Tauron Nowa Muzyka
Various, Katowice, Poland
Tauron Nowa Muzyka, now in its ninth year, is shaping up to be one of the major players on the ever-more-saturated European festival circuit. It’s Poland’s answer to the increasingly laddish, taps-aff hedonistic parties of Croatia and Ibiza but instead of machismo and drinking songs you’ll find genuinely interested fans dancing on adrenaline alone. Although the hugely popular super-caffeinated Fritz-Kola, John Lemon and Yerbata drinks flogged on site by the gallon might play a small part in the relentless stamina too.
The line-up is house and techno heavy but there’s enough variation to keep everyone happy – and dancing. Set against the backdrop of an abandoned coal mine, a giant pit shaft illuminates crumbling industrial buildings destroying any illusion that this festival was ever going to be anything but unique. This mix of rugged factory architecture serves as a reminder that the town of Katowice, once a hub for the mining industry, is now attempting to repurpose itself as the cultural capital of Poland, hosting some of the biggest gigs but also two major European festivals, the other being the more rock-orientated OFF.
This dramatic (and intentional) switch in purpose is evident in the town itself with its picturesque streets now lined with craft beer pubs and trendy coffee shops. Our first night sees us eating pizza amongst trendy young Poles before heading to an ancient Polish church, the perfect setting for the soulful sounds of Sohn. A perfectly chilled lead-in to what would turn out to be a weekend of straight-up, non-stop party selections.
We arrived on site at 8PM. A silhouette of her signature braids dramatically backlit with red light, Kelela ran through a selection of Cut 4 Me hits, with her gorgeous falsetto sounding even more striking live. Other Friday highlights included Nozinja’s explosion of technicolour 189bpm body music; one of the most genuinely exhilarating takes on dance music and pretty much the perfect festival act. Ben UFO’s slightly safe early morning set merely paved the way for Pariah’s 4am takeout, throwing down huge cascading techno and dutty rhythms, highlights included a surprisingly subtle unreleased Karenn track and DJ Qu’s The Believer, a track with a versatility that’s seeing it become a bit of an unlikely anthem this summer, further proved as it was played by Dixon the following night.
Despite it being on the only open-air stage in the pouring rain, you couldn’t drag us away from Saturday’s Hyperdub showcase. The only thing that beat their pertinent selections was the evident connection between the artists. A crew that are first and foremost mates, as they crowded the stage the entire evening we couldn’t help but wonder if we’d seen a more joyous coming together of fractured musical styles. First up was Laurel Halo, whose seriously deep, almost dub-techno and fractured rhythms paved the way for Cooly G’s fiery UK funky and grime. Ikonika went harder, using techno as a base to explore splintered grime and garage.
Kode9 went in with the dizzying syncopations of juke and footwork, a workout glittered with his signature Gameboy glitch rhythms, jewels from the recent Hyperdub run of releases including Heavee’s Icemaster (“I need a blanket ‘cause I’m cold motherfucka”), tongue-in-cheek juke classics like DJ Nate’s Free and pretty much back to back DJ Rashad; running through early material, to the On Site remix, with multiple Double Cup selections in between. Scratcha DVA was a treat, prepping for his 5am set by getting pretty liberal on the mic and darting about to pour vodka in the mouths of the sparse crowd, and when his time finally came he played a set littered with gleeful garage bangers and Parliament Funkadelic classics.
Sunday’s wind down came in the form of the ever soothing tones of Nils Frahm who played for us on the top floor of a derelict factory. He began his set by joking that a good friend of his cut his head open in this very same venue and that we should watch out for the holes in the floor. Our disposition being one of vague worry his comments didn’t settle particularly well and we found ourselves listening to his beautiful neo-classical tones from the comfort (and relative safety) of the pop-up bar downstairs.
Since last year’s event Tauron has seen improvements.The on-site food is particularly improved (try the pirogy) and we’re happy to see the inclusion of vodka on the bars this year as opposed to just lager. We had a great time at a fabulously curated festival bookended by well judged opening and closing parties. We’ll be more than happy to return to Katowice again next year when Tauron turns ten; we’re sure it’s going to be an event to remember.
Photography: Radoslaw Kazmierczak