OFF Festival Katowice 2017: bringing the US and the UK back together again

Legendary singer-songwriters from across the pond meet rising stars from across the channel. Conor Oberst, Arab Strap, Thee Oh Sees, Sheer Mag, Ulrika Spacek, Anna Meredith, and LVL UP: check out the latest additions to this year’s lineup.

Conor Oberst
It’s been well on twenty years since he started singing and playing, and we’ve listened and admired him every step of the way, from Bright Eyes and Desaparecidos to The Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, and of course his solo recordings. There are precious few storytellers on the music scene today that are as captivating as Conor Oberst and who can deliver their tales in such an engrossing format, combining folk, country, and rock, and prepending the “alt-” prefix to all of the above. The singing poet just came out with another excellent solo album titled Salutations before setting off on tour with his live band. He’ll be stopping by Katowice one August night to tell us something important and beautiful.

Arab Strap
There’s no better way to put this than one reviewer at The Guardian did: “The demise of Arab Strap leaves the rock world a rather more wholesome place, but a slightly less profound one.” This Scottish duo delivered emotions that,though real — perhaps painfully so – were hard to swallow. But once they were gone, we all understood just how important and unique of a phenomenon Arab Strap were in British music at the turn of the centuries. In 2016 their fans’ prayers were answered: Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton once again took to the stage to celebrate the band’s 20th birthday. We’re thrilled that the party’s gone on long enough to bring Arab Strap to Katowice.

Thee Oh Sees
We’ve featured Thee Oh Sees at the OFF Festival before, but we’re not just repeating ourselves here. The band has managed to release a full four albums since their last visit to Katowice: Drop, Mutilator Defeated at Last, A Weird Exits, and An Odd Entrances, all while changing their lineup and basically reinventing themselves. But one crucial aspect remains the same: there’s no greater expert on genre-agnostic psychedelic garage rock than this California act.

LVL UP
Return to Love, LVL UP’s third album and Sub Pop debut, is the quintessence of guitar-driven energy and sets the standard for American indie rock. It’s clear that Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Dinosaur Jr. have some talented students. The New York quarter has also earned a reputation as an excellent live band, a title they defended most recently at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin.

Anna Meredith
She may this season’s great sensation, but she’s going to be with us for a while. Her enthusiastically received debut album Varmint and her electrifying shows at industry festivals like Eurosonic Noorderslag and SXSW leave little room for doubt: we’re witnessing the birth of a star, one whose charismatic stage presence is matched by the bold vision of her compositions. Critics have compared her to the likes of Björk and Moderat, but that hardly does her justice. A graduate of the Royal College of Music, Meredith was until recently a regular performer at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia ViVA, before going on to redefine the boundaries of new pop with her own musical vocabulary.

Ulrika Spacek
Though they hail from London, this quintet’s sound includes few of the features you’d expect to hear from members of the British rock scene. In fact, reviewers of their debut album The Album Paranoia suggested influences ranging from trancey Krautrock to American noise rock. The band’s sophomore record, titled Modern English Decoration, is slated for release ahead of this year’s festival, so anything could still happen.

Sheer Mag
Take one listen to this Philadelphia band’s EPs and you won’t have any doubt in your mind: you’re dealing with a band that could have easily opened for MC5, Stooges, or New York Dolls if they had only made it big in time. The fact that Sheer Mag wasn’t founded until 2014 changes nothing. This great a blend of early punk and hard rock that makes nods to Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy is something you can’t come up with. You just have to live it.

About OFF
OFF is a festival for the discerning music fan and the place to discover the best alternative acts from around the world. A truly unique boutique music festival, OFF Festival takes place in ‘Three Lake Valley’, Katowice – a beautiful green oasis in the heart of industrial Silesia. OFF is a way of life, one that flies in the face of current trends and stays true to itself, and the ethos of organiser Artur Rojek is firmly aimed at supporting art and music with the festival bringing many acts to Poland for the first time. OFF Festival’s reputation is growing year on year driven by the festivals forward–thinking, eclectic music policy and it’s bold and eclectic lineups. From the greatest alternative music stars from around the world to the increasingly strong Polish scene, OFF festival has inspiring music in abundance and the organisers and crowd have one serious finger on the pulse when it comes to music.

OFF Festival takes place from 4-6 August 2017. 3-day tickets from £52 available at off-festival.pl.