To the question: “Have you heard of Pohoda Festival?”, most people, including yours truly, would probably answer in the negative. But the more you find out about this event in the heart of Slovakia, the more incredulous its lack of fame becomes. Held near the town of Trenčín, in the Váh River valley, it sees 30,000 revellers enjoy a lineup to rival that of other far better-known – not to mention more expensive – European festivals. For the mix of Slovak’s and central Europeans don’t just come for the music, as excellent as it is; theatre, food, art, and literature, not to mention innumerable workshops, all play a part in making this a unique event that draws a wide range of loyal fans back year after year.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the 2016 edition is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best yet; of course, DiS will be there all weekend long soaking up the vibes. And, if sunshine, a balmy 25 degrees, and beer that’s cheaper than water sounds like your kind of thing, and a couple of days off are easy to arrange, amazingly there are still tickets available. With that in mind, here are eight acts we can’t wait to see take to the dozen stages on site – see you down the front!
Fresh from winning the Scottish Album of the Year Award, and the critical acclaim that followed the release of her stunning début Varmints, the British composer and performer is riding the crest of a wave. Her adventurous music combines percussion, strings, loops, samples, and monstrous blasts of horns to dizzying effect; part of our curiosity is seeing just how all this plays out on a festival stage. But that’s not to say it’s all boundary-pushing experimentation – she can write a damn good pop tune too, as both ‘Taken’ and ‘Dowager’ prove. All in all, this is bound to be special.
Playing as if their very lives depended on it, there can be fewer – if any – better live acts currently operating on the summer festival circuit than Savages. After a triumphant world tour in support of stellar second album _Adore Life, they’re at the peak of their powers, and while a 6pm slot sounds ridiculously early – if ever a band suited late-night darkness and debauchery, Savages are surely them – we fully expect them to lay waste to everything in sight and prove, once again, that nothing will stand in their way.
It’s normally a little obvious to mention a headliner in a piece such as this, as most artists topping a bill need little introduction, but we’ll make an exception for longtime DiS favourite PJ Harvey and her new album, The Hope Six Demolition Project. Having witnessed her rather muted and restrictive headline set at 2011’s Primavera Sound, where she focused on material almost exclusively drawn from Let England Shake, it was heartening to hear that at this year’s event she played a more varied set that drew from her entire back catalogue, even playing ‘50ft Queenie’ and ‘To Bring You My Love’. More of the same would be greatly appreciated.
Originality can be hard to come by these days, but Congolese five-piece Mbongwana Star have it in spades. Hailing from the capital Kinshasa, their back story, and their rise to being internationally acclaimed, is quite the tale. They’ve already wowed at Glastonbury and no wonder; their experimental, energetic blend of reggae, R&B, and African rumba is the perfect, feel-good soundtrack to a sunny afternoon, and a tonic for anyone feeling overexposed to the typical, festival indie soundtrack.
Steven Ellison has rapidly become one of the 21st Century’s leading musical auteurs. Under his stage name Flying Lotus, his five, critically acclaimed albums are just the tip of his creative output; he’s also a DJ, rapper, music producer, in-demand remixer, and electronic musician, not to mention a mogul, with his Brainfeeder label releasing some of the best music your likely to hear anywhere. As to what he’ll play live, DiS has witnessed him perform crowd-friendly sets of mashup hits alongside Thundercat (who’s also in attendance this weekend – we live in hope) and more serious, introspective performances that showcase his turntabling skills to the full. Whatever he treats us to, it’s sure to be a brilliant musical odyssey.
While the Leeds quintet’s second album echoes the dream-pop shimmer of bands like The Cure more than their fast & furious, punk-indebted début, their songs have lost none of their power. This new found love of the slow-burn and tension actually suits them rather well, and has emphasized their song-writing skills – something the epic ‘Aisles’ and ‘My Life In Rewind’ both confirm – but that’s not to say they still can’t bring an avalanche of noise when required. It’s not easy trying to predict which bands will emerge as likely headliners in a few years time, but Eagulls are fast becoming one of the acts most likely to prove themselves as worthy of top billing.
One of the most thrilling, visceral bands DiS have ever had the pleasure of witnessing live, seeing Ho99o9 do their thing is truly not to be missed. One of the standout sets of last year’s Le Guess Who? festival, their hardcore hip-hop / punk hybrid and anarchic shows have won over legions of fans; this famous image pretty much sums exactly what it’s like to witness the madness first hand. How all this will play at a festival, we have no idea, but one thing’s for sure – the self-styled “mutant freax” will be planning something crazy.
Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?
First of all, a confession; this entry is based entirely on their name. But how could one possibly turn down a chance to see a band so brazenly self-confident that they’ve saddled themselves with a name as awful as Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? And, truth be told, there’s a shambolic charm to their DIY-type garage rock indie; yes, everything sounds compressed and fuzzed out and like it was recorded in one take on a drunken afternoon, but it’s also fun, infectious, and giddy as hell. They might be terrible, they might be the best thing we see all weekend, but I can guarantee one thing; it’ll be far from boring.
Pohoda Festival takes place in Trenčín from the 7th to the 9th of July. More information can be found here
Photo by Jaroslav Novák