Krakow music 6-9 May 2016: K-essence, Czyżynalia Festival, and more




Klub Piękny Pies
(Bożego Ciała 9 / 20:00 / 15 zł)

“K-essence” is a physics term short for “kinetic quintessence,” a theoretical hypothesis involving a phenomena whose very existence, were it to occur, would cause a tear in the fabric of the universe, or the space-time continuum, or some such Doctor Who-type stuff.

But, more importantly, K-ESSENCE is an excellent band from Katowice which began as a solo vehicle for vocalist/guitarist Bartek Czarno-Księżyk from the alternative band NeLL. Their 2013 debut album, Prince Of Pawns, was completely crowd funded and extremely well-received.

The music is somewhat reminiscent of artists like Nick Cave and Peter Murphy back when they were exploring a completely new kind of dark theatre, before the genre known as “gothic” became dominated by generic industrial dance music full of trite lyrics and clichéd vocals. But beyond that, the roots of K-essence’s style reach back as far as the likes of early Bowie, Cohen, and Scott Walker, touching on everything from punk to psychedelia to ambient music along the way.

This show comes just days after the release of the new We Prefer the Night, and once this album hits, there’s a very good chance that you won’t get the opportunity to see them at a venue this small, at this price, again.



Cafe Paradiso
(Plac Niepodległowsci 1 / 20:00 / 10 zł)

Jan Gałczewski is the excellent guitar/bouzouki player for the fantastic Polish Celtic folk rock band Beltaine, and the GRAD TRIO is a kind of multi-cultural side project, dedicated to the traditional instrumental music of Ireland, Scotland, and Cape Breton. In addition to Jan, Parisian Sonia Ropion adds flute, while Moscow native Alexander Dmitriev brings the violin (that’s fiddle to you folky-types.)

On the surface, it might seem incongruous that natives of Poland, Russia, and France have such an affinity for British Isles music, but there is a story to be told of the musical empathy within, and look out soon for a feature on Jan and Beltaine that will explore that very subject.

However, the proof is in the listening, and here’s a fantastic opportunity to experience this musical symbiosis firsthand. Considering how low the admission price is, along with the fact that it’s scheduled to go on until 03:00 Sunday morning, there is no more perfect way to wind up a Saturday night.

(There aren’t any clips of the Grad Trio available, but here’s Jan’s band Beltaine with something similar to what you’ll hear;)



Klub Alchemia
(Estery 5 Plac Nowy / 20:30 / 20-25 zł)

ANGELA GABER has a truly unique voice, one that perfectly compliments her musical ambitions. With the new Dobre Duchy album, she has created a modern mosaic informed by not only alternative rock, jazz, triphop, and singer/songwriter elements, but also influenced by traditional Polish, Ukrainian, Serbian, and Roma folk. Her voice can be both angelic and intense, and the adventurous instrumentation and arrangements both soothe the soul and demand attention.




Tauron Arena
(Stanisława Lema 7 / 17:00 / 40 zł)

Every few months, it seems, Krakow is host to one of these radio station sponsored mini-festivals, and as usual, it’s once again a chance to see some of the best and/or most popular Polish acts of the last 20 years share a stage for a budget-minded price.

Fresh from a sold out 2 night stand at Klub Studio last month, DAWID PODSIADŁO was the winner of The Voice Poland in 2012, and his 2013 debut, Comfort And Happiness, has sales certified as “Diamond” – a very rare thing for a Polish artist (the follow up, Annoyance and Disappointment, was apparently neither of the words in its title, having debuted at #1 and already gained platinum-plus status despite being released less than half a year ago.)

Since MONIKA BRODKA won the Polish Pop Idol title a dozen years ago, she’s had some definite successes but perhaps struggled for direction – all of which may be about to change with next week’s Clashes, her first English language album. Released internationally on the prestigious Play It Again Sam label, the songs range from punk rock to trip hop, with a pre-release buzz that already seems destined to make her a hipster concern, and deservedly so.

Legendary hard rock band COMA often appear at these type of shows, probably because they are a powerful live act who work well in any venue, even with a mainstream pop audience.

Only in Poland would a band as politically oriented as STRACHY NA LACHY – who have recorded albums dedicated to both the illegal underground communist-era music culture of their homeland and legendary activist/poet/singer Jacek Kaczmarski – share the bill with TV singing contest winners. They bring a sense of both social commentary and ska-punk fun to the night.

By the way, while the Saturday show features pop, rock, and alternative acts, on Friday at the same venue, the… um, shall we say, geriatric equivalent will occur, featuring a half dozen of Poland’s finest cabaret performers. If you’re not familiar with the Polish cabaret tradition, it goes back over a century and features a mixture of music, slapstick, monologue, and comedy that seems more than a little archaic to this westerner – a sort of Benny Hill-meets-vaudeville combination. But it’s certainly part of the national heritage.

Perhaps you had to be here.



Scena Ata Alicji Tanew
(Czarnowiejska 93 – 19:00 / 10 zł)

Bulat Okudzhava was a legendary 20th century Georgian-Armenian folklorist/songwriter who was one of the architects of the Soviet genre known as “author song” (or sometimes, “guitar song”). He wrote over 200 songs, and much like Poland’s “sung poetry” era, his compositions contain many (necessarily at the time) veiled criticisms of the Soviet regime.

Local guitarist/vocalist/historian VLADIMIR STOCKMAN will be performing some of Okudzhava’s songs in the intimate setting of the Scena Ata Playhouse – a perfect introduction to (or simply appreciation of) this great artist from a bygone era.

Also this Saturday, how often do you get the chance to shop for vinyl records on the Wisła? Well, from 13:00 to 19:00, aboard the Barka barge (Podgórska 16), you can do just that, with not only a variety of record dealers, but entertainment provided by local DJs. Best of all, it’s free! See more details here.

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