While there are those who’ll merrily hold court for hours over how much the British festival scene has changed over the last 20 years or so, the erection of a fence near Pilton has got nothing on Poland, which has gone from Eastern Bloc austerity to general economic prosperity and restoration of freedoms (albeit with a faintly fruity right wing president into the deal). The festival scene has pretty much moved in tandem: back in the Eighties you were pretty much limited to the National Festival Of Polish Song (except in 1982 when it was cancelled because of, er, martial law) or the radically politicised rock festival Jarocin. Neither of which were exactly appealing to the itinerant British indie fan, nor were they intended to be.
You can in fact still visit the National Festival Of Polish Song if you should so wish, but barring those really, really, really excited about Polish Song, better options lie with either enormo-fest Open’er or the OFF Festival, which has been organised by musician Artur Rojek for the last three years in Myslowice, near the Ryanair-serviced town of Katowice.
It was to the latter that DiS was invited earlier this year, in what I fervently hope wasn’t a misunderstood belief that I speak fluent Polish. Anyway, too late now, the festival runs tomorrow until Sunday and basically looks awesome. Taking place in the old town of Myslowice, it balances a selection of Polish bands with a hearty smattering of international acts either completely ignoring the UK this season (Marissa Nadler, Handsome Furs, These New Puritans, Wooden Shjips, Ólafur Arnauds performing in a church) or ones playing limited gigs that would in any case probably cost more than a weekend ticket to OFF (hello, The National), plus Sub Pop boss Jonathan Poneman will be present as a guest of honour, giving a public press conference at 2pm on Friday.
Anyway, this here article is, of course, a sort of contractually obliged preview as part of the arrangements for myself and DiS photographer Helen Boast to be sent out to visit this festival, and there’s a danger of seeming insincerely enthusiastic when writing such things. But the facts as they stand are that Britain lacks any killer outdoor indie festivals (or at least any that offer such a draw to foreign acts – sorry Truck!), Spain’s peerless roster is in danger of being priced out by the dreaded crunch, and y'know, everyone likes a holiday. Poland is still pretty cheap (about £1 a pint, and £20 for a two day festival pass), well-catered for by budget airlines, and, um well as I’ve pointed out, OFF basically looks awesome, features a bunch of bands that the UK ain’t getting, and may be a major stop on the European festival calender very soon. Or to put it another way – ner-ner, we’re off to see The National. Report to follow next week.