,5 minut projekt | 18:45 T-Mobile Electronic Beats Stage
A group founded by Piotr Zabrodzki and Macio Moretti. It’d be easier to make a list of alternative Polish bands they don’t play in, so let’s just say that these guys are great. And they’re from the label Lado ABC. According to press materials:
This time, after blowing out several speakers and touring exotic countries like Poland and Sweden, the duo invited half of the band 15 Minut Projekt — the turbodrummer Janek Młynarski — to join the team.
Księżyc | 19:45 Trójka Stage
A true treasure of the 1990s Polish music scene: psychedelic contemporary music inspired by Eastern European folk songs. After releasing their debut LP to excellent reviews in 1996, the band disappeared for nearly two decades, reemerging in 2015 with the album Rabbit Eclipse, even more avant-garde and disconcerting than the tracks that won Księżyc their legendary status. This is going to be one magical concert.
Syny | 1:40 Experimental Stage
According to the founders of the event: No matter how hectic your OFF Festival schedule gets, you’re going to want to pause when Syny take the stage. Setting aside hermetic arguments about whether or not to call it hip-hop, we can all agree that Piernikowski and 1988 recorded one of the most controversial and impressive albums of 2015. The building blocks of Orient were taken from early 90s rap, but the album is thoroughly modern and bold, wrapped in a downright mystical aura that will leave you speechless.
And last but not least, remember to check our interactive guide to Polish electronic music. After this, you’re sure to be inspired to check out some of the above-mentioned artists.
Sources: Culture.pl, press release, DS, 15.07.2016.