Sunday, 18 August 2013

Soundrive Fest Gdansk 16-17.08.2013

One morning, before going to work, I checked my Facebook and to my utter astonishment I saw that one of the bands I kept returning to over the past year, The Soft Moon, was scheduled to play in my own hometown at Soundrive Fest, which I'd never heard of before.

 A couple of months later, one lovely summer evening we arrived at the most magical place in Gdansk. The venue is located on the grounds of used to be the the famous Gdansk shipyard, the birthplace of the Solidarity movement. The place looks like a small industrial street, with disused railway tracks lying in the middle and rows of derelict red brick buildings that create the unforgettable atmosphere. We were welcomed by the sounds of a medley of alternative tunes of all times, played by a DJ, from a container box elevated above a Desperados bar. Every member of staff was super nice and even security people displayed courteous manners and showed symptoms of sense of humour. Once we passed through the gates we joined a not-very-dense crowd of tattoed people, who were definitely awaiting some metal or hard rock band we didn't even attempt to see.

We treated ourselves to a couple of beers and the time to see The Soft Moon came. The guys blew my mind off. They played mostly their new album material, which I like less than their debut one, nonetheless when I heard it live went wild. Even the initial technical difficulties didn't spoil the show, they seemed annoy the musicians but in fact this impurity and unpredictability of events was so natural in this stripped to the basics place. There was no weak moment in the whole show, the guys didn't give neither themselves nor the audience a break, but what in the finale was far beyond my expectations. The wall of sound they created from the looped drumming and guitar noise is something I cannot describe. Unfortunately, after climax there was no denouement. No encores. Nobody insisted. The band just left the stage. I suppose this is the festival timing thing. Just do your thing and sod off.  I do realise that The Soft Moon like a parasite draws from their predecessors but the way they do is amazing. They made me feel so warm at heart!

After such a treat we were quite disinterested in seeing other performers, but we did venture in from time to time, mainly to go to the toilet. At this point I just need to mention that the toilets were impeccably clean and remained like that till the very end.

I can't explain how this happened but we got awfully wasted that night. When I was leaving the place I was under the impression that I was the only person showing symptoms of drunkenness. I didn't seem to remember exactly how we got to the train stop, and that bothered me the whole following day until the moment I compared my experiences with Ania and we seem to have experienced a memory lapse in exactly the same place. The conclusion is, that was not the amount of blood in my alcohol but the magic of the place. Bermuda triangle kind of thing.

Next day we returned, still not feeling quite right, and it was a quiet night for us. We saw many more artists than the night before and drunk substantially less. I was also more able to draw any conclusions about the festival itself. I was generally unable to figure out what kind of festival it was. Of course everything fitted in the wide term 'alternative', but there was no connecting line between the things. On day one the audience seemed to me more hard rock type than hipster, more hipster types appeared on day two. I figured that Soundrive was a festival of 'heard it before' kind of music. You could see those inspired by Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Cure, shoegazers, wall-of-sound artists, rock and metal bands. Those who escaped any classifications were so harmful to the ears that only hipsters could find 'interesting'. I do realise this sounds like a very critical opinion, but I actually enjoyed myself very much. I didn't quite like the vocalists, but almost every band had a decent drummer and I love good smashing and trashing of the drums.

I believe the organizers could have been quite disappointed with the number of peolple who turned up, but for me that was just perfect. No queing to the beer and food stalls, toilets, no crowd stamping at your feet and pushing you around. The atmosphere was sooo laid back, so holiday-like. We've made a resolution to return next year, just to enjoy the atmosphere. Some good artists would be a bonus.

To conclude I need to say something about the venue itself. B90 is a new club which has just opened for the festival. It was instant love for us. The venue consists of 2 rooms, where the main stage and the Soundrive stage were located. Both very industrial-looking. Each room has excellent sound quality, which is unheard of in my lovely city. The interior looks pretty rough, the only element of decor being LP covers making a wallpaper strip lining all the walls. The bigger room, which can hold about 2000 people, will make the first decent venue to host rock and alternative artists. I hope it doesn't go bankrupt soon.

Next up: New Model Army in October!

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