Live Video: Kristen

Live Video, OFF Festival
09/16/2015
Jim Beckmann
photo by Jim Bennett (view set)

Following yesterday's live session with Polish band Hańba!, today we offer the second performance in a soon-to-be weekly series of recordings KEXP captured during the OFF Festival in Katowice, Poland. During our trip there - made possible by the festival and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute's Don’t Panic! We’re from Poland! initiative - we met one of Poland's longest running indie rock bands, Kristen, who stunned us with the tightly controlled chaos of their expansive, experimental sound.

Formed in the 90's in the western town of Szczecin by brothers Łukasz and Mateusz Rychlicki (guitar and drums respectively) and Michał Biela (baritone guitar and vocals), Kristen took their name as well as their initial sound from American music, which they absorbed through seeing bands tour through Poland and neighboring Berlin. It was when the Rychlicki brothers caught Hole performing in their home town in the early 90's, that they realized they could play "guitar music without really thinking in terms of genre" and "loud music which is also art". In homage, they took their name from then bassist Kristen Pfaff. During the next 18 years, as the trio produced seven albums and played innumerable shows, they gradually broadened their preferences for post-punk and post-rock from labels like Dischord, Touch & Go, Thrill Jockey and Sub Pop to include more improvisational and avant styles and sounds. Today, they're the beacon younger Polish bands to look toward, and if all goes to Michał Biela's plan, they'll still be kicking ass at age 75. The day after their set at the OFF Festival, we met up with Kristen at Fabryka Porcelany Śląskiej, the historic porcelain factory in Katowice. Somehow the dusty floors, cracked walls and exposed beams there seemed fitting for these avant-indie vets, who, joined by sound designer Maciej Bączyk, performed an engaging 3-song, 20-minute session (yay, post-rock!) just for KEXP. Watch the whole thing here now:

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