Reside Report: Electronic Beats Festival Warsaw 2014

Last night Warsaw played host to a two venue EB blow-out with José Gonzáles, Hudson Mohawke, Ólafur Arnalds, John Talabot, Mooryc plus Król. This is how it went down. Pictures by Lukasz Jaszak and Joanna Kurkowska.

It was once again a morning of superlatives at last night’s Digital Beats Festival in Warsaw, kept at both the Palladium concert corridor 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 on the two-phase event (one part concert, one part club) blew thoughts and won over the hearts of not a few skeptics we talked to. Initial naysayers who asked yourself aloud in the beginning of the night about how the understated atmospherics of José González and Ólafur Arnalds would certainly 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 wish to say we told you so , but…)

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Król

Starting the night for the Palladium headliners was Polish duo Król, whose four-to-the ground atmorock was a pleasant lead into 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 visitor singer’s thrown out back. But with regular showbiz moxy and some help through the local paramedics, the singer mustered up the strength and hobbled astage. Thank the Nordic gods of lumbar. Arnalds isn’t classically educated, but you wouldn’t know it by their piano chops. Together with a mainly bearded string section, the Icelandic composer infused the sold-out movie theater with his brand of melodic melodrama, actively playing a selection of classics and newer songs off of 2013’s For the time being I Am Winter . Arnalds’ prog/metal roots were audible in form if not instrumentation and judging by the crowd’s enthusiasm, the performance hit the right balance between complexity plus accessibility i. e. between the single piano work of “Words of Amber” and baroque-indie of “Only the Winds”.

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Ólafur Arnalds

Indeed, accessibility was also the name of the game for José González’s removed down solo show. The Swedish singer-songwriter is known widely for their folky versions of The Knife plus Bruce Springsteen and, like Arnalds, has also brought his tender singing stylings to the big screen, most recently since the composer for the soundtrack to comedian-narcissist Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. As always, González’s strategy was soft and Varsovian concertgoers answered with hushed listening—that can be until the songs were over. Their own response was much applause plus whistles of appreciation for music that at first appear peaceful, but gradually betray an edgier subject material than your average indie-folk. Music for lovers? Atheists? Outsiders? All of the above? Not that we passed out there questionnaires.

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José González

After the show, the blissed out the crowd made their way to the Basen club for the tornado after the calm. It was a steady darkening of the clouds, with Poznan-based Maurycy Zimmermann, aka Mooryc starting the second half of the night with his brand atmospheric, tail-heavy techno and words. While not a Warsaw local, the Polish native son clearly has been surrounded by fans, with many the blurry-eyed Dziękuję shouted to and from the stage.

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Mooryc

But there was no rest for your wicked and when Hudson Mohawke continued stage, it was clearly time just 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 for 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 had taken it personally. Very much the opposite really. Blood on the trees. Bleeding ears. Smiling faces. Profane.

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Hudson Mohawke

Eventually the clock struck three, and it has been once again time to decelerate—or so we thought. John Talabot’s DJ set has been 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 tougher than Talabot’s own productions. Entrancing. This was the steady drive we all needed to get home at the end of a long evening. Until next year Warsaw… ~

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Mark Talabot


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