Off Festival - Katowice
Live Review

Off Festival – Katowice, Poland

As the bitter and lonely nights of Winter engulf our little island, now is probably a good time to reflect on better times, and revisit one summer music festival which continues to deliver time and time again…

OFF Festival in the Silesian city of Katowice in Poland puts every UK festival to shame. Incredibly cheap for a weekend ticket, and with a lineup of top international acts there really isn’t any comparison. This kind of line-up has been put together by music lovers first and foremost, and not the kind of money-grabbing halfwits who seem to book a large majority of festivals in this country. Despite the rule of not being able to drink outside of the beer tents , and the unnecessary use of beer and food tokens, this is the kind of event that UK festivals should be aspiring to. It provided a monumental amount of fantastic musical standouts over the course of the weekend, but here’s our highlights…

Mazzy Star

Watching Mazzy Star is usually a relaxed experience, but something seems missing here. Their listless beauty seems more listless than usual. The hand puppet display by some of the audience in front of the bands projections adds an unwelcome comedy element. “Fade into you” is a highlight, but you can’t help feeling that they were just picking up the pay check and were the only real disappointment of the weekend.

Atari Teenage Riot

Atari Teenage riot sound ferocious and as intense as usual, as their purpose to destroy the worlds hearing has continues unabated. Back at the hotel Alec Empire tells me music neither has to be intended or created. It can exist in any sound if the brain can recognise patterns in it. Very philosophical for 4 in the morning, but not nearly as philosophical as telling his band mate “I carry the music in my mind, and you carry my beer”.


Spectrum are outstanding, and are as close to the original vision and sound of Spacemen 3 as you will hear. Several of the crowd choose to lie on the floor to listen to the sound of Peter Kember’s guitar drones, theremin and synthesizer, and I accidently stand on a couple of them.

Iggy & the Stooges

Iggy Pop has a weird zig zag vascular thing happening on his chest and it’s cool. He salivates and spits all over the stage. Even with the injuries he has sustained over the years he moves better than a man half his age. Raw Power and Search and Destroy both sound incendiary, and when Passenger is played at the encore it is received by a surprised and ecstatic crowd. Watching the Bass player limp off stage with his gammy hip reminds us of the bands advanced age, but they are awesome nonetheless.


Only the most diehard of fans would dare be near the front for this. Swans play at such deafening volumes that most people are standing well back. There are no restrictions on noise levels as there are in the UK, and it’s all the better for it. The tunes build and breakdown in peaks and troughs. But even at their loudest, every texture of the wall of sound can be heard with perfect clarity. They over run their 1 hour timeslot and are the loudest band all weekend.Overall the sound and atmosphere is amazing. The Polish crowds are enthusiastic and friendly. Do yourself a favour next year, and instead of losing your shoes in the quagmire of a UK festival, get yourself out to Off. You won’t regret it.

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