KEXP at the OFF Festival in Katowice, Poland, Day 3, Part 2

Live Reviews
08/11/2015
Darek Mazzone,
OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

We’ve heard about the Off Festival from many friends. KEXP's Cheryl Waters and Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop have been advocates for it for many years. But as in all things experiential, you really have to experience it to grasp it.

The festival grounds are in a huge park 10 minutes out of the city. The area consists of ponds, forest and a large expanse of fields where both the festival and adjoining campground create an idyllic scene.  The layout of the festival feels well planned out with enough space between four main stages and one pop-up stage. The use of the forest glens creates a natural sound barrier so one performance doesn’t bleed into another the performances are well spaced out also so you never feel you’re missing anything. The food vendor areas are creatively designed with local offerings in whimsical food trucks motif made up of European truck designs of the 60’s.

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett
OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

It's Poland so the traditional Polish fare was the tastiest, such as Pierogi, which were so good we all cued up in line and waited  with other attendees before catching any music. I can still taste them now. Unlike the Poland of my past there were vegan, gluten free options, and most offerings were fare trade and locally sourced.

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

Coffee and tea were everywhere and were quite good and were the many bar stations offering beer, soda, and  a local cider. There was some wine but I found it sub par. Poland is more of a beer drinking country, but I hear that's changing.

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

There were many places to walk if you wanted to escape crowds or music, a couple of tents focusing on a synthesis of multiple arts and music, and a late night Burlesque Review curated by Seattle's own Paula, the Swedish Housewife.

The sponsor area is subtle in signing and focused in what they are offering and getting from their investment, in many ways unlike the vomit of branding one finds in many US festivals. It was refreshing to see a well thought out approach to all aspects of Festival Business .

The festival Market Place was centrally located with a range of Stalls all focused on Independent designers, music stores, and a brilliant pop up hair and tattoo salon that was jam-packed with brisk business all evening. My cousin Dagmara got a smart little cut while I was doing an interview. U.S. festival programmers take note!

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

The sound was top notch, security was extremely courteous, there were no displays of aggressiveness or wanton drunkenness. People were buzzed, happy, and not trying to be aloof. It was a great time.

We tried to catch as much music as possible, especially the artists we had lined up for in-studios. The reaction to the artists by the audience was very visceral and made me feel it was an allusion to the quality of music we were going to experience later in the week.

OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

Songhoy Blues at the OFF Festival // photo by Jim Bennett

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