Major fests confirm new blockbuster acts for 2023
Major festivals including Boardmasters (UK), MEO Kalorama (PT), Fest Festival (PL), NOS Alive (PT) and Orange Warsaw (PL) have revealed new names for their 2023 editions.
Boardmasters music and surfing festival in the UK has unveiled the first wave of more than 30 acts, including two headline performers, for next year.
Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher and Florence + The Machine will headline the festival in Newquay, Cornwall, on 9–13 August 2023.
Other acts announced for the Superstruct-backed event include Little Simz, Four Tet, Example, Dylan, Bob Vylan, Cassyette, Kid Kapichi, Jockstrap, Connie Constance, Gwenno, Katachafire, Gretel Hänlyn and Wunderhorse.
The festival, which usually attracts about 50,000 people, is held at Watergate Bay and Fistral beach.
Liam Gallagher and Florence + The Machine will headline Boardmasters
Organisers said “tens of thousands” had already signed up for pre-sale tickets before the general release on Friday (25 November).
The second edition of the 40,000-capacity event will feature acts including Arcade Fire, Florence and the Machine, Foals and Metronomy.
The Blaze, Amyl and the Sniffers are also slated to perform at the event, which is promoted by House of Fun and Last Tour – the cultural company behind events such as Bilbao BBK Live, Azkena Rock Festival, Cala Mijas and BIME Live.
Elsewhere in Portugal’s festival market, NOS Alive‘s first artist confirmation is American rock duo Black Keys.
The second edition of MEO Kalorama will feature Arcade Fire, Florence and the Machine, Foals and Metronomy
The 15th edition is due to take place between 6–8 July 2023 held in the Algés riverside, close to Lisbon.
This year’s NOS Alive, promoted as usual by Everything Is New, welcomed 210,000 people over four days and 165 artists across seven stages.
Poland’s 2023 festival summer is also shaping up, with Fest Festival and Orange Warsaw detailing their forthcoming editions.
The fourth annual Fest Festival will see performances from the likes of The Chemical Brothers, 070 Shake, Gibbs, Oki, Oliver Heldens, Rubens, The Stickmen Project, Two Feet and Yungblud.
The 50,000-capacity event will once again return to Chorzów’s Silesia Park – the largest park in Europe – between 9 and 13 August, 2023. Fest Festival is promoted by Follow The Step, which also stages On Air festival in Warsaw.
Poland’s capital will also see the return of Orange Warsaw next year, taking place at the Horsetrack Warsaw-Służewiec between 2 and 3 June.
English superstar Sam Smith has been confirmed for the 14th edition of the 10,000-capacity event, promoted by Alter Art (Open’er, Krakow Live).
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The New Bosses 2022: Maciej Korczak, Follow The Step
The 15th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 114 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.
To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2022’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.
Catch up on the previous New Bosess 2022 interview with Lewis Wilde, head of music partnerships at DICE. The series continues with Maciej Korczak, co-founder at Follow The Step in Poland.
In 2015, at the age of 23, he opened concert agency called Follow The Step (FTS) with his business partner Marcin Szymanowski. The first concerts organised by the agency included Post Malone, The Internet, Anderson .Paak, Mount Kimbie, Rhye, and Autechre.
In 2016, FTS opened a club called Smolna, which quickly became the most popular techno club in Poland, hosting DJ’s such as Tale of Us, Kiasmos, Jeff Mills, Amelie Lens, Dubfire, Charlotte de Witte, Laurent Garnier, Miss Kittin, Sam Paganini, Fatboy Slim, and many more.
Nowadays, FTS owns two music venues – Smolna and Praga Centrum – and seven festivals (World Wide Warsaw, Made in WWA, Summer Contrast, FEST Festival, On Air Festival, and Undercity). Artists such as Jorja Smith, Tame Impala, Jamie XX, The Chainsmokers, and Stromae have headlined at FTS’s events in 2022.
FTS also organises over 100 international headline shows per year, including Louis Tomlinson, Alan Walker, Avril Lavigne, Melody Gardot, Hardwell, Robert Glasper, Boris Brejcha, Rise Against, Denzel Curry, and is constantly growing and developing.
Your career, so far, has been pretty remarkable. Tell us a bit about how you managed to book Steve Aoki and Kygo while you were still a teenager?
Determination is the key! At the age of 19, I’d already organised plenty of high-school events. I’ve booked overseas electronic artists for them like cyberpunkers or Tiga. My goal back then was to work for one of the most popular venues in Warsaw at the time, and I was told by the manager of the venue that in order to do that I have to bring them a big overseas act, so that’s what I did – three weeks later, we’d done the Steve Aoki show thanks to my booking, and it was a sold-out event.
“We decided to open a techno club there called Smolna…we like to call it a Polish Berghain”
There were already some big promoters in Poland when you launched Follow The Step. What was your strategy to make the business a success?
Passion! The whole Follow The Step team honestly love what we’re doing and we are always hungry for more. Our company doesn’t have a certain strategy, we’re just simply doing the best we can, and we’re always up for new challenges.
Follow The Step was officially launched in 2017 as a booking agency for international DJs for Polish venues and clubs. From the very start, I wanted to focus on the booking, so I was lucky that I met co-owner of the company – Marcin Szymanowski – who is focusing on the business side of our company.
At first, we wanted to book club nights and then we became interested in small gigs. After a while, we started looking for a place for our office and this way we’ve found a dumpy basement in the centre of Warsaw, which we restored and [then] decided to open a techno club there called Smolna. We like to call it a Polish Berghain, and it was our springboard to establishing a concert agency in Poland, talking to agents, and networking.
Nowadays, being at IFF [the International Festival Forum] I’m talking to agents about artists that could easily fill up Polish arenas but also we’re entering new markets like Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
“I’d make [the industry] more gender balanced as I think it’s still something that the industry must work on”
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
It was definitely organising a charity concert to support Ukraine when the war started, together with television station TVN, in less than two weeks. We sold out the show for 10,000 people and raised over $2m (€2m).
As a new boss, what one thing would you change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
I’d make it more gender balanced as I think it’s still something that the industry must work on. That’s why in Follow The Step most of the employees are women, and we very much believe that they can work within every sector of music industry from production and sponsoring to media and marketing.
For a young company, the pandemic must have been tough. Can you tell us a bit about your Covid experience?
It was a tough time for sure and full of uncertainty about what was going to happen next, but we’ve used this time the best way we could. We were doing everything we could to maintain the company, and our main goal was not to fire a single person as our employees are the most important to us; we know that we can’t do anything without our team. We were lucky that we got support from our government, so it also allowed us to do that.
We were also the first agency in Poland that managed to do gigs and a festival during Covid and managed to give people some entertainment in a safe way. We also decided to take a risk and organise FEST Festival for 30,000 vaccinated people, as one of very few festivals in Europe in 2021.
“I never thought that I’ll end up having seven festivals, headline shows, and events, or over 70 people in our agency”
Setting up seven festivals in less than six years is very impressive. What tips would you give to other people who are looking to launch new events?
Try and don’t give up! Also don’t be scared to dream. When I was first starting, I never thought that I’ll end up having seven festivals, headline shows, and events, or over 70 people in our agency. But If you’re passionate enough and [you don’t mind sacrificing] most of your personal life, then it’s definitely something worth trying. But please remember that music and festivals are addictive, so you have to remember your [loved ones] and don’t give all of your time to work, as it’s easy to forget when you’re always hungry for more.
Having a good bond with agents and artist managers is crucial. How did you maintain contact with people during the pandemic, and do you feel that the working relationship between agents and promoters has changed over the past couple of years?
We’ve been in touch with agents and artist managers mainly through Zoom meetings. I think that what has changed during the pandemic is that people in the music industry started to be nicer to each other and actually care how the other person is feeling and checking on each other – I guess this time showed us that we’re all just humans at the end of the day.
“I see Follow The Step being one of the leading concert agencies in Eastern Europe”
What one thing would you like artists to learn about coming to perform in Poland?
That every single person that came to their concert is there for a reason. We have one of the most dedicated music audiences in Poland. And probably the craziest.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I see [myself and also] Follow The Step being one of the leading concert agencies in Eastern Europe. I really want us to expand to other markets. It would be perfect to be able to offer artists a whole tour in this part of Europe and not just Poland. This is our goal now!
IQ 114 is available now. To subscribe, and get access to our latest issue and all of our content, click here.
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The New Bosses: Introducing the class of 2022
The 15th edition of IQ Magazine‘s New Bosses can now be revealed, highlighting 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.
New Bosses 2022 inspired the most engaged voting process to date, with hundreds of people taking the time to submit nominations. The final 20 comprises executives working across agencies, promoters, ticketing companies, charities and venues in 12 different countries.
In no particular order, the New Bosses 2022 are:
Benji Fritzenschaft, DreamHaus (DE).
Clara Cullen, Music Venue Trust (UK).
Dan Rais, CAA (CO).
David Nguyen, Rock The People (CZ).
Daytona Häusermann, Gadget ABC (CH).
Grant Hall, ASM Global (US).
James Craigie, Goldenvoice (UK).
Kathryn Dryburgh, ATC Live (UK).
Resi Scheurmann, Konzertbüro Schoneberg (DE).
Seny Kassaye, Fort Agency (CA).
Agustina Cabo, Move Concerts (AR).
Sönke Schal, Karsten Janke Konzertdirektion (DE).
Steel Hanf, Proxy Agency (US).
Steff James, Live Nation (UK).
Stella Scocco, Södra Teatern (SE).
Vegard Storaas, Live Nation (NO).
Lewis Wilde, DICE (UK).
Zoe Williamson, UTA (US).
Jonathan Hou, Live Nation (US).
Maciej Korczak, Follow The Step (PL).
Subscribers can read shortened profiles of each of the 2022 New Bosses in issue 114 of IQ Magazine, which is out now. Full-length Q&As will appear on IQ in the coming days and weeks.
Click here to subscribe to IQ for just £7.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:
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Poland’s Follow the Step on launching On Air festival
Follow the Step co-founder Maciej Korczak has spoken to IQ about the challenging but rewarding launch of new festival On Air.
The inaugural edition took place last weekend in Warsaw and was the Polish promoter’s first outdoor festival in the capital city.
The two-day event debuted at the 70,000-capacity Bemowo Airport, which has hosted concerts from the likes of Madonna and Metallica, as well as three editions of Sonisphere festival between 2010 and 2012.
On Air, meanwhile, saw artists including Tame Impala, Jorja Smith, Celeste and The Kooks perform across two stages at the airport.
“Our main goal is to book A-list artists,” says Korczak. “We are really proud of the line-up – hosting such artists at the first edition of the festival is a dream.
“On Air was already hailed by people and the media as one of the best festivals in Warsaw and Poland.”
“We are really proud of the line-up – hosting such artists at the first edition of the festival is a dream”
Even with a star-studded lineup, a myriad of external issues meant that Follow the Step didn’t sell as many tickets as it hoped for the inaugural edition.
High inflation and a saturated market were key obstacles for the festival, alongside a less-than-ideal weather forecast for the weekend.
“Launching a new festival is never easy, especially in the post-pandemic times,” says Korczak. “The biggest challenge that we faced was that On Air took place at the very end of the festival season and a lot of fans already used their festival budget.
“Normally it wouldn’t be a problem as it’s actually a good time for organising a festival in the capital – people are coming back from holidays and students to the universities – but this year because of the high inflation and because of many festivals and events being moved to this summer due to the pandemic, it meant that tickets were harder to sell this year.
“We also had to allocate a significant portion of the budget to raise awareness among people about the existence of the festival and break through the noise about other summer events that already had their fanbase.”
With that said, Follow the Step has already announced the second edition of the festival, set to take place on 8 and 9 September 2023 at the same location.
In addition to On Air, the Warsaw-based festival and concert agency promoter organises marquee event Fest Festival, based in Chorzów, which this year marked a record attendance.
Poland’s Fest Festival draws 50,000 to third edition
Fest Festival welcomed 50,000 attendees over four days for this year’s edition, marking a record attendance for the Polish festival.
The third annual event, promoted by Warsaw-based promoter Follow The Step, took place between 10 and 13 August at Chorzów’s Silesia Park – the largest park in Europe.
The Chainsmokers, Rudimental, Nothing But Thieves, Rüfüs du Sol, James Arthur and Jungle were among the 200 artists performing across 11 stages during Fest.
“The third edition of Fest Festival came to an end and was hailed by festivalgoers and media as the most beautiful festival this summer in Poland,” says a spokesperson from Follow The Step.
The Chainsmokers, Rudimental and Nothing But Thieves were among the 200 artists performing across 11 stages
“During the whole festival, we gathered almost 50,000 attendees – a record attendance for Fest – and the festival ran continuously for 120 hours.
“Fest Festival means way more than an exceptional music celebration. The festival town plays a special role that encourages festivalgoers to take the most from its attractions such as artistic performances, social campaigns and workshops.”
Unlike the vast majority of European festivals, Fest Festival was able to go ahead last year, with 35,000 Covid-19-vaccinated concertgoers. The 2021 edition was the largest event to take place in Poland that year.
Follow The Step continues its festival season with On Air, slated to take place on 9 and 10 September in Warsaw.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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”
“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.”
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.
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, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and the UK have set a date this summer for the resumption of large, non-socially distanced shows.