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a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Krakow, Poland

by Dana Dramowicz

Krakow - the city of kings, popes, and old ladies. At least that's what most tourist guides will lead you to believe. But while those things are all definitely here, there are a few other important things to consider in here... things that led the New York Times to declare Krakow the newest bohemian capital of Eastern Europe. And for the indie traveler, these things make a visit to remember: cheap accommodation and food, piles of artists young and old, and everyone's favourite party starters- students! In constant competition with rival Warsaw, Krakow is often portrayed as outdated and irrelevant in comparison, always focusing on historical art and classical music. Jazz was as avant-garde as it got in Krakow. However, these days Krakow is slowly stepping out, with new clubs and pubs opening all the time. The local indie music scene is blooming, and finally away from its Metallica-obsessed roots, into a smorgasbord of indie experiments. Here's what to look out for...


Clubs
 

Indie Riot Night
B-Side, monthly
Live bands and DJs at this indie club night. Expect to hear the likes of The Teenagers here.
www.myspace.com/indieriotnight

Cold Lady
B-Side, dates vary.
Post punk club night spinning everything from Joy Division and Gang Of Four to Franz and Bloc Party.
www.myspace.com/coldladypostpunkparty


Venues
 

B-Side
Estery 16
B-Side is THE indie bar and club of Krakow. With NME cutouts from The Smiths to The Strokes covering the walls, this is the place to go if you need a good hard dose of pure indie music. Live shows on the tiny stage are great, and there are a few reliable club nights here too - check out Cold Lady and Indie Riot Night.
www.myspace.com/bsideclubkrakow
www.viatribe.com/venue/5-B_Side-Krakow

Lubu-Dubu
Wielopole 15
If there is one address you visit while in Krakow, it's got to be Wielopole 15. Not only does it house Krakow's first club acknowledging the existence of alternative and indie music (it took a while in Poland) Lubu-Dubu, but just a flight upstairs or across the hall you'll find two other great options for a fantastic night out. Caryca across the hall plays electro and house most nights, and Kitsch upstairs is a gay and bi friendly club playing 90s pop right through the night! Lubu itself is a great place to listen to 80s indie and dance yourself into a frenzy.
www.lubu-dubu.prv.pl
www.viatribe.com/venue/183-Lubu_Dubu-Krakow

Vinyl
Batorego 1
A bit out of the way, but definitely worth the trip. Walls covered in vinyls and a soundtrack of classic indie goodness. Great place for intimate shows or to get down and boogie with some some like-minded kids.
www.viatribe.com/venue/369-Vinyl-Krakow

Klub RE
sw. Krzyz?a 4
Cool cellar bar, plus a great beer garden for summer drinking. Live bands tend towards the avant end of the spectrum. Experimental Dental School and Fuckhead have played here.
www.klubre.pl/
www.viatribe.com/venue/362-Klub_Re-Krakow

Imbir
sw. Tomasza 35
Cellar rock club. Live rock, rap and reggae bands, plus a pinball table in the toilets!
www.viatribe.com/venue/266-Imbir-Krakow

Alchemia
Estery 5
Once cool, now slightly touristy, but still very charming bar. Hosts the Peculiar Music Night, and live rock and jazz shows.
www.alchemia.com.pl/
www.viatribe.com/venue/128-Alchemia-Krakow

Folia Concept Club
Rynek Glowny (Market Square) 5
DJs, art exhibitions and live bands at this hip bar.
http://www.foliaclub.pl/
www.viatribe.com/venue/272-Folia_Concept_Club-Krakow


Bars

Klub RE
s´w. Krzyz?a 4
Great patio for a glass of beer, great stage to see international-caliber bands.
www.klubre.pl/
www.viatribe.com/venue/362-Klub_Re-Krakow

Pauza
Florianska 18

An entire building encompassing an underground club, overground bar, and third floor art gallery.
www.pauza.pl/
www.viatribe.com/venue/333-Pauza-Krakow

Singer
Estery 20
As bohemian you can get. Possibly a bit much for people who enjoy fresh air and visibility. Named after the sewing machines which double as tables.
www.viatribe.com/venue/364-Singer-Krakow

Spokoj
Bracka 3/5
A hidden gem with cheap drinks, great music, 60s decor, and best of all - board games!
www.viatribe.com/venue/251-Spokoj-Krakow

Piekny Pies
Slawkowska 6a
Not for the faint hearted. The city's alcoholic hobos mix with the artistic elite for a night you won't remember too quickly (or maybe too quickly depending on well you can remember your best nights out). The best afterparty in Krakow.
www.piekny-pies.pl
www.viatribe.com/venue/2-Piekny_Pies-Krakow


Record Shops

High Fidelity
ul. Podbrzezie 6, Mon-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat 11am-3pm
Spend a day browsing these rare and dusty vinyls in Kazimierz.
www.cracow-life.com/shop/shops_details/264-High_Fidelity


Local Bands

Andy
Poppy indie rock performed by a group of pretty Krakowian gals.
http://www.myspace.com/pokochaszandy

Eluktrick
Catchy songs you'll be whistling for days. Guitar jams meet bleepy analog synths.
http://www.myspace.com/eluktrick

New Century Classics
Multi-national multi-gender multi-instrumental post-rock.
http://www.myspace.com/newcenturyclassics

Pambuk
Melodic, catchy indie rock.
http://www.myspace.com/pambu


Miscellaneous

In Krakow, very rarely is a distinction made between club/bar/live venue. It really depends on which day you go - when you walk into a club you can be faced with any kind of vibe imaginable. And keep in mind that even if there's no dancefloor, it's perfectly acceptable to start shaking your thang between the tables.

It seems like a no-brainer, but to easily find a great night out in Krakow, just avoid the baldies and follow the people dressed like you. Not that we're condoning stalking.

Krakow, and Poland in general, is practically dead in the summer. In the summer months don't expect anything but the biggest mainstream clubs to be full, even on the weekends. Don't expect to see a single decent live gig during this time either. Don't ask us why - maybe it's the students that have returned home to mum and dad, or that everyone's off on holiday - but it's one of the greatest mysteries of Polish culture. The best time to visit to experience the nightlife properly is Fall or Spring.

 

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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