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Off Festival 2010: Opening Night, Ecstatic Sunshine, Matmos, Off Festival 2010

Off Festival Opening Night: Ecstatic Sunshine and Matmos, August 5th, 2010

Aug 06, 2010 Photography by Laura Studarus Off Festival 2010
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Quick: name your 5 favorite Polish bands. Name the top non-Polish bands ruling the charts and hearts of the country. Heck, name anything about their current pop culture scene. If you’re like me, you’re drawing a major blank. Poland is a country of over 38 million. That means somewhere out there, there’s a host of kids, becoming obsessed with their piano lessons, plugging their guitars into worn amps, and shaking garages with their ambitions. It’s also country filled with music fans—thrilling over pop, head banging to hardcore, dancing with reckless abandon. A culture that—until now—I knew nothing about. Then along came an invitation to attend Katowice’s Off Festival.

My education begun with opening night performers Ecstatic Sunshine and Matmos—who both hail from Baltimore Maryland. (My hosts, the lovely folks of Culture PL, assured me the Polish acts would being in force the next day.) Performing as part of the “Inspired by Chopin” series, the ambient performers (who, admittedly, I had never heard of) were in such great demand the performance was moved to a larger venue.

Opener Ecstatic Sunshine’s 1950s space-aged loops played like Boards of Canada on uppers. Matthew Papich, leader of the one-man operation stood center stage, cradling a guitar and working his laptop. While not the most dynamic of performances, his lack of movement was more than made up for by the melodramatic black-and-white image of a woman smoking that was projected behind him during the set.

Matmos’ experimental jumble was a bit more difficult, given both the late hour and my red wine/diet Coke/jetlagged mind. However, the two-man crew sold it with aplomb as seemingly aimless collections of sounds slowly morphed into an agreeable space-age funk. “Look at this dot” they joked, gesturing to a spotted background. “That’s you.” A fun main set, their encore—which could charitably be called music—played a bit too much like an assemblage of jangled nerves. An inarguably dramatic and unusual start to our weekend, I left prepared to fall further down the rabbit hole.

(www.myspace.com/ecstaticsunshine)

(www.myspace.com/matmos1)




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