Review: Tauron New Music Festival, Katowice, Poland (21-24/08/2014)

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In the minds of larger audiences, Tauron New Music Festival is associated with seemingly unknown electronic music. After the 9th edition of the festival I dare to say that the crucial word here should be: eclectic.

As with any other festival, Tauron struggled with some major obstacles, the biggest of which was a very last minute cancellation of one of the main acts who was set to open the festival: Chet Faker. Despite the fact that organizers quickly recruited a substitution, and Chet Faker issued an official apology in which he explained that the cancellation was caused by his health issues, the audience expressed their dissatisfaction in harsh words on TNM’s official Facebook event. Then there were plenty of problems with organization and communication in general: not enough signs showing where things were, a lack of email information about the changes, for example press-passes pick up points etc.. Fortunately, all of this was compensated for by the camping. We were welcomed by extremely nice and laid back security, volunteers and Mad Mick’s crew at small, cosy and still almost empty field. The only issue with the camping was total ban on bringing any alcohol in. But, well, necessity is the mother of invention…

Since then the festival just got better. TNM 2014 started in quite an unusual venue, the majestic, neo-gothic Church of Saints Apostles Peter and Paul, in Katowice. Polish band Sorry Boys accompanied by a gospel choir kicked it off. The singer Bela Komoszyńska who looked like a hybrid of Bjork and Florence Welch was tossing on the stage like a shaman lady. The band put the audience into new level of sacredness. After them the altar was taken by the substitution for Chet Faker: SOHN. Firstly, he passed on Chet’s apologies. Faker definitely should be sorry because he missed a big time. Wearing a black hood, SOHN looked like a priest of a new electronic-RnB religion. Suiting his new priest stature, he asked everyone to rise and “kick off this fuckin’ festival”. Contradicting the Polish Catholic obsequious approach to the church as an institute, everyone started to swing and bounce both between the pews and in naves. The inspired audience continued the musical service on the official after party in a club nearby till early morning. And it was that way throughout the festival. Despite the heavy rain.

fot. Tauron Nowa Muzyka, by Radoslaw Kazmierczak

The next two days of TNM took place in another unusual venue: the New Silesian Museum, which is in an old brown coal mine. This localisation definitely brought something spectacular to the atmosphere of the festival. Five stages, one of them under the blue sky, gave plenty to choose from.

The first band who showed up on the main stage was enigmatic BOKKA. Polish musicians are mysterious to the point that not only they cover themselves in white protective clothing with huge googles but also they communicate with the audience by writing on a laptop and projecting it on a screen. Then the stage was taken by Jaga Jazzist with Aukso Orchestra. The Norwegian-Polish show-off of music was so cinematic that would make Hans Zimmer blush. It was warmly received and the leader literally asked for an invitation to next years’ festival! The closing act on the main stage was a legend of Danish electropop: WhoMadeWho. The trio seemed to forget about their age and the genre they were playing. Loud guitars, crowd surfing (performed by both guitarists), plenty of rum shared with the audience and one pair of ripped shorts. Mick Jagger would be proud. Unfortunately, even after ten minutes of applause WhoMadeWho didn’t decide to give Katowice one more song.

The cherry on top was South African Nozinja. Their songs weren’t masterpieces (in fact they sounded like one song on repeat) but it was mesmerising watching them on stage Their hips were moving with unbelievable speed and, instead of dancing, the audience was just standing with their mouths wide open. When the final song came on, the DJ went in front of the deck and started to dance, causing everyone to go completely mental.

Day two was started by British electro-soul-pop: Years&Years. As expected, plenty of screaming girls went to see a star of Skins. Olly Alexander and the team kicked off a great party and looked amazed by the reception to their music. After the show they partied with people at the festival. On the RedBull stage, Brazilian duo Elekfantz caused euphoria that even One Direction would be jealous of. Their music worked on people like first class ecstasy. Then on the main stage young Swedish rapper Elliphant, while getting drunker and drunker on beer and JD, was taking her ‘bitches’ directly from the audience on the stage emphasizing that she doesn’t want any girly girls moving their hips “because we’re all humans!”. After all that the biggest name at the festival: Kelis, looking like a pink tulip on diamond heels, looked faded.

fot. Tauron Nowa Muzyka, by Radoslaw Kazmierczak

Opposite to the party-side, Tauron New Music had a more chilled side. Playing on borders of new-jazz and electronic Skalpel, mooryc and Pink Freud collected a full house of people who let the musicians take their minds to another planet. The same for the mixing of modern classical music with ambient by Nils Frahm, who closed the festival.

In 2010 the festival was named the best small festival in Europe by European Festival Awards. It also won some prestigious polls for small festivals that you haven’t heard about. Tauron New Music Festival might be small and young but is definitely huge in its spirit. Look out at TNM because quite soon it will be one of the biggest things on the map of, not only European but, world music festivals.

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3rd year Film Student. hopelessly addicted to films, books and music.

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