Last night Warsaw played host to a two venue EB blow-out with José Gonzáles, Hudson Mohawke, Ólafur Arnalds, John Talabot, Mooryc and Król. This is how it went down. Photos by Lukasz Jaszak and Joanna Kurkowska.
It was once again an evening of superlatives at last night’s Electronic Beats Festival in Warsaw, held at both the Palladium concert hall and Basen club in Poland’s capital. Of course we’d say that, right? Well, fuck objectivity. And while we’re at it, fuck constricting genre categorizations, because the array of music presented at the two-phase event (one part concert, one part club) blew minds and won over the hearts of not a few skeptics we spoke to. Initial naysayers who wondered aloud in the beginning of the night about how the understated atmospherics of José González and Ólafur Arnalds would match up with the maximal aesthetics of Hudson Mohawke became true believers in the dogma of Mixed Line-ups. (You know who you are, don’t want to say we told you so, but…)
Kicking off the night for the Palladium headliners was Polish duo Król, whose four-to-the floor atmorock was a pleasant lead in to the contemporary electronic chamber music of Ólafur Arnalds. In a stroke of bad luck, Arnalds was forced to go on a few minutes late due to his guest singer’s thrown out back. But with typical showbiz moxy and some help from the local paramedics, the singer mustered up the strength and hobbled astage. Thank the Nordic gods of lumbar. Arnalds isn’t classically trained, but you wouldn’t know it by his piano chops. Together with a mostly bearded string section, the Icelandic composer infused the sold-out theater with his brand of melodic melodrama, playing a selection of classics and newer tracks off of 2013’s For Now I Am Winter. Arnalds’ prog/metal roots were audible in form if not instrumentation and judging by the crowd’s enthusiasm, the performance struck the right balance between complexity and accessibility i.e. between the solo piano work of “Words of Amber” and baroque-indie of “Only the Winds”.
Indeed, accessibility was also the name of the game for José González’s stripped down solo show. The Swedish singer-songwriter is known widely for his folky versions of The Knife and Bruce Springsteen and, like Arnalds, has also brought his tender vocal stylings to the big screen, most recently as the composer for the soundtrack to comedian-narcissist Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. As always, González’s approach was soft and Varsovian concertgoers answered with hushed listening—that is until the songs were over. Their response was much applause and whistles of appreciation for songs that at first appear peaceful, but gradually betray an edgier subject matter than your average indie-folk. Music for lovers? Atheists? Outsiders? All of the above? Not that we passed out questionnaires.
After the show, the blissed out the crowd made their way to the Basen club for the storm after the calm. It was a gradual darkening of the clouds, with Poznan-based Maurycy Zimmermann, aka Mooryc kicking off the second half of the night with his trademark atmospheric, tail-heavy techno and vocals. While not a Warsaw local, the Polish native son clearly was surrounded by fans, with many a blurry-eyed Dziękuję shouted to and from the stage.
But there was no rest for the wicked and when Hudson Mohawke went on stage, it was clearly time for release. Fresh from collaborations with pop production titans Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin, and Kanye West, HudMo let loose a barrage of muscular trap bordering on the psychedelic—an obvious crowd pleaser for those thirsting for a music less moody. Explosive visuals accompanied the Scottish producer’s trademark steroidal beats, with a sample proclaiming “YOU LOOK LIKE SHIT!” repeatedly blasted over the top. Nobody took it personally. Very much the opposite really. Blood on the trees. Bleeding ears. Smiling faces. Profane.
Eventually the clock struck three, and it was once again time to decelerate—or so we thought. John Talabot’s DJ set was certainly not the the sonic valium to HudMo’s pure white lines, but rather a different trip altogether. Techno, techno and more techno, and pumped harder than Talabot’s own productions. Entrancing. This was the steady drive we needed to get home at the end of a long night. Until next year Warsaw… ~
Wish could capture these colours properly, stunning Warsaw sunrise pic.twitter.com/hbOMWsBcMg
— Hudson Mohawke (@HudMo) April 5, 2014