British rapper, singer-songwriter and visual artist M.I.A. played Pohoda back in 2011. The amazing show she put on was the main reason why we wanted to have her play our festival again. She herself added a couple of good arguments, too: excellent albums Matangi (2013) and AIM (2016) on which she collaborated with producers such as Blaqstarr, Diplo and Skrillex; two MTV Video Music Awards for track “Bad Girls” (2012); the 2016 Q Award for Innovation in Sound and the 2017 NME Award for Best British Female Artist. Her concert at Pohoda 2017 is part of M.I.A.’s AIM Tour.
M.I.A. combines electro, reggae, R&B, rock, hip hop, grime, rap and Asian folk music. In this varied mix of genres, she takes inspiration from the likes of Missy Elliott, Lou Reed, The Pixies, Timbaland, Beastie Boys, Björk, The Clash, but also Boney M, A. R. Rahman or pop icons Michael Jackson and Madonna. Her lyrics contain social commentary on consumerism, conditions of working class, sexual stereotypes, politically motivated violence and symbols of urban areas, revolution and ethnic conflicts. The collection of prestigious nominations M.I.A. received contains 49 items, out of which she actually turned one fifth into awards. She’s the only artist of Asian origin to get nominated for a Grammy Award and an Academy Award in the same year. There is also no other artist that would have a combination of an Academy Award, Grammy Award, Brit Award, Mercury Prize and Alternative Turner Prize nomination under their belt. Her albums Arular (#52) and Kala (#9) made it to 100 Best Albums of the 2000s according to Rolling Stone. The same magazine also named her as one of the eight artists who defined this decade (Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Arcade Fire, M.I.A., Jack White and U2). In December 2009, in an article written for The Guardian, critic Simon Reynolds named her as an artist of the decade.
On February 8, she released her latest track “P.O.W.A.”. The song and the video with its exceptional captivating visuals again criticizes today’s political situation, specifically, building of walls by the current US President. A few days after the release, she won the 2017 NME Award for Best British Female Artist when she received more votes in the public poll than the likes of Adele, PJ Harvey, or Dua Lipa. We’re glad that after Solange, Birdy, Austra, Dillon or the local Katka Máliková, we have another distinctive female name from the contemporary music scene to add to Pohoda 2017’s bill: M.I.A..
Thursday evening at Pohoda will be completed with the legend of shoegaze Slowdive and one of the most abroad successful Slovak bands The Ills. Pitchfork wrote that Slowdive recorded 3 out of the 15 best shoegaze recordings of all time and NME included two of their albums in a similar chart (TOP 10). In 2014, they performed at Barcelonaʼs Primavera after a twenty-year break; fans waited two more years to hear their new song that was released in early January this year. In exactly 100 days they will take care of the magical, dreamlike atmosphere of the opening evening at the 21st Pohoda.
“Emotionally, shoegaze turns its focus inward. The extreme noise eliminates the possibility of socializing while the music is playing, leaving each member of the audience alone with their thoughts. It’s music for dreaming,” this is how Pitchfork editors described this genre in the introduction to their choice of The 50 Best Shoegaze Albums of All Time. We do not completely agree with the part regarding the impossible socialization, as evidenced by the concert of one of the most fundamental bands “for dreaming” Slowdive at Pohoda 2017. Slowdive were inspired by the guitars of My Bloody Valentine and the sound of The Cocteau Twins and The Byrds. The band was formed in the late eighties by childhood friends Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell and it was originally named Pumpkin Fairies, but they soon changed their name into Slowdive. In November 1990, they released eponymous EP “Slowdive” and earned positive reactions. After half a year, Adrian Sell left the band and was replaced by Neil Carter and shortly afterwards by Simon Scot (after the breakup of his previous band The Charlottes). In February 1991, they released EP “Morningrise” and in June the same year, they had EP “Holding Our Breath”: its single “Catch The Breeze” made it to the top of the UK Indie Chart. Every single released in 1991 was ranked the single of the week by Melody Maker.
In September 1991, they released debut “Just for a Day”, followed by their first US tour (with the band Blur) and European tour in the spring of 1992. In May 1993, they released their most substantial album “Souvlaki”. At the time of release, the reactions of British critics were rather distant from what could be called “positive”. After some time, however, it received the recognition of the most prestigious music portals. According to NME, it is the third, and according to Pitchfork, the second best album of the shoegaze genre, while NME said the albumʼs underestimation by contemporary press was reprehensible. The sound of the third album “Pygmalion” was, with much more minimalist arrangements, the opposite of their previous work. Shortly after its release, Slowdive split up, with Halstead, Goswell and McCutcheon starting the band Mojave 3. On 24 January 2014, they tweeted a link to the bandʼs website slowdiveofficial.com showing a picture with the words “Here She Comes…” (also the name of one of their songs on the album Souvlaki). Four days later they announced that after almost twenty years, they would play a concert at Barcelona’s Primavera. They released a new song in 22 years on 12 January 2017. It is called “Roving Star” and it demonstrates that shoegaze did not remained stuck in the first half of the nineties. Pitchfork wrote they distilling elements of their prior selves in a way that recalls without recycling, have stayed true to incandescent form. Soon after the release of the song, the band received top rankings of The Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 Chart of “things most talked about regarding artists and their works.” Neil Halstead, Rachel Goswell, Nick Chaplin, Christian Savill, and Simon Scott are coming to perform at Pohoda 2017 one the day before Madridʼs Mad Cool.
They are played on KEXP, mentioned by NPR, Clash, and the BBC. IQ magazine editor in chief Gordon Masson included them in the selection of bands to be seen. Vic Galloway of BBC Scotland likened them to the best of post-rock Explosions On The Sky and Mogwai. They received a positive feedback from the ILMC boss Greg Parmley ILMC and the head of Eurosonic told about them: “Well composed and played. They have everything necessary, emotion, and style.” This is not a feedback on a band nominated for Brit Awards, but rather of the Bratislavaʼs band The Ills. They performed their combination of shoegaze, post-rock, and math rock at Pohoda also last year. Then, they were very well received at Iceland Airwaves and important showcase events Eurosonic and Ment. Their show will open the action on the Pohodaʼs second largest stage.
This time last year, The Ills gave a great concert at Pohoda Party in the A4 club, then released their fourth album “Ornamental or Mental” and at last year’s Pohoda, besides fans they also drew the attention of professional musicians at listening session. Since then, they have been perhaps the abroad most talked about Slovak band. In November last year they made clubs in Iceland packed and they managed to do the same at the beginning of the year also at Eurosonic, where they received support also from our Michal, who described their performance: “Wind, sleet, a long line in front of the club, and the club itself packed. Slovak The Ills on the stage. A perfectly delivered concert followed by a line again, a line of those interested in their CD. A few years ago we named our table football team at the biggest showcase festival “Why there are not Slovak bands playing at Eurosonic?” Fortunately, the name is not true anymore. After last year’s great concerts of Fallgrapp and Walter Schnitzelsson, this year The Ills played excellent shows. It is a pleasure to watch them enjoying it, playing naturally, and communicating spontaneously with audience. They are eye-catching, people talk about them. It is great news for the local scene.”
Their good year continued at the Ment festival, where they caught the attention of Kevin Cole of KEXP who included their song “4:17” in his podcast Song of the Day. In April, they are doing Illsane Tour and early July, they are playing another concert at Pohoda. The whole band was pleased to hear about the appearance of Slowdive and particularly was pleased the guitarist of The Ills Martin Krajčír: “Looking at my tattooed arm, it is certainly clear to everyone that everything started for me with listening to Cocteau Twins, and soon after that I discovered Slowdive. I consider their song Alison one of the biggest hits of the shoegaze period and this whole genre had a tremendous impact on the formation of The Ills. Playing before Slowdive is like boasting before parents about something I proudly inherited from them. We are looking forward to Pohoda, to our concert and also to Slowdive playing after us. We will be able to truly enjoy their concert. We couldnʼt even dream of a better scenario!”
M.I.A., Solange, alt-J, Ylvis, Birdy, Jake Bugg, Boys Noize Live, Future Islands, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Benjamin Clementine, Slowdive, Squarepusher, Mark Lanegan Band, Beardyman’s Dream Team, Slaves, The Thurston Moore Group, Austra, Sleaford Mods, Machinedrum, Dillon, Mykki Blanco, Beak>, Shobaleader One, TOMM¥ €A$H, TaxiWars, Salut c’est cool, Black Box Revelation, Acid Arab, Alice Phoebe Lou, Baloji, Les Amazones d’Afrique, Idles, C Duncan, Ho99o9, Elektro Guzzi presents Parade, Maya Belsitzman & Matan Ephrat, Auktyon, Baloji, Blow Trio, White Wine, Gallowstreet, La Mambanegra, The Hydrant, Egopusher, Resisters, Lass, Pixvae, FlaxFab, Bolo nás jedenásť – Milan Lasica & friends, Chiki liki tu-a, Polemic, Bez Ladu a Skladu, Katarína Máliková, Ghost of you, Kieslowski, Garage, Laura a její tygri,
MCH Band, Chór vážskych muzikantov, Flow, The Wilderness, and many others…