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impression castle party 2022 24Bolkow, Poland
7th to 10th July 2022
Castle Party 2022 Day 1 with New Model Army, Me and That Man, BOKKA, Sex Gang Children, Dom Zly and Bedless Bones

Castle Party, the most significant alternative event in Poland, is the one you’d like to visit at least once. Located in beautiful surroundings of the nearby hills, the castle hosts the festival every year in July. The small, quiet town Bolkow changes into a Gothic venue and for four summer days, the overwhelming black colour takes over.

I must admit it was a bit surreal to participate in the event with no masks on, no restrictions, no omnipresent smell of sanitizing liquids, and no social distance. As a matter of fact, it was one of the first mass events I attended to experience it fully and with no limits whatsoever, and it felt great! Seeing the masses of fancy-clad people dancing, chatting, drinking beer, and enjoying themselves was as pleasant as liberating.

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Of course, there are still some repercussions of the pandemic situation; hence there were some line-up changes due to Covid illnesses and flights being cancelled. As a result, the original line-up had to be changed or modified - and thus, HAUJOBB substituted last minute for PSYCLON NINE (quick action, well-done). ZERAPHINE and NOSFERATU got off the running order. There were some delays and hiccups with start dates for particular concerts, but in general, it was a great success when it comes to attendance, atmosphere, and overall vibe of the event.

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There were two stages organized for the festival - the main stage at the castle and the smaller one at the park stage, 15 minutes stroll from the castle. All the afterparties also took place at the park stage where a huge tent was set to prevent the concerts from cancelling in case of the rain that was forecasted for the weekend. There were also two side events organized - a Gothic picnic (I guess Wave Gotik Treffen tradition of goths meeting up before the concerts for fancy clothes display and socializing is spreading out) and a pop rally - for brave souls only.

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The concerts started on Thursday at the park stage, and the prevailing music vibe on that day was Punk and Post-Punk. The audience could enjoy the concerts of French act JE T'AIME, SCREAMING DEAD, and MIGUEL AND THE LIVING DEAD playing as the headliner. The attendance was surprisingly good, taking into consideration it was still a working day, and the fact the festival was only starting to speed up.

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When I arrived on Friday afternoon, the party was already at full speed. The weather was terrific - not too hot to make the latex and leather fans boil, not too cold to make the lace fans freeze. The concerts started 90 minutes late due to technical reasons, so we took our time enjoying local beers and catching up with long-not-seen friends.

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BEDLESS BONES, who started the festival for me, is a solo project by Kadri Sammel, a musician who also works as a photographer and videographer. Their concert was a display of mesmerizing and hypnotizing scenic artistry on the one hand and alternative electronic symphony on the other. Their music could be described as a combination of dark wave, industrial, and EMB / IDM  it was gorgeous and dreamy at times but also featured some dancy, energetic vibe.

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After BEDLESS BONES concert, I went down to the park stage to see the Polish Metal project DOM ZŁY, whose fuel and powerful and profound vocals gave me thrills. If there are strong women in metal, then definitely the vocalist for the project is one of them.

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Then I decided to quickly go back to the main stage to see the show by Batcave rockers SEX GANG CHILDREN. Gothic Rock and Post-Punk music combination plus characteristic, a bit theatrical vocal gave an excellent, ass-kicking concert that gathered a thick crowd right next to the barriers separating the stage from the public.

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The next show was one of those I was particularly waiting for, especially since I missed their appearance in my hometown earlier this year. I heard the project's scenic performance was one of a kind, so I was more anxious to see if it was actually true. BOKKA is a Polish music band founded in 2013. His work is classified as electronic music, Pop, Rock, Alternative Rock and Synth-Pop. The trio adopted the convention of stage camouflage; they do not reveal their personalities. Rhythmical, catchy music with a somewhat dreamy, mysterious and trancy charismatic vocal gave a fine musical effect indeed. It would be hard not to mention the visual aspect of the concert: stage props and the musicians’ outfits. The stage was flooded with red light with the huge planet figure hanging from the roof in the back. As I stated earlier, the musicians did not disclose their identity, so they wore fancy masks resembling lace covering throughout the entire show. It was a fine mix of great music and visual effort, and I enjoyed the concert immensely.

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It was slowly getting dark at this point, so I’d say it was the perfect ambience for the devils of ME AND THAT MAN to begin their show. Nergal (the frontman of BEHEMOTH) and Jon Porter joint forces gave an outstanding, extremely energetic performance featuring characteristic dark vocals and raging guitars. I must say that every time I attend their show, I’m surprised by the speed and power the concert is evolving - the tempo is just stunning and gives no space to catch a breath in-between subsequent songs.

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The last show on Friday night belonged to the giant of NEW MODEL ARMY. The magical, extremely heart-rendering, and profound performance by Justin Sullivan was a perfect closure to Friday concert night. After the shows, there was an afterparty at the park stage. It ended at dawn - at least for some. Perfect timing to buy coffee and croissants for breakfast if you ask me.

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All Pictures by Karo Kratochwil

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