Pohoda Festival 2016 was 3 weeks ago and here I am writing and still talking about the great memories and my positive experiences of the festival. I was invited for the first time to perform at the Visegrad Stage back in June and immediately accepted as this was seriously an amazing opportunity to attend and perform at this beautiful festival, even through troubles with the plane tickets and dates the organization never hesitated to have me on one of their stages. Alongside visiting the beautiful city of Bratislava and Devin, Pohoda Festival and Trenčín were also the amazing highlights of this trip. The festival is held each year near the Trenčín city just 130km from Bratislava, at an airport which is overtaken for a week or two with tents, installations, stages and during the 3 days visitors from all over the globe came to visit and enjoy the festival, giving them the opportunity to see ‘Colors of Ostrava’ few days later as well in Czech Republic. This year the festival celebrated it’s 20th Birthday and having the program filled with diverse range of artists and musicians ranging from Indie, World Music, Hip Hop, Experimental, Electronic, Rock scenes to theatrical performances, video screening, discussions, book signings, DIY Markets and a record shop, food courts with diverse range of food, beer, wines and drinks, leaving you with a huge variety of choices to do, Mine being of course filed mostly to see the bands on my list running from stage to stage, as well as focus on my performance too. These are just my 5 cents of the festival experience, and I guess everyone have their own memories and experience to bring home after the eventful 3 days at the festival. If you have any links of your experiences please feel free to write them down at the comments section.
And to start things off:
Friday I arrived at around 12:50pm at the stage and was the first to open and set up, and do a soundcheck. My result was an hour of improvised ambient and drone music. My equipment consisted of a black Gibson SG Standard guitar I got from the festival backline, Novation Impulse 61 keyboard also from the festival’s backline, my usual travel equipment and a piezo microphone. Thanks to the amazingly powerful and small sound system, it made me deliver some powerful bass drones and sounds, similar of this style I heard back in 2014 for the 24hr Drone Festival on “Le Guess Who?” festival, and I feel sometimes drone music should just be played through Grade A speakers to experience the cleansing. It was the first time I played a track from my new unreleased album called ‘Frames of Time’ as well as 3 old tracks from my SoundCloud and absolutely I had to sneak in a Meissa Ionis song in there just to wake everyone up before the end of my performance. It was so cool to see the crowd relaxing and napping during my performance as maybe I’ve lulled some of them to sleep after a long night of partying and drinking good Slovak beer across Pohoda. Overall this was one of my most memorable performance, as well as probably one of the few times I get to perform my music outside of Macedonia. I’m afraid most of the photographs were lost of my performance and this was all I could find. Thank to Pohoda for these photographs and please contact me if you have any to share, as well as videos.
1. Frames of Time
3. Life’s a Glitch
6. Contemplate Transport Logistics (Meissa Ionis Song)
7. Fucked up Transmissions
These are some of my band highlights for this festival:
Arriving at about 8:30pm Friday on the festival grounds I had a chance to meet up with my host and everybody at the Artist Village, had time to visit the stage where I will be performing the next day, checking out the festival atmosphere as well as catch all of PJ Harvey’s set. Even on the first day people went from one place to another making the festival as busy as a promenade at a beautiful city in summertime to catch up with their favorite activities. The first day of the festival I had PJ Harvey on my list as I missed all of the Gogol Bordello’s set arriving a bit late at the grounds. just an hour away after Gogol Bordello, PJ Harvey started at around 10:30pm at the Upriner Stage as fans gathered around at the front of the stage to catch her set. She played most of the songs from her new album ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, made for a strong political set with a great backing band as she sang and played on her saxophone. She played few songs from ‘Let England Shake’ as well. Was good to hear most of the songs from the new album as it quite grew on me after a few listens.
Set List: (from here)
- Chain of Keys
- The Ministry of Defence
- The Community of Hope
- The Orange Monkey
- A Line in the Sand
- Let England Shake
- The Words That Maketh Murder
- The Glorious Land
- When Under Ether
- Dollar, Dollar
- The Wheel
- The Ministry of Social Affairs
- 50ft Queenie
- Down by the Water
- To Bring You My Love
- River Anacostia
- Near the Memorials to Vietnam and Lincoln
It was a dream of mine to see Sigur Ros for so many years now, so I was really excited to perform at the same festival as them, and finally see them perform live. The story begins after I went to the artist village in Friday and noticing someone familiar at the backstage and turned out that was Jonsi, I knew I just had to ask him for a photograph and an autograph as it’s not really a daily occurrence to meet one of your post-rock heroes. Waiting for an hour after The Vaccines finished their set to get a good spot just in front of the stage, and at 8pm Urpiner Stage they finally started. In short words their performance absolutely blew my mind, The weather was overcast and it was such a perfect atmosphere to see them perform as they finished with the sunset. They started off with their new song Óveður playing on keyboards and an electronic drum kit just at the back of the stage. The live rendition of Sæglópur is what started the show, playing just a bit of the intro on the keyboards before they moved on to their “main” instruments. And then it just exploded into a wall of ambiance, rhythm and stunning visuals which was part live part video. Filming the performers, part of the crowd and all using 360 cameras mounted on the stage as it was one of the most impressive and genius way I’ve ever seen to film the performance for the crowd in the back, incorporating their visuals, visual mapping and part of the performance. Their performance was one of the most stunning concerts I’ve ever seen in recent times, beautiful band with beautiful sound. They finished off with Popplagið, as Jonsi trashed a microphone and a stage light before they went out of the stage, huge letters writing Takk on the screens as they returned back to bow to the crowd.
Set List: (Taken from here)
6. Ný Batterí
Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?
I was familiar with the unusual name of this band before but never actually listened to their stuff, blindly I decided to check them out as they played Budish Stage at 2pm on Saturday and was really pleasantly surprised. This young band from Finland had so much energy and creativity, and they played some really enjoyable music. I enjoyed their set so much which was perfect for the sunny warm weather in the afternoon, and since I’ve returned home they have been on my playlist on repeat for the past 3 weeks. I can describe them as ‘fresh young happy indie garage style pop’ and share some of the lo-fi and sound similarity to the band Sheer Mag. They teased us with only a 40 minute set playing most of the Teenage Sweetheart album, leaving the crowd hungry for more. I feel they will do great for the crowd here in Skopje sometime, and in mean time go ahead and (Do the) Shämäläin.
I got into James Blake with his first self-titled album back few years ago, some great soulful/electronic bass heavy elements, straying a bit from this style with the later albums but still great and amazing to listen. James Blake performed the Orange Stage Saturday at 9:30pm. James mostly played the songs from the new album The Colour in Anything, dusting off some good oldies from the S/T album as well (Limit to Your Love, Lindsefarne etc..) and Overgrown. Its what you would expect from him to sound absolutely great live, without any backing tracks or laptops at all (bunch of analogue + digital synthesizers, drums + sampler and guitar). It was absolutely fun to hear how Limit to Your Love would sound on the a stunning sound system, the bass giving my flashback from the Sunn O))) gig as it vibrated through the crowd. Was a bit disappointed to not hear ‘I Never Learned to Share’ and’ I Need A Forest Fire’ as they are my favorites, but then what is two tracks against 1.5 hour of hearing James Blake playing live.
First time I heard Thundercat live was part of The Cinematic Orchestra band as they played a show 2015, November in Paradiso, Amsterdam, so it was a good chance to listen to his solo material as he played 11pm Saturday at the Red Bull Music Academy Stage, which featured long list of artists that all attended the Red Bull Music Academy around the world. It was either to see Thundercat or The Prodigy play at this time of the hour, and honestly I was glad to miss Prodigy this time (Seen them long time ago). Thundercat is one of the most unique bass players I’ve heard so far, mixing electronic + funk and jazz elements with some totally awesome 6-string bass playing. His performance was… out of this world. Amazing songs and compositions which got me to listen to his albums more, fast and on fire performance as he went through his famous tracks Heartbreaks + Setbacks, Them Changes and many others. Finishing with a drum solo in the distance as I had to run to catch Flying Lotus at exactly 0am conveniently placed just 1 minute walk from the Red Bull stage. Thundercat is a huge must for jazz and funk fans if they haven’t heard him yet, its notable that he also played on “You’re Dead!” by Flying Lotus alongside Kamasi Washington, Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar, and many other musicians. Speaking of Flying Lotus…
And back to Orange stage, 1 hour later after James Blake finished his set, at 1am from the Warp sect, clan, family… is FlyLo, most notable for his completely trippy electronic album “You’re Dead!” released just 2 years ago on Warp Records. And what else you would except from him than one of the loudest and most visualy trippy set of the festival, with some amazing visuals as he went through tracks from “You’re Dead!”, “Patter+Grid World”, “Cosmogramma” blowing the minds of the audience away into a ‘dance kind of trance’ as the crowd literally drunk from the music, started tripping over each other jumping and dancing to FlyLo’s music. There were these moments of bass blissfulness as the whole wall of bass sound washed like tsunami over the crowd, vibrating the whole ground and the clothes on you, made for some epic hair standing and delight to your ears. The Visuals were probably most of the stunning imagery and video I’ve seen during a electronic set, which just made it more like a sound and visual installation with FlyLo being the curator of his own installation. Except this wasn’t in a washed up gallery with cheap sound system blasting random lounge music, It was one of the 2 main stages of the festivals and the sound system was just pure bliss. Made for some interesting moments see the visuals of the “You’re Dead!” LP cover come to life and animated on the screens, as well as some parts of the video for Kill Your Co-Worker. FlyLo finished his set with Never Catch Me (ft. Kendrick Lamar) which sadly finished the festival for me as a cherry on the top, stumbling in complete disarray back to the Artist Village. And Steven, I hope you found that what you were asking me for earlier at the Artist Village 😉
It was sad to see the festival from my hotel window being dismounted the next day, knowing that these 3 days were over. It was filled with meeting new and old friends, listening to the amazing music, meeting the awesome crew of Pohoda was also one of the highlights as well. I hope you can experience it next year. I know I would love to come next year either as performer or attendee. 🙂
List of Artists and Bands I saw on the festival in order:
Friday: PJ Harvey
Saturday: Eagulls, The Vaccines, Never Sol, Sigur Ros, Anna Meredith, Parov Stelar, Throwing Snow, Laser Bros, K-X-P,
Friday: Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?, Polica, Honeyblood, Nuku, Savages, Lola Marsh , Chicks on Speed, Sevdaliza, James Blake, Thundercat, Flying Lotus
Huge thanks to the people of Pohoda Festival and to everyone who listened to my set on Friday. Thank you so much for the opportunity and the amazing experience.
Big thanks to Matus, Andrej, Tono, Adam, Monika, Michal and everyone else I am missing, Hoping to see you all again next year 🙂