After an exhausting day shooting four bands at the Porcelain Factory, we piled into our transport vans our sponsors provided, which were a lifesaver, and hit the hotel to clean the dust off our bodies. It was time to hit the OFF Festival! It was our second night so we all felt a little surer of ourselves and dug right in.
This being Poland, food plays a large role in any gathering, this is true for a meeting of friends or a meeting of thousands of strangers. We grabbed catering that the festival provided us, this was also curious since we placed our orders with an attendant and received a delicious meal on porcelain. No need to que up and slosh through a line digging into an unappetizing tray, it was oh so civilized.
Surprisingly refreshing was the lack of plastic bottles at the festival. You are allowed to bring in one plastic bottle and fill it at one of the large water stations on the grounds. It was so nice not to see waste baskets overflowing with trash and plastics. Recycling, composting, conservation efforts were in full effect.
As we got on the grounds, The Dillinger Escape Pan was grinding into the crowd on the main stage with an assault of mathcore that fit this scene to a tee.
I wandered into the Trojka Stage, curious what the collaboration of Fatima Al-Qadiri, J-Cush, and the DJ duo Nguzunguzu, playing as Future Brown would do. It was a packed crowd dancing to a synthesis of UK Grime and abstract hip hop/post dub step. The band fed off the crowd and the vibe of the festival space. Honestly, I felt this in all the performances I saw.
I was also able to catch a few songs of Ogoya Nengo & The Dodo Women’s group. It was cathartic and cleansing to hear Traditional East African music and in many ways it cleansed my palate for the rest of the evening.
Poland has an intense love for cinema, especially cinematic music. Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, and especially David Lynch are cultural giants in the country. So when I saw that the ensemble Xiu Xiu were going to tackle Angelo Badalementi’s and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks songbook, I was just as excited to see the performance as too see the crowd. The setting was the forest stage and it was packed from tree to tree. The performance was riveting with a range of cinematics arcs that kept the mesmerized crowd moving like puppets being pulled by a master’s string. It was one of the best examples of complex work being presented in a Festival setting I’ve ever seen.
It was time for a drink. We strolled in the hot night to one of the many bars that are strategically related throughout the venue and had Grolsch, the festival sponsor. It’s not a tasty as the local beer but it’s no slouch.
I headed to the Experimental Stage to check out Lautari who we had shot earlier, and then joined the throngs who wanted to see Ride perform on the main stage. Both bands were in great moods, played exceptionally and fed off the crowds love. It was magic.
Heading out I got a chance to check out the Polish Hip Hop underground sensation Pro8l3m.
Working with the Producer/DJ Steez83 who samples Polish hits of the 80’s the duo create a smart, funny, absurd music that goes against the grain of the usual pop hip hop which dominates this hip hop obsessed crowd and country. The fact that the stage was on a truck and just rolled in between 2 large stages added much to the loveliness of the night. The OFF Festival is just getting better and better.
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