Europe’s festival scene is renowned for its eclectic and current billings, but OFF Festival in Poland just might take the crown for this year’s most challenging and thrilling. Taking place in the city of Katowice in Upper Silesia, the festival prides itself on showcasing not only the freshest and most forward-thinking Polish acts, but also some of the most diverse and daring international acts in the world right now - past and present.
For its run from 1st-3rd August, OFF has prepared more treats for its punters than they’ll find in Polish architecture, and that’s saying something. The honour (wait for it) of kicking things off on Friday goes to Cerebral Ballzy (there we go), and it’s a sure thing that these guys will be having the crowd in a frenzy faster than you can down your first Tyskie. Those in need of some more positive vibes after the show will find solace in Los Campesinos! straight after on the mBank stage, where Gareth Campesinos! will be shining a rare ray of indie pop sunshine down on the otherwise dark and brooding line-up. Perfume Genius will be making everyone swoon a while after too, offering one of OFF’s rare opportunities to take it easy.
Black Lips and Protomartyr fill out the evening slots together, playing back-to-back across different stages. There’s a theme running here, and those intimidated at the prospect of being incredibly sweaty and broken by the time this is all over better check their airfare cancellation policies, because these two shows are going to be nothing short of riotous. Not to worry, though - Jeff Mangum and his recently reformed Neutral Milk Hotel have bagged the headline slot on Friday night, and all those walking wounded will be able treated to a dazzling display of indie rock superstardom.
It’s all about the noise on Saturday, apparently - Hookworms and Bo Ningen both demonstrate their racket-creating abilities early on, before Deafheaven aim to cure any lingering hangovers and absolutely annihilate the audience’s eardrums with a rare European performance of pummelling metal. Le1f and The Notwist will both be providing some change of scenery, while the legendary The Jesus and Mary Chain take to the stage in the night’s headline slot.
Those begging for Sunday to let up on the pace a bit will be thoroughly disappointed, as Perfect Pussy are on call to wake you up first thing with totally unadulterated excitement. Things get fittingly relaxing by the end of the day though, as Slowdive and Belle & Sebastian play back-to-back, bringing some well-deserved calm to a festival that’s looking like one of the most enthralling and exhilarating events of the year. Make sure there’s time to check out some Polish acts too, as Bulbwires, Inkwizycja and the brilliantly named Eric Shoves Them In His Pockets amongst other will be demonstrating just how much of a driving force the Polish music is right now.
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