OFF Festival Katowice 2019: The Wealth of Polish Music
Garage-rock guitars, country fiddles, rap, and trance techno: The latest additions to the OFF lineup prove just how original and brilliant Polish music is today.
Trupa Trupa’s sophomore appearance at the OFF Festival is an overture to what they have in store for September. The band is slated to release their long-awaited album Of The Sun and set out on a triumphant international tour of clubs and festivals, now under the auspices of ACT and the Paradigm Talent Agency. The record will be released in Poland by Antena Krzyku and across Europe by Glitterbeat (The Mekons, Altın Gün, Gaye Su Akyol), while American and Japanese audiences will find it on Lovitt Records (Dischord’s legendary sister label) and Moorworks (Xiu Xiu, Beach Slang), respectively. Blending blaring guitars with a pensive groove, and a psychedelic vibe with post-punk noise, Trupa Trupa continue to stick to their guns, and we’re excited to hear them fire off a few rounds at the OFF Festival this year.
This Kraków-based rapper’s recent collaboration with Nocny, Nocna zmjana, won him a 2018 Popkiller award in the category of Best New Artist. In March the duo followed through with another record, Plansze, uniquely capturing the mood of today’s twenty-something generation without falling into new-school clichés. With a musical style and lyrical idiom this original, it’s no wonder that, less than five years after he first picked up a mic, Jan-Rapowanie is on the verge of becoming one of the biggest names in Polish rap.
Hailing from Zielona Góra, this highly promising trio has performed a string of excellent shows and released a handful of well-received singles and EPs. They also promised to put out a full-length record, but stalled for so long that we’d practically given up on ever hearing an LP—that is, until this April, when Niemoc finally made good on their promise. Baśnie dazzles the ear with all the things that make Niemoc great, from the band’s disco beats to their post-punk angst. Songs like these could only have been written in a suburban garage made out of Polish cinder blocks, with a faded Ibiza poster on the wall, or maybe a panoramic shot of Poland’s Tatra Mountains.
Babu Król i Smutne Piosenki
This concert will leave you feeling as blissful as your grandparents felt at your age. Or as blissful as they feel now, getting down at a retirement home dance at five in the afternoon. Immortalized on the album Nowa fala polskiego dansingu vol I, this collaborative effort by the bands Babu Król and Smutne Piosenki is at once funny and nostalgic. It’s a pastiche of Polish dance music traditions, but one that tips its hat to its subject instead of mocking it. The bands’ setlist features original numbers along with a few covers of songs that you probably rocked out to at your high school dances, but in modern interpretations that speak to the doubts and angsts of adulthood.
Wiejski Dżez: the title of their second album (Country Jazz) says it all. This is roots music with origins in the Carpathian Mountains, which the Malisz family calls home, but it’s also influenced by other folk traditions, like that of the Mazovia region up north. There’s an element of improvized freestyle jazz, a bold reinterpretation of the familiar in a more universal spirit. Jan, the father of the family, plays the fiddle, bass, hurdy gurdy and accordion, representing the band’s traditional side, while his kids, Zuzanna (vocals, bass and drums) and Kacper (bass and nyckelharpa, and especially the fiddle) challenge his approach. The generational conflict at the heart of their music produces a sound unlike anything you’ve heard — and not just in Poland.
Led by the brilliant saxophonist Michał Fetler — a native of Silesia whom you might have heard in Jazz Band Młynarski-Masecki and Tsigunz Fanfara Avantura — Polmuz is an act that goes back in time to discover the future, digging up old shellac LPs of recordings by orchestras from Wielkopolska, in western Poland. Polmuz samples bits and pieces of century-old mazurkas and obereks, and assembles them into fascinating improvised pieces that feature the sax, upright bass, drums, and the Polivoks, a vintage Soviet synthesizer. Their one-of-a-kind sound makes this one show you won’t want to miss.
A Warsaw trio whose lineup features Emil Litwiniec (guitar, vocals), Jan Wiśniewski (bass, backing vocals) and Kuba Korzeniowski (percussion, backing vocals). Their music pulses with a beat that verges on Krautrock and raw post punk, but it also has catchy moments that evoke the first wave of Polish rock and roll. If there’s one thing that fans of both Joy Division and Czerwone Gitary can get behind, it’s Tentent. That’s pretty impressive.
Łukasz, Szczepan and Nikodem are the second generation of the famously musical Pospieszalski family. They pick up where their dads left off (well, OK, they haven’t said their last words yet), blending jazz and popular music, but in a modern incarnation that’s worthy of the 21st century. Santabarbara list Tie Break among their inspirations, but there’s also echoes of Radiohead and techno. More importantly, though, they do it all their own way.
Any project that features drummer Mateusz Rychlicki (Kristen, Kobieta z Wydm), bass player Adam Sołtysik (formerly of Pogodno) and electronics whiz Mateusz Rosiński (wd30) is bound to revolve around rhythm. The trio call their music dubwave, but they actually combine a broad spectrum of inspirations into a minimalist, liberating trance sound.
Cudowne Lata are, in their own words, “a band with two hearts and two guitars.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Ania from Warsaw also sings, while Amina from Kraków operates the synths and drums, and together they make music about love. Their album won’t be out until September, but the first single, “Zapach i ty,” puts Cudowne Lata in the running for Debut of the Year.
This year’s OFF Festival also features the previously announced acts: Foals, Suede, Jarvis Cocker introducing JARV IS..., Stereolab, Neneh Cherry, Aldous Harding, Superorganism, Hania Rani, Perfect Son, Electric Wizard, The Gaslamp Killer, The Comet is Coming, Juan Wauters, Daughters, Dr. Rubinstein, Lotic: Endless Power, The Body, Dezerter performs Underground Out of Poland, slowthai, Black Midi, VTSS, Masecki Jazz Trio, OM, SAMA’, Jakuzi, Phum Viphurit, Durand Jones & The Indications, Lebanon Hanover, Honey Dijon, Loyle Carner, Tęskno, Pablopavo i Ludziki z Naprawdę Dużym Zespołem, The Real Gone Tones, Emerald, Octavian, EABS feat. Tenderlonious, Tuzza, Ammar 808, Tirzah, Soccer Mommy, P.Unity, Veronica Vasicka, Wczasy, Entropia, Boogarins, Bamba Pana & Makaveli, and the Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble.
The 2019 OFF Festival Katowice takes place August 2–4 at Three Pond Valley, its regular venue. Three-day passes are now available at the OFF Shop for 400 PLN. Campground tickets are also available for 80 PLN.