Created by Nasiono Association, Space Fest is annual Gdansk, Poland-based festival of shoegaze, space-rock and alternative rock that features the prerequisite live music, but much like CMJ, Mondo.NYC, Northside Festival and others also features meet-and-greets with legendary and renowned artists, workshops for Polish and other internationally-based musicians, a battle of the bands-like competition for young, up-and-coming bands and more. As an annual celebration of all things psych rock and space rock-inspired, Space Fest in his almost seven year history has gradually become a scrappy yet internationally recognized festival with an increasingly diverse lineup of bands from across the European Union, Poland, the US, Canada and elsewhere.
One of the festival’s standout highlights over the course of its history is the Pure Phase Ensemble, a collaborative collective that features one permanent member, Karol Schwarz (KSAS), who also manages Nasiono Records, and every year Schwartz is joined by a rotating cast of local musicians and at least one internationally recognized musician, who acts as a guest musical director, mentor and collaborator through a series of workshops and joint songwriting that culminates with the group performing their new material during the final night of the festival.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past couple of years, you may recall that during the course of the Festival’s history, they’ve invited the likes of Spiritualized‘s Ray Dickaty, Stereolab‘s Laetitia Sadier, Placebo’s Steve Hewitt, Marion‘s Jamie Harding, Six by Seven’s Chris Olley, The Bad Seeds and The True Spirit’s Hugo Race and RIDE‘s Mark Gardener. Last year, The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s legendary frontman and founding member Anton Newcombe led Pure Phase Ensemble 6 with Serena Maneesh‘s Emil Nikolaisen, and the collective managed to impress festivalgoers with a live set that included “God Drugs” a menacing, droning, and murky dirge, consisting of layers fuzzy and distorted power chords, thundering drumming and an almost mosh pit-friendly hook over which Newcombe laconically delivers his lyrics. While forceful, the song manages a lysergic haze.
Also, every year the organizers create a documentary of the festival and the documentary features brief interviews and live footage with festival organizers, Anton Newcombe, who says that his appearance at last year’s Space Fest was a way to convince and entice establish artists that it’s a serious and growing festival; the UK’s MDME SPKR, Italy’s Be Forest, Germany’s Camera, the Icelandic-German act The Third Sound, Poland’s Wild Books, Lonker See, The Fruitcakes, Rosa Vertov and The Czech Republic’s DIV I DED. Additionally, the video features impromptu interviews with thrilled festivalgoers and more. The documentary offers a glimpse of a rarely seen Gdansk, a city with a burgeoning music, arts and nightlife scene, full of hungry, young creatives — a marked departure from the city’s long-held reputation as a grim Soviet satellite city.
I think the videos are a great retrospective look at last year’s goings on — and interestingly enough, they were released just before this year’s Space Fest, which take place the weekend of December 1 – December 2 and will feature Maciej Cieslak of renowned Polish shoegazers Scianka, leading Pure Phase Ensemble 7, Italy’s New Candys, Portugal’s 10,000 Russos, Mugstar, Switzerland’s Blind Butcher, Germany’s Odd Couple, Mexico’s Tajak, the UK’s Dead Rabbits and up-and-coming local acts 30 kilo slonca, and Wilcze Jagondy.
Check out the teaser video for this year’s Space Fest, while you’re at it.