Continuing To Lift Off

This year’s Off Festival crowd was smaller than last year’s, but Artur Rojek – singer of Polish rock group Myslovitz – believes the event he founded four years ago is heading in the right direction.

This year there were about 5,000 per day at the Slupna Park in Myslowice, southern Poland. Baris Basaran from Istanbul-based Charmenko, which books the international acts, shrugged off the few hundred-per-day drop as being no worse than what could be expected “considering the economic situation.”

Maybe matters weren’t helped by U2 playing Warsaw the day before the festival started, or this year’s busy summer still having upcoming shows from Radiohead and Madonna.

Rojek, who was also the guitarist, vocalist, and main songwriter for Polish pop band Lenny Valentino, said he intends to continue with the same policy of booking “alternative” acts but hopes to invest in one or two better known headliners.

“This is the only festival of its kind in central Europe,” he said, explaining that the crowd isn’t as worried about the names of the bands as it is about the event presenting the right sort of music.

He’s also happy that Off attracts visitors from the neighbouring countries, but the Silesia region where it’s held is also close to the Czech and Slovakian borders. It’s only about a five-hour drive from Vienna.

The region around Myslowice was once known as “the triangle of three emperors” as it was situated at the point where the Austrian, German and Russian Empires met.

It’d been part of all of them at one time or another, before becoming part of the newly restored Poland after WW1.

“We are also going to pay more attention to international promotion of the festival,” Rojek told Pollstar, as a marketing campaign aimed at Italy was mooted for 2010.

The acts considered to be sufficiently alternative to play Off Festival Aug. 6-9 included Spiritualized, The National, Wire, Frightened Rabbit, The Car Is On Fire and These New Puritans.