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Follow the Step to launch new festival in Warsaw

Follow the Step has revealed details of its new On Air Festival in Warsaw.

Tame Impala, Jorja Smith and Celeste will top the bill at the debut edition, which will take place at the 25,000-cap Bemowo Airport from 9-10 September.

The Polish agency describes the event as a mixture of Lovebox and Lollapalooza festivals, transferred to Warsaw, with top quality production and an atmosphere heralding the end of summer.

The first wave of acts  announced also includes The Comet is Coming, Tash Sultana, Alexandra Savior, Ralph Kamiński and Baasch.

Warsaw’s Bemowo Airport has previously hosted superstar acts such as Madonna and Metallica

Warsaw’s Bemowo Airport has previously hosted superstar acts such as Madonna and Metallica.

The area will be decorated with colourful installations and decorations designed for On Air, while the festival city will also include chillout zones, bars, food trucks and other attractions.

Early bird tickets are on sale at 89 PLN (€84) for a two-day season ticket and 249 PLN €54 for a one-day pass.

Follow the Step also organises Fest Festival, which welcomed 35,000 attendees over four days for last year’s edition, making it the biggest event in Poland in 2021.

 


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Ukraine fundraisers: “Music has the power to make a difference”

A handful of benefit concerts have each raised upwards of six figures for humanitarian and financial relief during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Dutch promoter ALDA and renowned Dutch radio show ASOT100 (A State of Trance) raised a total of €152,350 from their Dance for Ukraine fundraiser in Poland.

The event took place on Saturday (12 March) at the Tauron Arena (cap. 22,000) in Kraków and featured performances from ASTOT producers Armin van Buuren and Ruben de Ronde among others.

The proceeds from Dance for Ukraine go to the Polish Red Cross to aid their efforts in helping the Ukrainian people in need.

Elsewhere, in Belgium, more than fourteen electronic music festivals and nightlife collectives rolled up their sleeves for a unique open-air festival to raise funds for Ukraine.

Led by festivals Hangar and Paradise City, the United for Ukraine benefit at Atomium in Brussels garnered €100,000 for Underground4Ukraine.

More than 4,000 attendees watched performances from Charlotte de Witte, Lefto, AliA, DC Salas and Ukrainian singer Ana Fantana who sang the national anthem.

“You proved that music has the power to make a difference,” wrote Paradise City on Facebook the day after the event.

Across the pond, a fundraiser at New York City’s City Winery, hosted by Ukrainian-born Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, raised US$130,000 (€118,500).

Patti Smith, The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and Suzanne Vega were among the artists that performed at the benefit.

 

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A post shared by Patti Villegas (@pattivill)

Proceeds from the concert were donated to Come Back Alive, a foundation that provides support to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and Care.org.

Among the funds raised, there was a $50,000 donation by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon to Doctors Without Borders.

“Fundraising is crucial,” Hutz told Rolling Stone. “People are being super generous and making astronomical donations. Our task is to keep beating the drum and tell the story authentically.”

More benefit concerts for Ukraine are being announced every day, with Arcade Fire’s fundraiser in New Orleans, Louisana, being the latest.

The Canadian band will take to the stage at the city’s Toulouse Theatre venue tonight (14 March) and all proceeds will benefit the Plus 1 Ukraine relief fund.

Elsewhere, Polish promoter Follow the Step has announced a televised charity concert, Together with Ukraine, featuring some of the biggest Polish and Ukrainian stars.

Vito Bambino, Zalewski, Igo and Daria Zawiałow are among the artists that will perform at Atlas Arena (cap. 13,806) on 20 March for Together with Ukraine.

 


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Ukraine: Neighbour markets assess touring fallout

Concerns have been raised over the viability of touring neighbouring markets in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Bring Me The Horizon, Imagine Dragons, Louis Tomlinson and Jethro Tull all pulled concerts in Ukraine following the escalation of the conflict earlier this week, while artists such as Green Day, The Killers, AJR and Louis Tomlinson have cancelled shows in Russia.

And with Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova all bordering Ukraine, the crisis has led to concerns that international acts will now be unable or unwilling to visit the eastern Europe region this year.

Dragos Chiscoci, who handles artist booking and programming for Bucharest-based Emagic tells IQ the knock-on effects have already extended to the Romanian live industry.

“Obviously, the existing events were hit first, with the already affected ticket sales dropping to 30% for events in the near future and even to 10% for the ones in summer,” he says. “Afterwards, we started getting messages from some agents, saying that with what is happening in Ukraine right now, they really need to sit down and see how things will move forward before discussing any events in our part of Europe.”

The promoter has a catalogue of huge gigs slated for later this year with acts such as Morcheeba, Passenger, Thievery Corporation, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox and Sting, with a rescheduled Celine Dion show rescheduled for 2023.

“If the situation in Ukraine does not defuse soon, we might be facing a third crippling year for the local live music industry”

“The Romanian concert market has already been heavily hit by the pandemic, mainly due to irrational and uncoordinated government imposed restrictions,” adds Chiscosi. “The lack of market predictability led to repeated postponements or cancellations – which in turn led to a serious lack of trust amongst ticket buyers – and there was no government financial aid for the live sector.

“On top of this, when we were expecting a final lift of restrictions sometime in the next couple of months, we woke up to news about the war in Ukraine.

“I do hope that we won’t have to look at another series of cancelled and rescheduled shows. In just a matter of days, the Romanian live music market went from bad to worse, and unfortunately, if the situation in Ukraine does not defuse soon, we might be facing a third crippling year for the local live music industry.”

Kinga Chodkowska of Warsaw’s Follow the Step, whose Fest Festival welcomed 35,000 attendees to Chorzów over four days last August, says the promoter has moved to offer agents additional shows in Poland for their artists to make up for the cancelled Russian dates.

“We’re all extremely saddened looking at the war happening just across our border and the cruelty targeting our friends and neighbours,” says Chodkowska.

“We’re trying to help the agents replace the gaps with extra Polish dates”

“When it comes to the music industry here, it’s not an easy situation as we’ve just started recovering from pandemic. For now, we are going ahead with most of our shows. There were a few that dropped out but it was because of Covid-related issues.

“Seeing all the shows in Russia getting cancelled and the tours being rerouted, we’re trying to help the agents to replace the gaps with extra Polish dates. We are all focusing on how we can help out and that’s why we’re in the process of organising the biggest show in Poland together with television and local artists to raise money for the victims of this war.”

Top international agents Tom Schroeder of Paradigm and Solo Agency’s John Giddings yesterday told IQ that repercussions for the touring markets in nearby countries, such as Poland and Romania, were likely.

“This is a point of considerable concern – how much bleed there is into other countries,” said Schroeder. “I expect there will be concern and caution from US-based acts – we really need to see what happens with the conflict and how contained it is. It is very early days, and the priority is the safety and protection of Ukraine, not our desire to put on gigs.”

Giddings added there will be a “heavy impact” on the aforementioned Eastern European nations. “With fuel prices rising, among other costs, and probably currency fluctuations, it will be hard to make offers that are sustainable,” he said.

“This situation is not just about touring being stopped, there are lives at stake”

Meanwhile, Eszter Décsy, founder and artist manager at NOW Books & Music and PR and communication manager for Music Hungary Association, spoke of her devastation at the situation.

“This situation is not just about touring being stopped, there are lives at stake,” she says. “Currently we are receiving a high number of refugees, artists and musicians too and we are trying to do the best we can both by supporting and donating organisations and both by self-organising initiatives.”

Russia has been banned from competing in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest by the European Broadcasting Union, while New York’s Carnegie Hall has cancelled performances by Putin supporter Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. Gergiev has also been forced to resign from his post as honorary president of the Edinburgh International Festival.  However, Décsy is keen to stress that not all Russian musicians should be tarred with the same brush.

“The Hungarian music scene is shocked by the Russian government’s attack and we all stand for Ukraine, but I’d like to point out that banning Russian musicians just based on their nationality or lumping them together with the person who decided to attack will not be the solution for this conflict, but even more fuel,” she says. “I really hope that a peaceful end will come as soon as possible. Until then, we keep being open for anyone who needs shelter in Hungary.”

 


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Fest Festival welcomes 35,000 for Poland’s biggest event

Fest Festival welcomed 35,000 festivalgoers over four days for this year’s edition, making it the biggest event in Poland in 2021.

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the festival returned at full capacity with its second edition, boasting a slate of domestic and international artists.

Kygo, James Bay, Alan Walker, Aurora, Paul Kalkbrenner, Princess Nokia, Tommy Cash, Kensington, Sohn and over 200 others performed across the festival’s 11 stages.

According to promoters, Follow the Step, attendees also came from all over the world to attend the multi-genre festival in Park Śląski, Chorzów, between 11–14 August.

“It was the most difficult two years in our career so far”

This year, according to government regulations, only people vaccinated against Covid-19 were permitted to attend the festival, despite Follow the Step’s efforts to open the gates for others.

“It was the most difficult two years in our career so far but thanks to the hard work of our team and cooperation with agents, managers and media we were able to make this incredible event,” says Maciej Korczak, co-owner of the Fest Festival.

“We would like to thank all the festival attendees for their presence and trust. We are happy and deeply touched by the fact that despite the prevailing situation, we managed to organise the largest festival in Poland. We can’t wait for next year when we will be able to meet again in Park Śląski and experience the third edition of the Fest Festival together. See you on August 10–13, 2022.”

Major international festival, Pol’and’Rock, also returned with an in-person event this summer, heralding a new normal for Poland’s live music industry.

 


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10k people attend Poland’s biggest show since 2020

Last weekend, German DJ Boris Brejcha played the biggest concert Poland has seen since the outbreak of Covid at the beginning of 2020.

Ten thousand fans gathered in Poland’s largest and best-preserved fortress, in Modlin, located northwest of Warsaw, last Friday (25 June) to enjoy Brejcha’s set.

According to the promoters, Follow the Step, the enormous structure (pictured) was created by specialists especially for the event and was months in the making.

“This was the first production of this type in this part of Europe and thanks to the huge amount of technology, lights and the latest generation sound system, provided an amazing experience,” according to a press release.

Entry was restricted to doubly vaccinated residents, as per government guidelines, all of whom were required to show proof of vaccination.

“Finally after one and a half years we could put our plans into action and get back to organising events on the big scale,” Follow the Step’s Tamara Przystasz tells IQ.

“Not only was it quite a challenge organising it in such a way that will comply with all the new rules and restrictions, but it was also the first event that we could organise for vaccinated people only. However, it was amazing to see 10,000 people celebrating the comeback of music events.”

Maciej Korczak, owner of FTS, added: “The Boris Brejcha show was a huge step forward not only for our company but also for the whole event and music industry in our country. We like to pave the way here as we believe that nothing is impossible.”

“It quite a challenge organising it in such a way that will comply with all the new rules and restrictions”

“The show was just a warm-up for us before Fest Festival this summer which will take place on the 11-14 of August in Chorzów. But after what we managed to do with Boris show we are now sure that we are able to organise Fest Festival this summer for 40,000 people safely.”

Earlier this month, Follow the Step was given permission to hold multi-genre event Fest Festival without any capacity limits, provided that attendees have had their Covid-19 vaccinations.

During a press conference, the Polish minister of health confirmed the information that people vaccinated against Covid-19 do not count towards the established limits applicable during mass events.

The event is scheduled to happen 11–14 August in Chorzów and organisers have so far confirmed acts such as Kygo, James Bay, Rag’n’Bone Man and Alan Walker on the bill.

Alongside Poland, mega concerts with 10,000 people or more have recently returned to China, the US and Israel, while France, Belgiumthe Netherlands, DenmarkAustria and the UK have set a date this summer for the resumption of large, non-socially distanced shows.

 


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Poland’s Open’er festival cancelled again

Open’er, Poland’s largest annual music festival, has been cancelled for the second year running due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the organisers wrote: “This is a difficult moment for us. Another one in the midst of the pandemic. Over the last few months we have fought and done so much to make this year’s edition of the Open’er Festival possible. Although we are convinced that the return of the festival world is very close, we are losing this race against time.

“The process of recovering from the pandemic is progressing, vaccinations are ongoing, but unfortunately for obvious reasons, both local and international, the lack of a plan for the coming months and the restrictions in force – the beginning of July in Poland is not yet the time when we will be able to organize Open’er Festival in the scale and form you expect.”

Kendrick Lamar, Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky would have headlined this year’s event at Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport in Gdynia between 30 June and 3 July.

“Although we are convinced that the return of the festival world is very close, we are losing this race against time”

Twenty One Pilots, however, have already been announced for next year’s 20th-anniversary edition.

Michael Kiwanuka, Destroyer, Badbadnotgood and Seasick Steve have also been confirmed for Open’er 2022, set to take place between 29 June and 2 July.

In the meantime, Open’er is planning a new event that will take place in Gdynia and span several weeks. The organisers say they will reveal more details in the coming weeks.

The cancellation of Open’er follows that of multi-venue festival World Wide Warsaw and electronic festival Undercity, both of which are promoted by Follow the Step.

At the time of writing, Fest Festival, Pol ‘and’ Rock and Wisloujscie are still set to go ahead.

 


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Polish festivals go ‘full steam ahead’ for 2021

Polish festivals Fest Festival and Pol’and’Rock are determined to do whatever it takes to pull off their respective 2021 events – each of which is slated to feature a raft of international artists.

Follow The Step-promoted Fest Festival has revealed the first wave of artists for its August event, which is almost exclusively non-domestic acts such as Norwegian DJ Kygo, Australian act Fisher and French duo Ofenbach.

The event, which made its debut in 2019, is set to take place in Silesian Park, Chorzów, between 11–14 August, after the organisers added an extra day.

“During this year’s edition, we will develop solutions that will allow the festival to be organised in safe conditions. We plan, among other things, to significantly enlarge the festival area and reduce the number of tickets available for sale. We observe the situation and we will adapt our plans to the current sanitary restrictions on an ongoing basis,” says a representative from Fest Festival.

“We will adapt our plans to the current sanitary restrictions on an ongoing basis”

Tickets for Fest Festival start at PLN 229 for a one-day pass. All 2020 ticket holders will be automatically upgraded to a four-day pass for the 2021 event.

Elsewhere, Pol’and’Rock – also known as the ‘Woodstock of Poland’ – recently announced a number of international artists for the July 2021 event including US heavy metal band Static-X, British metalcore outfit While She Sleeps and Ukrainian act Jinjer.

The annual festival is slated for 29–31 July this year in Kostrzyn nad Odrą, western Poland, and is free to attend.

According to organisers, Pol’and’Rock typically attracts an audience of almost half a million people each year and is the biggest non-commercial festival in Europe.

“Just like last year, we are powering on, full steam ahead,” says Jurek Owsiak, promoter of Pol’and’Rock Festival. “We’re wiser, more experienced now, so we are doing our best to prepare for these three days when we can meet at the festival.

“We are faced with an enormous logistical challenge, but even the grandest undertaking can be successful despite the current global situation. We are working off different scenarios, which we tweak to suit the pandemics’ global developments and progress.

“We are working off different scenarios, which we tweak to suit the pandemics’ global developments”

“Vaccination and the fact that we all agree to follow restrictions, which are there to protect us and limit the spread of the virus, taught us to be disciplined and responsible for ourselves and others. A huge group of people will do whatever it takes to be a part of our festival, agreeing to follow all rules and regulations, which are meant to make it a safe space for everyone.”

In January, Poland confirmed it will issue its citizens with a vaccine certificate, or ‘passport’, when they have been immunised against Covid-19, which could eventually be used to facilitate Covid-safe events.

According to the Reuters Covid-19 tracker, Poland has administered at least 4,605,929 doses of Covid vaccines so far (assuming every person needs two doses), which is about 6.1% of the country’s population.

However, Covid-19 infections are increasing in Poland, with 18,380 new infections reported on average each day, which is 72% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on November 11.

While venues have been permitted to open at 50% capacity, live performances will now be suspended from 20 March until 9 April, according to Pearle.

 


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Outdoor concerts return to Poland

Live music is returning to Poland this summer, following a government announcement that outdoor events of up to 150 people are now permitted.

Poland, where events of over 100 people have been banned since early March, entered its fourth phase of lockdown easing on 30 May, giving the green light for public gatherings of up to 150 people – with a specific reference to outdoor concerts – as long as participants keep two metres apart, or cover their faces.



From Saturday (6 June), cultural institutions in Poland such as theatres and venues will be allowed to reopen with reduced capacities. Night clubs are to remain closed.

Capitalising on the new regulations, promoter Follow the Step has announced an outdoor concert series, which is taking place in the Praga area of the Polish capital of Warsaw in July, in conjunction with venue Praga Centrum.

Live music is returning to Poland this summer, following a government announcement that outdoor events of up to 150 people are now permitted

The Lato na Pradze (Summer in Praga) series is kicking off on 1 July with a show by electronic-pop trio Kamp!, followed by concerts by Polish artists Nosowska, Krzysztof Zalewski, Natalia Nykiel, Natalia Przybysz, Jabłoni Flower and Sonbird.

Green relaxation zones, food trucks and bars will also be set up in the garden of the Praga Centrum complex.

Tickets go on sale on 4 June at 12 p.m. (CET) here. The number of tickets available may increase as restrictions are lifted.

Poland’s Open’er Festival, among those forced to cancel its 2020 edition due to the Covid-19 crisis, recently confirmed that Twenty One Pilots, the Chemical Brothers, Thom Yorke Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and FKA Twigs will appear at its 2021 festival, from 30 June to 2 July.

Photo: Tim Adams/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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