It's time for a Polski party at OFF Festival
The Horrors onstage at OFF Festival - band of the day for Clash

Clash arrives on Thursday night, and we find ourselves put up in a rather nice hotel in the middle of Katowice, a hotel shared with every band on over the weekend. After the initial shock of seeing Faris Rotter in the lobby, meeting Wayne Coyne in the lift, and bumping into J Mascis at the bar, we head into town to catch the first gig of the festival programme, US electronic mischief makers Matmos.

Playing as part of the ‘Inspired by Chopin’ theme, the duo blend visual art with dreamy soundscapes full of twinkling keys and superbly crafted digital beats, taking this packed house on a journey that inspires and delights in equal measures. They employ an arsenal of sounds and samples, with everything from Polish trains to turning pages elegantly blended into something quite unique. It’s a fine start for Artur Rojek, the programme director of the OFF Festival.

Next morning it’s the first day of the festival proper, and as we drive towards the site, the resigned smiles as we see people pop open their umbrellas along the way quickly turn to looks of deep concern, as the heavens open and throw down everything they’ve got, water smashing off the road with a dark fury.

Luckily, something magical happens as we arrive at the festival. The clouds break open to reveal a deep blue sky, sun beating down and banishing the wetness all around. Before long it’s hot and sticky, and we wander around to get our bearings and enjoy a cool beer before planning our day ahead.

The line-up for the three days is made up of home-grown Polish acts alongside some more familiar international names, so we start the day with some Polski space rock on the main stage courtesy of Hotel Kosmos, who end their set with a spirited cover of Stevie Wonder’s Higher Ground.

Another native band, Kim Nowak, then add a dash of more traditional 3-piece/-power chord excitement, with a thick, deep bass that’s loud enough to rattle the fillings in our teeth.

Wandering around with a beer in your hand is part of the festival experience, but at OFF you have to booze in designated areas, and you can’t take it around with you. Strange set-up, but we soon forget any gripes with the arrival of The Horrors, who have evolved from their garage rock roots into something rather different. This is a colossal, brooding beast of a band, and pulling in the biggest crowd of the day, they play a selection of tracks from the albums Strange House and Primary Colours, as well a brand new track from their third album, currently being recorded in a dark cellar somewhere in Transylvania…probably.

Put simply, they are amazing, and blow everything else we see today out of the water, including The Fall, Art Brut, The Tindersticks, A Place To Bury Strangers and even Wu Tang clansman Raekwon. Faris and Co., we salute you!

Read more of Clash's OFF Festival coverage below -
Festival Photo Gallery

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