Krakow music 26-30 May 2016: Krakow Film Music Festival + Suicidal Tendencies




Kwadrat Klub
(Stanisława Skarżyńskiego 1 / 18:30 / 100 zł)

When a fledgling television network in America called MTV started playing a cheap-looking completely insane video called “Institutionalized” in 1983, we thought that we had gone to heaven. I mean, the very idea of a 24 hour video channel that would play truly cutting edge music and give exposure to the kinds of bands that mainstream radio wouldn’t touch was too good to be true! Here was this maniac – singer Mike Muir – calling out parents, religion and the educational system for turning us all into the very antisocial misfits they – the establishment – accused us of being. “I’m not crazy,” Mike screamed like, um, a crazy person, “you’re the one that’s crazy.” Like the best rock and roll since time immemorial, it was a clarion call to disaffected youth, yet it was also a statement of intent about the possibilities of the MTV revolution, and… yeah… well, it was nice while it lasted.

In just a few short years, we realized the truth of that whole “too good to be true” thing as we watched MTV become absorbed by the same corporate ambitions that destroyed American FM rock radio. Some people – certainly the more punk rock segment of the band’s following from that debut album – would say that the same thing that happened to MTV also became true of SUICIDAL TENDENCIES – you know, the inevitable “sell out” accusations – but that’s not really fair. They were one of the first bands (after Motörhead, of course) to marry punk rock and heavy metal, and over time they appealed more to the Anthrax / Slayer / Exodus / Kreator metallic element than the punkier D.R.I. / The Exploited / Discharge types. Quite honestly, there’s not that much difference in the actual music, but Suicidal Tendencies’ record deal with Sony in the 80s and 90s gave them both a visibility in the mainstream and a corresponding disdain from the punk world that pushed the band toward the metal community, who embraced them.

At any rate, they were absolutely one of the architects and pioneers of thrash metal, and their influence is undeniable. Over the course of 13 studio albums (really only 11, as two were actually re-recordings) and various compilations, they have continued to evolve… well, somewhat… while retaining Muir’s singular vision of combining thrash and social commentary.

This tour is significant because of the addition of legendary drummer Dave Lombardo, founding member of Slayer and architect of the double bass drum method imitated by every thrash band since Slayer’s Show No Mercy album three and a half decades ago. One of the greatest thrash drummers of all time playing with one of its most treasured bands? As of this writing, tickets are still available, but if this is your thing, it’s a no-brainer. Don’t wait till the day of the show to get them.

For over a decade, TERRORDOME have been performing a modern Polish version of 1980’s thrash, and have done so in such far-flung places as South America and Japan with heavyweights like Anthrax, D.R.I. and fellow Poles (and legends) Vader. With titles like, “Bestial Castigation” and “We’ll Show You Mosh, Bitch!”, you can probably guess that quiet introspection or serious political discourse isn’t a big part of their oeuvre.

Throughout the years, there have been about 30 members of Suicidal Tendencies, with the one constant being Mike Muir. Just don’t offer him a Pepsi. I’m sure that he’s heard that WAAAY too many times for it to still have any entertainment value.

Of course, if he actually wants a Pepsi, DON’T deny him. He might get violent.

(…and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go listen to “Institutionalized.” And then, listen to Body Count’s hysterical version of it from a few years ago, in which Ice-T adapts the song to the life of a middle-aged rich guy – himself.)

The KRAKOW FILM MUSIC FESTIVAL is in full swing, and while Wednesday’s program of music from the films of Roman Polanski is completely sold out, there are some very interesting shows with tickets still available. There are also workshops, panel discussions, and various associated gatherings during each day – check the link for details. Here’s a look at some of the most coolest remaining nighttime concerts…



ICE Congress Center
(Marii Konopnickiej 17 / 30-50 zł / 20:00)

During Hollywood’s “Golden Age” (1930 – 1960, more or less), Henryk Wars and Bronisław Kaper were the most visible Polish musical exports with compositions in over 200 films between them. As if that isn’t impressive enough, Kaper penned such standards as Miles Davis’ “On Green Dolphin Street” and John Coltrane’s “Invitation,” while Wars provided much of the interwar soundtrack in Polish consciousness, including such standards as “Love Forgives All,” “I’m Meeting Her at Nine,” and “Cold Rascal.”

This show features experimental pianist/composer Paweł Kaczmarczyk and his Audiofeeling Trio rearranging, improvising, and deconstructing works both familiar and obscure from the Wars and Kaper catalogue, in preparation for recording sessions for a new album later this year.

ICE Congress Center
(Marii Konopnickiej 17 / 50-90 zł / 20:00)

Led by Icelandic electronic composer Johann Johansson, this will be an exploration of drone film music with a seven piece band and the Aukso Chamber Orchestra of the city of Tychy. The major draw is the premiere performance of Johansson’s Oscar-nominated score for The Theory Of Everything, but also featured will be performances and music by Joseph Trapanese (Tron, The Divergent series), Cliff Martinez (Drive, The Neon Demon), and local success story Łukasz Targosz (The Pact, Secret Wars, Pitbull), who also plays a mean (although probably quite minimalist and ambient in this case) guitar.



Tauron Arena
(Stanisława Lema 7 / 17:00 / 25-80 zł)

Exactly what the name implies, this is a night of music from animated features and will include songs and instrumental soundtracks ranging from classics like Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas to new fare such as Rise Of The Guardians and Angry Birds: The Movie.

The featured performers include some of Poland’s most respected singers, from recording artist/pop star Edyta Gorniak to Katarzyna Łasko, who performs “Let It Go” in the Polish version of Disney’s Frozen (which, needless to say, she will be reprising at the show.) In addition, Łasko’s played just about every coveted musical theater role imaginable, from Maria in West Side Story to Wendy in Peter Pan.

Notably, she’s also well known in the rock world from touring internationally with the late Deep Purple keyboardist/composer Jon Lord from 2008-2011 performing his unique classical-rock pieces, and appears on his Concerto for Group and Orchestra (new studio version) album recorded at Abbey Road studios in London, as well as various live recordings and DVDs.



Tauron Arena
(Stanisława Lema 7 / 19:00 / 25-80 zł)

Quite simply, a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the classic Spielberg/ Lucas collaboration – the film will be shown with the classic John Williams score performed live by the Sinfonietta Cracovia, led by the acclaimed conductor Ludwig Wicki. Which, apparently, has never been done before.



Tauron Arena
(Stanisława Lema 7 / 19:00 / 25-80 zł)

If you’ve never heard of The Witcher video game (and I hadn’t), you’re probably not a gamer. But, believe me, it’s HUGE! Based on a famous series of Polish sci-fi novels, the game, developed completely in Poland as well, has won over 800 (!) awards worldwide, and may be better known than John Paul II and Chopin in certain circles as the country’s most famous export.

More importantly – okay, probably not, but more germane to the interests of this festival (and this column) – the music that soundtracks the games is a wonderful combination of styles as diverse as classical, metal, and occasionally even hip hop, but always rooted in medieval and Slavic traditional folk music and similar original material. It’s performed by Percival, from Lublin, who have become one of Poland’s most successful folk bands in their own right due to the notoriety they’ve received from The Witcher.

Percival will be joining soprano Wioletta Chodowicz, the AUKSO orchestra conducted by Marek Moś and others for a completely singular experience in a week of unique concerts, and it seems a perfect way to wind up this new and successful Krakow tradition.



Centrum Kultury Dworek Białpradnicki
(Papiernicza 2 / 19:00 / free admission)

How about a joke? A Ukranian, a German, a Hungarian, and a Pole walk into a bar… and form a blues rock band in Krakow! Okay, not funny, but true nonetheless…

They used to be called Dog Day One and some of the advertising for this show still uses that moniker, but they are actually now ELECTRIC DOG. The music is blues rock rooted in the 1970s with elements of folk and jazz, and vocalist Yana Khanova is a stand out.

And it’s free… so support your local musicians. From all over the world.

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