Taking The Shine Off Polish Market

A weak economic climate seems to be affecting at least the start of Poland’s festival season, as one downsized and two others dealt with major obstacles.

Photo: twitter.com/MarktheGiant
Tweeted by the Pretty Reckless bassist Mark Damon. 

Even events as established as the 7-year-old Orange Warsaw appear to have been hit by high unemployment, low wages, and the fact that a large chunk of the national workforce has moved off to better-placed European Union countries.

Orange, which is took place in Warsaw’s National Stadium, also had production problems as on the first day a screen collapsed and apparently took some of the stage with it.

The subsequent delay meant SKA-PJamal, and The Pretty Reckless didn’t get to play. “Unfortunately we are cancelled at Orange Fest today due to stage collapse. Glad nobody was hurt. We’ll be back,” Pretty Reckless posted on Twitter.

Apart from the production issues, the event was also subject to complaint from people living in Warsaw’s surrounding Saska Kepa district because sound vibrations were reportedly rattling their windows at 3 a.m.

The festival acknowledges there were noise problems but said it had always operated within its permits, as the local authority had given permission for the event to have a 4 a.m. curfew. Last year – and with Beyoncé on the bill – Orange Warsaw moved up from the city’s 70,000-capacity Legia Stadium to a 72,000-capacity configuration of the National Stadium, but this year sources say the place was barely more than half-full.

The June 13-15 lineup also included Kings Of LeonPixiesQueens Of The Stone AgeSnoop DoggThe Prodigy, and Lily Allen.

A few days before the festival, it was announced that previously advertised Rita Ora wouldn’t be on the bill, although no reason was given.

Those complaining of too many festivals crowding the Polish market might make an example of the canceled Pozytywne Wibracje Festival (or Positive Vibrations Festival), which was scheduled for a 35,000-capacity configuration of Legia Stadium June 20.

The lineup included Pharrell WilliamsPaloma Faith, the Earth, Wind & Fire Experience featuring Al McKay, and Polish hip-hop/reggae group Afromental, with promoter and Polish TV personality Staszek Trzcinski setting the general admission price at 390 Zloty ($128). That’s nearly double the $72 to see Metallica at the Polish Sonisphere July 11. Less than 10 percent of the 35,000-capacity was sold, according to sources, and the event isn’t happening. Trzcinski says that on June 30 he will announce a new date and new acts for Positive Vibrations.

Live Nation’s Impact Festival moved indoors from its huge site at Warsaw’s Bemowo Airport to the much smaller 15,000-capacity Atlas Arena in Lódz. From running previous Impacts that pulled more than 45,000 for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kasabian in 2012, and last year for Rammstein, LN Central & Eastern Europe chief Steve Todd dramatically downsized this summer’s gathering. “I took it to Lódz because of too much competition in and around Warsaw,” he told Pollstar, although he’s stuck to the Polish capital when co-promoting a Sonisphere that’s on target to do 65,000.

Discretion did turn out to be the better part of valour as Impact did record a sellout June 11-12 for rock bills headed by Black Sabbath and Aerosmith.

Todd says that in any year the size of Impact will depend on what acts are available. The Polish outdoor season may have simply gotten off to a bad start, as Mikolaj Ziòlkowski, who runs the country’s award-winning Opener Festival, a benchmark that regularly does over 50,000 per day, says it’s selling on a par with previous years. “In a difficult year with disasters for other festivals, it’s very good,” he said.

This year Ziòlkowski’s Alter Art has sidelined its Coke Live Music Festival, which usually does 40,000 per day on the Aviation Museum site at Krakow airfield, because the soft drinks sponsor has pulled out.